Hispanic Heritage Celebration Honors Two from Whitman

 Andrew Gonzalez, Principal Kathie Acker, and Paola Cespedes.
Andrew Gonzalez, Principal Kathie Acker, and Paola Cespedes.

The Town of Huntington’s recently held 19th Annual Hispanic Heritage Celebration featured two Walt Whitman students who received achievement awards. Paola Cespedes, a junior at Whitman, has proven that with dedication and hard work, she can meet and exceed her goals and objectives. Her passion for health sciences is obvious through her active participation in the AP science courses. She aspires to be a veterinarian one day. “This award was such surprise for me,” said Paola. “I’m pleased that my guidance counselor, Mr. Chapman, nominated me.” Paola also excels outside of the classroom, both as a member of the varsity tennis team and as an accomplished pianist and avid reader. 

While this respectful young lady has been at the head of the class for years, she readily connects with all of her peers. She is a counselor in training at Dix Hills Adventure Camp and regularly tutors students in her local neighborhood. Paola is very proud of her Dominican heritage, which shines through in her personal character and confidence. Her commitment to academics as well as her community will be a welcome contribution to any college she attends.

Andrew Gonzalez, a soft-spoken, confident senior at Whitman, allows his academic achievement and extracurricular accomplishments to speak for themselves. Andrew personifies the term scholar and has earned the respect of the faculty through his commitment and dedication over the past three years. “One of my favorite parts of being at Whitman are the teachers,” said Andrew. “They are great. They’re all different, and all amazing, and I really connect with them.”

Andrew is continually recognized for his contributions to the school community. He is a trumpet player in the jazz band, and as a member of the varsity cross-county team, his competitive and driven nature surfaces. “I like the sense of camaraderie that we have in the cross-country team,” said Andrew.  “The friends I’ve made, as well as the personal and team accomplishments over the past 4 years, will always be a highlight of my time here at Whitman.” Andrew is also a graduate of the National Outdoor Leadership School, a school that teaches technical outdoor skills, leadership, and environmental ethics. 

Andrew is proud of, and enjoys sharing, his El Salvadoran heritage.  “The recognition that this award brings is great and helps separate me from the pack,” admitted Andrew. “It’s very helpful with the college application process.” Andrew is hoping to study engineering at the University of Vermont next fall and is also looking at several SUNY schools. “I’ve always been interested in engineering, and I think it’s a great idea that the district has started STEM education in the lower grades,” said Andrew. “By the time those students get out of high school, they will know what they want to do.” 

Congratulations, Paola and Andrew. You both make Walt Whitman High School and the South Huntington community proud!