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Scholarly competition

Malverne’s top students credit friendly rivalry for their success


Nelson Chow, Jack Cecere and Anthony Marco, Malverne High School’s valedictorian and co-salutatorians, who met at Howard T. Herber Middle School, said their friendship led to their academic success. The friendly competition over the years only strengthened their bond.

“I don’t think that just because my number was slightly higher than theirs that I’m any better than them,” said Chow, 17, who finished with a grade point average of 104.4. “They really taught me a lot of the stuff that I know, they helped me grow as a person, and vice versa.”

Cecere and Marco both finished with GPAs of 103.6. The two said they were neck and neck throughout their academic careers, and that they strived to finish at the top of their class. “I was never complacent or satisfied with my position,” Cecere, 17, said. “It was a nice ending that really solidified our friendship.”

“We always competed academically, and it’s been a goal of mine to receive one of those titles,” Marco, 18, said. “Both Jack and I were lucky enough for this to happen.”

All three agreed that more activities equated to better results in the classroom. “I set a lot of goals for myself,” Marco said, “and I realized that I have to fill my days up 100 percent in order to get where I wanted to be.”

Chow jokingly said that aside from drinking a lot of coffee, they benefited from enjoying their classes and activities. “If you enjoy everything you do, it shouldn’t come as a stress,” Chow said. “Obviously, I don’t love every single subject that I do, but there’s always something different to look forward to.”

Obsessing over good grades, they added, led to their success. “We all wanted to maximize ourselves. I think that’s what kept us motivated,” Cecere said. “It just kind of helped us deal with the intensity of the four years, because the intensity never stops.”

“We kind of bounced off each other,” Marco said. “[If] they were studying a subject for one hour, I would study for two hours.”

Each said that the school community in Malverne was also one of the contributing factors to their success. Last month, Malverne High was ranked in the top 11 percent of schools in the nation on U.S. News & World Report’s Best High Schools list.

“I think it’s a really special place,” Chow said. “The diversity is here. The academics, the extracurriculars and all the resources we need are here, and it’s just a fantastic support system all around. We’re very blessed to have such a fantastic place to learn.”

“This is a small school, but we’re growing like crazy because we’re taking advantage of all the options and opportunities to make a difference,” Cecere said.

As the trio prepared to deliver their graduation speeches at the school’s commencement ceremony on Friday, all said they planned to reflect on their growth over the years. “I went in as a ninth-grader who was very naïve, then evolved as a 12th-grader having direction in my life,” Marco said.

Chow said that waiting for his college decisions was a stressful time. To get through it, he said, he reminded himself to celebrate each day. “I kept thinking I have to just live in the moment and enjoy the months leading up to it,” he said, “because you’re never going to get that time back.”

“I want to sum it up, be honest about my four years here, and hopefully it will inspire the other young kids here,” Cecere said. “As long as you focus on making the most of what you have, regardless of the position you’re in, then you could do so many amazing things.”

This fall, Chow will attend Princeton University to study medicine, while Cecere will attend the U.S. Naval Academy, and focus on mechanical engineering. Marco will attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point to study history.