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Organization Skills Help Briarcliff Valedictorian

Briarcliff High School valedictorian Jonathan Schneider writes down all his school assignments in an agenda and prioritizes the longer assignments to work on first.

"There's not any secret to my success," he said. "I just listen to the teacher in class, follow directions and try really hard. And I think a big contributing factor is being organized."

Schneider enjoys science and math classes the most, especially Advanced Placement Chemistry which he took junior year.

"I had a great teacher for AP Chemistry. It was very hands on and we did a lot of experiments in lab, which was very exciting," he said.

The valedictorian wasn't always such a high achiever. When he first entered the Briarcliff school system in first grade, he was placed in remedial math and English classes as a special education student with Attention Deficit Disorder.

He stayed in remedial math classes until fifth grade when he moved up to a special class for transitioning into mainstream classes. He entered mainstream math classes in sixth grade and began speech therapy because he had trouble speaking.

In seventh grade, Schneider was enrolled in an accelerated math class. In eighth grade, he entered the honors math class, and now as a senior in high school, he is taking the highest level math class offered in school: Advanced Placement Calculus.

"I was helped out by the teachers in the special education department who were very encouraging," he said.

Schneider will enter SUNY Stonybrook in the fall where he plans to study medicine so that he can eventually become an orthopedic surgeon. He explained that his career choice is motivated by a time in third grade when he broke his leg after someone kicked him during a soccer game.

"I was in a wheelchair for a while and I had a cast until the fracture healed," he said. "I was just relieved that I was able to get back up and walk and play sports again."

Schneider has already written his graduation day valedictorian's speech. He plans to talk about being fortunate for having Briarcliff resources and about not being afraid to fail and take risks.

"I wish everyone well and congratulate them on a good four years," he said. "My advice is to just try your hardest and to set your priorities straight to make sure you get things done."

In his spare time, Schneider is a volunteer firefighter and a member of the ambulance corps in Briarcliff. He is taking a class at Westchester Community College to become an Emergency Medical Technician.

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