Valedictorian: Matthew Manno

Samantha Nadler, Editor in Chief

Summer 2023 Edition

In a grade of approximately 300 students, it takes a lot to be named the top student of the entire grade. This year’s valedictorian, Matthew Manno, has definitely made a name for himself. As the face of Bellmore-Merrick Broadcasting’s sports division, the first non-senior winner of the annual Mr. Mepham competition in 2022, and an active member of Mepham’s track and field team, Matt’s resume is much longer than the average student. I asked Matt a few questions about his time at Mepham as he prepares to graduate at the top of his class.
What does being valedictorian mean to you?
“It means a lot, I’ll say it in my speech, but I didn’t think I’d be anywhere near this honor as an underclassman. Even as a junior I felt my average was too low to worry about class rank so I just focused on being the best version of myself in each and every class, and fortunately for us, it landed me this accolade.”
How did you react when you found out you were selected as one of the top two students of the Class of 2023?
“To be honest, when I was called out of 1st period that day I had an idea what it was for, as I was talking to my friend the weekend prior, and we both believed we were due to find out soon. Regardless of my intuition, it made every late night studying and stressing over every last point worthwhile.”
What was your favorite memory from Mepham over the past four years?
“Both of the overnights I took this year with two of my major commitments. [The] BMB [trip] to STN [was] an unforgettable experience, traveling the farthest I’ve ever gone from home with some of by best friends, competing in challenges that mimic the real world of my chosen field, [and the] Mepham track [trip] to Penn State: my first overnight trip ever, a crazy trip (mostly because we are all indescribably crazy). So many memories, inside jokes, and fun moments that made me love track and this team even more. And I hit a PR (personal record) in the 400.”
What were some awards and honors you’ve earned over your four years at Mepham?
“[I have won the] Pirates’ Treasure Award, AP Scholar with Distinction, AP Seminar and Research Certificate, [possibly] Capstone Diploma, Student Television Network (STN) Fall Nationals Runner Up for Sports Highlight, Spring Nationals 3rd place for Sports Highlight (2023) and runner-up for Best Live Sports Broadcast (2021-22), Broadcast Awards for Senior High (BASH) Best Broadcast for the BMB Morning Announcements (winner in 2022 and runner-up in 2023), Best Sports Package for “Riding it Out: Nick Walker’s Story” (2021), BMB Program Awards: Best Full Screen Graphic (2021), Best Sports Feature (2021), Best Title Screen (2022), Best Overlay Graphic (2022), potentially more BMB awards on Tuesday (I hope), [and a] Sports Booster Scholarship.”
What was your favorite class, and who was your favorite teacher at Mepham? And why?
“BMB. I’m not picking between Stein and Kalish because that isn’t fair. The BMB room is a second home for me, and the people inside of it are family. BMB isn’t a class. It’s more, in the best way possible.”
Where are you going to school next year, and what will you be majoring in? And where do you see yourself in five years?
“I’ll be attending Cornell University to study communications. As for where I’ll be in five years, I couldn’t tell you. If you were to travel back in time and tell my freshman self that he would be attending an Ivy League school, he wouldn’t believe it. High school for me strayed so far from my original plan that I’m not going into college with that much of a plan. Sure, I want good grades and to be involved in plenty of extracurriculars on campus, but beyond that I want to go where life takes me and embrace every challenge that is thrown my way, the same way I did at Mepham.”
What advice would you give to incoming freshmen?
“Enjoy every moment of these next four years to the fullest. There will be moments where the going gets rough, but even then, I encourage you to enjoy the hard times as much as the good times. And if you ever need anything, do not hesitate to reach out to me or anyone you trust in the building.”