National Merit Finalists
Congratulations, Joseph Klettner and Michael O’Donnell
John Jay High School seniors Joseph Klettner and Michael O’Donnell have been named 2023 National Merit Finalists, an honor that is based on academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership and honors received. Finalists represent less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors.
"Congratulations to these two outstanding students!" said Principal Steven Siciliano. "Their accomplishments are a testament to the high personal standards they have set for themselves and the commitment and perseverance necessary to achieve this level of distinction."
Principal Siciliano commends students' commitment and perseverance
Love for learning traced back to gifts of books
Joseph, the Valedictorian for the Class of 2023, excels in science and music. He traces his love for learning to books that his uncle gave him as a child. “The most memorable was probably this gigantic book on cosmology he gave me when I was only six,” said Joseph. “I didn’t understand pretty much anything in it, but it was fascinating just to flip through the pages and see how much I had yet to learn about the world.”
Beyond being copresident of John Jay’s Science Olympiad team, Joseph also plays in Jazz Band, is a keyboardist in the Orchestra Pit, a member of the Tri-M Music Honors Society and has represented John Jay at the Berklee College of Music’s High School Jazz Festival. Outside of school, Joseph is part of the band Platinum Moon which has played at countless shows and festivals and even on a cruise ship this past February!
Dedication applied to new area this year--chess
Michael traces his academic success to a principle learned from his parents: For the learner, the only limit to their capabilities is the limit of their dedication. He applied the concept to a new area this year—chess. “In nine months, through endless studying and preparation, I have developed from a complete beginner to a regular competitor in the US Chess Federation, currently rated at the 95th percentile of US juniors,” said Michael. He recently had his first competitive win.
He is an accomplished swimmer and Captain of the Varsity Swim team, as well as a very involved member of his church where he volunteers often. Last summer Michael was chosen to participate in the highly selective West Point Student Leadership program.
John Jay's tradition of student excellence
John Jay High School is proud to have a longstanding tradition of students recognized by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. In the last five years, 49 students have been recognized as Commended Students.