Get to Know Mepham’s 2021 Valedictorian

Julia Collins, News Editor

Who is Mepham’s #1 student? What makes the valedictorian tick? Meet Mepham’s valedictorian, Max Luft, to understand his journey to academic success.


JC: Describe your high school journey to becoming valedictorian.


ML: Becoming valedictorian was always at the back of my head as early as 6th grade. I always revelled in the idea of being named the “smartest person” in school although that was from the view of a naïve child and not understanding the complexity of how one can define “smartness.” However, despite this desire I never truly believed myself to be particularly capable of achieving this goal in the first two years of high school nor was I especially dedicated to achieving this title. However, I simply focused on my studies as normal, paying attention in class, doing my homework, etc. I ended up continuing my overall solid performance in school, albeit with the unjustified stress and anxiety associated with holding oneself to a high standard and not reaching that standard at all times.


JC: What was your favorite Mepham memory?


ML: My favorite Mepham memory that’s not from a class would most likely be badminton. I think the one specific memory had to be our first game. We lost quite badly, but the bus ride home would not look that way from an outsider’s point of view. We were cheering and laughing and hooraying, and I don’t remember exactly why but it was infectious. I felt it in the team that we actually wanted to improve despite our loss because the games were really fun and instead of putting a damper on our moods, it did the opposite. Since we got so much inspiration out of that first match, I like to think that we actually won that game in the long run and we took a piece of their school in a sense and incorporated it into us. I think the other freshmen badminton players would agree.



JC: What was your favorite class and who was your favorite teacher at Mepham? And why?


ML: My favorite class was Calculus BC. It is a small but tight knit group, and every single person wants to be there. Because of this, as well as the natural difficulty of the class, we are all very cooperative and oftentimes work together. Ms. O’Hagan is extremely understanding and dedicated to her job, and I believe we are all extremely grateful for her. Picking a favorite teacher is quite difficult as I have enjoyed almost all of my teachers. If I would have to pick just one teacher, it would probably be Ms. Desmond. I’ve had her as a teacher for three years, and she has always been such an amazing person. I am not a particularly “artsy” student, but Ms. Desmond made me love it all the same. I don’t know where I would be without her, and she’s an amazing person to be around; I’ve shared many laughs, and my Photoshop experiments were some of the most fun I’ve had in her photo classes. She allows for such experimentation and freedom in her classroom that no other teacher replicates to the same extent, but I do want to repeat that she is just one of a multitude of amazing teachers I’ve had at Mepham.I truly believe they are all great.



JC: What are your plans after high school? 


ML: I am currently committed to Stony Brook University in the Honors College,and my major is shaping up to be Mathematics. I never have been particularly fond of answering the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” because due to my cautious nature I tend to try to leave all my doors open, so I can make the choice which I end up happiest with. This means that I still don’t know where I’m going to take my math studies in the future and how I will convert it into a career, but with an open mind and the multiple doors of possibility that I have yet to close, I know I’ll find something I love doing and that is what’s important at the end of the day.


JC: What advice do you have for underclassmen?


ML: My advice for underclassmen is to be yourself and live life as it comes, as cliché as it sounds. School isn’t worth obsessing over, and you want to enjoy your high school career. I suggest finding a healthy balance, which is different for each person. Once you find that balance, you won’t be excessively throwing away your future or your present and instead managing having a successful future while still enjoying the here and now. Valedictorian is just a word; we are all unique, yet we are all equal. It’s this beautiful paradox of us all being the same and us all being different and necessary. I don’t think I’m particularly smarter than anyone in my grade or even in this school because everyone is better at one thing or another. Because of that, all of us need to just live our lives to the best of our ability, while looking out for each other along the way. I honestly believe comparing yourself to anyone but yourself won’t get you anywhere, so it’s the best advice I can give.


We wish Max the best of luck in his future endeavors!