“207’s Best” for October honored for Academic Achievement
- Student: Daniel Anderson of Maine South, Niraj Shah of Maine East and Ariel Smolik-Valles of Maine West
- School: Maine West, East and South
- Class/grade: Seniors
- Award: "207's Best"
Three seniors selected by Maine Township High School District 207 as "207's Best” for October have been recognized by the Board of Education. All three – Daniel Anderson of Maine South, Niraj Shah of Maine East and Ariel Smolik-Valles of Maine West– were recognized for Academic Achievement.
Daniel Anderson ranks in the top 2 percent of his class with a Grade Point Average of 4.86. He has compiled this record through a rigorous course load that has included no fewer than 10 Advanced Placement courses. In introducing him to the Board, South Principal Shawn Messmer said that a measure of Daniel’s approach to school is that he opted out of a rare free period to help in AP Computer Science class. In his introductory letter, Mr. Messmer quoted Computer Science teacher Kevin Hurley as stating that Daniel “has a wonderful sense of humor, gets along very well with his peers, and is willing to help them at every opportunity….He is a tremendous student and is an even better person.” Last summer, Daniel applied his computer programming skills to an internship at Fermilab in Batavia. Daniel told Board members that he plans to study chemical engineering or computer engineering at MIT or the University of Illinois.
Niraj has earned a 4.89 GPA in a schedule laden with AP and Accelerated courses. He is a member of East’s Gifted Lyceum program. In addition to excelling academically, Niraj has been active at East in National Honor Society, Tri-M International Music Society, Math Team, Marching and Jazz bands, Spanish Club and the Maine Historical Society. With aspirations to become a medical doctor, he obtained a coveted American Cancer Society summer internship that involved working with top researchers on a methodology that helps improve the diagnostic accuracy of pediatric melanoma. In his introductory letter, East Principal Dr. Mike Pressler described Niraj as “an accomplished student, verbally, mathematically, and scientifically. His work ethic is superb and his level of commitment and service is outstanding.” Niraj told members of the Board that he hopes to attend Northwestern University.
In addition to ranking in the top 1 percent of her class with a 4.93 GPA, Ariel Smolik-Valles led the Warrior softball team to regional and sectional titles last year. She serves as sports editor of the Westerner newspaper, is active on Class and Student councils and is the school’s nominee for the Comcast Leaders and Achievers Award and for the Daily Herald Leadership and Academic teams. She is a COACH tutor and volunteers as a tech expert at her church as well as performing volunteer work in the community. In her introductory letter, West Principal Dr. Audrey Haugan described Ariel as “intelligent, insightful and intimidating....in the best possible way.” Dr. Haugan explained that it is intimidating to grasp how much such a young role model has already achieved and what a high standard she has set for herself and others. Ariel told the Board she plans to major in journalism or social science at Syracuse or George Washington University.
The "207's Best" program recognizes outstanding students monthly throughout the school year. Academic achievement awards are given in four months. Extracurricular achievement, community service, improved performance and electives/performing arts are given one month each. Teachers nominate students, and an executive committee makes final decisions. Honorees are then recognized by the Board of Education, which instituted the program.