Salutatorian Spotlight for the Class of 2022: Daryna Yushchenko

Salutatorian Spotlight for the Class of 2022: Daryna Yushchenko

By Juliana Lee, Senior Editor

Wayne Hills has finally announced the final rankings of this year’s class of 2022 valedictorian and salutatorian. This year, we would like to congratulate Daryna Yushchenko for her outstanding academic achievement of being a Salutatorian and representing Wayne Hills’ best.

Yushchenko initially never intended to place high in the school rankings: “It wasn’t a goal at all and I didn’t realize it until senior year. ”

When asked what she had done in order to place high in her rankings, she stated that: “I guess a lot of hard work and energy was put in, but also I really liked almost all the classes I took through high school, and that helped because I was interested in what I was learning or being graded on.”

She then pointed out, however, that class rankings encourage a competitive rather than a collaborative environment. She believes “it’s useless with little merit. Also a lot of the weighted and AP classes are mostly STEM so “ranking” is unfair to students talented in other fields, because at that point – what are you even ranking?” Nonetheless, she was honored to recieve this title.

Yushchenko not only kept up stellar grades but also participated and was highly involved in extracurriculars. She stated that her most valuable activites were “marching band and FBLA. Both put me outside my comfort zone and taught me skills beyond the classroom. I also made some of my closest friends in both.” Notably, she was Drum Major for marching band and an officer for FBLA. Other extracurriculars were Tri-M, dance, and NHS.

In addition, she also “spent about 150 hours from my sophomore year for nonprofit organizations, especially during quarantine and Covid. I was really close to my students and want to continue doing so post-high school.”

Clearly, Yushchenko upholds the honor that is recieved with being a salutatorian by not only maintaining great academic performance but also selflessly serving in the community. She is a prime example of what many students would aspire to be like.

Jaien Han, a senior at Hills and close friend to Yushchenko, explains the impact that Daryna has had on her life: “I met Daryna for the first time freshman year in Ms. Caamaño’s English class. I still remember my first impression of her was, ‘this girl is going places.’ I got especially close with her during sophomore year when we sat next to each other in a Driver’s Ed class. Since then, she’s been one of my closest friends. She’s truly one of the most hardworking people I know, and she deserves every bit of her success. I’m going to miss seeing her every day, but I know I’ll look fondly back at all the time we spent together—especially our two am Google Meet calls to go over physics homework or cram for a bio test. She’s brilliant, fun, kind, and overall just a wonderful person to be around. I know she’s going to continue to excel in college and beyond!”

Furthermore, Daryna has committed to Princeton University and will be furthering her education in Physics. She stated that education for her “is curiosity and excitement, knowledge that nobody can take away from you. It’s important because it teaches you different and better ways to see the world and the people around you.”

At Princeton, she also plans to be involved in extracurriculars and is “excited for college life and for the classes next year as well as meeting new people and making new friends.”

Again, we would like to congratulate Daryna Yuschenko and wish the best of luck to her and her future endeavors!