Mount Sinai trio at the top of their class
They volunteered countless hours, participated in numerous activities and have taken more than 40 Advanced Placement courses combined, so it should come as no surprise that Seth Brand, Brendan Zotto and Tiffany Ong are at the top of Mount Sinai High School’s 2015 graduating class.
With a GPA of 102.399, Seth Brand graduates as this year’s valedictorian and will head to Harvard University in the fall.
The varsity soccer and basketball player said he plans on studying biology, but is still undecided as he wants to explore and see what he is most interested in.
“I think I’m going to find what I really want to do upon going to Harvard,” he said.
Brand added that he knows whatever he ends up doing, it will involve making a difference in others’ lives.
Over the course of his four years at Mount Sinai, Brand took a total of 24 AP classes and exams — 13 of which he self-studied for — and passed every single one.
In addition to playing sports, Brand served as class president in 10th and 11th grades, and as president of the National Honor Society. He was also vice president of the school’s Environmental Out Reach club, coordinating beach cleanups and collecting recyclables.
Brand reflected fondly on his time as a Mustang and said he benefited from being in small school. He also gave a shutout to his teachers and the friends he has made.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better place to go.”
In addition to being the Mustang’s senior class president, Brendan Zotto is also this year’s salutatorian, graduating with a 101.213 GPA. He heads off to Stony Brook University in the fall and will major in computer engineering.
Zotto said a programming class he took as a freshman spurred his interest in the subject. After taking the AP Physics C exam, which he self-studied for, Zotto said he realized he was interested in computer hardware as he learned about circuitry, and electricity and magnetism.
“I’m hoping college is an experience like that, where I learn one thing and it leads me to something else,” he said.
In his spare time, Zotto, a member of the cross country track team, said he enjoys running.
His favorite memory from high school, he said, was participating in the National Honor Society’s Video Game Tournament, where students played Super Smash Brothers Melee and raised money for the group.
Zotto, who is also vice president of the Computer Club and treasurer of the Science Club, said he hopes to one day make and improve on current computer hardware.
The salutatorian said college would offer him the “experience to learn more about myself and about what I’m studying.”
Tiffany Ong rounds out the top trio and is this year’s senior class poet. Ong is graduating with a 101.146 GPA and will head to New York University in the fall, where she’ll major in nutrition and dietetics.
Ong said she picked the major because she has a passion for the sciences, health and food.
“I just love how we can take care of our bodies and be athletic and still have a healthy lifestyle,” she said.
The student government secretary said she stays active in a few different ways. She played varsity tennis until her junior year and currently spends much of her time dancing at Backstage Studio of Dance.
While Ong’s dream job would be to dance for a living, she said she understands how challenging that is and will explore creating a major at NYU that combines her passions for dance and nutrition.
“Hopefully, I can help dancers in the future, or any other athletes.”
The senior also has a love of art and music. She is an accomplished violin player, having served as concertmistress of the high school’s orchestra, ensemble leader of the chamber orchestra and a section leader in the Long Island String Festival Association.
Ong said she enjoyed attending Mount Sinai because it is a small school where you get to know everyone, but she is also excited for new experiences college will bring.
“I’m looking forward to seeing new people, being on my own, growing up really fast, especially being in the city.”