Sharing the Spotlight

The future looks bright for Walt Whitman Co-Valedictorians Joseph VanGostein (left) and Joshua Joseph. thumbnail94887
The future looks bright for Walt Whitman Co-Valedictorians Joseph VanGostein (left) and Joshua Joseph.

Congratulations to Walt Whitman seniors Joseph VanGostein and Joshua Joseph, who are our co-Valedictorians. It's an unusual but not unheard of tie for the top academic spot. As with so many of our annually celebrated student leaders, both of these young students thrive, especially when it comes to enjoying all that the district has to offer.

“For me personally, the area of Whitman that has benefited me greatly has been the extracurricular activities that the school offers,” said Joseph VanGostein. “Especially through clubs like DECA, the school provides one with so many opportunities. One is able to travel and meet amazing people,” added our perennial DECA champion. “For me, having the opportunity to network is what’s going to open doors and help get that really great job opportunity. All the people one meets can be important in helping one's career path and Whitman has done a really good job at opening doors.”

Joe has been in the spotlight often, and when you read some of his accomplishments it’s easy to see why. He earned first-place at the New York State DECA competition in 2016, 2017, and 2018; second-place in the International DECA Competition in Nashville in 2016; and first-place in the Huntington DECA competition the past four years in a row. Joe has also received the Gold President's Volunteer Service Award and he’s an AP Scholar with Distinction.  The National Merit Scholarship; NY State Seal of Biliteracy in English and Italian; SAT/ACT Scholar; and fifth-place in the National Italian exam are on the short list for this talented young man.

"I'm aspiring to become a corporate attorney, so I will be concentrating on international business during my undergraduate tenure. In five years I’m hoping to be at a good law school,” said our Whitman Co-Valedictorian.   “I see myself thriving academically, socially and emotionally in a new atmosphere, and creating a solid friend base, which I believe is very important, as one needs support to help cheer one on in the hard times and the good." In addition to being president of Whitman’s DECA chapter, Joseph is the editor-in-chief of the school newspaper, president of the Speech & Debate Club, founder, and president of the Pre-Law Club, and secretary of the World Language Honor Society.

For Joshua Joseph, one of the more unique aspects of Whitman has been the diversity of the school’s programs.  “When you look past every class that seems standardized, you find a million opportunities and different areas to explore,” says Josh.  “There is so much to discover in terms of clubs and extracurricular activities and you're surrounded by so many different people. One of the things I love most here is that there is a commitment to academic success, not necessarily based on tests or assessments, but based on actual learning and improving your skills."

Josh plays the double bass in the Whitman Jazz Band, Symphonic Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra. He is one of the founding members of The Collective, Whitman's in-house recording studio, where he is currently co-president. Along with Mr. Monti, Mr. Hoffman, and the other members of The Collective, Josh is working to produce Whitman’s second studio-recorded album. He has also designed the group’s logo and created graphic art for various Whitman clubs and events.

This year, Josh has particularly enjoyed his detour into painfully self-aware nerd rap. For some reason, he was compelled to create a mixtape with his friend Tim Jobson, under the alias Yung Prius, that will be dropping soon after AP exams are over. Filled with nuggets of physics knowledge and an inordinate amount of Prius-related puns, the project has allowed him to explore new musical and comedic boundaries.

Josh is a member of the National Honor Society, English Honor Society, Tri-M Music Honor Society, Art Honor Society, and is a section editor of PawPrint, Whitman’s online newspaper. He has also volunteered his time over the last four years, achieving a bronze Presidential Volunteer Service Award.

Josh is a National Merit Scholarship winner, a US Presidential Scholars Program nominee, an AP Scholar with Honor, and an SAT/ACT Scholar. He looks forward to studying Journalism at Stony Brook University, where he is one of 100 students admitted to the Honors College. He was awarded the Stony Brook Presidential Scholarship, Valedictorian Scholarship and National Merit Recognition Scholarship.

After college, Josh hopes to apply the diverse knowledge he’s acquired to embark on a meaningful, creative career path.


Congratulations to Walt Whitman Co-Valedictorians Joseph VanGostein and Joshua Joseph.