S.S. Seward Institute announces top students of the Class of 2024

S.S. Seward Institute is proud to announce Derrick You as the Class of 2024 valedictorian and Ryan Lempka as the salutatorian. After years of hard work, the students will each give a speech to their classmates and families at the graduation ceremony on June 29.  

Derrick You, Valedictorian 

2024 valedictorian Derrick You smiles for the cameraYou is a dedicated student inside and outside of the classroom, involving himself in student council and a variety of other clubs and activities during his time at S.S. Seward. This year, he is the vice president of the National Honor Society, helping students find community service opportunities and logging hours. 

A strong defensive player on the soccer field, You played the sport each year at Seward, joining the varsity team his sophomore year. He enjoyed the camaraderie of the team, and winning sectionals with his teammates is a fond memory. “Playing soccer feels freeing. It helps clear my mind,” You said. 

You is grateful for the many opportunities Seward has offered, including helping him secure an internship at NFP Holdings LLC, a supplement manufacturing company. “I’ve learned organizational and communication skills through my internship,” he said. 

You credits his parents for their role in his success, saying “they’re both really hard working and set a good example for me to follow throughout my life.” 

After graduation, You will attend Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, pursuing a degree in neuroscience on the pre-med track. He said his intention to enter this field is rooted in a desire “to help people. I’d love to research paralysis and how to help people recover from it.” 

You earned the United Soccer Coaches Senior Excellence Award and the Rensselaer Medal, a merit scholarship to RPI. He is also a member of the National Society of High School Scholars. 

Outside of academics, You looks forward to joining clubs and activities at RPI to stay active and is excited to meet new people. 

Ryan Lempka, Salutatorian 

2024 Salutatorian Ryan Lempka smiles for the cameraLempka said learning he earned the rank of salutatorian was gratifying.

“I finally saw all the time and effort pay off,” he said.  

Some of Lempka’s favorite memories during his time at Golden Hill Elementary and S.S. Seward Institute include a teacher versus teacher basketball game and Frank Gannon’s English class. “Mr. Gannon took a subject I didn’t typically enjoy and made it fun and interactive,” Lempka said. 

Lempka gives back to the school that helped him become who he is today through community service, which he does in Robert Moon’s classroom daily during his free period. 

In addition to working hard toward academic success, Lempka works at the local Ace Hardware and enjoys spending time with his family and friends. He particularly enjoys working on trucks with his friends, finding a connection between hands-on work and what he plans to do as a career. 

Lempka will attend Stony Brook University with the intention of going into industrial or manufacturing engineering. Working on a variety of projects with his dad from a young age sparked his love of the design process, he said.

“My parents definitely pushed me to do my best and always support me with my goals,” he said. 

His engineering and science classes helped fuel his passion, as well. With an entrepreneurial spirit, Lempka said, “I would like to get experience in engineering and my goal is to have my own business in the future.” 

He looks forward to taking the first step toward this goal when he starts college in the fall, in addition to attending sporting events and meeting new people. “Stony Brook has over 17,000 students, so it’s going to be a big change,” Lempka said.