Kirshner (12) elected valedictorian for Class of 2021

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Lucas Glickman, Staff Writer

Jaden Kirshner (12), whom the senior class elected as valedictorian, will deliver a speech at graduation. 

Kirshner discovered that he won while on FaceTime with Jonas Jacobson (12), who told him to check his email, he said. “When I saw, I was absolutely stunned.” 

Dean of the Class of 2021 Susan Groppi had sent out an email over spring break asking the senior class to pick candidates for valedictorian. Three candidates — Nshera Tutu (12), Leyli Granmayeh (12), and Kirshner — received more than 10 nomination votes, so Groppi sent out a poll asking the class to vote on three of them. 

Kirshner was shocked to be among the three finalists. He was very grateful to be recognized among the two other finalists, he said. “To be selected as valedictorian was an extreme honor, especially considering how brilliant Nshera and Leyli are,” he said. 

Some of Kirshner’s friends weren’t actively campaigning for him, but had said that he would make a good selection for valedictorian, Kirshner said. “I think one of the reasons I was selected [was] because of my positive outlook, and I truly genuinely love HM,” he said. “HM feels more like a family than it does a school, and the friends I have made here will be people I talk to for the rest of my life.”

Kirshner is well-spoken and represents the senior grade well, Jacobson said. “He has great morals and stands up for what’s right,” he said. “There’s not a day I see Jaden not smiling or not talking to different people and learning something about someone else.”

There are both downsides and benefits to asking the class to elect its valedictorian, Kirshner said. “We don’t know who has the highest GPA in our grade, but I think that is definitely an accomplishment that should be applauded in some way,” he said. “The fact that we don’t have a valedictorian [for GPA] means that that person will go unnoticed, which can definitely be disappointing.” At the same time, having the Class of 2021 vote on the valedictorian means that the person chosen is the most accurate reflection of the senior grade, he said. 

“To have such a high profile speaking tied to a grade point average doesn’t embody the ideals of the school in a way that we want,” Groppi said. “One person can never represent 180 kids, yet the fact that his classmates selected Jaden means there’s something about him that they feel says something about them.”

Currently, Kirshner is working on balancing different messages within his speech. “I want to thank the faculty, administration, Dr. Kelly, Dr. Groppi, Dr. Levenstein who contributed to making this year as normal as possible,” he said. Kirshner would also like to inspire the Class of 2021 as its members move onto their college years. “My main goal is to communicate to [the senior class] that even in this unconventional year, so much was accomplished and we became better people because of the challenges we faced,” Kirshner said.

One of his favorite memories at the school comes from last season during Buzzell, an annual basketball game between the school and Riverdale at Manhattan College when Kirshner scored a buzzer-beater that tied the game. Although they lost in overtime, it was a thrilling back-and-forth game, Kirshner said.