More than 30 years ago, Goshen High School administrators began honoring the top six graduating seniors instead of the traditional top two. Recognizing that these high-achieving students’ GPAs were merely hundredths of a point apart, the district felt they all deserved to be honored for their accomplishments. And so began the Goshen top-six Honor Grads tradition which runs strong today, for good reason.
For the past four years, Honor Grads Perla Almanzar, Emma Finkelstein, Sydney Jessup, Anya Malhotra, Braden Smith and Robert Winslow immersed themselves in extra-curricular activities, volunteer work, and interscholastic athletics—all while dedicating themselves to achieving high academic standards.
It won’t be long before they head out into the world, taking with them their memories and lessons learned. Each of them will also recall how their school chose to celebrate their accomplishments together as the Class of 2020 Honor Grads.
Perla will be attending Fordham University to study biomedical sciences. She aspires to be a trauma surgeon. Perla is the daughter of Luz and Manuel Almanzar of New Hampton.
Extra-curricular activities: violinist, National Honor Society, World Languages Honor Society, Interact Club, Leo Club
Volunteer work/employment: medical intern at Horizon Family Medical Group, volunteer at Orange Regional Medical and SUNY Morrison Lab School, missionary for Next Step Ministries, Sunday school teacher at Oasis Church
Honors and awards: National Honors Society, World Languages Honor Society, Honor Roll in grades 9-12, certificate of achievement for global history 9, pre-calculus honors award, AP language & composition award
On being an Honor Grad: “It is a great honor to have been chosen as one of the top 6. I feel so blessed and excited, especially in the midst of everything happening nowadays. I have worked hard to do well in school and this is a great reward.”
On her preparation for the future: “Goshen has given me the opportunity of taking advanced classes that prepared me well for my next journey in college. My teachers have been exceptional and I profoundly thank them for their dedication and care. Goshen is an amazing district that focuses on, not only the well-being of its students, but also on an impeccable education that opens great doors.”
Looking ahead: “I look forward to dive into college and get used to the new atmosphere and routine.”
On her success: “Above all, I credit God for my success and then my family. My parents have always believed in me and supported me all my life. My siblings have always cheered me up and are proud of me. I have a big, extended family and their love and values have also been part of this success. Lastly, but not least, I thank my teachers for their dedication and help.”
Emma will attend Northwestern University where she plans to major in political science or legal studies, with a minor in Spanish. She hopes to become a lawyer. Emma is the daughter of Bonna Horovitz and Joel Finkelstein of Goshen.
Extra-curricular activities/athletics: Four years on the girls varsity tennis team (co-captain); Odyssey of the Mind since 4th grade, placing 5th at the World Finals at Iowa State, recipient of the Ranatra Fusca Award; founder and coach of Goshen’s first primary (K-2) Odyssey of the Mind team; travel columnist for school newspaper
Volunteer work/employment: volunteer therapy dog attendant for visits with nursing home residents, elementary students and teens with special needs; campaign intern for NYS assembly candidate; volunteer for trail maintenance and conservation projects; assisted animals in their natural habitats at Sheoak Ridge in Australia
Honors and awards: National Latin exams summa cum laude for levels 1 & 2; president of World Language Honor Society; National Honor Society; certificates of achievement in Spanish 2-4, introduction to Latin, advanced Latin, and AP physics exams
On being an Honor Grad: “Being named an Honor Grad is an unexpected but welcome accomplishment after many years of hard work and dedication. Although we are a small school district, if you are self-motivated there are plenty of opportunities to excel, and dedicated teachers willing to help you. I cannot wait to begin the next chapter in my educational journey.”
On her preparation for the future: “The Goshen School system has infused me with the foundations for critical thinking, analysis, and understanding of the world around me, not only from a local, regional perspective, but a national and international frame of reference.”
Looking ahead: “I look forward to spending the next four years at my dream school taking a wide variety of liberal arts courses and learning new languages.”
On her success: “I credit my parents for never unduly pressuring me, but always telling me to simply try my best. I also credit my three siblings, also Goshen Grads, for helping me through the last four years and showing me how important education truly is in achieving success. Lastly, I credit Yadira Johnson for teaching me a love of language. I am proud to be the first and only GHS student taking Latin 3 Virtual High School in its inaugural year.”
Sydney will attend Boston University where she plans to major in English. She is the daughter of Stacy and Todd Jessup of Goshen.
Extra-curricular activities/athletics: Chamber Orchestra (principal first violinist), piano studies, Mock Trial (co-captain), varsity tennis (co-captain), varsity golf, National Honor Society, World Languages Honor Society, Interact Club, Model UN, Percussion Ensemble, Women’s Choir
Volunteer work/employment: volunteer for the Interact Club and Goshen Public Library Summer Reading Program; employment with the Wallkill Golf Course
Honors and awards: National Merit Scholar, AP Scholar with Honor, 2018 NYS Champion Mock Trial team, national Latin exams gold medalist (introductory and advanced levels), Goshen Great in AP world history, All-County and Area-All State ensemble selections
On being an Honor Grad: “I am very honored to receive this distinction in the company of my fellow hard-working Honor Grads.”
On her preparation for the future: “I am so grateful to the teachers and coaches that I have had over the course of my journey through the Goshen Central School District who fostered my love of reading and writing, met with me both before and after class to make sure that I understood difficult topics, and always pushed me to be my best in the classroom, on stage, on the courts, and on the course. The critical thinking and skills that I have gained through their support have prepared me well for college and beyond.”
On her success: “I honestly don’t know where I would be without the unending support of my family. Thank you to my grandpa for inspiring my interest in sports and to my grandma for always being my partner in crime driving to and from music lessons for so many years, you guys are the best. To my brother, thank you for always putting up with my antics and for being my favorite brother. Most of all, thank you to my parents for being the loudest supporters of ‘Team Sydney’ and for always being there for me at every concert, match, and audition.”
Anya will attend Northwestern University where she plans to major in biomedical engineering. She is the daughter of Sandeep and Divya Malhotra of Goshen.
Extra-curricular activities/athletics: Science Olympiad, Mock Trial, Student Government, Class of 2020 secretary, National Honor Society secretary, Newspaper Club founder and president, Cultural Diversity Club, Interact Club, soccer, track & field
Volunteer work: Goshen Blood Drive, St. Anthony’s Hospital, Interact Club (events for veterans and seniors)
Honors and awards: National Merit Scholarship finalist, National Honor Society, Sojourner Truth award for science, certificates of achievement in Spanish 1, 2 and 3, certificate of achievement in CPR and First Aid, certificates of achievement in English honors and earth science honors
On being an Honor Grad: “I am over the moon right now. I am very proud of myself, and I am thrilled that my hard work and perseverance over the past four years have paid off.”
On her preparation for the future: “Goshen High School has taught me to explore past my boundaries both inside the classroom and outside. These past four years I have learned to work and collaborate with my peers and teachers to look at problems from different perspectives, and to put our minds together to come up with solutions. I will carry these lessons with me as I step into college life.”
Looking ahead: “I am so excited to start the fall semester as a Northwestern Wildcat! (Hopefully campuses open on time.)”
On her success: “I would like to thank all the teachers that have encouraged me these past four years, especially Dr. Schneider who has supported me both in class and after school as I tried to start Newspaper Club. I could not have done it without her! Also, I would not be where I am today if I didn’t have my friends Caroline, Lisa, and Emma at my side. Although things are hard right now, I couldn’t have asked to be a part of a better graduating class. Finally, and this goes unsaid, I would like to thank my family who have been there for me whenever I needed them.”
Braden will be attending Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to study aerospace engineering. He is the son of Marilyn and Wayne Smith of Florida, NY.
Extra-curricular activities/athletics: Boy Scouts of America (troop webmaster, troop instructor, assistant senior patrol leader), Odyssey of the Mind, High School Stage Band (second and first trombone, percussion and trombone ensembles), Model UN (UNIDO and SPECPOL representative), junior varsity tennis, Astronomy Club founder and president, Academic Team, National Honors Society, World Languages Honors Society, Math Team
Volunteer work/employment: Volunteer with NHS, WLHS, and Boy Scouts (community dinners and local restoration projects, food drives, Eagle projects); employment at Florida Subway
Honors and awards: Boy Scouts ( Tenderfoot, First Class, Second Class, Star Scout, Life Scout, Eagle Scout), Odyssey of the Mind (Ranatra Fusca award, World Finals 2nd placement, several 1st and 2nd placements in regional and state competitions), NYSSMA awards (trombone ensemble & quartet), excellence awards in AP world history, Academic Team participation, national Latin exam gold winner, Honor Roll (2017-2019), Rensselaer medal
On his preparation for the future: “I was provided with excellent resources and teachers that allowed me to find where I want to go in my life.”
On his success: Branden credits his teachers and parents for their support throughout his high school career.
Robert will be attending Cornell University where he plans to major in government, and continue on into law school. He is the son of Orialis and James Winslow of Goshen.
Extra-curricular activities/athletics: Mock Trial (co-captain), Model UN, Academic Team, varsity tennis, varsity track & field, Newspaper Club, Interact Club
Volunteer work: Volunteer at the local library, shelter and food pantry through NHS, WLHS and Interact Club
Honors and awards: National Hispanic Scholar, National Merit Scholarship commended student, AP Scholar with Honor, Hunter R. Rawlings III Cornell Presidential Research Scholar
On being an Honor Grad: “It is a humbling experience for something that I have aspired for over the past four years to actually come to pass. If not for the amazing support of all those around me, I doubt I would be anywhere close to where I am today.”
On his success: “I credit all those around me that helped provide me with the resources and encouragement necessary to accomplish such an extraordinary task.”