Doctors. Engineers. Humanitarians. Robot overlords. The top 10 graduating seniors at Hopewell Valley Central High School have ambitious plans now that they’re almost ready to take the big step out of 12th grade and into the future.
It’s no surprise that these high achievers have set their sights on accomplishing great things. They are ambitious and well-rounded individuals who can point to a wide range of accomplishments, in academics as well as athletics, in school and outside of it. Several have served as emergency medical technicians while in high school. One has been a volunteer with the nonprofit Christine’s Hope for Kids since sixth grade. And one has even helped his father run the family business.
This year’s top students are planning to attend some of the most prestigious colleges in the nation starting in the fall. These graduates are on their way to Carnegie Mellon University, Columbia University, Georgia Tech, Lehigh University, Northeastern University, Princeton University, Rutgers University, the University of Chicago, the University of Notre Dame and Washington University in St. Louis.
Graduation is scheduled for Tuesday, June 20 at 6 p.m. at Ackerson Field. The Hopewell Express surveyed this year’s top 10 seniors at Hopewell Valley Central.
Théo Evans was born in Chicago. He attended Hopewell Elementary School, Timberlane Middle School before entering HVCHS. In high school he played clarinet for the Marching Black and Gold, was editor for GrayScale Literary Magazine, played violin and clarinet in the pit orchestra for musicals, belonged to the Feminism Club, and wrote for the satire section of the school newspaper. He says he loved the feeling of marching onto the field under the lights at marching band competitions.
Evans plans to attend the University of Chicago studying film/media, English, or math. His career goal is to be a content creator. He has run a small YouTube channel for several years, and is excited to continue making things and being involved in the community he’s found through that. He’s also excited to be living in a city for college, but admits to being anxious about adjusting to living in a city, particularly one that’s so far from home.
Harrison Fu was born in the Garden State. He attended Stony Brook, Timberland and CHS. He was in the marching band and Jazz Band, and volunteered for Spring Reins of Life and was a drummer for Paddle For Pink. He played four years of varsity tennis.
Fu will attend Georgia Tech as an engineering major. “Engineering combines math and science to create technology that can change the world and improve peoples’ lives,” he says.
Madeline Hoedemaker was born in Princeton and attended Toll Gate and Timberlane before high school.
She was an officer in the German Club and sings in the Nassau Presbyterian Church youth choir. Hoedemaker played freshman and JV soccer and is a Scholastic All-American swimmer who has Sectional and Futures Cuts. She has been with Eastern Express since she was 9.
Hoedemaker will take a gap year before attending Carnegie Mellon University to study mechanical engineering. She’s not sure what she wants to do for a career. “That’s part of what I’d like to do over a gap year—figure that out and explore the world,” she says. “I’ve been saying I’d like to do something with prosthetics because that combines physics, biology, design and helping people.”
Claire King was born in Princeton. She attended Bear Tavern and Timberlane before entering HVCHS. In high school King was president of Christine’s Hope For Kids Club, co-president of Poetry Out Loud Club, leader of PANDA (Peers Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse), a member of the National Honor Society and a bassist in Jazz Band.
She raised $17,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society as part of the Student of the Year campaign, and is the longest running volunteer of Christine’s Hope for Kids, having begun as a volunteer in 6th grade. She played field hockey and lacrosse from 9th to 11th grade.
King plans to attend the University of Notre Dame where she will major in bioengineering and peace studies. After she graduates, she wants to join the Peace Corps and eventually become an engineer to improve the environment and health of countries around the world.
“Growing up in Hopewell has truly shaped who I am today,” King says. “It is the most supportive, compassionate community I know of and I am so insanely lucky to be surrounded by such positive people everyday.”
Daniel Kolano was born in Hamilton. He attended Bear Tavern and Timberland before entering high school.
He is co-founder and president of the Botball Robotics Club and a member of the CHS FIRST Robotics Club. He has been EMT at Pennington First Aid Squad since January 2015. He played one year of varsity soccer.
Kolano plans to attend Columbia University as a computer science major in the fall. He has not yet decided what he would like to do for a career.
He’s excited about the future of robots. And his number one anxiety about the future? Robots.
Noam Miller was born in Jerusalem. He attended both Stony Brook and Bear Tavern Elementary Schools as well as Timberlane Middle School before entering HVCHS. He lived in Ithaca, New York before moving to Hopewell.
Miller was co-founder and co-president of Botball Robotics Club, president of the Science Olympiad, co-founder and co-president of the Philosophy Club. He was also a member of the Feminism Club. He has volunteered as a teacher’s aide at Adath Israel Congregation in Lawrence.
Miller intends to attend Princeton University as a physics or cognitive science major with the goal of becoming a professor. The thing he is most excited about for the future is robots. The thing he is most anxious about is … yeah, it’s robots.
Born in Boca Raton, Florida, Katarina attended Toll Gate Grammar School, Timberlane Middle School before entering Hopewell Valley Central High School. She belonged to the National Honor Society and Leadership Corps, and has volunteered for the F.C. Copa soccer club.
Nilsson played varsity soccer all four years of high school. Her most memorable high school moment was when the team won the Mercer County Tournament in her senior year.
Nilsson is planning to attend Northeastern University to major in bioengineering. Her career goal is to either be a physician or to work as an engineer in the medical field. She says she has always been interested in medicine and helping people and would like to continue that in her future.
Thomas Siggillino was born in Pennington. He attended Bear Tavern and Timberland before high school. He founded the Philosophy Club and belonged to the Science Olympiad, Feminism Club and Physics Club. He volunteers weekly at the Pennington Public Library.
Siggillino plans to attend Lehigh University to study materials science and engineering. He wants to become an engineer, go to grad school, do research, design cool materials and travel the world.
Matthew Slaza was born in Trenton. He attended Stony Brook and Timberlane before high school. At CHS he belonged to a wide range of clubs include the Robotics Club, Key Club, Red Cross Club, Newspaper Club, Leadership Corps and Science League/Club, of which he was vice president. His most memorable high school moment was the U.S. History trip to Washington.
Slaza volunteers at Saint Hedwigs Church, where he is an assistant teacher for the CCD. He also volunteers at Saint Lawrence Rehabilitation Center, where he aids therapists in the outpatient department. He has also been volunteer secretary for five years at his father´s family business of MagicTile Inc., helping him with English translations among other duties. He played four years of soccer and two years of volleyball at CHS.
Slaza plans to attend Rutgers University as an accounting and finance major. He plans on working for a large firm or starting his own firm after attending Law School. He is excited for all the possibilities and paths that life can lead him to, but anxious about is leaving the comfort of Hopewell and entering a community that he is unacquainted with.
“Growing up in Hopewell Valley has made me an outgoing, selfless and motivated individual that seizes the various opportunities that are presented in front of me as best as I can,” Slaza says. “Hopewell has also provided me various outstanding educational institutions, in which many adolescents from other locations are unable share the same luxury as my fellow classmates and I have.”
Lucy Tian was born in St. Louis. She attended Stony Brook and Timberland prior to high school. She was president of the National Honor Society and a member of the Shakesperience Club and Leadership Corps. She was a two-year captain and four-year player for the varsity tennis team.
As a volunteer, she rode in ambulances one night a week as an EMT for the Hopewell Fire Department.
Tian will attend Washington University in St. Louis as a neuroscience major on a pre-med track. “I would love to be a surgeon… if I can survive the seven-plus years of medical school and residency,” she says. “I’ve always had a passion for helping others, and after getting a taste of the medical field from being an EMT, I realized that being a doctor is how I want to make a difference.”