New Paltz superintendent of schools Angela Urbina-Medina and New Paltz High School principal Mario Fernandez have announced that this year’s two top scholars are all girl power: Anne Lemek has been named the 2021 valedictorian and Rachel Reinking has been named salutatorian.
Valedictorian Anne Lemek
Anne, the daughter of Sarah Dudley-Lemek and John Lemek of New Paltz, earned a grade point average (GPA) of 100.967, having achieved this feat while handling a challenging academic schedule and pursuing various interests outside of the classroom, including poetry-writing and soccer. She is in the National Honors Society and Math Club as well. In her three years on the varsity soccer team, she earned Scholar Athlete status each year and is also in a dual enrollment Spanish class through SUNY New Paltz and a science research dual enrollment program through SUNY Albany.
Lemek’s interests lie within the sciences, and she plans to major in Biology when she decides where to attend college. Lemek is currently reviewing her options for college. “I have always been interested in learning how and why everything around us works, and science classes are generally good at teaching that,” she said. Her motivation for academic success, Anne explained, is firmly rooted in her desire to do her very best in everything she endeavors.
Lemek said she thought the 2020/21 school year has been easier due to less outside schoolwork, but with all the preparing for college, it balanced everything out, she added, making the school year no easier or harder than it has been in years past. “It’s definitely been a different year; all of my classes are so much smaller, and only physically going into school two days a week is odd,” she said. “I’m probably getting more sleep than I have in the past few years though, so that’s nice.” Lemek added that, though much feels different, she is still enjoying herself.
Salutatorian Rachel Reinking
Rachel, the daughter of Jeffrey Reinking and Samantha Irvine of New Paltz, achieved her salutatorian status by achieving a GPA of 100.788. A member of the National Honor Society, Reinking is also a National Merit Scholarship Commended student. She takes classes in modern dance and ballet and works as a dancer and choreographer in the Barefoot Dance Company. She is also a member of the Elting Memorial Library Youth Advisory Group.
Reinking has a wide range of interests and enjoys studying almost every subject. “To me, having a great teacher is equally as important as an interesting curriculum, and my favorite classes have been taught by the teachers who have made the most impact on me,” she said. Reinking is planning to attend college next year; however, she is not ready to commit to either a school or a major. She enjoys reading, dancing and baking.
Reinking is grateful to her parents, who she says have helped her achieve her goals by supporting her whenever she felt unmotivated or discouraged.
Principal Fernandez expressed his pride over the fact that both of the top scholars this year are female. “New Paltz High School strives to provide programming led by extraordinary teachers aimed at opening doors to fields of study typically reserved for one sector of our society,” he said. “With the increased number of women entering into the fields of science and the magnitude of their contributions in the sciences, New Paltz High School celebrates the achievements of our female scholars, their work in the sciences and the potential for our students, regardless of gender, color or background to pursue their life goals.”