Education

John Jay Valedictorian: Katherine Ricca

e1c3d839f43582205943_b872d1b1cfd8883ba52c_62748.jpg
Katherine Ricca Credits: Jessica Jafet
e1c3d839f43582205943_b872d1b1cfd8883ba52c_62748.jpg

CROSS RIVER, N.Y. – During her high school years, Katie Ricca was regularly told by her guidance counselor that her grade point average sounded like the fever of a small child. Now, having graduated John Jay High School with above 100, it is the measure that propelled her to the top of the class as valedictorian.

“She is one of the most incredible students I’ve encountered in my 20 years as a high school counselor,” Beth DeBeer said. “Beyond her intellect, Katie’s energy, passion and commitment to learning and community is exceptional.”

Katie grew up in Cross River, attended Lewisboro Elementary School, John Jay Middle School, and John Jay High School. She said that educational success was a core value held by her parents that was instilled in their two daughters. They would read to their children, do flashcards together and celebrate successes at school.

Sign Up for E-News

“I found joy in succeeding in school, so every time I got a test back that I did well on, I’d really be so happy about it because it felt like a recognition of all the effort I’d put into it and my achievement,” Katie said.

It was at the start of her freshman year of high school that Katie and her family had to deal with the loss of her father. The resilient student decided to commit herself to attain the same recognition her dad received in his high school: the title of class valedictorian.

“While it’s something I’ve worked for all these years, it is always something that I wanted—to have that piece that connected the both of us. It’s something very special to me to be able to say that both me and my father were class valedictorians,” Katie said.

Beyond stellar academic work and scientific research that drove her up the class rankings, Katie also availed herself of many John Jay High School activities. She was a member of Mock Trial, the high school’s Campus Congress, the Science Olympiad Team, captain of the varsity swim and dive team and volunteered as a tutor for Reach Out John Jay as well as with the Appalachian Service Project.

High School Principal Dr. Steven Siciliano says Katie Ricca exemplifies what is great about John Jay High School. “Katie’s success is a wonderful expression of the opportunities afforded students by the school district and how all can find their niche at John Jay,” he said.

It was the Mock Trial Club—one in which members participate in simulated trials to learn about the legal system—that seemed to spark a real future career interest. Katie will attend Harvard University in the fall and hopes to pursue a law degree.

“I would like to be an assistant district attorney in Manhattan,” she said.  “My dad was an ADA in Manhattan and I want to be a criminal prosecutor.”

About going to Harvard, Katie is humbled and excited to attend a university with such vast resources.

“I am still in awe that I get to have that chance to go and attend school there—I’m still amazed about it sometimes—with the number of people who applied and all of the talented people around the world who wanted to go,” she said.

Her advice to others in high school? Katie encourages all students to “take the leap and do something that you totally wouldn’t have expected or never would have done before.”

Siciliano agreed that it is important for students to step out of their comfort zone during the high school years.

“Students are encouraged, for example, to take the most rigorous courses they can access and get involved in all the extracurricular activities offered,” he said. “It’s where students form relationships and begin ‘trying on new selves’ to see what their interests and passions are.”

In terms of defining success, this academic standout understands that it is something that can be measured in many ways. Katie said she has been thinking about success in a broader sense than just one’s academic record.

“I think that just as everyone has their own separate type of intelligence and their own separate type of capabilities, success is what makes people happy in their lives. Achieving that end goal of happiness in your life, no matter what it is that you do—I think that is what success should be.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Katonah/Lewisboro

Upcoming Events

Fri, July 20, 10:00 AM

Memorial House, Katonah

Summer Sings

Arts & Entertainment

Tue, July 24, 9:00 AM

South Salem

Shredder Truck Comes to Lewisboro

Government

Wed, July 25, 7:30 PM

Carmel Cinema 8, Carmel

Film Screening on Suicide

Health & Wellness

Sat, July 28, 6:30 PM

Weil Preserve, North Salem

Jazz in the Meadow with Bill Evans

Arts & Entertainment Other

Fri, August 24, 10:00 AM

Memorial House, Katonah

Summer Sings

Arts & Entertainment

Summer Camp

Recently, I enjoyed teaching a one-week creative writing camp for teens at Katonah Art Center. For three hours each afternoon, six middle and high school students joined me to learn new ways to discover story inspiration, create unique characters, and explore writing in different genres of fiction. By the end of our first afternoon of writing together, the campers had already bonded. These kids ...

A (Burnt) Toast to Love and Marriage, on the Rocks

In its first few moments, sitcom-style comedy “Clever Little Lies” grabs audience attention right away, with one of the most revealing wardrobe changes you’ll ever see on stage. It is done modestly but just provocatively enough to elicit vocal appreciation from amused patrons.

The fast-paced play, starring Richard Kline of TV comedy classic “Three’s ...

The Adventures of Superdog

I was always very impressed that my dog could bark on command and come when I called his name, until I read in the newspaper about a dog that saved his owner’s life by calling 9-1-1. Apparently, when his owner had a seizure, the dog pushed a speed-dial button for 9-1-1, barked into the receiver for help, and then opened the door when the responders arrived.

Honestly, though, it’s ...

Be-bop near the train stop

Last Friday was such a nice day we decided to head down to Tarrytown and take in some jazz in Pierson Park for the Friday Evening Concert Series. If you’re in the mood for it, a little jazz can be just the thing. Much of it is instrumental, so you don’t even have to sing along. Every time I see a rock band these days, they start the song, get to the chorus and then stick the mic out ...