The Best and Brightest class of 2018 – PennLive.com

This is the 26th year for the PennLive/Patriot-News Best and Brightest program that honors high school seniors in Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Perry and York counties. There were 189 applications. Two panels of judges then selected the 20 winners, who were honored at a reception at PA Media Group on May 9, 2018.

The 20 winners include 10 boys and 10 girls.   Selection is based on academics, extracurricular and community activities, an essay and letters of recommendation.

The Best and Brightest class of 2018 at a reception in their honor on May 9, 2018. ( Sean Simmers | ssimmers@pennlive.com)

The Best and Brightest 2018

The PennLive/Patriot-News Best and Brightest sitting from left are: Julie Lehman, Aniya Godwin, Emily Chung, Samantha Dyer, Megan Inglis, Katie Muir, Sage Maguire, Sara Malina, Fatima Asghar and Hannah Hess. Standing from left are Qi Li, Nicholas Neidlinger, Aidan Chalk Checkett, Peter Caldwell, Garret Little, Nicholas Fafel, Eli DePaulis, Trenton Squires, Carmen Andreoli and Philip Andreoli.

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Carmen Andreoli, a senior at Red Land High School. (Jason Malmont | Special to PennLive)

CARMEN ANDREOLI

School: Red Land High School

Parents: Anthony and Tina Andreoli

In his words: “As student council president, one of my goals is finding a solution to a lack of fundraising by my class. My friends and I tossed around alternatives to the no-incentive fundraising technique of selling candy that our school swore by. One idea stood out from the rest, a pay-to-play video game tournament. While it seemed outrageous initially, it modernized fundraising by incorporating both technology and comradery to raise money. Without any initial adult guidance, the tournament generated over $100, but I knew that we could do more.”

In their words: “Carmen Andreoli is the most honest, respectful, intelligent and reliable student I have ever had the pleasure of teaching. I met Carmen when he was 15 and watched him mature into the impressive young man he is today. Through the years, Carmen never fails to impress me with his drive to fulfill his own potential.” –   Robert Oliver Fairley, professional musician and music educator

Honors: National Honor Society, Foreign Language National Honor Society.

Activities: Co-founder of Video Games Fighting Hunger charity, founding member and drummer for UNUM band, Red Land High School anti-bullying panel member, student council president, student advisory council, guitar and drum lessons, Model UN, jazz band, Legislature Club, Science Olympiad, CYO basketball.

Mentor: Robert Oliver Fairley, professional musician and music educator

Plans: He will attend the University of Pittsburgh Honors College in the predentistry program.

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Philip Andreoli is a senior at Red Land High School. (Jason Malmont | Special to PennLive)

PHILIP ANDREOLI

School: Red Land High School

Parents: Anthony and Tina Andreoli

In his words: “With violence in schools frequently headlining today’s news, the mental bullying that often precipitates these terrible physical manifestations sometimes goes unnoticed. While some acts of violence are visible, the jabs to one’s psyche thrown through Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook are often invisible to teachers and parents. As part of a high school anti-bullying panel, I travel among several elementary and middle schools to speak to thousands of students every year to raise awareness and promote prevention of bullying.”

In their words: “Most importantly, his passion for learning and enthusiasm for school helped catapult Philip to the top of his class. Philip is also an excellent musician in his own band. … One of Philip’s most important contributions has been his involvement with our Anti-Bullying Club. Philip and his peers perform for young people and discuss the aspects and dangers of bullying. Philip is exemplary in his participation in schoolwide activities.” – Richard Rosen, teacher of the gifted

Honors: National Honor Society, Spanish National Honor Society, Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Conference.

Activities: Anti-Bullying panel, co-founder of Video Games Fighting Hunger nonprofit, co-founder and lead guitarist of UNUM band, WEST small jazz ensemble, vice president of student council, student advisory council, jazz band, Model UN, rocket club, CYO basketball.

Mentor: Richard Rosen, teacher of the gifted

Plans: He will attend the University of Pittsburgh Honors College majoring in industrial engineering.

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Fatima Asghar is a senior at Hershey High School. She is seen here at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, April 19, 2018. (Sean Simmers | ssimmers@pennlive.com)

FATIMA ASGHAR

School: Hershey High School

Parents: Ali Asghar and Munazza Ali

In her words: “In Saudi Arabia, women are treated as property and are not allowed to have their own free will. They cannot be outside alone after 5 p.m. without a male guardian, have jobs in the careers they want or be paid equally. They are unable to own property or a business, participate in any sports, or carry a personal credit card. Furthermore, they are forced to cover their bodies with a burqa and face with a hijab. If they refuse, society shuns them. … It was not until our family moved to the United States that I began to realize I had committed no crime. … After many years, I was finally given the chance and opportunity to be free.”

In their words: “When confronted with adversity, she cheerfully does her best. In her darkest moments, she usually produces her brightest work. The passion demonstrated via her play and her dream of healing people, in spite of a number of personal challenges, has truly impressed me.” – Colette Silvestri, gifted and enrichment teacher, Hershey High School

Honors: National Honor Society, National Art Honor Society, National Gold Medalist in the 2018 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards for her dramatic play, “Come Spring.” She will be honored at Carnegie Hall for that award on June 7. The play also won an Apollo Award honorable mention and second place in the International Storytelling competition sponsored by World Commons Council.

Activities: Hershey Public Library volunteer, chairwoman of mini-Thon, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center volunteer, a founder of The Syndicate statewide program, PULSE program at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

Mentor: Colette Silvestri, gifted and enrichment teacher, Hershey High School

Plans: She will attend HACC for two years then transfer to the Bucknell University scholars program to major in pre-med.

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Peter Caldwell is a senior at of Susquehanna Township High School, May 2, 2018. (Vicki Vellios Briner | Special to PennLive)

PETER CALDWELL

School: Susquehanna Township High School

Parents: Dann and Beth Caldwell

In his words: “In a world where it seems like everyone has one characteristic that defines them, or desires one category above all by which to define the self, I choose not to be defined by what others might think is mine. I live with Charcot-Marie-Tooth syndrome, a form of muscular dystrophy, which greatly reduces my coordination, motor skills and balance, just as it similarly affected my grandfather, father and uncle. The disability has significantly impacted my life, but it does not define who I am.”

In their words: “Peter has consistently proven himself to be a creative leader in the classroom. His assignments are unique, and I often use his work as examples to my other classes on what I expect them to do. Peter completes his work with minimal assistance and submits more than required to achieve a high grade. Peter will challenge himself on projects and make them more complex if he finds that they are not challenging enough for his skills. Peter works very well with his classmates and tends to take a leadership role during team projects. He will go out of his way to help other students with classroom projects.” – Christopher Haun, Susquehanna Township High School teacher

Honors: National Honor Society

Activities: Volunteer at Homeland Hospice, member of Charlton United Methodist Church youth group, concert band, marching band, robotics club, Key Club, 2017 homecoming king, school poll volunteer and game club.

Mentor: Christopher Haun, Susquehanna Township High School teacher

Plans: He will attend Harrisburg University to major in computer science.

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Aidan Chalk Checkett, a senior at Carlisle High School, photographed at Opossum Lake. April 26, 2018. (Dan Gleiter | dgleiter@pennlive.com)

AIDAN CHALK CHECKETT

School: Carlisle High School

Parents: John-Paul Checkett and Linda Chalk

In his words: “To me, my community is a microcosm of my country. To fix America’s problems, it’s important to address challenges in Carlisle. I have spent the last few years focusing on national concerns at a local level. … Only by starting in our own communities will we affect change. I am passionately involved in my school and community not only for the good of those in my life, but also because I know that is thousands of others do the same, true change and progress are possible.”

In their words: “I work exclusively with students who have IQs over 130, so it takes a lot for my students to distinguish themselves academically, but Aidan Checkett has. In fact, in my 15-year career, he’s among a handful of kids who stand out as exceptional in my estimation. Aidan truly loves to learn and think and discuss and argue. … Above all though, I would like to take a moment to talk about Aidan’s personality because he is one of the most compassionate young men with whom I have ever worked. He cares deeply about his fellow man and when he asks, ‘how are you?’ he sincerely wants to know. He has a deep sense of morality and a true passion for social justice.” – Matthew
Fahnestock, Carlisle High School teacher of the gifted

Honors: National Merit Scholarship finalist, Britton Scholar at Dickinson College, National Honor Society, National English Honor Society, National German Honor Society.

Activities: Outdoor and indoor track sprints/hurdles, Model UN, Academic Decathlon, class council, Keystone Boy’s State, cross country, quiz bowl, Brainbusters, and was a fellow with the Pennsylvania Democratic Coordinated Campaign.

Mentor: Matt Fahnestock, Carlisle High School teacher of the gifted

Plans: He will attend St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn.

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Emily Chung is a senior at Cumberland Valley High School. (Jason Malmont | Special to PennLive)

EMILY CHUNG

School: Cumberland Valley High School

Parents: Jen-Yi Chung and Yi-Hui Ma

In her words: “Through Sound of Healing, I have discovered the power of music in fulfilling the soul and creating a shared joy between performers and audience members. By encouraging the musicians to focus on using their music as a ‘means to connect’ with the community, regardless of their musical skill levels, I increased club membership from 15 members to 40 members within just one year. Throughout my leadership journey, I witnessed how the musicians’ level of confidence and the residents’ degree of engagement blossomed exponentially over time. I have fallen in love with seeing residents singing along to the music and smiling as if everything is perfect.”

In their words: “Emily Chung is a delightful young woman of exceptional brilliance and accomplishment who has found many ways to use her talents to serve and benefit others. Emily’s academic record shows her incredible intellect, dedication and the results of her persistent efforts. Her amazing resume shows you her breadth of knowledge, her wide interests and that she is simply really good at everything she does.” – Ann Shurtz, Shurtz Music Studio

Honors: National Honor Society, National Association for Music Education’s All-National Orchestra,   winner of the 2017 Young Artist Concerto Competition, state finalist for National History Day Competition, concertmaster Harrisburg Symphony Youth Orchestra, National AP Scholar, National World Language Honor Society.

Activities:  Violinist in the Cumberland Valley High School orchestra and musical pit orchestra, Harrisburg Symphony Youth Orchestra, Cumberland Valley High School quartet,  Er-hu student and elite performance team  Chinese dancer at Chinese Cultural and Arts Institute, high school Sound of Healing Club music therapy president, high school Students Teaching International Languages to elementary students, mini-Thon, Key Club, Math Club, Moody’s Mega Math Challenge, Science Olympiad, student council, Chinese Club, It Takes One Club, piano accompanist, recreation soccer, summer 2017 intern at the University of Delaware.

Mentor: Dr. Archana Siddam, commissioner’s fellow, FDA

Plans: She will attend the University of California, Los Angeles, to major in biochemistry.

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Eli DePaulis at Kings Gap State Park, April 20, 2018. (Dan Gleiter | dgleiter@pennlive.com)

ELI DePAULIS

School: Homeschooled (Bermudian Springs School District)

Parents: Kevin and Ann DePaulis

In his words: “Working to protect our  natural resources through education, land restoration, and research is my passion. I greatly enjoy leading bird walks, presenting programs, taking kids fishing, spearheading land restoration projects and volunteering for conservation programs. While I do personally enjoy conservation work, I really see conservation work as a way to benefit communities and protect the wildlife we enjoy. I know that when a nature preserve is restored or a trail is opened because of my efforts, I have made some kind of positive impact on the local community and wildlife.”

In their words: “It has been through our group’s practice sessions and competitions that I’ve had the opportunity to learn about Eli’s interest in conservation and his hands-on approach to learning about habitat improvement and wildlife management. Eli’s face lights up when given the chance to share his field experiences. … Throughout my 25 years of teaching high school agricultural education, I have experienced many outstanding individuals. I believe, however, that Eli has exceptional potential in any career area he embarks. He is confident, studious, respectful and above all, good-hearted.” – Dianna Jarema, agriculture educator, FFA adviser and Envirothin coach at Bermudian Springs High School.

Honors:  Eagle Scout, selected to Wildlife Leadership Academy, named trout run committee representative for the Appalachian Audubon Society Kittatinny Ridge Coalition annual meeting, Scholastic Art and Writing awards, top youth shooter award at the Ted Lick Memorial Sporting Clays Classic 2017.

Activities:  Appalachian Audubon Society Trout Run Nature Preserve project manager, Appalachian Audubon Society outreach coordinator, member and volunteer; volunteer with Audubon Pennsylvania and National Audubon Society Christmas bird count; Boy Scouts of America; Dauphin County Parks and Recreation volunteer at Wildwood and Detweiler Parks; Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources volunteer at Sinnemahoning State Park; Ned Smith Center for Nature and the Arts volunteer; University of Kansas Monarch watch volunteer; Cornell Lab of Ornithology Citizen Science Projects; Bermudian Springs High School Envirothon team; Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, Abbottstown, usher, photographer; wildlife photographer and sporting clays.

Mentor:  Kim Lott, environmental education specialist at Sinnemahoning State Park

Plans: He will attend Penn State Dubois wildlife technology program seeking to earn an associate degree in wildlife technology and a bachelor’s degree in wildlife and fisheries science.

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Samantha Dyer at Fort Hunter Mansion, April 18, 2018. (Dan Gleiter | dgleiter@pennlive.com)

SAMANTHA DYER

School: Harrisburg Christian School

Parents: Timothy Dyer and Renee Henry

In her words: “This past summer I was away from home May 23 to Aug. 5 at basic combat training. I was only 17 and it was the hardest thing I have done so far. Every day I was pushed further and further, but it was worth it because I grew physically and mentally stronger. All of these experiences have taught me that my life is about more than just me. Serving my school and community has taught me the importance of using what you have been given to change people’s lives for the better and that is something I plan to do for the rest of my life.”

In their words: “It has been exciting to watch Sam grow and develop throughout her high school years. … There is something you will not see from her application materials that I would like to share with you as another shining example of Sam’s love for others and readiness to lead. The second oldest in her family of six siblings and the eldest child at home for a number of years, Sam does a great deal to help her family. Several of her siblings have barriers to learning and need specialized attention, which Sam in part provides. She is a caregiver and contributing member of the household. … Just this month, putting her EMT certification to work, Sam helped her mother through a heart attack, serving as medical liaison and assisting with home health care – brilliantly balancing her academic, family, church, military, community and college obligations with the poise and humility rarely seen in anyone. I hold Samantha Carol Dyer in the highest esteem.” – Jennifer Beittel, chief advancement officer, Harrisburg Christian School

Honors: National Honor Society, valedictorian

Activities: Member of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, serves on the Governor’s Youth Council for Hunting, Fishing and Conservation, varsity soccer, lacrosse and basketball, student council and holds national and state EMT certification.

Mentor: Colleen Seace, camp director, Pennsylvania Bible Teaching Fellowship

Plans: She will attend Shippensburg University with a major in chemistry and a minor in anthropology. She plans to attend medical school.

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Nicholas Fafel at Penn Manor High School, May 1, 2018. (Sean Simmers | ssimmers@pennlive.com)

NICHOLAS FAFEL

School: Penn Manor High School

Parents: Steve and Vicki Fafel

In his words: “It is the hard things of life that shape our character. Persistence, determination and commitment are formed from the deep challenges we face and obstacles we overcome. Thankfully, knowledge, work ethic, healthy relationships, discipline and personal character have no height requirement or strength test.”

In their words: “Nick Fafel is a rare person who has both a brain for academics and a heart for doing good unto others. He is one of the hardest working young people I have ever met. He is gifted academically, especially in the areas of math and science. … He achieves his goals by being a quiet, methodical worker who takes his time and checks his work to be sure that it is perfect. Along with being a talented student academically, Nick is also well rounded. … What sets Nick apart from others, though, is his heart. He is humble and kind. He helps others, asking nothing in return.” – Holly Mercadante, Penn Manor High School English teacher

Honors: National Honor Society, Science National Honor Society, selected for the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Sciences, course honors distinction at Millersville University for being the top student in three math courses, selected for Lancaster-Lebanon League 1st Team All Stars for cross country and 2nd Team All Stars for wrestling, first in his class.

Activities: Penn Manor Technology Student Association president, cross country team captain, wrestling team captain, volunteer math tutor, track and field, math bowl coach for elementary students.

Mentor: Doug Kramer, captain of the Penn Manor cross country team when Nicholas was a junior.

Plans: He will attend the University of Delaware as a Eugene du Pont Scholar, majoring in chemical engineering.

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Aniyah Godwin in the science lab at Harrisburg High School SciTech Campus, April 19, 2018. (Sean Simmers | ssimmers@pennlive.com)

ANIYAH GODWIN

School: Harrisburg High School – SciTech Campus

Parent: Felicia Wilburn

In her words: “One club that I am co-president of is Caring Team, and through this club I believe I have made the largest impact in my school. The Caring Team works with Highmark Caring Place to assist grieving families through the loss of a loved one. This club means a lot to me and is close to my heart because I am a child who has lost a parent and I am aware of the support that one needs.”

In their words: “Aniyah possesses a relentless drive for understanding, coupled with attention to detail. Her finished assignments are always exemplary and she routinely outperformed her classmates on exams. Aniyah has both the drive and intellectual ability to see her future goals come to fruition. … Aniyah possesses an amazing sense of empathy toward others. She truly finds in every one of her endeavors, a way to make life better for someone else.” – Rebecca Hardie, college in the high school instructor at SciTech

Honors: National Honor Society, first place in the Capital Area Science and Engineering Fair where she also received the senior category first place award, Naval Science Award, U.S. Metric Association award for the best use of the International System of Units and U.S. Air Force certificate of achievement, and she is first in her class.

Mentor: Serina Brown, director of youth ministries, Bethesda Mission Community Center

Plans: She will attend either Penn State University or the University of Pittsburgh. (She will reveal her choice at her graduation party)

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Hannah Hess at Fort Hunter at the Rockville Bridge, May 02, 2018. (Sean Simmers | ssimmers@pennlive.com)

HANNAH HESS

School: Upper Dauphin Area High School

Parent: William Hess

In her words: “My dad shared a quote with me when I was very young that said, ‘You are the sum of your decisions.’ Since then, I have often thought of that quote, and how I am continuously adding good things in order to define and build my character, work ethic and ambition to learn and succeed in both school and life. While I was in elementary school, my father decided to go to college so that he could provide a steady income for our family. Over the course of three years, my father graduated from college and was accepted into a steady paying job, while I was nominated by my school to attend the Junior National Youth Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. During that same time period, my mother’s father passed away, my father’s mother passed away and my mother suddenly passed away. I ran for student council president by speaking in front of the entire student body less than a month after my mother passed away.”

In their words: “In my 10 years of teaching, I haven’t had another student as determined or hard working as Hannah. … Hannah is the type of student who loves doing research projects, both individually and in groups. She’s a very organized person, who will work tirelessly to become an expert on the topic that she’s researching. There doesn’t seem to be a topic in science that can’t pique Hannah’s interest.” – Jesse Heath, Upper Dauphin Area High School math and science teacher

Honors: National Honor Society, second place in the VFW Voice of Democracy essay contest, Woodmen of Life Insurance Agency Chapter 721 American History Award, Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership program.

Activities: Student council, class secretary, Future Business Leaders of America vice president, volunteers at a nursing home, Peer Helpers, Aevidum, community volunteer.

Mentor: Frances Rineer, 101-year-old neighbor

Plans: She will attend Penn State Harrisburg majoring in civil engineering and business administration.

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Megan Inglis photographed on City Island in Harrisburg in her Sea Cadet dress blues, April 20, 2018. (Sean Simmers | ssimmers@pennlive.com)

MEGAN INGLIS

School: Palmyra Area High School

Parent: Amy Inglis

In her words: “The change that I am most proud of is something that happened less than two weeks ago, and will go into effect on March 14. Due to the events in Parkland, Fla., there was a movement to have students walk out of their classrooms across the country to bring awareness to the event. The original plan was to walk out of class from 10 a.m. to 10:17 a.m. to recognize the 17 people who died, then walk back into class. Several schools were outright banning this event, so as to make sure that students stayed in class, trying to threaten students with detention or suspension. … So, I emailed the school principal … asking if he would be willing to work with me on making the event a positive thing for the school rather than something that the faculty would have to be concerned about.” (Students were permitted to stand in the school’s atrium for 17 minutes)

In their words: “Megan is a gifted, intelligent and compassionate young woman. I have known Megan for four years as she was my student in college level U.S. history course. Her achievements in that were great examples of her academic promise and determination. … As a student, Megan displays great potential. … Megan also possesses all the qualities that are desired for leaders in our society.” – Kyle Hey, Palmyra Area High School social studies teacher

Honors: From the Sea Cadet Corps – Sons of the American Revolution Citizenship Award medal and ribbon, Honor Cadet for Medical Training, Academic Achievement Ribbon, Recruiting Incentive Ribbon, Unit Commendation Ribbon, Staff Cadet and Color Guard ribbons, five Challenge Coins.

Activities: Member of the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps, volunteer at Ronald McDonald House, Sexuality and Gender Alliance at Palmyra Area High School, Tabletop RPG.

Mentor: Jess Williamson, and EMT and an instructor and medical officer with the U.S. Sea Cadet Corps

Plans: She is enrolled in the Delayed Enlistment Program in the U.S. Navy and will attend boot camp in August. She hopes to train in nuclear engineering and attend submarine school.

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Julie Lehman at Fort Hunter Park, April 30, 2018. (Dan Gleiter | dgleiter@pennlive.com)

JULIE LEHMAN

School: Central Dauphin East High School

Parent: Nancy Lehman

In her words: “I feel the need to help others because I relate to the pain or struggles people may be facing. I cannot sit back and know I could be doing something to help them. Where it is helping a friend with a math project all night or helping organize an event with charities in the community, all helpful actions make a difference. No matter the size or spectrum of people you reach out to, these actions can change lives.”

In their words: “Julie has one of the best work ethics that I have ever seen. Given the chance, she will excel and shine. She has had to overcome some personal issues in her young life. … We often talk about ways to be happy and she is determined to be the hero of her own story.” – Amy Clark-Grubb, Central Dauphin East High School chemistry teacher

Honors: National Honor Society, Tri-M Music Honor Society and is first in her class.

Activities: Red Cross Club, select orchestra, yearbook, county orchestra, Lebanon Valley College honors orchestra, musical pit orchestra, Latin Club, FBLA, tutoring, student government.

Mentor: Amy Clark-Grubb, Central Dauphin East High School chemistry teacher

Plans: She will attend Lebanon Valley College and major in chemistry.

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Qi Li is a senior at Red Lion Area Senior High School. (Jason Malmont | Special to PennLive)

QI LI

School: Red Lion Area Senior High School

Parent: Jinliang Cai

In his words: “Born in Nanning, China, I once lived in a culture much different from the one I live in today. As an infant, I lived with my grandparents and father, while spending only weekends with my mother. It was difficult growing up in my neighborhood because of the predominant poverty in the area, which included my own family. In 2006, my life changed when my mother took me to America in order to marry my stepfather. The culture shock made growing up very difficult.”

In their words: “You will not find another who compares to this young man. Determined beyond measure, goal-oriented and driven, academically at the top of his class, and quite simply, an incredible young man. … He is articulate, well-spoken, kind-hearted and altruistic. His academic skills are outstanding and he clearly expresses himself and his ideas with ease and in doing so, gains the respect of his teachers and peers. … I am constantly amazed at his perseverance and the positive impression that he leaves on his peers, providing them with a sense to reach new heights.” – Pamela Scott, guidance counselor, Red Lion Area Senior High School

Honors: National Honor Society, Rotary Youth Leadership Award Conference, American Guild of Organists, 2018 York College Concert Competition winner.

Activities: Mazie Gable Elementary The Den elementary afterschool program volunteer, York College Preparatory School of Music piano lessons, yearbook, Robotics team, concert choir, Madrigal Choir, school musical, marching band, symphonic band, jazz ensemble, New Covenant Community Church worship team, Modern Music Masers, Trinity College Preparatory Academy and full-time organist, pianist and music director at Zion United Church of Christ.

Mentor: Gretchen Dekker, adjunct music professor and piano instructor at York College

Plans: He will attend Bucknell University with an undeclared engineering major.

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Garrett Little of Lower Dauphin High School, April 15, 2018. (Vicki Vellios Briner | Special to PennLive)

GARRETT LITTLE

School: Lower Dauphin High School

Parents: Kevin and Laura Little

In his words: “The largest impact that I have had on my community deals with my Eagle Scout project. … For my project, I designed and constructed a prayer garden for my church. The project cost $7,000 and involved over 300 hours of labor. I met with experts to seek their knowledge in designing the project; I developed a budget and fundraising activities; and executed the construction of the prayer garden. A major problem with this project was the cost. Initially the projected cost for the  project was over $10,000. Through negotiations and donations, I was able to stay within my budget.”

In their words: “It is rare and a special opportunity to have the privilege to know a high school student who has life in perspective. With all of the distractions in today’s world, it is easy to lose sight of one’s goals and the bigger picture. Garrett Little is a student who has remained dedicated to preparing himself for the future and in the process has served as an excellent role model for his peers.” – Mary Fuller, assistant coach, high school cross country team

Honors: National Math Honor Society, National Science Honor Society, National Honor Society, National Spanish Honor Society, Eagle Scout award, Falcon Pride Respect Award

Activities: Assistant Scoutmaster of Londonderry Boy Scout Troop No. 97, Lower Dauphin 4-H Livestock Club, cross country, track and field, elementary track and field coach, concert band.

Mentor: Ted Pauley, committee chairman, Londonderry Boy Scout Troop No. 97

Plans: He will attend Iowa State University to major in biological systems engineering in agriculture.

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Sage Maguire, a senior at Mechanicsburg Area Senior High School, photographed at Gifford Pinchot State Park, May 3, 2018. (Sean Simmers | ssimmers@pennlive.com)

SAGE MAGUIRE

School: Mechanicsburg Area Senior High School

Parents: Glenn and Amanda Reisinger

In her words: “I suffered through domestic abuse as a child and because of that trauma, I founded a nonprofit organization titled White Dove Domestic Violence Organization. Our goal is to combat abuse by financially providing for local families who have just left an abusive situation. It is our dream to stop the cycle of abuse by instilling in children that they are important and needed and that the abuse does not define who they are as people. They are not victims of what happened; they are perseverers, warriors, survivors.”

In their words: Sage is “one of the most determined and endearing students I’ve known in my 15-year career as a counselor. Sage is known for her resilience, intellectual aptitude and compassion. … Sage’s personal qualities match her intellectual accomplishments. She is a mature, perceptive and genuine person who cares about the well-being of others. … She is truly a young woman with vision and drive. Sage has the determination, intellect and heart to make a real difference in the world.” – Robin Clark, Mechanicsburg Area Senior High School counselor

Honors: National Honor Society, President’s Award for Academic Achievement, Outstanding Student Award from the Elks.

Activities: Founder of White Dove Domestic Violence Organization, orchestra.

Mentor: Robin Clarke, guidance counselor, Mechanicsburg Area Senior High School

Plans: She will attend Gettysburg College as an Abraham Lincoln Scholar majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology.

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Sara Malina of Central Dauphin High School with Susquehanna Service Dog, Breeze, a 4 year-old Labrador retriever, May 2, 2018. (Sean Simmers | ssimmers@pennlive.com)

SARA MALINA

School: Central Dauphin High School

Parents: Stuart and Martha Malina

In her words: “When I was 10, success meant curing cancer, flying to the moon or changing the world. Success was big and loud and made a difference for hundreds, if not millions, of people. There was one problem with the definition; you can’t cure cancer or fly to the moon when you’re 10. Nevertheless, I worked hard and assumed that eventually I would change the world. … My definition of success has evolved since then. Great things can be accomplished by impacting one person at a time. This has informed not just the way I approach community service but also every activity in which I participate.”

In their words: “… the most impressive thing by far about Sara is not that she is valedictorian of her class or a musical leader, but the choices she made in how she selflessly spends her free time. She raised and trained service dogs. She spent a summer learning Arabic at a language institute to help Syrian refugees. I have not encountered many students who were not only locally but globally minding in giving back to humanity. It is the combination of her academic and musical success and her compassion that have earned her a place in my memory as one of the top students I have worked with, and one of the most kind and caring as well.” – Greg Woodbridge, music director, Harrisburg Symphony Youth Orchestra

Honors: National Merit Scholarship finalist, National AP Scholar, 2017 Girls World Expo Girl of Merit, Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership participant, Outstanding High School Chemistry student from the Southeastern Pennsylvania Section of the American Chemical Society, National Honor society, valedictorian.

Activities: Volunteer with the Harrisburg Interfaith community helping Syrian refugees and with Susquehanna Service Dogs, Mock Trial, principal cellist of the Harrisburg Symphony Youth orchestra, Middlebury Interactive Language Arabic Academy.

Mentor: Lori Reese, owner of Consider It Done, LLC

Plans: She will attend Johns Hopkins University with an undecided major on the pre-med track.

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Best and Brightest Katie Muir, a Milton Hershey student, photographed at Milton Hershey School’s Catherine Hall, April 13, 2018. (Dan Gleiter | dgleiter@pennlive.com)

KATIE MUIR

School: Milton Hershey School

Parents: Joseph and Kathy Muir

In her words: “As part of my eight-day immersive experience in Peru, I visited several native communities, and in particular it was the system of education that troubled me. Seven little smiles waited patiently for us to pack into the room. A delicate woman stood in front of the room and explained that she taught off the children ages 4-11. Although there were only seven children in the room, on any day there could be up to 25 students all under the direction of one teacher. Not only was there a disconnect between the students and the teacher, there were also limited resources available to the students. … It was in that moment where my personal mission became defined.”

In their words: “Her leadership, determination to succeed and work ethic place her among the best and most committed in her generation. From the moment we met, her humble character, strong values and exceptional interpersonal abilities left a strong impression on not only myself, but our Milton Hershey School adult administration team. … Katie Muir is not your typical high school student. She illustrates maturity and diligence which exemplify her ability to not only overcome but surpass any obstacles faced. Her dedication, humility and perseverance outshine her peers, yet she delivers this promising trio in the utmost humble way.” – Michelle Weber, student government coordinator, Milton Hershey School

Honors: Received a $500 grant from Education First to launch a global nonprofit called Our Project to provide students across the nation with multicultural education and leadership experiences, National Honor Society, Sociedad Honoraria Hispanica founder and president.

Activities: Student government president, Mock Trial, Junior Chapel leader, writing center tutor, Experiences Camp counselor.

Mentor: Michelle Weber, student government coordinator, Milton Hershey School

Plans: She will attend the University of Pennsylvania majoring in international relations and economics.

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Best and Brightest Nicholas Neidlinger of Steelton-Highspire High School, April 22, 2018. (Vicki Vellios Briner | Special to PennLive)

NICHOLAS NEIDLINGER

School: Steelton-Highspire High School

Parents: James and Jody Neidlinger

In his words: “Recently I was elected to our borough council as the first junior borough council member. Through this I have been able to attend meetings with our borough council, our police department and our parks and recreation department. the most important part of my position is to take what I learn in these meetings and put it into action with the students in the high school. We want to make the relationships with the police department and our students a more positive experience.”

In their words: “Getting to know and teach Nick has been one of the greatest joys of my career. Nick’s contributions have been numerous during his time at Steel-High. A natural leader, Nick adds invaluable input, volunteers at class events and is often solicited for guidance from his peers. He is extremely dedicated, donating energy and time to ensure his class leaves a lasting, positive legacy. … I’m beyond proud of this impressive young man. Nick possesses the necessary characteristics for this accolade; a motivated and passionate leader, an interested and driven student, and widely respected person of utmost character.” – Erin Drayer, American literature, journalism and sports literature teacher, Steelton-Highspire Junior/Senior High School

Honors: National Honor Society, valedictorian.

Activities: Junior council member, Steelton Borough Council; class president; peer tutor; varsity football, baseball and soccer; Mid Penn Conference All-Star for football; all-time leader in starts and extra points for football; Fellowship of Christian Athletes; youth soccer coach; recreational soccer and baseball; yoga club.

Mentor: John Murray, special teams coach, West Shore School District

Plans: He will attend Misericordia University as a nursing major.

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Trenton Squires, a Bermudian Springs High School senior, in his home workshop, April 24, 2018. (Dan Gleiter | dgleiter@pennlive.com)

TRENTON SQUIRES

School: Bermudian Springs High School

Parents: Burt and Janet Squires

In his words: “Admittedly, I am not the loudest voice in the room and that has always been a challenge, but I always strive to be heard through my actions. A leader isn’t always the person who carries the flag or the person with the loudest voice. I believe leadership is a force – the act of setting positive examples that others can (and more importantly, want to) emulate. … Our small community library is the heart of our rural farming community and volunteering there makes me feel closer to everyone. I support a variety of activities ranging from the mundane, like shelving books, to fun, like assisting a singing clown duo in their show for kids (I have the pictures to prove it – no regrets!).

In their words: “Trenton is an extremely responsible, dependable, pleasant and courteous young man. He exhibits authority and leadership skills in all aspects of his life, especially in his involvement with school, music and sports. … Trenton is an example of what is right with young people today. He is outgoing, hard-working and mature in his dealings with others. Trenton is truly a nice, respectable young man.” – Sharon Cooley, Colley Music Studio

Honors: National Merit Scholarship Program letter of commendation, PHEAA Certificate of Merit, National Honor Society.

Activities: Varsity soccer, varsity tennis, earned 23 college credits while in high school, captain of school VEX Robotics team, pianist, music ensemble, library volunteer, fifth-generation coppersmith with The Copper Star, elementary school STEM Club mentor, hydroponic gardening, hiking and geocaching.

Mentor: Albert Lowas, Bermudian Springs High School Robotics team adviser

Plans: He will attend Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute majoring in mechanical engineering.

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Joe Hermitt, PennLive

The preliminary judges

The judges in the preliminary round were, upper left, Albert Parrillo, supervisor of students services at Cumberland Perry Area Vocational Technical School; upper right, Takia Colston-Krow, performance excellence and outreach coordinator at Susquehanna Twp. School District; middle left, John Rubisch, guidance counselor at Susquenita High School; middle right, Jill Sedor, retired teacher, Susquehanna Twp. School District; and bottom from left, Frank Flamini, administrative director at Adams County Tech Prep; Sharon Caba, retired from Naval Support Activity Mechanicsburg;  and John Bricker, retired teacher, Central Dauphin School District. Judge Deb Wire, a retired Harrisburg School District teacher, is not pictured.

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Preliminary round judges, from left, Frank Flamini, Sharon Caba and John Bricker. (Joe Hermitt | jhermitt@pennlive.com)

The semifinalists

The Best and Brightest semifinalists were:

Alexander Almer, Northern Lebanon High School

Patrick Anderson, Spring Grove Area High School

Carmen Andreoli, Red Land High School

Philip Andreoli, Red Land High School

Fatima Asghar, Hershey High School

Jacob Azriel, York Country Day School

Shelby Bauer, Annville-Cleona High School

Grace Bechtel, Cumberland Valley High School

Brooke Bergman, Dallastown Area High School

Twisha Bhardwaj, Hershey High School

Samuel Brandt, Northern High School

Emma Britton, New Oxford High School

Anthony Calamia, Central Dauphin East High School

Peter Caldwell, Susquehanna Twp. High School

Hannah Callihan, Lebanon Catholic High School

Aidan Chalk Checkett, Carlisle High School

Agatha Chmielewski, Bishop McDevitt

Emily Chung, Cumberland Valley High School

Katelyn Collingsworth, Camp Hill High School

Katherine Comisac, Susquenita High School

AtoniLynn Cooper, Harrisburg High School SciTech Campus

Sabina Dahal, Harrisburg High School SciTech Campus

Katelyn Danczyk, York Catholic High School

Nicholas DeMarchis, East Pennsboro Area High School

Eli DePaulis, homeschooled

Mackenzie DeVita, Kennard Dale High School

Dante DiAngelis, Northern Lebanon High School

Madison Downs, Red Lion High School

Samantha Dyer, Harrisburg Christian School

Nicholas Fafel, Penn Manor High School

Elizabeth Farmer, New Oxford High School

Jacob Fetterolf, Cumberland Valley High School

Sarah Fluke, Middletown Area High School

Cameron George, Red Lion High School

Sarah Groetz, Dallastown Area High School

Aniyah Godwin, Harrisburg High School SciTech Campus

Harshita Gupta, Cumberland Valley High School

Sarah Gawne, Lampeter-Strasburg High School

Maria Goldman, Hershey High School

Jordan Haberstroh, Columbia High School

Ryan Harden, Bishop McDevitt High School

Hannah Hess, Upper Dauphin Area High School

Sarah Hollen, Palmyra Area High School

Maria Howe, Lancaster Catholic High School

Keir Hunter, Millersburg Area High School

Jairo Idelfonso, William Penn High School

Megan Inglis, Palmyra Area High School

Kenneth Kannampully, Trinity High School

Alexander Koontz, West York Area High School

Rory Klingensmith, Lower Dauphin High School

Evalyn Knowles, Bermudian Springs High School

Erin Kraskewicz, Elizabethtown Area High School

Matthew Lane, Lancaster Country Day School

Julie Lehman, Central Dauphin East High School

Qi Li, Red Lion High School

Garrett Little, Lower Dauphin High School

Xuwen Lou, Harrisburg Academy

Sage Maguire, Mechanicsburg Area High School

Sara Malina, Central Dauphin High School

Destiny Mangus-Velez, Harrisburg High School SciTech Campus

Dorothy Marquet, Bermudian Springs High School

Alexandra Miller, Susquenita High School

Ian Miller, Littlestown Senior High School

Samuel Mosholder, Biglerville High School

Eric Mott, Warwick High School

Katie Muir, Milton Hershey School

Nicholas Neidlinger, Steelton-Highspire High School

Tiffany Nguyen, East Pennsboro Area High School

Peace Okiye, Central Dauphin East High School

Margarete Davila Ortiz, J.P. McCaskey High School

Riyana Owens, Dallastown Area High School

Conner Pennington, Cedar Crest High School

Mackenzie Peters, Commonwealth Charter Academy

Emily Pinchott, Milton Hershey School

Shreya Rajachandran, Dallastown Area High School

Alexandra Reinecker, York Suburban High School

Haylee Reisinger, West Perry High School

Sydney Richardson, Harrisburg Academy

Logan Rockwell, James Buchanan High School

Callie Rohrer, Susquenita High School

Ashley Sauder, Halifax High School

Abigail Scheib, Millersburg Area High School

Wesley Sechrist, Dallastown Area High School

Wen Seng, Susquehanna Twp. High School

Phoenix Simpson, Susquenita High School

Renee Sollenberger, James Buchanan High School

Morgan Starliper, Northern High School

Ella Starr, Halifax High School

Trenton Squires, Bermudian Springs High School

Heather Taylor, Camp Hill High School

Smaran Teru, Mechanicsburg Area High School

Zoe Timothy, Susquenita High School

Tyler Villegas, Central Dauphin High School

Stephanie Violette, Northern High School

Jamie Walmer, Donegal High School

Joshua Wildonger, Cedar Crest High School

Brooke Yurick, Bermudian Springs High School

Helen Zheng, Cedar Crest High School

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Joe Hermitt, PennLive

The final judges

The judges for the final round were, top row from left, Katie Schreckengast, Miss Pennsylvania 2017; Lindsay Hough, partner, Deloitte Consulting; Peter Sirotin, artistic director, Market Square Concerts; and Susan Anthony, retired from The Patriot-News. In the bottom row from left, Bishop Ronald Gainer, Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg; Tiffany Chang Lawson, executive director, Governor’s Advisory Commission on Asian American Affairs; Timothy DeFoor, Dauphin County controller; and Lt. Col. Jason Ballard, Army War College.

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Joe Hermitt, PennLive

The Best and Brightest reception

The 20 Best and Brightest were honored at a reception held at PA Media Group on May 9. Guest speaker was Miss Pennsylvania 2017 Katie Schreckengast. The winners were each presented with a framed copy of  their photo, taken by PennLive photographers.

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