Class of 2020’s Top Ten Students Embark on the Next Phase of Their Academic Careers

Devyn DiPasquale’21



Each year, PV recognizes the top ten students of the graduating class who are ranked based on their cumulative GPAs. Each of the top ten this year is destined for great colleges and universities where they will continue their stellar academic careers. These students have worked tirelessly on their school work, are well-rounded, and truly show what Hornet Pride is all about.

Valedictorian Brian Katat is planning to study chemical engineering in hopes that one day he can work with energy to improve and sustain the environment. He will be attending Stevens Institute of Technology in the fall. “If you want to be successful, you have to figure out what matters most to you, balance everything out, and get what you need to do done,” advises Katat. “Use your goals and anticipation to spur you forward and you will never fail.”

Salutatorian Lexie DeLuca will be attending Cornell University and plans to study engineering. While at Cornell, Lexie will also continue to pursue her passion for dance. “Hornet Pride is the epitome of spirit and unity at Passaic Valley. Hornet Pride is what rejuvenates my soul and keeps me going when completing hours of homework and staying up until the morning,” explains DeLuca. “Passaic Valley is home to an immense amount of spirit and when all of the ambitious students come together, we are unbreakable.”

Third in the class is Brooke Berrigan who is continuing her academic career at Montclair State University and plans to study secondary education. She says the one thing she’s looking forward to most in college is “joining new clubs and meeting new people.

Number four is Jerry Sevillano, who will be attending Harvard University to study computer science. “One thing I’ll always remember about PV is the friendships I’ve made in school with the community,” explains Sevillano.

Fifth in the Class of 2020 is Kayla Leonard, a former Valley Echo reporter. Kayla will be attending Colby College to study business management or managerial economics and is hoping to incorporate international affairs into her studies. “Many of my best memories at PV definitely come from cheerleading and Girls’ Show seasons, where I’ve made lifelong friends and had unforgettable experiences,” says Kayla. “Whether it was a Friday night football game or a memorable practice with my teammates, those memories will always have a place in my heart.” 

Samiha Allan

The sixth ranked student is Samiha Allan, who will be beginning the six-year pharmacy program at Rutgers New Brunswick in the fall. One of her goals is to earn a Master of Business Administration that would allow her to manage or even start her own pharmacy. “I will never forget the unity among the Passaic Valley community,” says Allan. “While students come from three different towns with various backgrounds, we collectively unite under the banner of Hornet pride, which gives the school such a welcoming and family-like atmosphere.” 

Seventh in the class is Gabriel Jurkic. Gabriel will also be attending Rutgers University in the fall and is planning to pursue a bachelor’s degree in finance. “In college, I look forward to meeting some very great people,” says Jurkic. “I can only imagine with the diversity at Rutgers that I will get to know the various cultures behind the faces of those that I will befriend on campus.”

Leandra Pesantes

The eighth spot is occupied by Leandra Pesantes who is continuing her studies at The College of New Jersey and plans to study chemistry. “Hornet Pride to me means joining clubs and sports to be part of a bigger community” says Pesantes. “It means watching the white or green flag soar at Girls’ Show. It means to walk around with PV attire proudly.”

Ludovico Povolo is number nine and will be attending Montclair State University and plans to study political science and economics. “Some of my best memories at PV are playing on the boys volleyball team, going to Girls’ Show, attending football games in the fall, going to class with my friends, and making great relationships and connections with classmates and teachers,” says Povolo.

Finally, the tenth ranked student in the Class of 2020 is Gabriella LaRosa, who will be

Ludovico Povolo

attending Fairleigh Dickinson University to study mental health psychology. “My advice to younger students would be to definitely just put in the work,” says LaRosa. “Study and you will be rewarded. Don’t be afraid to utilize your teachers and ask them for help, it will only benefit you down the line. And lastly, remember to not obsess over your grades. There are more important things in life and school is really about establishing good work habits, learning to interact with different types of people, and completing tasks even when you may not want to do them.”

These students have worked so hard and created great relationships with PV students and staff. One of the most important relationships they have in the school is with their guidance counselors, who have helped them along the way to reach this achievement. “It has been my pleasure to work with these students. I’ve enjoyed watching them grow up these last few years. They have made the most of their high school careers and I’m honored to have been a small part of their successes at PV,” says Guidance Counselor Ms. Jennifer Shue. “These students show Hornet Pride in so many ways both academically and socially. Many of them are involved in a myriad of extracurricular activities and also volunteer or work. I always tell my students to be “good PV citizens” and these students are!”

The Class of 2020 Top Ten are incredibly driven. “Once students see and understand that the higher their GPA, the more opportunity there is for them in senior year, the rest is up to them. It then becomes the inherent characteristics of all champions: a strong will, determination and work ethic,” explains Guidance Counselor Mr. William Pantale. “I am so proud and happy for my students who are recognized as finishing in the top ten of the Class of 2020, for them it is a realization of goals achieved that they set for themselves four years ago! An amazing accomplishment! I am proud of all my senior students, each one of them has planned for June 19th and when they receive their diploma they will be ready to move onto the next phase of their lives.”


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