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Thursday, June 13, 2024


Abraham L. Tarapani, the son of Abraham and Wendy Tarapani and a senior at Antilles School, has been named a Presidential Scholar.
The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1964 to recognize distinguished high school seniors. This year, 141 students nationwide were selected for the honor. A total of 500 finalists, selected on the basis of high Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores, were then judged on the bases of an essay and school records of leadership, academics, service and character. A panel named by the President made the final selections.
Tarapani and one other winner were chosen from among students of "citizens abroad" including those in all the territories and on military and diplomatic assignment. The honor has been bestowed only once before on an Antilles student, Deborah Brandstatter in 1975, according to the school's development director, Joan Amerling.
Tarapani and his family will travel to Washington, D.C., (all expenses paid) for National Recognition Week, June 27 – July 2. They will stay in a dormitory at Georgetown University, visit museums and attend ceremonies and recitals. The Presidential Scholar medallions will be presented at a ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House.
An Antilles student since he was 5 years old, Tarapani has had a memorable senior year. He has served as president of the Class of 2000 and treasurer of the National Honor Society, participated in every varsity sport and in drama productions, been on the school's Quiz Bowl and Science Bowl teams, and received the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Award from the Hebrew Congregation of St. Thomas. He also is a National Merit Scholar finalist.
The last two summers, Tarapani took college computer, math, science and philosophy courses at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brandeis University. He also completed several advanced courses at Antilles. When he begins study at Yale University in the fall, he will already have completed most of the first-year requirements and looks forward "to picking and choosing from some more advanced courses that will give me a better idea of what I want to major in." He is leaning toward engineering with an emphasis on business, too, but is equally comfortable in the humanities.
The Presidential Scholars program honors not only the chosen students but also the educators they identify as having most influenced them. Tarapani's honoree is Roger Lakins, head of the Antilles English Department. Lakins, who taught Tarapani in English, humanities and music classes for five years, will also travel to Washington and receive a Teacher Recognition Award.
"I knew that he was quite special very early in our working relationship," Lakins says of his pupil. "He has always loved learning and went through a very early, precocious stage of the thousand how's and why's. He is a true budding scholar. His gift is his eagerness to understand and know things on a deeper level, rather than simply memorize facts for a test."
Tarapani says he's excited about the honor and the trip to Washington. But right now, he says, he's preoccupied with "the valedictory address I have to give at graduation." He indicated that his speech at the commencement exercises on June 9 will concentrate on his fellow students and their concerns.

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