Senior Spotlights: Gianna Gasparro, Hannah Van Dusen, Abby Weinstein, Zakir Zaidi

The countdown to commencement has begun for the resilient and can-do Princeton Day School Class of 2021! As we did last year, this spring we are featuring a regular series of Senior Spotlights designed to celebrate each graduating student.

Please note that Senior Spotlights appear in alphabetical order and are based on voluntary submissions that our seniors are completing and providing to the Communications Office. Here is the next set of Senior Spotlights from the Panther Class of 2021:

Gianna Gasparro '21

Gianna Gasparro, Panther for 13 years

A turning point/meaningful teacher:

During my junior year, I was in Ms. Raymond's Pre-calculus class. Math is one of my stronger subjects, but I was never one to participate during class. In Ms. Raymond's class, I became more confident in my skills and began participating a lot. She is a very welcoming and helpful teacher and my classmates and I worked together while having fun.

Favorite PDS memory:

My favorite PDS memory is from Second Grade when I ran the big race on Blue & White Day. I still remember the thrill—of being cheered on by the White Team standing on the hill, and racing against my classmates.

"If I could do it again, "

I would have joined and participated in more clubs, sports and extracurriculars. I would have enjoyed discovering more activities that PDS has to offer.

Senior Project insights:

Kelly Beal '21 and I are researching problems in our world like disaster relief and homelessness and will be posting facts, videos and websites. We hope to encourage the PDS community to donate to these organizations in order to help our world, even in times of COVID.

Message for future PDS seniors:

Freshman and sophomore year can be hard when it comes to making and finding a stable friend or group of friends. My advice: don't go into those two years close-minded about who you are friends with. Be social and talk to everyone.

Hannah Van Dusen '21

Hannah Van Dusen, Panther for 6 years

Meaningful experience:

Joining the REx (Research Experience) Program at PDS was a meaningful experience for me, as I got to learn a lot about the process of conducting scientific research. REx also allowed me to be able to work with a lab over the summer, which I really enjoyed.

Memorable athletic/extracurricular experience:

Playing tennis at PDS!

"If I could do it again, "

I don't think I would change anything because all of my experiences were valuable in helping me learn and grow.

Senior Project insights:

I am writing a biology book for the PDS lower and middle schoolers. I had some experience writing my own bioethics book last year, which I distributed to schools in my area, so I would like to do something similar that I can give back to the PDS community!

Message for future PDS seniors:

Try new things and don't be afraid to make mistakes.

Abby Weinstein '21

Abby Weinstein, Panther for 13 years

Meaningful teacher/course:

I want to thank Mr. Maher for putting up with me and being my mentor in the shop. The Arts Program is one of the best parts about PDS, and I'm glad I had the opportunity to discover my passion early.

Favorite PDS memory:

Actor-Techie Warmups

"If I could do it again, "

I would take an architecture class (in addition to Furniture Design, of course).

Message for future PDS seniors:

Do as much as you can in the English and Arts Departments. Don't be afraid to become friends with your teachers there. Those relationships will continue to grow and serve you well in the future. Plus, they are amazing people!

Zakir Zaidi '21

Zakir Zaidi, Panther for 4 years

Meaningful experience at PDS:

As I reflect back on so many meaningful experiences at PDS, I think my participation in the production of Little Shop of Horrors was a turning point. Cast in the role of the dentist, Orin Scrivello, I pushed my limits as an actor, challenged by the unique aspects of the character and story, as well as prior performances by famous actors. I also bonded and truly found my place within the PDS theatre family.

Favorite PDS memory:

My favorite PDS memory is spending a weekend in the Media Lab with my friends, eating Chucks' wings and editing our films.

"If I could do it again, "

I would have tried to diversify my experiences more, and maybe try ceramics!

Senior Project insights:

I am writing and directing a film with my friend, Carl.

Message for future PDS seniors:

High school is so much more than just academics. Push yourself to try new things and expand your horizons!

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