It was a record-setting year for Malverne High School’s top scholars, as 71 past and present students were recognized as Advanced Placement Scholars this fall. It was standing room only as honorees filled the high school library, accompanied by their parents, to accept their awards during the school board’s public meeting on Sept. 18. Four of the honorees were National A.P. Scholars.
“We’ve only had four in the past eight years,” said Malverne High School Principal Dr. Vincent Romano. “For this year, to have four in the same year is truly remarkable.”
Students who achieved national status scored an average of at least 4 on all A.P. exams taken, and scores of 4 or higher on eight or more exams. Scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest mark.
“Taking a lot of A.P. courses was hard to juggle with all my extracurricular activities and with applying to college,” said Charles Agriogianis, one of the four students who achieved the national honor. “But I like to keep busy in school, and Malverne’s A.P. teachers are really great.”
Agriogianis, 18, a freshman at the University of Illinois who is studying computer science, said that he enjoyed his A.P. classes, and that he thought taking rigorous courses in numerous subjects improved his college applications.
Endy Beltran, another one of the four National A.P. Scholars, said that he was surprised to see the number of students who achieved high marks.
“Our district has set the standards very high, and we’ve advanced to meet those expectations,” Beltran said.
Malverne School District Board President Jeanne D’Esposito attributed the high school’s success to increasing a students’ opportunities to excel. “That means giving them enough A.P. courses early enough in their school career,” D’Esposito said, “that if they want to build that kind of record and go for that kind of recognition and award, it’s there for them to do.”
Esposito, who is Agriogianis’s mother, also said that the school district promotes the idea that it’s cool to be smart. “They have a love of learning, and they’re intellectually curious,” she said. “They’re not just doing this because they want to put together some kind of record just to get into college. They’re taking these courses because they’re interested in them, and the teachers inspire them.”
Beltran, 17, a freshman at Massachusetts Institute of Technology who is studying chemical engineering, said that to achieve national honors, you have to be fearless and take risks.
“It’s something that you have to take a chance on,” Beltran said. “Keep trying and just keep going beyond your own expectations. You have to meet that and exceed that.”
Esposito added, “Some of our kids in our district don’t realize the amazing college opportunities that are available to them, and that’s part of what we’re working on as a district for them to expand their horizon and for them to realize that they’re good enough to apply to these schools and succeed at them.”
Agriogianis and Beltran — along with the other National A.P. Scholars Roshni Shukla and Angie Luna-Menjivar — were close friends who all rooted for one another.
“Having smart friends who were also doing well and getting high grades made me want to work hard and do well, too,” Agriogianis said. “We were all excited about applying to college and we wanted everyone to get into a great college.”
“We all studied with each other, and through the years, we all sort of brought each other up,” Beltran said. He added that while it did get competitive at times, their friendship is what mattered the most.
Beltran said Malvernites who aspire to become National A.P. Scholars should continue on their course. “I have no doubt that they will be better than us, and that they will set the bar even higher.”
Agriogianis urged his peers to take A.P. courses early in high school, and that achieving national honors is more than receiving scholarly awards. “Although, that is a nice thing if it happens,” he admitted, “it’s more important to challenge yourself as a student and take advanced coursework in all the subjects that interest you.”