By Leah Chiappino
In light of graduation season, Northport High School has named Peter DeTolla and Alea Brummel valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively.
Like all members of the Class of 2020, both students have attempted to rise to the challenge of celebrating senior year in the face of a pandemic, while mourning the loss of classic senior moments, such as prom and traditional graduation.
“I definitely would have preferred to have finished my senior year in school with all of my classmates, but I am trying to make the best of the situation,” Brummel said. “While I am sad that I didn’t get many of the opportunities I would have had if we had been in school, I am extremely grateful for the efforts our principal Mr. Danbusky and all of the other staff and teachers at Northport High School who have made efforts to ensure we get a special ending to our senior year such as lawn signs or the drive-by parade we had.”
“The pandemic was really a slap in the face, as everyone in the Class of 2020 missed out on the best part of high school,” DeTolla added. “However, my school made a great effort to make us feel appreciated and I thank them for that.”
DeTolla finished high school with a 102.78 grade point average and plans to attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the fall, with hopes of becoming a mechanical engineer.
The valedictorian was involved in Students for 60,000, a Northport High School-based service organization dedicated to helping the needy. Through the club, DeTolla went on a service trip to Nicaragua, which he says was a highlight of his high school experience. “My experience in Nicaragua as a part of Students for 60,000 is something I’ll never forget,” he said. “I’ve become so appreciative of the life I have, and those trips are a big reason for that. The memories and friends I made there are truly remarkable.”
DeTolla added that another highlight from high school was beating Ward Melville High School “on their home turf,” at a record-breaking lacrosse game.
“It was a euphoric feeling that I share with every member of the team,” he said.
One of four children, DeTolla said he grew up in a close, well-rounded family, something he attributes to his success.
“My mother and father, Aimee and Peter, raised me to be a balanced individual with a strong work ethic and kind spirit,” he said. “Our family is very close, and I can’t imagine not being a part of it … I would like to thank every teacher, coach, older cousin and any other role model in my life for giving me the tools to succeed.”
Brummel, who earned a 101.62 GPA, is headed to Baylor University in the fall to study chemistry and mathematics on a pre-med track, with the hopes of working in sports medicine. For the salutatorian, it was her combined love of sports and science that led her on this path. At Northport, she was the head student athletic trainer and was able to assist the district’s athletic trainer in treating and rehabilitating injured student-athletes. The times when she was working directly on the football field, she said, were some of her favorite memories from high school.
“I am a huge football fan, and it was awesome to not only go to games but to also get to work as a student trainer for the games,” she said. “It was an amazing experience to be on the field with the players, and I am hoping to potentially pursue a career in sports medicine so it was incredible to get to see what the atmosphere is like.”
Despite her school and training commitments, Brummel also was involved in community service through her church. For the past two years, she has gone on a service trip to the Dominican Republic over February break.
Brummel said she has loved growing up in Northport and “had an amazing experience at Northport High School.” She praised all of her “amazing teachers,” but gave special thanks to her AP Chemistry teacher, Don Strasser, as his class was a major factor in Brummel choosing chemistry as a major. She said her math teachers likewise fueled her passion for mathematics, and that she is deeply grateful to her mentors in the sports medicine program, Tracey Braun and Shawn Scattergood. Brummel thanked her family for “always being incredibly supportive of me and always being there for me.”
She advised next year’s senior class to take the time to cherish senior year.
“Make sure you take advantage of all of your opportunities and make sure to have fun and enjoy your senior year,” she said. “This year especially has shown us, not everything is guaranteed to happen as expected, so make the most of what you experience — go to the game, go to the dance, go out with your friends.”