Circle of Ten

Principal Richard J. Baccarella has proudly announced the Bayonne High School class of 2015 Circle of Ten, listed in order of rank. These outstanding scholars will be the frist to receive their diplomas at the graduation ceremony, to be held on Monday June 22, at 6 p.m.

1. Valedictorian Casey Harrigan

Casey Harrigan will be attending the School of Art & Design at the New Jersey Institute of Technology to study Interior Design and pursue a bachelor of arts degree. She was also accepted into and will be attending classes at the Albert Dorman Honors College within the university. Harrigan received a full four-year merit-based scholarship to the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
Throughout her four years at Bayonne High School, Harrigan has achieved both First Honor Roll as well as Principal’s Honor Roll. She has been enrolled in honors classes since her freshman year and has taken CP Physics and Advanced Placement English, history, Spanish, and calculus courses.
Harrigan has been a member of the Science Club and the Math League, and has participated in the American Math Competition several times. She is a member of the National Honor Society and the World Language Honor Society. She is a student council representative as well as a student ambassador. Harrigan is a member of Bayonne High School’s Academic Challenge Team and is a founding member and President of the school’s S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics) Organization. Harrigan is also the starting second baseman of Bayonne High School’s Varsity Softball Team. She has played since her freshman year and has participated in two Hudson County Championships.
While at Bayonne High School, Harrigan has entered and won various academic and artistic competitions including Honorable Mention for Hudson County Law Day, Second Place at the duCret School of Art Photography Competition, and a “Judges Award” in the Hudson County Teen Arts Exhibition. During her sophomore year, Harrigan was the captain of Unit 5 in the “We The People: The Citizens and the Constitution Competition.” Her unit placed second in the state, falling just two points shy of the highest score in New Jersey. Throughout her freshman and junior years, Harrigan participated in the National History Day Competition. In her third year, Harrigan was a regional and state qualifier. She attended the national competition at the University of Maryland in June of 2014 where she received exceptional scores. Harrigan is the recipient of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association Distinguished Scholar-Athlete Award and the Hudson Area Mathematics Alliance Award.
Harrigan enjoys playing sports, being outdoors, and spending time with friends and family. She is the daughter of Todd and Joann Harrigan, and the sister of Todd and Katie Harrigan.

2. Salutatorian Jessica Sulima

Jessica Sulima is this year’s salutatorian. She will be attending the University of Pennsylvania in the fall to major in Communications. She has received the Penn Grant as well as the Allison & Jeffrey Winter Scholarship. Sulima was also accepted to New York University, Boston University, Fordham University, Syracuse University, and The College of New Jersey. After completing her undergraduate studies, she plans on pursuing a graduate degree and becoming a journalist.
Sulima has received First Honor Roll consistently throughout high school and Principal’s Honors on multiple occasions. She has taken Honors and Advanced Placement courses in math, history, science, English, and Spanish. She was a member of the World Language Honors Society as well as the National Honors Society, where she served as Vice-President.
Sulima is Editor-in-chief of the Bayonne High School newspaper, The Beacon. Throughout her four years at BHS, she has been a member of the Polish Cultural Society, S.T.E.A.M. Punks, Academic Challenge Team, Science League, and the Girls Freshmen Basketball Team. Sulima has volunteered at the Hudson County Animal League and Community Day Nursery.
During her sophomore year, Sulima participated in the “We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution Competition,” in which her unit received the second-highest score in the state. During her junior year, she was selected as a semi-finalist for the New Jersey Scholars Program. She also received national recognition at the National History Day Competition in Washington, D.C. for her research exhibit on yellow journalism during the Spanish-American War. As a senior, Sulima won first place in the Hudson County Law Day Poetry Contest, and was awarded with the GFWC Peninsula Women’s Club Senior Activism Award, the Hudson County Academic Achievement Award, the Bayonne High School World Language Award, and the U.S. Marine Corps Scholastic Excellence Award. She was also recognized by the Penn Club of Metro New Jersey as the top Hudson County Scholar.
Outside of school, Sulima has taken summer courses at the Fashion Institute of Technology since her freshman year; she has studied fashion design, jewelry design, mixed media art, fabric styling, and public relations. During the summer of her junior year, Sulima interned as a reporter correspondent for the Hudson Reporter, where a few of her own articles were published.
Sulima enjoys reading, traveling, going to concerts, and keeping up with her fashion blog. She attributes her academic success to her supportive parents, Monica and Zdzisław Sulima, as well as her older brother, Kelvin Sulima.

3. Basem Elashal

Basem Elashal, son of Egyptian immigrants Eihab Elashal and Magda Abouelkheir, will be attending the Ernesto Mario School of Pharmacy at Rutgers University-New Brunswick in the fall. Overall, Elashal has received over $24,000 in scholarship money to attend universities. His tuition will be fully covered throughout college. He hopes to conduct research in his career path.
For all four years of high school, Elashal was in the Advanced Placement/ Honors program, taking rigorous courses in history, science, mathematics, Spanish, and English, achieving the Principal’s Honors and First Honor Roll numerous times. In his junior year, Elashal was inducted into World Language Honor Society as well as National Honor Society. He is the first student to ever receive the STEM Award at Bayonne High School.
Elashal is treasurer of Technology Students Association and a former student council representative. In the TSA competition, he participated in the Tech Bowl, Videogame Design, and TEAMS categories. He participated in Science League for three years and Math League for two years. He has been a part of the Fencing Team at Bayonne High School for three years and enjoyed being in the school’s gaming club his senior year.
He completed Proyecto Science, a science and mathematics summer program at New Jersey City University, his freshman year, after attending the program for three consecutive summers. Elashal participated in the Constitution Competition his sophomore year as well as mock trial in which the high school team won first place in the county competition that year. In his junior year, he received an honorary mention for his entry in the Law Day Essay Contest. He received the Youth Day award his senior year.
Elashal enjoys volunteering and giving back to his community. In order to complete his service learning hours during his freshman year, he assisted the Horace Mann School’s chess coach. He is a guest speaker at their eighth grade graduation ceremony this year, where he previously graduated as salutatorian. Elashal continued his volunteer work at a shelter in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. He participates in the Breast Cancer Walk and helps with several Eagle Scout Projects, including monument and land restorations.
Occasionally, Elashal plays tennis and soccer. He mainly enjoys playing catch, videogames, swimming, reading, and spending time with friends and family.

4. Emma Massarelli

Emma Massarelli will be attending New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, majoring in Dance. She was also accepted to Indiana University, Fordham University, Muhlenberg College, Marymount Manhattan College, Rutgers University, Manhattanville College, University of the Arts, Pace University and St. Peter’s University. Throughout her career at BHS, she achieved First Honor Roll and Principal’s Honors, and was a member of the National Honor Society and the French Honor Society. She has been recognized by the National Society of High School Scholars and the Rotary Club of Bayonne with a Citizenship Award.
Within the BHS community, she was an active participant in the Dance Company and Dance Club. She was a member of the Math Club, the Finer Things Club, the Reading Club, and served as a writer for the school’s newspaper, “The Beacon.” She also served as a principal’s office hostess during her time at BHS.
Outside of high school, Massarelli is an accomplished dancer and member of the Junior Company with New Jersey Ballet. She has performed for many years in New Jersey Ballet’s production of “The Nutcracker” – with the home and travelling cast — in a variety of roles. She also has performed with the company in various productions, including “Sleeping Beauty” and “Cinderella,” throughout the state of New Jersey. Most recently, Massarelli performed in the 56th Anniversary Gala production of “Don Quixote” at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark. She has participated in summer dance programs at The Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, DC, The French Academie of Ballet in New York City, the Rockette’s Summer Intensive Program in New York City, and the New Jersey School of Ballet Summer Intensive Program in Livingston, NJ. She complements her training in New York City at Steps on Broadway. She began her dancing at Ms. Huguette’s Broadway Dance and Theatrical Dance Studio where she developed her love for the art form by training in all genres of dance. She also was a member of Holy Family Academy’s Dance Troupe.
Massarelli is actively involved at St. Andrew/St. Mary Parish, where she serves as a religious education teacher, lector, and volunteer for the cluster soup kitchen. She is the daughter of Joseph and Jean Massarelli. She credits her grandfather, the late Daniel Massarelli, for instilling in her a commitment to family and a passion for hard work and achievement.

5. Heidi Elashal

Heidi Elashal is the daughter of Egyptian immigrants, Eihab Elashal and Magda Abouelkheir, She credits her success to the love and support provided from her parents, older sister, Hader, and twin brother, Basem.
She will attend Seton Hall University as a Biochemistry major. Elashal’s scholarship and grants cover her tuition completely. She hopes to work in the lab and publish her findings while she is at SHU.
Elashal has received Principal’s Honors and First Honor Roll several times throughout high school. She has completed Honors and Advanced Placement courses in United States history, European history, English, Spanish, literature, calculus BC, physics. She was inducted into World Language Honor Society her junior year and served as an emcee for the ceremony her senior year. After completing four years of Spanish, she is this year’s recipient of the Bayonne High School Spanish Award. Elashal was also inducted to National Honor Society her junior year and became treasurer the following year.
She is vice president of Technology Students Association and treasurer of Spanish Club. Elashal participated in the Math and Science League for two years. She competed in the Constitution Competition her sophomore year as well as in Mock Trial, where Bayonne High School won the County Championship title for the 2012-2013 school year. Elashal continued as a witness for Mock Trial her junior year. She has also been a staff writer for the school newspaper, The Beacon, for two years.
In the summer following freshman year, she graduated as valedictorian from a three year consecutive summer program for science and mathematics at New Jersey City University called Proyecto Science. For TSA, Elashal was involved in the group categories of Video Game Design, Tech Bowl, and TEAMS. For Video Game Design, her group created a video game called Blast from the Past.
Elashal’s design for the Fire Prevention Poster Contest won her sophomore year. She won first place in the Law Day Essay Contest her junior year. Elashal also won the Girls and Technology Essay contest her senior year. She was honored as the opening speaker for the symposium.
She will be a speaker for this year’s eighth grade graduation ceremony at Horace Mann School, where she was previously valedictorian. Elashal returned to her elementary school to complete her service learning hours assisting the chess coach her freshman year. She enjoys reading and spending time with friends and family.

6. Nicole Smallze

Nicole Smallze is ranked sixth in her graduating class and will be attending The College of New Jersey through its honors program. Her intended major is Accounting, and TCNJ is offering her a merit-based scholarship of $6,000 annually, totaling $24,000. She also received the Bayonne Concerned Citizens Scholarship, worth $1,000, for her combined hard work in school and her active participation in the community.
Besides TCNJ, Nicole was accepted to Rutgers New Brunswick and Boston College Carroll School of Management, both ranked highly for their business programs. She ultimately decided on The College of New Jersey because of its location, lower cost of attendance, and opportunities unique to TCNJ. While at Bayonne High School, Nicole has consistently been an honor roll student, and was awarded with ‘Student of the Month’ for May 2015.
She has completed Advanced Placement courses in the following subjects: United States History, English Language and Composition, Calculus AB, English Literature and Composition, European History, Calculus BC, Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, and Physics I. Nicole also complemented her studies at Bayonne High School with an online AP Statistics course through Johns Hopkins University; a conflict in her schedule did not allow her to attend the class.
Nicole is a member of the National Honor Society and was inducted into the World Language Honor Society for Latin. She is president of the Bayonne Academic Challenge organization and vice president of B.R.O.S., a community service club. Through this club, she has participated in Relay for Life for four consecutive years and raised money for the American Cancer Society.
Other extracurricular activities Nicole has participated in include Science Club, Science League, Math League, Latin Club, Certamen, and S.T.E.A.M. club, which integrates STEM with art. She was also vice president of the Future Business Leaders of America club as a sophomore, and advanced to the state competition in Business Law the same year. Through Latin Club, Nicole has taken the National Latin Exam three times, earning a silver medal twice and, most recently, a gold medal. She has also earned a silver medal in the National Roman Civilization Exam and a bronze medal in the National Classical Etymology Exam.
Her academic interests include business and mathematics. In her free time, Nicole enjoys baking, drawing, listening to music, and spending time with her friends and family. She loves traveling and has been to Canada, Mexico, Bahamas, and England so far. Nicole is the daughter of Darren and Tara Smallze.

7. Varsha Ramsumair

Varsha Ramsumair will attend Northeastern University in the fall, where she plans to further explore her interests in law, psychology, political science, and classical studies. Varsha has challenged herself academically with numerous Honors and Advanced Placement courses. She has consistently appeared on the Honor Roll.
Varsha was awarded the Gold medal in the National Classical Etymology Exam and the Silver medal in the National Latin Exam. She is a member of the New Jersey Junior Classical League Executive Board, on which she has served as Vice President and Contest Coordinator. Through her role as “proconsul” she has instituted various community service projects in Junior Classical League-affiliated schools throughout the state. She has managed a number of events such as food drives, Cards for Hospitalized Kids, Adopt-a-Grandfriend, and Blue Jeans Go Green. Varsha studied Latin for four years and has served as a two-year President for Bayonne’s Latin Club. She has competed on the Certamen team for four years, and has led as captain for three.
Varsha was inducted into the National Honor Society and the World Language Honor Society. She also advanced to the state competition for her National History Day Research Paper and won first place in the Law Day Poetry Contest for Hudson County. Varsha also served as “Mayor” for one day, during an Elks-sponsored event.
Varsha has acted as a four-year class representative for Student Government; is a founding member of S.T.E.A.M. Club; and a finalist in the Academic Bowl Competition. She has been involved in Science League, Math League, and B.R.O.S. Volunteer Club. In addition, she was the captain of her unit for the “We the People Constitution Competition” and participated in the American Legion Oratorical Contest. Varsha has also forged a relationship between discipline and passion through her experiences as a ballet dancer and a pianist.
Varsha is honored to not only be a member of the Circle of Ten, but also to be the recipient of both the Latin and English Awards for the Class of 2015. She credits her success in high school to her unconditionally supportive and understanding parents, Vidya and Davanan Ramsumair, who have walked alongside her every step of the way, and to her older sister, Vaishalie, for her sage advice. Varsha would also like to thank her remarkable educators, who have taught her invaluable lessons inside and outside the classroom.

8. Alyssa Baez

Alyssa Baez will attend George Washington University in the fall. She plans to major in International Affairs with a concentration in Latin American Studies and a minor in Spanish. Through the generosity of the university, Alyssa has received the Presidential Academic Scholarship, the Pell Grant, and a University and Alumni Award. After her four-year education, Alyssa hopes to enter the field of politics. She was also accepted to Boston University, Rutgers University Honors College, Fordham University, and New York University. Putting her academics first, Alyssa has maintained honor roll status throughout her tenure in the Bayonne High School Honors Program. She is a member of the National Honor Society and the Spanish World Language Honor Society. In junior year, Alyssa was chosen to represent BHS at a Leadership Program known as RYLA, which is sponsored by the Rotary Club. She also participated in Law Day, sponsored by the Elks Lodge, during which she shadowed a city government official, toured the city of Bayonne, and was exposed to life as a government worker. Alyssa is a captain of the Bayonne High School Cheerleading Team. She and her squad bestowed pride and honor upon the school when they won the State Competition in Trenton, New Jersey and the National Competition in Orlando, Florida. In addition, Alyssa is a member of the Ambassadors, Interact, and the Science Clubs. As a senior, Alyssa was the recipient of the U.S. Navy Award, the Leadership Achievement Award, and the Marietta A. DiCroce History Scholarship. Alyssa has donated her time and talent to the community through various activities such as 5k runs, soup kitchens, and coaching elementary school cheerleading teams. She has also worked with our city’s youth as a camp counselor for the past three years. Reading and writing are among Alyssa’s most beloved pastimes. Wuthering Heights is her favorite book and Mitch Albom is her favorite author. Alyssa would like to thank her mother and sister, although they are no longer with us, for their love and encouragement throughout her high school endeavors. She would also like to acknowledge her great-aunt, nephew, extended family, and friends for their support as she continues to pursue her dreams. Last, Alyssa wishes to express her deepest gratitude to her teachers who guided her through her matriculation as a student and as an individual.

9. Jacqueline Alcantara

Jacqueline Alcantara will attend the Honors College at Rutgers University in the fall. Jacqueline plans to major in Criminal Justice and Political Science at RU’s School of Criminal Justice. She was also accepted to American University, George Washington University, and Fordham University. Her dream is to become an FBI Special Agent in the Major Crimes department. She is the recipient of a Merit Scholarship and a Hispanic Day Scholarship.
A scholar and an athlete, Jacqueline has been a member of the soccer team for four years of high school, and was captain of the varsity team in her senior year. She was a member of Math Club and the Academic Challenge Team. She was elected vice president and was a founding member of S.T.E.A.M. She was inducted into the National Honors Society and is a member of the World Language Honors Society. Jacqueline also received First Honor Roll every marking period throughout her high school career. Her courses were mostly honors and advanced placement in English, History, Biology, Chemistry, and all Math-related classes. She also competed in the American Mathematics Competition for BHS and was in Unit 6 of the We the People Constitution Competition. Jacqueline was honored as the NJ Hudson County Scholar Athlete Award for her leadership role in soccer and her high academic grades. Jacqueline has earned honorable mentions for the Holocaust Essay Contest and the Law Day Essay Contest.
Jacqueline has volunteered her time and skills in diverse school related and community activities. She has served as a judge for Math Olympiad and Public Speaking competitions for the grammar schools. Her time has also been spent as an assistant coach for a young boys’ travel soccer team with the Bayonne Youth Soccer Association. In the summer, she worked as an Intercruises’ Checking Agent at Port Cape Liberty.
She is the daughter of Jacqueline and Orlando Alcantara and has a younger brother. She owes her success to her family, for without their love and support her success would all be meaningless. Jacqueline would also like to thank her coaches, fellow captains, and teammates for a fabulous four years of soccer at Bayonne High School. Last, she expresses gratitude to her teachers and peers for a wonderful high school career.

10. Mena Hasaballa

Mena Hasaballa the son of Raafat and Mervat Hasaballa, will be attending the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University-New Brunswick where he will follow a pre-medicine track. He plans on pursuing a double major or major/minor combination in Economics and a Biological Science. Aside from the College of Arts and Sciences, Hasaballa has been offered admission from the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, the University of Rochester, and Wesleyan University.
During his four years at Bayonne High School, Hasaballa was enrolled in the Honors Program in all core subjects since his freshman year. He was a member of the Wrestling Team, S.T.E.A.M., Academic Challenge, and Latin Club. He, along with several other students, cofounded at the end of his junior year the Coptic Society, known to be the only organization of its kind functioning at the high-school level.
Along with being an AP Scholar with Honor and a QuestBridge National College Match Finalist, Hasaballa was inducted into the National Honor Society and the National Latin Honor Society. He has received several awards because of his participation in his Latin class, including gold medals in the National Latin Exam and National Classical Etymology Exam and First Place in the New Jersey Junior Classical League Essay Contest.
Hasaballa’s essay on the housing rights of New Jersey minorities made him a regional winner in the New Jersey National History Day competition, for which he qualified for the state competition. By enrolling in the course Molecular Biology Research in his junior year, he has four publications in the National Center for Biotechnology Information for analyzing the DNA sequence of a species of duckweed. In his senior year, he entered the Jersey Journal’s Hudson County Science Fair, for which he received a Silver Medal in Chemistry for his organic chemistry research project at New Jersey City University during the preceding summer.
Throughout high school, Hasaballa has been active at his Coptic Orthodox church. He owes any future successes to God and to his parents.

© 2000, Newspaper Media Group