Meet Pleasantville's 2012 Valedictorian: Michael Alter

Michael Alter will graduate at the top of his class and deliver a speech at Friday's commencement.

's Class of 2012 valedictorian started off his high school career with a daily hour-long commute from Connecticut and little time to spend getting involved in extracurriculars.

That has changed over the last two years as he moved to Scarsdale—cutting his commute in half—and got involved with a full load of school activities.

Alter has been a member of the varsity tennis team for four years. He is the president of the Science Honor Society and a member of both the Forensics Honor Society and National Honor Society. He has been involved with the school's Wellness Committee and joined the Frisbee and Clubs soon after they were founded.

He was also involved with the now defunct New York State Youth in Government program ("It was really fun") as well as the school plays.

Alter will be attending Cornell University in the fall.

Patch sat down with Alter as the school year wraps up.

Patch: How are you feeling about graduation coming up?

MA: It's been a long time coming, but I'm happy that it's coming to a good close.

Patch: What is it like looking back at your high school career? Do you have any particular memories that stand out?

MA: I've never lived within walking distance, so I always remember the car rides coming here with my mom [District Superintendent Mary Fox-Alter]. The weekends with the plays and everything, those are always memorable. A weekend that stands out is the weekend that we went to the Quidditch World Cup—that was a lot of fun.

PatchHas it been your goal throughout high school to rise to the top academically?

MA: I wasn't ever really in it for the competition. As they told us with the [GPA] calcuation, I think it was so close. We are all basically in the same boat. We all have the same drives and want to be successful.

PatchWas there a particular class or teacher that helped shaped your future academic and career interests?

MA: I had Mrs. Mancini for two-and-a-half years—that was more than any other teacher here. So, she has definitely helped me kind of decide what I want to do and where I want to go. She has had a big impact on me and I am very thankful because she is an excellent teacher.

Patch: What do you want to study in college? Do you have an idea of which career field you would like to enter afterward?

MA: Either politics or history, one of those two. Maybe a combination of both. One of these days, if the cards fall where I would like them to, maybe I'd like to run for office in the state government. Hydrofracking is the big environmental issue right now, we did a whole unit in APES [Advanced Placement Environmental Science] about it. Obviously, because of my mom, I also know about education and so I'm very particular about that issue. I would definitely like to look further into that and see how the state handles education.

PatchIf you were to start high school all over again, would you like to see anything done differently? Would you change anything?

MA: Maybe I would take more art classes because I was in two freshman year and I haven't taken any since. I do like art, so I probably would like to take another one if I had time.

Patch: What is the biggest change you have seen in yourself since your freshman year?

MA: I guess [I have become] more active and more outgoing than I used to. It was hard living so far away—I couldn't do many after school things. The last two years, it has been better. I have been able to do the play, I was able to do more with the tennis team and I had more to do with the Quidditch team. I have definitely had the chance to be more outgoing and active in school life and other extracurriculars.

Patch: What advice would you offer to incoming freshmen?

MA: Freshman year you can't take any AP classes for good reason. As long as you keep committed, you will do fine. Stay true to what you internally believe, try not to let other people change who you are too much. Obviously, it's going to happen a little bit—it happens to everybody—but as long as you have that good sense of self, you will do great here.

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