By Rosemary Leonetti.
would like to be remembered as a happy, hardworking and friendly person who was
always there for my friends and for anyone else who’s needed me,” said Lynbrook
High School Class of 2013 salutatorian Melissa Epstein.
A National AP Scholar and a member of the National Honor Society, Melissa has put her math and science skills to work helping others as a tutor since sophomore year.
“It gives me a real feeling of success to see the look of understanding on someone else’s face, knowing that I helped put it there,” she said.
Equally involved in service as she is in academics, Melissa has reached out to help others through her involvement in the Facing History and Ourselves Club, the Leadership/Key Club and the United Synagogue Youth of the Hewlett East Rockaway Jewish Center.
Among those experiences, she counts her involvement with the Facing History and Ourselves Club as one of the most meaningful of her high school years. Through this organization, Melissa participated in annual drives to collect baby wipes, Gatorade and other supplies for troops serving overseas, and also participated in “Operation Sandy Clause,” where she worked with kindergartners to make holiday stockings for Long Beach families in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.
“While the stockings may not have alleviated their suffering, it was nice to know that in such a dark time, I would be able to help put a smile on their faces during the holiday season,” she recalled.
Melissa says the most influential person in her life is her younger sister Samantha, who is an eighth-grader at South Middle School. “She is four years younger than I am, but she has always had a profound effect on the decisions I’ve made,” said Melissa. “She has made me strive to be a role model for her and to make her proud that I am her older sister.”
The most meaningful class Melissa took at Lynbrook High School was BC Calculus. Although she has always loved math, she says that this course helped her consider actually majoring in math next year.
The most important piece of advice she had to offer freshmen entering high school next year is to make sure they take classes that interest them, even if it means not always being with friends. She says she would also encourage them to join clubs, noting, “They do a lot of great things for the school and are also a lot of fun.”
A newcomer to the Lynbrook School District in her freshman year, one of the most difficult things Melissa learned to do was to adapt to the new environment of a larger school.
“I learned that I just needed to be myself to find a place in this new school,” explained Melissa.
She said that this experience taught her how to make friends with people who are complete strangers at first, and helped her feel better prepared for what she will face in the fall when she heads off to Union College in Schenectady, N.Y.
As she acclimates to another new place, her strong work ethic, easy wit, sense of loyalty and willingness to help others should help her feel just as much at home on the Union campus as she did in the halls of Lynbrook High School.