The Hamilton High School West Class of 2020 graduated in a virtual ceremony on June 17. Days earlier, HHW finalized senior grade-point averages and announced which graduating seniors had the 10 highest GPAs.

Each member of the Top 10 filled out a questionnaire provided to them by the Hamilton Post. Their answers follow:

Andres Blanco Bonilla

Andres Blanco Bonilla

Class rank: 1   GPA: 4.99

College: Princeton University

Intended major/career: Computer science

Clubs: Spanish Honor Society and National Honor Society

Prior schooling: Mercerville Elementary, Grice Middle

Teacher who inspired me: The one and only Tim Kline. The name speaks for itself. No explanation needed.

Favorite memory: It’s for me to know and for you to never find out. You may be an open book, SpongeBob, but I’m a bit more complicated than that. The inner machinations of my mind are an enigma.

 

Peter Wright

Peter Wright

Class rank: 2   GPA: 4.93

College: George Washington University

Intended major/career: Mechanical/Aerospace engineering

Sports: Basketball, tennis

Prior schooling: Yardville Heights Elementary, Grice Middle

Teacher who inspired me: Mr. Van Slooten was the most influential to me. I never actually had him in class but I ate lunch in his library with my friends for two years in a row. He would always join in on our conversation and have some philosophical outlook to add. He knew what I actually wanted in a school before I did. Overall his advice and life experience really helped me develop as a person and a student. Some honorable mentions would definitely be Mr. Kline and Mr. Belfiore.

Favorite memory: The days in AP Calc BC when we had finished all the work we needed for the day and Mr. Kline would have nothing left to do but would still try to make it a fun math class by putting on random, vaguely math-related videos. It wasn’t the videos that made it my best memory. It was hanging out and relaxing with some of the best people in my life all at once.

 

Lauren LeClaire

Lauren LeClaire

Class rank: 3   GPA: 4.92

College: Yale University

Intended major/career: Political science/pre-law

Sports: Soccer, lacrosse

Clubs: Peer Leadership, yearbook editor, National Honor Society president

Prior schooling: McGalliard Elementary, Grice Middle

Teacher who inspired me: Mr. Funari and Mr. Kline are two of the best teachers and people I have ever met. They made learning fun.

Favorite memory: Meeting all of my friends and making lifelong memories with them that I’ll never forget.

 

Nayeli Franco

Neyali Franco

Class rank: 4   GPA: 4.87

College: Bentley University

Intended major/career: Forensic accountant

Sports: Soccer

Clubs: Key club, Student Government, National Honor Society, National Technical Honor Society, National Science Honor Society, National Math Honor Society, Peer Leadership

Prior schooling: Kisthardt Elementary, Crockett Middle

Teacher who inspired me: Jay Fishman has served as an extremely influential teacher and role model; he showed me how important it is to be passionate about your work and allowed me to discover my destined career path.

Favorite memory: All the amazing people I have gotten the chance to meet and form close friendships with serve as my favorite memory. I will forever appreciate them and the impact they’ve had on both my education and life in general.

 

Nicole Wagner

Nicole Wagner

Class rank: 5   GPA: 4.77

College: DigiPen Institute of Technology

Intended career: Video game designer

Sports: Freshman lacrosse, ice hockey team manager

Clubs: Drama club, select choir, Key Club, National Honor Society

Prior schooling: Robinson Elementary, Grice Middle

Teacher who inspired me: Mr. Fillmore. He’s so kind; you could tell him anything, and he’d be there with eloquently worded advice. But the main point is how much he believed in me. I was never the most confident student, especially when it came to singing in front of crowds of people. But four years later, with his constant help, encouragement, and excellent teaching, I can sing on any stage, anywhere, with no issue. He believed in me as a person, not just a singer, and that means the world to me.

Favorite memory: In 4th grade, with one of my favorite teachers of all time, Mrs. Zelenak. My friends and I would compete to see who could finish all the Harry Potter books first, and would end up reading during class under our desks so as to not be caught. But 9-year-olds aren’t very slick, so we were caught frequently. So frequently, that she completely banned “Harry Potter” books from her classroom for the rest of my fourth grade year. It was hilarious to us.

 

Abigail Sprague

Abigail Sprague

Class rank: 6   GPA: 4.77

College: Baylor University

Intended major: Undecided

Sports: Soccer, basketball, lacrosse, track, cheer, tennis

Clubs: Peer Leadership, Yearbook, Key Club, National Honor Society

Prior schooling: Faith Christian School

Teacher who inspired me: Mr. Morris, my Algebra 2 teacher has been the most influential teacher to me. Even though I still dislike math, he challenged and motivated me to learn and made the class enjoyable with his style of teaching.

Favorite memory: The Junior Class Fashion Show, from all of the practices to the real thing.

 

Kylie Zarzecki

Kylie Zarzecki

Class rank: 7   GPA: 4.62

College: St. Joseph’s University

Intended major/career: Entertainment marketing

Sports: Cheerleading, lacrosse

Clubs: Key Club, National Honor Society, National Technical Honor Society, Italian National Honor Society

Prior schooling: Kisthardt Elementary, Grice Middle

Teacher who inspired me: Mrs. Baril. She was my Italian teacher for two years and I always enjoyed going to her class. She not only taught me about the Italian language and culture, but I also learned many life lessons that I will never forget.

Favorite memory: Spirit week. I always had so much fun dressing up for the different themes and seeing how excited everyone was to participate. It was always my favorite time of the school year.

 

Gianna Anselmo

Gianna Anselmo

Class rank: 8   GPA: 4.6

College: College of New Jersey

Intended major/career: Psychology

Sports: Cheerleading

Clubs: National Honor Society, Italian National Honor Society, Key Club

Prior schooling: Sunnybrae Elementary, Grice Middle

Teacher who inspired me: Mr. Van Slooten. My junior year was his first year teaching after many years of being our school’s librarian. I would go to the library every day during my lunch period to talk to him. He would give me life advice that helped shape who I am as a person and I would in turn give him advice on how his lessons were for that day. He was always able to tell when I was having an off day and tried his very best to make individual relationships with each of his students. 

Favorite memory: West spirit weeks. The energy from all the students during spirit week was always unmatchable. You could feel the buzz of excitement right when you walked through the doors. It was the one time a year your whole grade would come together as one and everyone felt united.

 

Shannon Hull

Shannon Hull

Class rank: 9   GPA: 4.59

College: University of Pittsburgh

Intended major/career: Nursing

Sports: Softball

Clubs: Key Club, HEY Club, National Honor Society, National Technical Honor Society, Spanish National Honor Society

Prior schooling: Lalor Heights Elementary, Crockett Middle

Teacher who inspired me: Mrs. Giampiccolo has been the most influential for me. She pushed me to do my best in class, and she always tried to do what was best for each of her students. She also talked to me a lot about my future and she encouraged me to pursue a career that I was interested in, while also involving science.

Favorite memory: All of the Spirit Weeks throughout high school. It was fun to be able to come together as a school and get ready for the Thanksgiving Day football game.

 

Elijah Gasataya

Elijah Gasataya

Class rank: 10   GPA: 4.58

College: College of New Jersey

Intended major/career: Computer science

Clubs: HHW Marching Band, Jazz Band

Prior schooling: Robinson Elementary, Grice Middle

Teacher who inspired me: Mr. Certo, Mr. Maher and Mr. Wheeler. They really developed my desire for music during my high school journey. I am very grateful for them to teach and help me with the art of marching, jazz, and concert music to raise my musicianship skills. They also gave me the desire to make music of my own! 

Favorite memory: The summer marching band camp, as well as all of the band trips after the season. (Especially the Disney Trip!) I am so grateful to make new friends during this time, creating long lasting memories. I also loved doing the Talent Show with my close friends (our band is called Negative Altitude), and it was amazing doing hours and hours of practice with them. In the end it all paid off!