HIGHLAND - Highland High School Class of 2014 students Shannon Ward and Osmaan Shahi have been designated to fill the Class of 2014’s top two academic posts: valedictorian and salutatorian.
Valedictorian Shannon Ward not only leads her class in academic achievement with a 101.84 GPA, but she also excels in leadership and sports. Co-president of the National Honor Society, she has served as captain of the varsity softball, soccer, and basketball teams. Having been honored earlier this year as Highland’s first Time Warner Cable News Scholar Athlete of the Week in the Hudson Valley, she has also been named a Section IX All-Star three times, and her teams have won four sectional titles (three in basketball and one in softball).
Outside of sports, she plays trombone, has been in the Ulster All County Band every year since fifth grade, and was chosen for the NY Area All-State Orchestra in December. She is also active on the school’s Quiz Bowl team, Math team, and the Science Olympiad team, through which she has won eight high school medals in all.
This busy 17-year-old scholar athlete also volunteers as a Deacon at the First Presbyterian Church of Highland, visiting shut-in members and doing setup and cleanup for services and events, such as their pancake breakfasts. The daughter of Tom and Laurie Ward of Highland, Shannon will soon choose a college, where she plans to pursue a degree in Engineering.
"It’s great to be named valedictorian, and it is also satisfying to see that all the work over the years, the hours that I have put in, have resulted in such a tangible award," reflects Shannon. "While I think there is always room for improvement, I try to achieve what I can to the best of my ability."
Osmaan Shahid has been named this year’s salutatorian. He is a member of the National Honor Society and the Tri-M Music Honor Society and is also the current co-president of the Interact Club, as well as the former president of the junior class Student Council. Osmaan earned the salutatorian honor with an impressive 101.47 GPA.
Son of father Shahid Javid and mother Sayeda Shahid, he has pursued a number of service projects through Interact. The group is currently raising money to support the various improvement initiatives of Project Okurase (promoting Opportunity, Knowledge, Understanding), one of which will assist some of the water-starved villages in Ghana. Osmaan and his fellow students are also fundraising to support "Shelter Box," an international disaster relief charity that delivers emergency shelter and vital aid to people affected by disasters worldwide.
A highlight of the last several years was his trip last year along with seven fellow HHS students to the National Youth Leadership Conference in Denver, sponsored by the Highland Rotary Club. Osmaan is also currently on the track and field team for both discus and shot put, and previously participated in both wrestling and football.
In his sophomore year, Osmaan placed third in the Section IX Wrestling Tournament at the 160-pound weight class. In his junior year, he also received the Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony Award from the University of Rochester, conferred on a high school student who is committed to understanding and addressing social issues.
"I think that it is an honor to have been selected salutatorian. It shows that you don’t have to be the smartest to do well, but if you work hard, you can get to some really great places," Osmaan observed. "One of the most important things I’ve learned in high school is that there is nothing that can stop you from doing what you want to do."