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Aced It: Reaching the Top

Aced It: Reaching the Top
Photos by Bailey Ethier and Claire Lewin, Graphic by Katie Settos

Madeline Seidman

Under the hot Black Box lights, Madeline Seidman ’13 laments ruination and commits suicide. A  change of costumes and seasons, she is a frock-clad dilettante and delivers punch lines. Seidman is a versatile actress, and she plays diverse roles even off the stage. Beyond her commitment to acting, singing and extracurriculars, Seidman is the valedictorian of the class of 2013.

Seidman is far from the stereotype of a grade-groveler who, when not studying, is logging into Home Access or recalculating an updated GPA on a TI-84 Plus.

“You should never give up what you’re interested in,” Seidman said. Although Seidman was encouraged to give up theater and chorus classes to take more APs, she resisted. “You have to take what you love,” she said.

Seidman’s passions include Players, Orphenians, Peer Advisors, and costume design. This involvement is no insignificant load. Seidman estimates that a typical week consists of 20 hours of outside activities.

“Many people often have to choose between having heavy academics and being a huge part of Players,” said Grace McDavid-Seidner ’13, a fellow actor and friend. “Maddy has always taken many pretty intense classes while never decreasing her dedication and involvement in Players shows.”

Throughout her Staples career Seidman has participated in 18 plays and musicals. Even second semester her senior year, Seidman played a leading role in You Can’t Take it With You. “I haven’t slacked off too much,” Seidman said.

Seidman often takes on “character roles” of funny or strange personalities, fitting given her appreciation of comedy. However, the multifaceted Seidman has also played serious roles, including the character who committed suicide.

Seidman can stay involved in the arts next year at Williams. “It’s very strong academically,” Seidman said. “It’s also very centered on the arts.”

Seidman’s comedic gifts come through in the classroom. In AP Chemistry, she is renowned for her authentic accents, rattling off the KSP of silver chromate in a Czechoslovakian or Cockney accent, according to chemistry teacher William Jones.

It’s easy to forget that Seidman balances schoolwork by day with acting and other activities after the dismissal bell sounds.

“When I asked [Seidman] how she handled both Players and schoolwork, she said to me, ‘You just have to keep going until all the work is done,’” said Isabel Perry ’15.

“She made everything look so easy,” added Jones.

Seidman isn’t loud or outspoken about either her activities or her GPA and is often described as humble. “When I found out [that she was valedictorian], I didn’t believe it at first,” Perry said. “Not because she isn’t qualified, but because she said it so casually. That’s Maddie– she’s so great and talented, but she’s not conceited or arrogant.”

Jones agreed. “She’s deceptively awesome. It’s a subtle, classy awesome.”

Robert DeLuca

It all began in a freshman year biology class. Robert DeLuca was learning about cell respiration, and suddenly something clicked. He became determined to learn as much as he possibly could about how the body made energy.

“That’s the first moment that stands out like a light,” said DeLuca.“The first time I hurtled at learning like something shiny and beautiful.”

In schools today, especially in Westport, where college is almost guaranteed and Ivy Leagues are plastered on too many Facebook profiles to count, a debate arises: are students learning for grades, or are they learning to learn?

With this year’s salutatorian, DeLuca, there seems to be no question.

“He is a student whom a teacher gets to meet only a few times in her career.” said Enia Noonan, DeLuca’s Italian teacher,

“The kid wants to know as much about everything as he possibly can. It’s equally inspiring and unnerving,” Ryan Greenberg ’13 said.

DeLuca himself attributes his success to his passion for academics.

“I think for me, a lot of it was just that I really enjoyed school a lot of the time,” said DeLuca. Whether it be singing in Italian in the shower, solving complicated math problems off the internet, or just reading as much and as often as possible, DeLuca is motivated inside and outside of school.

DeLuca’s friend Katie Hickson ’13 sees the same motivation in DeLuca. “He seems like the kind of guy who goes home and reads Wikipedia articles about scientific theories for fun,” Hickson said.

DeLuca’s motivation could seem implausible to some. However, his passionate investment in his classes is enriched by an unfailing dedication to his school work that is clear to students and teachers alike.

“He is one of the most hard-working students I have ever met,” said Noonan, “He never slowed down or failed to turn in a homework assignment for four years.”

Yet DeLuca wasn’t driven only by academics throughout high school. He participated in the extracurriculars he was passionate about­—boys water polo, JuniorState of America (JSA), and a few flings with boys track and coed water polo.

“It was really things I had an interest about, and then the people sealed the deal,” said DeLuca.

And  after spending time with the people in his extracurriculars, DeLuca even maintained one of the things too many academically challenged students seem to lose touch with: a social life. To his friends he isn’t simply academically motivated—he is compassionate, funny, kind, jacked, and incredibly energetic.

“His face lights up like Mexican fireworks each time he sees you, making you feel more important than you actually are.” said Greenberg.

DeLuca always exceeds expectations. However, it is clear that he owes his success as salutatorian to his love of learning.

“Learning is a pastime for him; it truly is his passion,” said Noonan.

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About the Contributors
Eliza Llewellyn
Eliza Llewellyn, Web Managing Editor
Eliza Llewellyn ’14 is driven and well-rounded. Now that it’s her third year on Inklings, she’s ready to take the lead. As web managing editor, Eliza is excited to advance the Inklings website with innovations in media and graphics. It’s not going to be easy, and fortunately her experience as co-captain of the Staples JV tennis team has taught her the valuable leadership skills necessary for the job. Not only this, but her position on the yearbook committee and her commitment to playing piano constantly puts her time management skills to the test. While her job on Inklings may also be extremely time-consuming, she puts it above all else. “If I’m doing homework at 10:30 p.m. and a new e-mail pops up with an article, I stop what I’m doing to read it,” said Eliza. “It’s one of my first priorities.” When Eliza isn’t editing articles, she’s writing them. Last year she wrote a news story, "Legacies: Investigating a College Application Controversy," which she considers one of her best works. “It felt good to talk to guidance counselors and college admissions officers because I was finding information that people would not get otherwise,” said Eliza. This year she hopes to pursue writing in-depth and research-based articles, as well as find a good balance among all her extracurriculars. With her dedication and drive, there’s no doubt Eliza will go above and beyond.
Cadence Neenan
Cadence Neenan, Web Managing Editor
By the age of 18, most kids have not yet chosen their favorite word. In fact, most teenagers have never even thought about such a question. Perhaps a few have been asked on a “Getting to Know You” sheet handed out by English teachers on the first day of school. But in that case, most probably just mindlessly scribbled words onto their sheets such as “literally,” or “totally,” or “dude.” Cadence Neenan ’15, on the other hand, has thought about this deeply. Her favorite word is “loquacious.” Neenan grew up in a home that fostered a love for all things English. With her mom as a former Staples High School English teacher and her dad as a librarian, Neenan was destined for a love affair with vocabulary, grammar, and reading. “My mom always used to read to me ever since I was little,” she said. “I love to read because I was raised to be a good reader.” In school, Neenan has opted to create a heavy course load that reflects her love of English and reading. AP Lit, AP Lang, AP Euro, and AP Gov are just a few of the difficult classes Neenan has chosen to take on. For Neenan, however, much of the learning and “fun with English” goes on outside the class material. “The other night, I was reading a poem during English class,” Neenan said. “I really liked it, so I brought it home and showed my mom. We spent the whole 45 minutes at dinner rhetorically analyzing it and talking about the devices the author used. It was so fun.” Alongside typical English classes, Neenan has also become a part of Inklings to exercise her love of writing. After taking Intro to Journalism, she fell in love with newspaper writing and, since then, has proven herself to be an essential Inklings player, as she is now the Web Managing Editor. “When I found out that I got Web Managing I had a panic attack because I was so happy,” Neenan said. “I like being a managing editor because I love the freedom the web gives me to be creative with my ideas.” Neenan also plans to use her journalism and writing skills in college and, later, in her career. “In college I want to study political science, but I am considering using that to go into journalism,” Neenan said. “Going into journalism with a focus on politics is what I am really interested in.”

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