Kingston City School District Announces its Top Students

KINGSTON – The Kingston City School District (KCSD) is proud to announce that Peter Dong is the Valedictorian and Jerry Chen is the Salutatorian of the Class of 2024. These outstanding students have not only excelled academically but have also worked together to enrich science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) opportunities for their fellow students at Kingston High School (KHS).

Dong, the son of Yan Qing Dong and Qi Tao Dong of Kingston, leads his class with a weighted grade point average (GPA) of 103.389. His senior classes include a rigorous mix of Advanced Placement (AP) and college-level courses, such as AP English Literature, AP Physics, AP Chemistry, and College French 1. Dong is also an accomplished musician, playing violin in the school orchestra and serving as a drum major and section leader in the marching band. He is grateful to Steven Garner, KCSD band director, for believing in him.

Chen, the son of Xue Jing Chen and Feng Cai Chen of Hurley, earned his rank as Salutatorian with a weighted GPA of 103.085. His senior classes include AP English Literature, AP Chemistry, AP Physics Mechanics, and College Spanish II. Chen is also a dedicated member of the marching band, playing alto saxophone and serving as a section leader. He credits Computer Science teachers Karen Garner and Sean Murray for their guidance in his computer science journey.

Dong and Chen have collaborated to promote STEM education and engagement throughout their high school careers. As the president and vice president of the Science Olympiad team, respectively, they worked closely with their teacher advisors, Grace Johnston and Marika Uus-Janums, to organize and participate in competitions. They also played key roles in reviving the Computer Science Club, with Dong serving as president. Together, they created an active membership and organized events to introduce middle school students to computer science concepts, such as coding workshops and demonstrations during Computer Science Appreciation Week.

Both Dong and Chen have received numerous accolades for their academic achievements, including being named AP Scholars with Distinction and earning spots in the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) Area All-State ensembles for their musical talents. Dong is also a National Merit Scholar. As co-captains of the Varsity Boys Tennis team, they have demonstrated their leadership skills and commitment to their school community through various extracurricular activities.

This summer, Dong and Chen will attend the prestigious Jane Street Academy of Math and Programming before embarking on their post-secondary educations. Dong is deciding between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Yale, where he plans to study computer science and explore Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications and modeling. Chen will attend MIT, following in the footsteps of his two older siblings, both former KHS valedictorians. He intends to focus on the Course 6-9 Computation and Cognition program, with the goal of developing computer models to study sleep, a subject he has extensively researched.

Dr. Rachael Scorca, principal of KHS, commended Dong and Chen for their perseverance and grace in balancing their rigorous academic work with extracurricular activities and leadership roles that enriched the lives of the students around them. Her advice to the graduating seniors is to “Lean into mistakes, which help you learn. Lean into your support groups. Also spend time on things that bring you joy and passion.”

The KCSD congratulates Peter Dong and Jerry Chen on their outstanding achievements and wishes them continued success in their future endeavors.

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