Photos courtesy of the Wantagh School District
In September 2010, Katherine Killian and Nora Toscano entered the same kindergarten classroom at Forest Lake Elementary School. Nearly 13 years later, they will graduate together as the top-ranked students in Wantagh High School’s Class of 2023.
It’s been a long journey for the two friends since they met on the other side of the pedestrian bridge that crosses the Wantagh Parkway to link the schools. They’ve had many classes together over the years, and in the end, less than a half-point separated them in the race to the top. Katherine, with a weighted grade point average of 108.556, was named the valedictorian while Nora is the salutatorian with a GPA of 108.161.
While they are growing up in a highly technological era, the two students were actually notified via letters that were sent home. On paper, their achievements were official.
“It was grateful and excited,” Katherine said. “It showed me that hard work and dedication can get you places.
Added Nora, “We’ve been really close friends since kindergarten and we wanted it to be the two of us together.”
They got their wish. Katherine and Nora have had high school careers to remember, taking academically challenging courses, joining numerous clubs and showing their compassion through community service. Together, they are co-presidents of the National Honor Society and officers in the Spanish Club, active in the Class of 2023, and volunteer at both the Wantagh Public Library and Sensory Beans, a local, open-play children’s sensory gym. But after high school, they will take different paths, with Katherine planning to study science, while Nora will further cultivate her writing talents.
Katherine is president of the Science National Honor Society and treasurer of Science Olympiad, for which she earned a silver medal in an anatomy and physiology competition. She helped launch Wantagh’s chapter of Health Occupations Students of America for those seeking careers in the medical field. In college, Katherine is looking to enroll in a physician’s assistant accelerated program, in which she would have both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree after five years.
She’s also a three-sport athlete. Katherine is an All-County lacrosse player, an All-Conference basketball player and has earned two All-County selections as a member of the cross-country team.
Nora is editor of Wantagh High School’s student newspaper, the Warrior, vice president of the Gay-Straight Alliance and treasurer of the World Language Honor Society. She is also a member of Model Congress and the lacrosse team. Her writing has been recognized nationally, earning a Gold Key award and two honorable mention awards in the Scholastic Arts and Writing competition. Nora has assumed leadership of a creative writing class at the Wantagh Public Library for middle school students, Story Seekers, which was started by last year’s valedictorian, Juliana Rose. In college, she hopes to major in English or journalism.
Principal Dr. Paul Guzzone said that earning the titles of valedictorian and salutatorian reflect a strong work ethic, commitment and dedication.
“Katherine and Nora are just fantastic exemplars of what the Wantagh community is all about – working hard, caring for others and leading by example,” he said. “They’re going to do great things in whatever paths they choose.”