RANDOLPH, NJ- When it came time to recognize the top academic achievers for Randolph high school's class of 2018, the calculations revealed a "first ever" tie for Salutatorian. After being averaged down to four decimal points, seniors Sydney Jenkins and Jenna Sandler were declared Co-Salutatorians for 2018.
Jenkins, who took 8 AP classes at RHS and is a member of three Honors Societies, plans to study mechanical engineering at Rutgers, where she will attend the Honors College.
Sandler took 12 AP classes while at RHS, and is also a member of three Honors Societies. Her college plans will be attending Brandeis University in Waldham MA, where she will study a combination of psychology, neuroscience, and linguistics.
During her senior year, Sandler was able to achieve a “Full Score” on her AP research exam. For her project, she completed an academic thesis, a case study with an experiment, a presentation defending her topic, and completed a research paper.
A full score is the equivalent of a perfect score, and is something that only 2.8% of kids in the world who complete an AP research exam achieve.
Jenkins is a student who excelled with books in her hands as well as with cleats on her feet, having played lacrosse since fourth grade, and earning a varsity letter in three of her four years at RHS. Jenkins also spends some of her free time running, and calls it “my stress reliever.”
Sandler named two teachers she felt had a strong impact on her RHS years, the first being her Capstone and AP World History teacher Mrs. Spray.
“She’s always been willing to talk to me and help me out with anything I needed, and has been super supportive to me throughout my high school years,” said Sandler. “She looks to me to give pointers and advice to younger students, and genuinely listens to and values my opinions.”
Mrs. Weinstein, Sandler’s World History and US History Honors teacher, was the other. Weinstein is also the co-advisor for the National Social Studies Honors Society, which Sandler is the president of this year.
“I have been around her for all four years, and similar to Mrs. Spray she always had confidence in me, supported me, and took a personal interest in my life,” said Sandler.
Jenkins also had two teachers she wished to acknowledge, and one is a very familiar name.
“She’s a teacher that everybody loves,” said Jenkins as she described Spanish teacher Carmella Ferrentino. “What makes her special is that she cares for everyone, and will stop you in the hall just to ask how your day is going.”
Jenkins added, “She has a lot of personal life stories that she shares with everyone, that teach you things you don’t learn in school. That is how she’s made an impact on not only me, but on a lot of other students.”
Jenkins second teacher was Mr. Casey, whom she had for two years in math.
“He shows a lot of devotion to his job and appreciation for his students,” said Jenkins. “He will give you everything you need to be the best student you can as long as you’re willing to dedicate your time to that class as well.”
When asked what she will miss most about Randolph, Jenkins said “the town in general.”
“It’s a large community, but you see people all the time, working at places or just being around town, and it feels like everyone cares for everyone,” said Jenkins. “From teachers who come see our games, to people I have met through the years, it’s a great community feeling in Randolph.”
Sandler spends much of her free time working at a summer camp and babysitting. “The kids at camp are ages 1-5, but I often end up working with the younger ones,” said Sandler. “I love spending time with the younger kids and for some reason they always seem to gravitate to me.”
Sandler also stated her boss once called her the “Child Whisperer” for her ability to calm down upset children.
The co-Salutatorians were asked to describe each other in one word.
“I have never met someone who is more genuine than Sydney,” said Sandler. “She never has any motive besides helping other people and being there for her friends. She is genuinely interested in everyone she interacts with and never has any malicious intent.”
Jenkins then described Sandler.
“She is passionate about everything she does, clearly about school and babysitting work, but she’s also a very passionate friend,” said Jenkins. “She’s always excited to talk to people in the hallway; she’s very passionate about all her relationships whether it be family, friends, teachers, or others.”
Sandler cited her father, who was born in South Africa and moved to the U.S. when he was just 10 years old, as her role model.
“It was a struggle for him to learn the society, the culture, and the language, while also catching up on the education that others naturally knew,” said Sandler. “I get my work ethic from him, I look up to him, and I want to make him proud.”
Jenkins stated that both her parents were her role model because of “the support they have for me and my brother.”
“If we have anything they are always there, they’ll leave work early or change plans to go to our games or events even if it’s far away,” said Jenkins. “They make time for me and my brother no matter what, and that is why idolize them both.”
Jenkins explained that her parents were mostly hands off when it came to schooling.
“My parents put essentially no pressure on me for school, they just want me to do what I want,” said Jenkins. “Their priority is making me happy and not stressing me out about school, and that’s something I really want to thank them for.”
Jenkins then continued, “And to my brother I apologize, because now that I somehow ended up here, he’s going to have to put up with a lot.”
Sandler had similar sentiments to share about her parents.
“I am the same as Sydney, all the pressure for school has been self-imposed by me and not my parents,” said Sandler. “They would’ve been proud of me even if I didn’t end up here, and they know how much pressure I put on myself as I am a bit of a perfectionist. But, whatever I needed they always provided for me, and I could never thank them enough for all they’ve done.”
When asked if either one had something they wanted to share that most people do not know about them, Jenkins explained that she played co-ed flag rugby from 6th grade to 10th grade, and added that she has a Black Belt in Taekwondo.
Jenkins then enthusiastically stated she had something to share about Sandler.
“I think most people, if they don’t really know Jenna, have no idea that she actually has a great sense of humor,” said Jenkins. “When it comes to studious people, often the perception is that we are very stoic.”
Sandler was appreciative of the remarks, to which Jenkins stated, “I just really enjoy your sense of humor, and I think other people should know that about you.”