The high school’s Academic Leaders for the Class of 2021 are John “JR” DiBenedetto and Giavanna Genna, respectively.
In a new Lions tradition beginning this year, a panel chose the students who would give the valedictory and salutatory speeches from the school’s top 10 Academic Leaders. The criteria for selection include mastering the academic skills presented in coursework, exploring new ideas with curiosity and enthusiasm, engaging in school-based growth experiences outside of academic coursework, partaking in community advocacy and stewardship opportunities, approaching productive struggles with positivity, and demonstrating upstanding character to peers, school staff and the community.
DiBenedetto is enrolled in some of the most competitive academic programs the high school offers. He goes above and beyond to help out his fellow classmates and faculty members, and his teachers describe him as “someone always willing to go the extra mile to achieve academic superiority.” DiBenedetto has maintained exceptional grades while participating in a full spectrum of athletic and extracurricular activities, including the West Islip Wolves and West Islip Lions baseball teams. He is a member of the National Honor Society, World Language Honor Society, English Honor Society, Science Honor Society, robotics team and Chess Club, and serves as Mathletes captain. He also is a candidate for the Seal of Biliteracy. DiBenedetto is waitlisted for Amherst College and Cornell University and has been accepted to Stony Brook University and Villanova University, but has not decided on which college he will attend or a major.
A very conscientious student who has grown and matured over the years, Genna has consistently demonstrated a superior level of academic achievement, which along with the confidence and poise she shows within the classroom, sets her apart from other students. Her exceptional ability and fine moral character have also earned her selection to multiple honor societies, including the National Honor Society, New York State Business and Marketing Honor Society, World Language Honor Society, English Honor Society and Science Honor Society. She has earned numerous academic awards, was named Business Student of the Month and has been on the principal’s list every quarter throughout her high school career. When the school day ends, Genna’s extracurricular life begins. She is a member of the cross-country and track teams and many clubs including DECA, Future Business Leaders of America, mock trial, student senate, Class of 2021 and Thirst Project, completing over 300 hours of community service with the latter. She also works as an assistant at the Rejuvenol company. Genna will attend Baruch College, majoring in business.