Locust Valley High School students had the opportunity to hear first-hand advice on what may be considered the biggest decision of their lives. On January 5 during the school day, seniors attended the second annual Alumni Day, giving them direct access to LVHS graduates attending a variety of colleges and universities. That same evening, underclassmen and their families heard from former LVHS International Baccalaureate students about how the IB program has helped them succeed in college and beyond.

The consensus during both programs was that the education received in Locust Valley helped students with time management, carrying a heavy workload, establishing effective student/teacher relationships, making presentations, and so much more. Specifically, many alumni said that taking classes in the International Baccalaureate (IB) program prepared them so well for the college curriculum that their college classes don’t even seem difficult.  The most consistent piece of advice our alum shared was the importance of reading!  They realized very quickly during their first semester that just perusing the text book would not cut it – very good advice for our current students!

Tips on choosing the right college or university included visiting the schools before making a decision and taking into consideration one’s individual needs. At least two students said they were attending a school that was actually their last choice or one that they would never have considered, yet ended up being the perfect choice for them.  The common message was “to keep an open mind.”  Advice on succeeding academically included doing all the work assigned, such as reading, even if it won’t be reviewed in class or checked by the professor.

Other important advice revolved around managing money (one young lady realized she was out of food money after only a few weeks) as well as time management.  The alumni explained that there are always students who go out every night of the week regardless of the school they attend, so  it is important to learn how to have a healthy balance.

The current high school students asked about deadlines, assignments, and professor availability…..our alum made it clear that college professors do not give reminders, extra time, or hold your hand. They do, however, offer extra help during office hours.

The opportunity to join clubs, sports, and do new activities was highlighted as one of the biggest benefits of college. The audience was encouraged to try new things, to branch out, and to enjoy whatever their individual school offers.  A number of alumni discussed joining clubs they would never have dreamed of being interested such as the Harry Potter favorite, Quidditch, and rugby.
LVHS Assistant Principal Rebecca Gottesman said that holding Alumni Day is an excellent opportunity for high school students to hear the real facts about choosing a college, and what to expect when they get there. “It also reminds them of what they need to continue to do in high school, to be the most prepared once they take this next step in their lives!”   

In addition to the general daytime session, break-out sessions were held and organized both by college and by major. This allowed the seniors to target their questions to the alumni who were best able to answer them.

The evening session, the IB Alumni Presentation, brought 19 former IB students back to speak on how the IB program specifically helped them to succeed as college students and in the work world. “What these students said spoke volumes about the many benefits attained from this program,” said LV IB Coordinator Bob Buonaspina. “Now that we have eight years of experience with the IB program, we have a broader perspective of this program’s true worth to our students over time.”
Students shared personal stories about the challenges of the IB program that made them stronger students, better writers, and critical thinkers. The audience was able to glean from their experiences the benefits of this rigorous curriculum.

Holding both alumni sessions served a large segment of the population, looking at  specific aspects of the IB curriculum in the evening, while offering a broader picture of the college experience during the daytime session. LVHS Principal Dr. Kieran McGuire said the two events brought the benefits of alumni day full circle. “All sorts of students with a variety of interests and a variety of skills benefitted from these sessions, whether they are deciding how many IB classes to take or choosing the colleges to which they aspire.”

Special thanks to the following alumni for their participation in this informative session: Sami Limperis-Kaufman, Quinnipiac University; Angelo Marciano, Providence College; Nick Parra, University of the Arts; Hollace Francy, Vassar College; Mike Harrington, Nassau Community College; Mark Vessalico, University of Pennsylvania; Gina States, Roanoke College; Nicole Friedman    , Skidmore College; Sarah Buffa    , SUNY New Paltz; Zoe Vinegar, St. Lawrence University; AJ Nickas, Cornell University; Craig Casazza, Fordham University; Brittany Gruter, Fashion Institute of Technology; Paula Picone, Mercy College; Jack Lynch, CUNY Baruch; Mary Leah Milnes, Vanderbilt University; Rebecca Hanley, University of Maryland; Ally Randall, SUNY New Paltz; Spencer Calligar , High Point University; Patricia Roth, Providence College; Kristi Santoli, NY Institute of Technology;  Mei Kurakake, SUNY Binghamton; Phil Merenda, Ithaca College; Adam Parente, American University; Katelyn Tisch, Cornell University; Joseph Sorbara, Ithaca College; Peter Trinder, McGill University; Nicole Dooley, Kutztown University; Catherine Hoar, Tufts University; Maurice Chianese, University of Colorado, Boulder; Nicole Garcia, UCLA; Alexa Rivadeneira, University of Delaware; Omar Abdelkader, NY Institute of Technology; Olivia Cohen, Buchnell University; Alexander Sharp, Georgetown University; Brittany Eude, Lake Forest College; Francesca Bonadolnna, Carnegie Mellon.