The Glen Echo and Under The Rock Present: Graduation Spotlights

Arshnoor Kaur was named Valedictorian for Glen Rock High School’s graduating class of 2021. Kaur has spent countless hours working to have the best GPA. She says that having a set study schedule and managing your time well has been the key to her success. Kaur says what she’ll remember the most is late night debate meetings and studying for tests with her friends. She says that she is proud of all of the hard work that she put in and feels very accomplished. She will be attending Yale University and plans to become a neurosurgeon and is looking forward to the food which she has heard good things about.

Tomas Collado has worked very hard to become the salutatorian for Glen Rock High School and the finalist for the citizen award. Collado attributes his success in high school to the amount of hours that he has put into his studies as well as volunteering locally at places like the arboretum. The times that he has had with his friends is what he says will be his favorite memory in high school. Next year Collado will be going to college at Washington University where he plans to major in mechanical engineering.

Emma Shiels participated in a multitude of activities during her time at Glen Rock High School. Shiels led the French Club, Blankets for Good, and the Poverty Awareness Club all as president. Over the course of her high school experience, she also participated in three sports: basketball, cross country, and track — and became captain for a few of these sports. Shiels involved herself in student government as she was the Vice President of the school’s student council and Secretary for the Class of 2021. Shiels credits her numerous leadership positions and the responsibilities that came with each position as the reason she matured as a person and student throughout the entirety of high school. Beyond leadership roles, Shiels actively tried to get to know everyone during school. Although she will miss her fellow peers in Glen Rock, Shiels can’t wait to see what everyone will accomplish in the future and will attend the University of Maryland next year.

The Glen Rock Duck Pond is a marvel of nature in its entirety, yet the animals and anyone who happens to visit the pond face a hazardous problem: the overwhelming amount of algae. Last summer, senior Connor Cunningham recognized harmful algae blooms in the Glen Rock Duck Pond and decided to take action. After partnering with a company named Ecological Labs, Cunningham was able to remove the harmful algae from the pond. Besides his community involvement with the local duck pond, Cunningham also participated in several high school sports, namely basketball and baseball. Although this unconventional school year brought Cunningham difficulties, such as staying focused during remote learning, Cunningham adapted — and managed to enjoy his senior year and the events that came with it. Next year, Cunningham plans to attend Duke University.

It was sophomore year when Lily Renga became increasingly involved in Relay for Life — one of the many activities in which Renga took on a leadership role, allowing her to become a finalist for the Class Citizenship Award. Relay for Life is a cause very close to Renga’s heart, as she relays for her mother. In her junior and senior years, Renga helped run the Glen Rock Relay for Life team as a co-team captain and has participated in many fundraising events. Apart from Relay for Life, Renga has played soccer for four years, participated in Pathways for Exceptional Children, DECA, Key Club, and activities with her church. Though COVID proved to be a disruption to Renga’s soccer season and club activities, Renga credits her high school experience as a positive one, partly because of the great support system she had. That support system from friends and peers is one thing Renga will miss as she plans to continue her education at Villanova University next year. Renga will major in marketing and minor in both psychology and communications to pursue her goal of creating a Super Bowl commercial!

Andrew Martin has worked hard during his time at Glen Rock High School trying to balance his academic and athletic work on top of helping out in the community. With the help of his older brother he founded “100,000 Thank You’s” which every November around Thanksgiving they try to reach the goal of sending out 100,000 thank you cards to deployed service members around the country. On top of that he started the “Peer Mentorship Alliance” which helps middle school students with cognitive disabilities. Throughout all of this Martin has learned about the importance of giving back and how spending a little bit of his time helping other people means a lot to them. He plans to attend Fairfield University and is majoring in finance.

Meg Whyte has been an active participant at Glen Rock High School in choir and theater throughout all four years. That came with a lot of stress that sometimes deterred her from pushing forward but seeing the productions from the theater come together made it worth wild. Whyte found a silver lining during this pandemic and was able to get time to write her college applications during free time that she would not normally have. Whyte will miss the people that she has met along the way during high school when she attends Boston College where she will major in political science and music.


“Every class definitely brings a different flavor every year. Some of these kids I’ve had for all four years and I’m definitely going to miss all the relationships they’ve had with each other and they had with me.”

“I’m looking forward to being able to see everyone smile again next year. And I’m looking back to seeing the teachers get back to what they’re best at doing, which is interacting with students.”

“People are like, ‘Oh, it must be challenging. What a bad year to start off at a new place.’ I totally disagree.”