Kingston’s top two

Salutatorian Michael Liu and valedictorian Finnegan Pike. (KCSD photo)

The Kingston High School Class of 2017 will receive their diplomas during a commencement ceremony at Dietz Stadium this Friday, June 23. When they do, they’ll be led by Finnegan Pike and Michael Liu, this year’s valedictorian and salutatorian.

Pike’s grade point average is 102.32, and in his senior year he’s taken AP courses in U.S. government, economics, calculus, statistics and physics, as well as a college accounting course and two classes which may come in handy during the commencement ceremony: Public speaking and creative writing.

“I just finished five research papers,” said Pike in an interview earlier this month. “Now I can work on my speech.”


Pike went to the former Zena Elementary School and M. Clifford Miller Middle School before making the jump to Kingston High. Since then, he’s served as the founder and president of both the KHS Science Olympiad Club and the Robotics Team, as well as the vice-president of the yearbook and co-president of the Math Club.

Before heading off to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the fall, Pike said he may take some time to himself for the first summer in a long time.

“It’s a lot of hard work and stress, and this kind of feels like the finale,” Pike said of graduation. “Of course it’s not going to stop. So I’m trying to relax. I’ve never really given myself the time to relax in the summer.”

Part of relaxing for Pike includes plans to attend a cybersecurity camp at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles that’s supported by the National Security Agency. It’s a field he’s hoping to get into professionally.

For the past three summers, Pike was an intern at Pilz, a safety automation company based in Stuttgart, Germany. He took part in Hackathon, a 30-hour online contest that tasks hackers with trying to come up with solutions to global issues. And a Noisy and Nice project he was recently involved with helped design and create a non-confrontational communication network and sound meter to give residents in urban areas opportunities to settle the sort of disputes that come from literally living on top of one another.

Liu earned a 101.41 grade point average, with senior year AP courses including English, U.S. government, economics, computer science and biology. He also studied science fiction and orchestra, where his longtime love of the violin shone through. He’s been playing the instrument since he was in the fourth grade at Harry L. Edson Elementary.

“I started playing the piano when I was around five,” Liu said. “I gave that up when I was around 10. I thought [the violin] was one of the cooler instruments on the slip of paper they handed me. I fell in love with it after that, and it turned out I was pretty good at it.”

Liu has since served as concertmaster for both the KHS Orchestra and College Youth Symphony Orchestra.

During his time at J. Watson Bailey Middle School, Liu began swimming competitively, making the varsity squad at Kingston High from the seventh through ninth grade before turning his focus to the Northern Dutchess Aquatic Club. He recently qualified for the National Club Swimming Association Junior National Championships.

Liu is also a National Merit Scholarship finalist, two-time qualifier for the American Invitational Mathematics Examination, and along with Pike, is co-president of the KHS Math Club.

“I had a pretty normal background,” said Liu. “There were a lot of opportunities in the high school, especially in the music department and with all the AP courses that are offered. I just took full advantage of that.”

Liu began moving quickly through high school math, taking an accelerated course in the sixth grade. By his sophomore year he’d completed all the math courses the high school had to offer.

“That was really made possible by my previous teachers in elementary school and also just studying at home with my parents,” he said.

Liu is off to Stony Brook University on Long Island in the fall where he’ll study biomedical engineering. “I plan on pursuing a job or career in the medical field,” he said. “Biomedical engineering is a good place to start. There are lots of research opportunities and internships over the summer to help me with my resume to get into medical school.”

The KHS Class of 2017 graduation ceremony is scheduled to take place at Dietz Stadium on Friday, June 23 at 5 p.m.