Dalia Akhnoukh: Valedictorian of Walter Panas High School, Class of 2012

Rising to the challenge of Advance Placement courses helped foster a love of learning for this top achiever.

She was born in Egypt, came to the United States at age five, and is graduating at the top of her class this month.

valedictorian Dalia Akhnoukh finishes her high school career with a weighted grade point average of 100.33.

She said her favorite subjects have been math and science and that she has truly enjoyed the AP course offerings—she has taken eight of the high-level classes in the past few years.

“What I really liked was that in AP classes, the teachers really taught us how to really learn and how to think on our own—and not just how to pass an exam.”

And although Dalia had praise for all her teachers at WPHS, she holds a certain fondness for her teacher of U.S. History and also of Human Geography, Mr. Anthony Mellor, who is retiring this year.

“He really had a big impact on me,” Dalia said. “He taught me to focus on the subject matter instead of just getting good grades.” Those good grades also earned her a place as President of the National Honor Society and as a member of the National Spanish Honor Society.

Another highlight for the high school senior was her time as student representative on the Lakeland Central School District’s Board of Education. “It was really a great experience to be part of the meetings and to practice public speaking,” Dalia explained.

Outside of school, Dalia has been very active in her church, as a volunteer, Sunday school teacher, sports coach, and on summer missions in Brooklyn, NY.

“I am very committed to my spiritual growth and if I am not at home or at school, you will likely find me at my church,” she added.

The 17-year old Cortlandt Manor resident will attend Cedarville University, a private Christian school in Ohio this fall. She has plans to major in pre-med with hopes of one day becoming a family physician, to combine her love of science and her love of helping others.

When asked for some parting words for students who wish to follow in her footsteps, Dalia said:

“Try not to stress about every individual grade—in the end your marks will reflect what you really learned and how you applied yourself.”





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