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Meet the Oyster Bay High School and Locust Valley High School valedictorians

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Aavi Gupta, Oyster Bay High School’s valedictorian

Looking to make his mark on the world in the field of medicine, Oyster Bay High School’s valedictorian Aavi Gupta, 17, said the doctors and researchers currently working to develop a vaccine for the coronavirus have only further inspired him to pursue his love for science in the future.

“The amount of work and the amount of experimenting and trials they're putting into it is amazing,” Gupta said. “And obviously, I'm hoping there's no more pandemics in the future, but the efficiency and the way they work is amazing and it's something that I work towards.”

Gupta, who will be attending Princeton University this fall, has demonstrated his passion for science and math throughout high school. From serving as Mathletes and National Honor Society president in school to participating in summer programs at the New York Institute of Technology and Stony Brook University, Gupta has improved upon his skills both inside and outside the classroom.

An avid trombone player, Gupta is also a member of the school’s wind and jazz ensembles. The highlight of his musical career so far came when he had the chance to play on the stage of Carnegie Hall with the school band in 10th grade, an experience he described as “surreal.”

As a student athlete, Gupta has also played on the school’s varsity bowling and tennis teams, which earned him several varsity athletic awards from the school.

Gupta said along with his parents, siblings and friends, who have been a “driving force” for him, he cited his teachers for inspiring him to continue achieving and striving for more.

“I see the way that my teachers, especially in Oyster Bay, how much they work just to make sure that us as students understand lessons and that's definitely a big inspiration for me.”

Michelle Hsu, Locust Valley High School valedictorian

At just 17, Locust Valley High School valedictorian Michelle Hsu is already accomplished in a variety of fields from science to music to journalism.

Hsu, who will be attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology this fall, plays both cello and piano in school, but as a classical pianist, she has won numerous awards in international music competitions. Performing everywhere from Carnegie Hall to stages in Amsterdam and Vienna, Hsu said her experience playing the piano through the years has helped build her self-confidence.

“When I was younger, I was very shy and I would always worry what other people thought of me,” Hsu said. “But just returning to the challenge of performing piano in a recital or performing in front of a judge for a competition helped me become more confident, and that translated to outside of just performing piano too.”

Looking to major in either biochemistry or biological engineering and eventually becoming a physician, Hsu has also made a splash in the field of science research. Most recently, she helped conduct research on dementia and cognitive impairment at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in Manhasset.

Hsu also serves as Editor-in-Chief of her high school newspaper, and said while she did not originally envision herself playing a major role on the paper, she was inspired after writing an article on the school’s vaping response and interviewing the school principal.

Reflecting on what she’s learned over the last four years, Hsu said prioritizing her goals and compartmentalizing have been crucial to her success.

“For everything that you do, just try to put your full effort into it, even if it might not be the most important thing ever,” Hsu said. “But on the flip side, something I’ve also learned in high school is you just don't have enough time or energy for everything, so you have to decide what is most important to you.”