The following students, beginning with the two top-ranking students followed by alphabetical order, earned academic accolades at Cheverus High School by placing the top 10 percent in the Class of 2016.
Valedictorian Kenny Drelich is the son of Heidi Gage, of Portland. A three-season varsity athlete, Drelich was a member of the football and basketball teams for four years. Captain of the football team, he was recognized as an all-conference player. Drelich was also a varsity baseball player, and competed on the Cheverus outdoor track and field team. He has been a dedicated supporter of the Maine Basketball Special Olympics for several years, and also has volunteered for Habitat for Humanity and at Woodside Elementary School. Drelich was the recipient of academic excellence awards in mathematics and history, and plans to attend Northeastern University.
Salutatorian Gordon “Gordy” Murray is the son of Stephen and Rebecca Murray, of South Portland. He is a member of the National Honor Society, the robotics team, and a member of the state champion math team. Active in his community, Murray has volunteered for the Boys and Girls Club and at his local parish. A member of the varsity soccer and lacrosse teams, he also competed in the pole vault on the track team. Recognized for his leadership ability, Murray was selected to serve as a member of the Leader Corps at Camp Belknap in New Hampshire, to mentor and guide young campers. A Rensselaer medalist, Murray received recognition for outstanding academic performance in theology. He will attend Worcester Polytechnic Institute in the fall.
Helena Arbo is the daughter of Debra Arbo, of New Hampshire, and Matthew Arbo, of Portland. A committed member of the Civil Rights Team, she has participated in several conferences dedicated to promoting civil rights, and was selected as the club president this year. Arbo was inducted into the National Honor Society and was engaged in other campus activities, including the outdoor club, the basketball team, and the Pink Ribbon Club, which is dedicated to raising funds and creating awareness in the fight against breast cancer. Committed to the greater community, she has volunteered at the Falmouth Public Library and volunteers each week at the Cancer Community Center of Maine. Arbo will attend Babson College in the fall.
Grace Byrne is the daughter of Brad and Barbara Burkholder, of Peaks Island. A classically trained ballerina, she has studied at Portland School of Ballet for 13 years. She is also a passionate musician who has studied piano from an early age and sings with the Portland Conservatory of Music. Byrne is an accomplished equestrian and has competed in horse shows in Maine and Massachusetts from the age of 3. She volunteers at the Peaks Island Lions Club and with parish events, and was recognized for outstanding academic achievement in French. Byrne will attend Bishop’s University in Quebec, Canada.
Jakob Harris is the grandson of Richard and Nancy Harris, of Portland. Harris has been a dynamic member of the Cheverus Drama Society, playing various roles and by serving on the stage crew. A performer in one-act district competitions, he was a member of the Cheverus “The Dark Tower” team that earned first-place recognition in the district competition. Harris is also a two-season athlete, as a member of the varsity tennis and golf teams. The recipient of the Maine Principal’s Association Award, he has volunteered at the LPGA tournament in Falmouth and at the Cheverus Golf Classic. Harris will attend Saint Louis University in the fall.
Lu Huang is the daughter of Yuanqing Huang and Guoxiong Li, of Fujian, China. Huang has been an active participant in many campus pursuits, including the math team, the international club, the civil rights team, and the outing club. Huang also swam for the Cheverus swim team. She has served as a dedicated volunteer at an animal shelter, tutored children in her local community, and supported cultural programs at the Westbrook Performing Arts Center. She plans to attend Pennsylvania State University.
Andrew Jalbert is the son of David and Mary Jalbert, of Cape Elizabeth. An accomplished musician, he is a member of the Portland Youth Wind Ensemble and has participated in the District 2 music festival. A three-season athlete, Jalbert was a member of the football team for four years, and competed on the indoor and outdoor track teams at Cheverus. In addition to his extracurricular involvement, Jalbert has volunteered his time at the St. Vincent de Paul soup kitchen. He will attend the University of Vermont.
Sarah Mount is the daughter of James and Jane Mount, of Scarborough. A leader in a variety of student activities, she is a member of the National Honor Society, was elected to the Student Life Committee, served as a contributor to the Cheverus literary magazine and film society, competed on the math team, and was actively involved in many community service projects as a member of the Key Club. The team captain for two years of the indoor and outdoor track teams, Mount has been a versatile track competitor; she competed in the Junior Olympics national meet for the heptathlon and was a top finisher on the state level in various relays, and in sprints and hurdles. She volunteers with the Salvation Army, the Falmouth Community Track Program for Children, the Preble Street Soup Kitchen, and for the Wounded Warriors Gala. An AP Scholar with distinction, she plans to attend Wesleyan University.
William Saunders is the son of David and Jean Saunders, of Saco. He is a member of the National Honor Society, the Key Club, the Haiti Solidarity Club, the robotics team, and represented Cheverus at the Seeds of Peace leadership camp as a student ambassador. Saunders is also a versatile athlete and has participated on the sailing, swimming, golf, outdoor track, and ultimate Frisbee teams. An accomplished musician, he plays the saxophone and was a member of the award-winning Cheverus Equinox Jazz Combo, the Saco River Jazz Ensemble, and the Portland Youth Wind Ensemble. In addition to volunteering his time to perform at various hospitals and nursing homes, Saunders participated on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic to offer humanitarian aid. He plans to attend Georgia Institute of Technology in the fall.
Catherine Sinclair is the daughter of Keith and Christine Sinclair, of South Portland. She is a member of the National Honor Society and a four-year member of the Key Club, serving as club president this year. Sinclair has also served on the Homefront Club, Pink Ribbon Club, the admissions team, and as a freshman campus ministry retreat leader. She has volunteered at the Preble Street Soup Kitchen, with the Special Olympics and for the Wounded Warriors Auction. A versatile athlete, Sinclair has been a member of the varsity field hockey, basketball and lacrosse teams. She was the recipient of The Lila Grace Sullivan Amirault Scholarship, the Rotary Club of Portland Youth Service award, the Cheverus award for the Outstanding Senior, and was selected as the student commencement speaker. She will attend Boston College in the fall.
Willa Tarasevich is the daughter of Matthew and Diane Tarasevich, of Portland. She is a member of the National Honor Society, the outing club and served as the vice president of the French club. Tarasevich played on the Cheverus soccer team for four years. A dedicated volunteer at the Brentwood Farms community garden, she also volunteered at the Longfellow School, St. Elizabeth’s day care, and The Root Cellar. Recognized with academic excellence in English, Tarasevich enjoys creative writing and will spend a gap year in service to others at an orphanage in Nepal.
Salvatore Zarrella is the son of Antonio and Sheila Zarrella, of Scarborough. Captain of the math team, he has been a committed student leader of several activities, including student council, and the Spanish club. Zarrella has been a dedicated member of the campus ministry team and served as a freshman and Kairos retreat leader. A gifted singer, and an accomplished pianist, he has served as cantor at school liturgies, performed the national anthem at numerous events, is a member of the choral group, Solstice, and received a national award for excellence in music/choral. Zarrella is a member of the National Honor Society and has served as “the voice of Cheverus,” providing the morning announcements daily. Zarrella was honored with the Ignatius Award for representing the ideals of Cheverus, and will be attending Canisius College.