Valedictorian Alan Yeung has been named a U.S. Presidential Scholar

Sparta. The Sparta High School senior has achieved the highest honor awarded to high school students in the United States. Yeung is only one of 161 students across the country this year to receive the award, which he said was years in the making: the result of 12 advanced placement courses, 16 extracurricular activities, and untold hours of diligent study.

Sparta /
16 Jun 2020 | 04:48

Sparta High School’s valedictorian, Alan Yeung, is one of just five New Jersey students who has been named a U.S. Presidential Scholar.

One of the school’s guidance counselors, Jenna Valleau, sums up Yeung’s diligence and tenacity. “Since his freshman year, Alan has continually pushed himself towards greatness,” she said. “He has demonstrated an incredible work ethic and a high level of dedication to his extracurricular and community activities. Given Alan’s accomplishments in the Sparta High School STEM Academy, he is a deserving recipient of this prestigious award.”

Yeung was part of an astounding 16 different extracurricular activities with the school. The principal clubs, he said, were VEX Robotics, where he was a captain, and Debate. He also play varsity tennis. Outside of school, he’s a certified soccer referee for the U.S. Soccer Federation and the Sparta Soccer Club. Additionally, Yeung is a Cadet Captain in the Civil Air Patrol, which is an all-civilian volunteer U.S. Air Force Auxiliary whose primary mission is search and rescue. He is a Cadet Executive Officer at the Picatinny Composite Squadron and a certified Mission Radio Operator.

That’s a lot. Now let’s add academics.

“As a member of the STEM Academy at Sparta High School, I have taken every advanced course that I could possibly take in my schedule,” Yeung said. “At the end of this year, I will have completed 12 AP courses and hopefully I will have earned the AP Capstone Diploma for having taken AP Seminar and AP Research the latter of which is still undergoing the grading process by the College Board. Coupled with my 16 extracurricular activities, it was difficult to manage, but not impossible.”

Academics front and center

Since Yeung was a child, academics has been at the forefront of his life.

“It wasn’t out of the ordinary for me to stay in my room whenever I was home and do school work instead of socializing or playing outside,” he said. “The club that took the most time was Robotics, meeting from three to five times a week from 2:30 to 5:00, sometimes later. In addition to that, we had 8-11 hour Saturday competitions throughout the year. Debate met during the same time as Robotics and Civil Air Patrol met in the evening on Tuesdays. I managed overlapping clubs by performing my responsibilities at home.”

For example, the Debate competitions were during the school day, but the preparation through research can be done at home. Also, Yeung said he is very diligent when it comes to assignments.

“Whether it be from extracurriculars or school, every assignment got done with the highest effort and quality,” he said. “Therefore, balancing was through passion for learning and determination to get things done.”

Yeung’s favorite subjects are math, physics and history. He said a few teachers were highly influential. Including Mark Meola.

“He has had the largest influence in my educational career, and he was nominated by me to be awarded the Distinguished Teacher Award alongside my award,” Yeung said. “I have been on the robotics team for four years and the hands-on design and leadership experience is far more valuable than any classroom exercise.”

Other important influences have come from Dana Miller, Troy Fetherman, Andrew Bayliss, Brian Brennan, and Valleau.

Years in the making

Yeung said that winning the U.S. Presidential Scholar Award was years in the making.

“The U.S. Presidential Scholar Award is the highest award in academia for a high schooler,” he said. “It is a national level recognition of years of hard work. While they may only look at high school achievements, many of those achievements would not have happened had I not built towards them throughout all of my years of school. It is an acknowledgment of the years and years of rigorous studying and pursuance of my passions.”

Yeung is one of 161 American high school seniors who have demonstrated outstanding academic achievement, artistic excellence, technical expertise, leadership, citizenship, service, and contribution to school and community.

“It is my privilege to congratulate the Presidential Scholars Class of 2020 on their outstanding academic achievement, community service, and leadership,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in a press release form the U.S. Department of Education.

As to graduation Yeung is optimistic that the tentatively planned in-person graduation for mid July comes to fruition.

“I am hopeful that we can all meet again to give a proper farewell,” he said.

Moving on, Yeung will be attending the Georgia Institute of Technology majoring in aerospace engineering.

“I hope to begin my studies and research as early as I can to build my experience, so that I may pursue my goals of developing next generation space technology,” he said.

“It wasn’t out of the ordinary for me to stay in my room whenever I was home and do school work instead of socializing or playing outside.” --Alan Yeung