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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Madhani, Renda earn highest academic honors

When seniors Akshay Madhani and Alex Renda walked into the guidance office in early February, they had a suspicion of what was going to happen. Yet, that didn’t stop the two from being “in a state of disbelief” when they left. Madhani and Renda had just received the school’s highest academic honors: valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively.

“I felt pretty happy, because I didn't think that I would get either of the honors,” Renda said. “Even though I don't think that GPA means a whole lot, it's nice to get recognized.”

Madhani has a GPA of 4.65, taking 13 AP and Honors while in high school, while Renda had a GPA of 4.63 after taking 10 AP and Honors courses.

Although both put in a tremendous amount of work to receive these grades, Madhani said the award itself is far less gratifying than his experience at the school.

“This school had engaging classes, the friendliest students, and the most passionate teachers,” Madhani said. “For me, interacting with such a great group of people in this amazing environment, and the effect this has had on me as a person, has a greater impact than any distinction or award.”

Both boys said they faced stressful weeks and intense pressure at times, but they still enjoyed their overall experience.

“I actually didn’t take as many advanced classes; I know a lot of friends who’ve taken many more advanced classes,” said Madhani. “Honestly, if I had taken any more AP’s or Honor's, I wouldn’t have been able to put the time and effort into each class to really understand the subject matter and do justice to the work put in by the teachers. The more I put into each class, in fact, the more I enjoyed it.”

Renda said his drive to do well led him to dedicate a lot of time to his academics.

“I was always motivativated to do the best that I could do, which often just took an immense amount of work,” Renda said.

Math teacher Audrey Warmuth, who taught Renda in both Algebra 2 Honors and AP Calculus BC, admires his unique personality and concentration in class.

“Alex has a fantastic sense of humor,” Warmuth said. “I don’t think that his personality is always apparent in the classroom, where he is quiet and  focused—but there is a lot behind his reserved demeanor.”

Safine complimented Madhani on having a well-rounded personality.

“[Madhani] has a duality that I’ll remember,” said Safine. “The kid that will goof off and dress up and entertain his classroom while still being serious. I think that it great for us at graduation to recognize students who are full participants in the school community rather than strictly just being all about academics.”

Although academics were clearly a huge focus of the seniors, outside the classroom, both are involved in other activities.

For Madhani, one of the most rewarding extracurriculars he joined was speech and debate. To him, the club was an accepting family that taught him how to communicate effectively and speak up for himself, skills that have aided him throughout high school.

“I think I’ve dealt with a lot of disappointment in speech and debate,” Madhani said. “However, I’ve learned to accept that and fight back.”

Renda, on the other hand, likes to spend his time pursuing a variety of activities. From marching in band competitions to writing code or just hanging out with friends, Renda enjoys being in high school and tries to have fun.

Both share a common interest: computer science. With Madhani being president of the the Application Developers’ Club and Renda being a chief coder of the Mechanical-Science Engineering Team (Robotics Team), both have had a strong base with which they can launch themselves into this field.

“Because I’m planning to major in computer science, App Dev gave me a place to explore the field and make useful things before I went into college,” Madhani said.

In the end, both Madhani and Renda are happy with their accomplishments over the past four years; neither  specifically intended on getting this honor.

“Nobody sets a goal to become a salutatorian,” Renda said. “People just have to try their best, but it is an honor to be given this award.”

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