A conversation with Moorestown High School’s top performers

The Sun sits down with the valedictorian and salutatorian of MHS’s graduating class to talk about the memories they will take with them as they transition into the next phase of their lives.

Moorestown High School’s class of 2019 salutatorian Elena Iliadis, left, and valedictorian, Elizabeth Graham, on campus before the big day Thursday, June 20.

Moorestown High School’s class of 2019 is eagerly counting the days until their graduation Thursday, June 20, the day they take the next big step in their individual journeys.

Two students, valedictorian Elizabeth Graham and salutatorian Elena Iliadis, have been particularly eager having held their noses to the grindstone for the past four years to climb to the top of their class.

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One final hurdle remains for the girls as they will both be speaking at graduation, but neither of them got to where they are by not being prepared, and neither of them seem overly worried about the task.

“I have a lot of experience performing in front of audiences from theater. I’ve never done a graduation speech obviously, but it’s exciting. I’m glad to have the opportunity to say my final words in my last moments as a senior at Moorestown and to say goodbye,” said Iliadis.

Although she doesn’t share Ilidias’ theater experience, Graham participated in the club Ladies Out Loud, which included plenty of public speaking, confidence and body language practice.

“That definitely helped me be a lot more confident and less nervous going into the speech than I would have been before,” said Graham.

The girls can tell you, making it to the top two spots in their grade was no walk in the park, but approaching their schoolwork in a thoughtful way and working smarter, not harder, ended up paying off in a big way for them.

“It’s definitely a lot of hard work, obviously, and of course there are some late nights, but I think above that it’s making sure that you’re using every resource that you have the right way. Instead of studying for hours, you study the right things, talk to the right people and have study groups to stay on top of things. It’s all about finding a good balance,” said Iliadis.

Of their years at MHS, besides the late nights studying, the girls say they will remember their class’ school spirit and always being able to count on their varsity teams to bring home a victory.

“One of the easiest things to remember will be all of the pep rallies,” said Graham. “Our grade is very, very spirited so every year we went into pep rallies knowing that we would at least win something so we all got very excited about that.”

Iliadis agreed and added their senior trip as a stand-out moment.

“Just having our whole grade there and walking around seeing everyone in a different kind of way at Walt Disney World,” said Iliadis.

When it comes to what makes MHS a unique place, for the girls, it’s all about the people. Both their peers and teachers.

“Throughout my high school journey, I got close with so many of the teachers that taught different subjects, it didn’t really matter what subject, they make it fun for us and so do the people you’re with. You always hear these horror stories from high school but if you’re with the right people, like you are at Moorestown High School, you can have a really good time,” said Graham.

“The people at Moorestown are the perfect amount of driven, especially in the classes that Lizzy and I took. I feel like people expect it to be so cutthroat but in this environment it’s really supportive, everyone is helping each other out and the teachers are always there,” said Iliadis.

Being the top performers in their grade, Graham and Iliadis shared many classes and teachers throughout the years. They count their Spanish teacher, Lisa Trapani, as someone who had a particularly strong impact on them.

“Her class is no doubt hard, but the way that she taught us to learn and develop as students pushed us to levels that we didn’t even think we could reach,” said Graham.

“Beyond the classroom, if you walk around the school for a few days she’s involved in literally everything, she’s head of the teacher’s union and head of student council, she has a foot in every door. She shows us how to be independent and on top of things and how you can balance all these things, it’s inspiring to see,” said Iliadis.

For their underclassmen, the girls share some solid advice. As they mentioned before, finding a balance is key, and according to Graham, it’s also important not to sweat the small stuff.

“If someone is trying to be at the top of their class I would tell them not to get discouraged by a single bad grade. There were definitely times when I would get a terrible grade and thought my career was over and I would just fail but it wasn’t like that. There’s a lot that goes into it to make you a well-rounded learner,” said Graham.

Looking ahead, Graham will be attending Georgetown University to study medicine, and Iliadis will be attending the University of Virginia and plans to study neuroscience or human biology with a potential minor in either modern Greek or theater.

 

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