On June 3, the Notre Dame High School community came together again to celebrate as the Class of 2017 Teal and Orange Ravens accepted their diplomas at another downtown San Jose landmark, the California Theater. Among the 149 graduates were an unprecedented 35 who earned Highest Academic Honors, having maintained a minimum 4.45 GPA and taken a minimum of 7 Honors and AP classes over their four years of high school.
Among those, Anika Kumar was chosen to deliver the valedictory address. Anika also received the Notre Dame Scholar Athlete Award. During her sophomore year, Anika created Forget Me Not, an intergenerational nonprofit organization whose mission is to reduce instances of isolation, loneliness and depression among older adults. The organization partners isolated elderly with caring high school volunteers for weekly friendly phone calls. The calls are mutually enriching and forge special bonds. Anika received the Jefferson Award for public service for her work and was recognized by the “San Jose Mercury News” and KPIX. In her address, she reminded her fellow students that, “We are the next generation of thinkers, leaders, and achievers. May we never shy away from bold ideas, courageous decisions, and unflinching perseverance. May we never miss an opportunity to step up and take the plunge to change the world around us.” Anika will head to UC Berkeley to study molecular and cell biology in the fall.
The Julie Billiart Award is the most prestigious non-academic award given at Notre Dame High School. The recipient is chosen by her classmates for her compassion, caring, service, respect and love of her community. This year’s recipient, Sharon Truong, will head to Johns Hopkins University in the fall to study medicine.
In her salutatory address, Sharon shared a bit about her Notre Dame sisters. “In our shared time and space, I would like to introduce you to the power of our diversity, the realm where our spirit reigns supreme through the interwoven fibers of respect and encouragement. Our dreams range far and wide; yet, the variety of our talents only serve to unite all of our ambitions. This is just what the Hallmarks, given to us by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur call us to do–to embrace the gift of diversity.”
The Principal’s Leadership Award is presented to a student who has committed herself to leadership from her first day on campus.
Her devotion to her classmates and school is unwavering: she is compassionate, strong, supportive and so much fun. This year’s recipient, Milan Williams, held leadership positions throughout her high school years including serving as ASB president her senior year. She will attend Harvard University in the fall where she will study applied physics and computer science. “Notre Dame has changed my life in so many incredible ways! ND sparked my passion for performing arts, leadership, social justice, and education. I’ve made lifelong friends and mentors under Notre Dame’s loving and constantly supportive environment. Notre Dame has made me the young woman I am today and for that, I am forever grateful, thank you.”
Even in a school filled with brilliant young women, Lilly Hackworth stands out. Her love of learning, keen intellect and ability to connect topics across disciplines is unique and exemplified by her award of four curricular and co-curricular department medals — forensics, mathematics, modern language (bi-lingual) and social studies. She was also recognized as a National Merit Scholar, having scored in the top .5 percent of students taking the PSAT and SAT.
In addition to a love of learning, Lilly has a passion for forensics which has earned her recognition on a local and national level. Along with partner Spencer Dembner, Lilly won ten championships in open parliamentary debate in addition to multiple trophies and awards for individual performances including being named district champion in extemporaneous speaking and student of the year.
For her senior service learning project, Lilly ran a public speaking class for middle school students attending the summer academy at Sacred Heart Community Service, wanting to help low-income students develop confidence. “I’ve been part of speech and debate here at ND for the past four years now, and have had the opportunity to see girls become significantly more self-confident and assertive as they learned how to present themselves and speak in front of others — skills that are useful for life.”
Notre Dame’s Margaret Hoffman, SND, Woman of Service Award, Notre Dame’s most prestigious non-academic award was presented to Zoha Qader in recognition of the compassion and caring she has shown her classmates throughout her four years of high school. Zoha will head to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo to student animal science and psychology.