Published June 6, 2019
By MAUREEN DOHERTY
NORTH READING — At tomorrow evening’s 62nd commencement exercises of North Reading High School, the Class of 2019 will be well-represented by student essayists.
This long-standing tradition includes the honor essays delivered by the top three students in the graduating class – Michael Tyrrell, Molly Feffer and Samantha Martel – and the class essay to be given by Abigail Griffin whose essay was selected by a panel of faculty members. All four students are members of the NRHS Chapter of the National Honor Society. The three honor essayists were also presented with the Superintendent’s Award for Academic Excellence by Superintendent Jon C. Bernard earlier this year.
Michael Tyrrell will attend Cornell University where he will pursue a double major in Computer Science and either Math or Political Science. He is one of fewer than 20 students out of 5,000 applicants to have been accepted into Cornell’s Milstein Program which is the nexus of computer science and the humanities at the university. He will spend the two summers prior to his junior and senior years in NYC on Cornell’s “grad only” campus with other scholars. “It is really what I want to do, be it math or political science. I don’t want to do computer science alone,” he said.
Tyrrell has served as a technology intern with the North Reading Public Schools for three years. In this role he developed the app launched by the schools last fall to more readily integrate social media with events happening in the schools for parents and students, providing “a third channel of communication beyond traditional means and the website. I am proud to have been involved in it,” he said.
He is also the founder of Tyrrell’s Tutoring, focusing on tutoring students in math and science. “At my peak last year I tutored eight kids, especially in math,” he said. He is most proud of tutoring a student whose grade in math improved from a C to an A+. “Math is one of those things I thought you just got or your didn’t get, but by tutoring it I learned that, like anything else, it is a skill that can really be developed… the want to learn goes a long way.”
He currently plays doubles on the boys’ varsity tennis team and is a team captain. “We have five seniors on the team and they are great to play tennis with,” he said. The team earned a the state tournament berth.
Tyrrell is the president of the Model United Nations Club. During his tenure with the club while participating in the Harvard Model United Nations, Tyrrell was chosen as the “outstanding delegate,” which is equivalent to second place, as a freshman, and “honorable mention,” which is equivalent to third place, as a junior and a senior. These three honors are the only such awards a student from NRHS has won from this international competition in which about 3,000 students compete. He is the son of Neil and Shereen Tyrrell.
Molly Feffer, the daughter of Pamela and Scott Feffer, will attend Magill University in Canada where she will major in Neuroscience with the intention of going to medical school.
She was inspired to pursue this major by her experiences with the Science Olympiad in middle school. “I have loved it ever since,” she said. She chose Magill because she likes its cultural diversity “and its Neuroscience program is really good.”
At NRHS, Feffer served as a captain of the volleyball team, the sole two-year captain of the swim team and throws discus on the state championship track team. Her dominant sport is swimming and she is a four-year varsity letter recipient, three-time CAL All-Star, a Boston Globe All-Scholastic, and she was proud to represent the Hornets at the state tournament as a three-time North Sectional qualifier and two-time Mass. Div. 2 state championship qualifier.
Feffer holds two school swimming records as a member of the 200 medley relay team and 400 freestyle relay team. She was team MVP as a junior. She has also been a member of the YMCA Bluefins swim team since 2008, qualifying for the EMass YMCA District championships nine times and the New England YMCA championships seven times. She also volunteers at Y teaching swimming safety and social skills to special needs youngsters once a week.
Feffer is active with the World of Sciences Club, serving as its president in her senior year. She was responsible for all preparations needed to enter the team into the state Science Olympiad as well as actively participate in the town’s STEAM Night events. Feffer said she had so many great teachers at NRHS, in particular Ms. Keri Verdonck, her AP Biology teacher as a junior. She is also a three-year recipient of the George Eastman Leadership Award from the Guidance Department.
Samantha Martel will attend Bentley University in the fall where she will major in Actuarial Science. She chose this major because she really enjoyed the statistics class she took as a junior. Her mother then introduced her to some co-workers who explained the type of career she could pursue with this major.
Martel has been a four-year member of the successful Hornet track teams which have won multiple state championships in the winter and spring seasons. Her favorite sport is cross country and she has run a 21-minute personal best in 5K races. Her personal best in the mile is 5:52. She will run competitively in college. “I have also taken piano lessons privately for the past six years,” she said. She focuses on pop music because “most people know it.”
She serves as Vice President of the World of Science Club. One of her favorite club activities was hosting “lunch with a scientist” to introduce students to those working in science-related fields who share “what they do and how they got there.”
As a member of the Interact Club she loved participating in the community leaf raking service project for the town’s seniors. “One woman raked with us. She was also a runner so we talked about running.”
Samantha is the daughter of Scot and Kristine Martel and also has a twin sister, Kiley. “The two things I am most proud of is being part of a loving family and a caring community. I feel that no one is judging me. Even though we compete everyone wants to see me perform better. Lastly, the academic accomplishment I am most proud of is sticking with Spanish all four years. I was afraid of Mr. Moreno freshman year and now I am taking AP Spanish with him,” she said.
Abigail Griffin will major in Neuroscience at Middlebury College. “I did a summer program with Molly (Feffer) at Magill University and it was really interesting to me. I love the science of biology and psychology; it is a really good mix of the two,” she said.
She is the daughter of Michael and Susan Griffin. At NRHS she is the president of the Interact Club, a community service club. “I am also the president of an organization my sister founded called Students to End Alzheimer’s Disease. My uncle passed away about two years ago from early onset Alzheimer’s, so it was really hard on my family. It became a family passion to participate in events with the Alzheimer’s Association,” she said.
Griffin believes bringing information about diseases such as Alzheimer’s to her fellow students is “important because a lot of the students may have grandparents with it. I found it hard to see my parents struggling” with her uncle’s illness and subsequent passing. “It was important to create a community where you can come together and feel like you are doing something even though you are 18 years old and don’t have a platform to do that.”
Griffin is also a board member of Student Mentoring and Leadership (SLAM), a program for the incoming freshmen. “One high school student gets paired with three or four kids and mentors them about every two weeks throughout the year. I am still friends with a couple of my mentees,” she said.
“I was the captain of my indoor and outdoor track team. This team has won the Cape Ann League Open all four years that I have been here. We have been undefeated this season.” She specializes in the 800 meter and distance events and relays. “I really like the camaraderie of the sport. I didn’t know a lot of the girls but by the end (of the season) we are all such good friends. We talked to each other every day and run together. It really creates a positive community. I am so happy now that I am graduating I have 10 new friends that I can come back and hang out with.”