Colleen Riordan will graduate from on Saturday with the special distinction of achieving top academic rankings in his class. She has been named salutatorian.
The 18-year-old high school senior will be attending the University of Notre Dame, majoring in Biochemistry.
Besides her top grades and numerous awards, Collene has been an active member of the school and her community. She holds a Girl Scout Gold Award and is the vice president of the youth volunteer group, the Yorktown Leos Club.
The high school senior has been the recipient of the National Merit Commended Student, George Eastman Young Leaders Award, Columbia University Book Award Social Studies, St. Michael’s College Book Award for Scholarship and Service. She is also a champion Irish dancer who has competed in local and regional competitions and performances. She plays the violin and is the co-captain of the varsity swimming team.
Patch interviewed the student to get her take on her high school experience and plans for the future.
Patch: Did you imagine you'd be named top student – was this your goal?
Colleen Riordan: I never imagined being named salutatorian, and I never worked to try to be at the top of my class. I just always tried my best and worked my hardest, I never worried about rankings or other people’s grades- just my own.
Patch: Was there a particular class or academic experience that changed you?
Riordan: One of my favorite classes was definitely AP Chemistry. It was challenging, but the class was always entertaining. I had a great teacher, and the class as a whole was a big influence for me in deciding to major in biochemistry. I also have loved orchestra class over the past four years.
Patch: In your opinion, is there anything you'd like to see the school district do differently?
Riordan: I would have liked to take more elective classes, but I could not fit many in because of my required core classes. It also would have been nice to actually have a lunch period! I also would have preferred more advanced courses throughout the grades, not just in eighth grade and high school.
Patch: What's your dream job of the future?
Riordan: Right now, I am not sure what I want to do, but a few possibilities include becoming a doctor or going into research. I want to do something that helps people in some way and that I really enjoy.
Patch: What will you miss when you graduate high school?
Riordan: I will miss seeing all of the people that I have been in school with since we were five years old! I think that it will be weird to walk down the hallways of a school and not recognize most of the students, teachers, and staff, the way that I do at Lakeland.
Patch: What was your experience at Lakeland High School like?
Riordan: I really loved Lakeland High School, from all of the people that I have met to the experiences that I have had. I have had so many amazing teachers and friends over the years. I will miss it, but I am definitely ready for college!
Patch: Please share a funny or embarrassing story about your high school experience?
Riordan: This is not really one moment, but I am known to be very clumsy. There have been so many incidents over the years – falling off chairs, tripping up stairs, falling off the seats on buses, and just basically tripping over my own feet more often than any one should. At one point this probably was embarrassing, but now it’s just funny.
Patch: What advice will you give LHS juniors?
Riordan: The best advice I can give juniors is to try to get all of your college applications done as soon as possible, because teachers will not give you a break from homework just because you also have to apply to college! Also, enjoy yourselves!
Patch: What are some objectives of your speech? What message do you hope to send at graduation?
Riordan: My speech is basically about remembering the changes we have gone through throughout high school, and about how many more changes we are about to go through, and how to deal with these changes. I want people to remember the great times that we have had and get excited about the changes that are yet to come.
Patch: Four fun, quick questions. Ready? What's on your iPod, what's your favorite late-night snack, your favorite book and what comfort item will you bring from home to college?
Riordan: On my iPod- I have a mixture of music – from country to pop. I also have Irish Dance music on there – my friends tease me about it sometimes! My favorite late night snack is mint chocolate chip ice cream. Favorite book – My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult. I will be bringing a lot of pictures of my friends and family to decorate my walls.