Meet Chaminade High School’s valedictorian and salutatorian

Gretchen Keller
Chaminade Valedictorian, Shawn Connell (left) and Salutatorian Nicholas Plante (right). (Photo courtesy of Chaminade High School)

Chaminade valedictorian Shawn Connell is ready to apply his ambition in business, love of sports and commitment to service at Fordham University this fall on a full tuition National Merit Semifinalist Scholarship. He plans to study business, but will enter college undecided on a major.

Connell, a Woodbury native, has attended Chaminade High School in Mineola since his freshman year. He has been manager of the varsity basketball team, volunteers to run retreats for incoming freshmen to make them more comfortable at Chaminade and was a senior leader, further assisting freshmen with academic guidance.

During his senior year, Connell was the captain of the varsity volleyball team, leading his team to an undefeated championship season.  Connell credits his volleyball debut to one of his teachers. “Of my teachers at Chaminade, the most influential would be Mr. Dubon,” said Connell, referring to Peter Dubon.

“Mr. Dubon convinced me to try out for volleyball freshman year after watching me play basketball even though I had never played before. The time spent playing with him as my coach for four years was incredible and capped off by an undefeated season this year,”  Connell said.

He said he was grateful to be chosen as valedictorian. “As the valedictorian is determined by a popular vote of the graduating class, it was an honor to be recognized by my fellow classmates as a leader in academics,” he said. “The recognition made all the hard work and late nights throughout the last four years worth it.”

Nicholas Plante, the Chaminade salutatorian, has dabbled in the many disciplines that Chaminade offers throughout his four years there.

“From being heavily involved with the Science Olympiad team in high school to being a co-editor-in-chief of Tarmac [the school newspaper] — with other interests in between, of course — I’ve gotten a broad taste of the spectrum, so to speak,” said Plante.

Plante will go to the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania with an undecided major.

In addition to Science Olympiad and the Tarmac, Plante was co-president of the Math Club, played the tuba and was vice president of the National Honor Society.

Aside from Chaminade activities, Plante helped establish a youth choir at his parish, St. Thomas, during his junior year. In his spare time, Plante said that he often volunteers at the Mary Brennan INN in Hempstead as a server and fundraising organizer.

Looking back on his high school experience, Plante said he is extremely grateful for the relationships he has forged and his experiences at Chaminade.

“’Chaminade never leaves you’ — I’ve heard this said in a Tarmac interview before, and it’s already starting to mean more to me as I prepare to move on to college,” he said. “I know that, even though there’s much more waiting to be experienced, this school and the memories I made here won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.”

Gretchen Keller can be reached at and followed on Twitter @gretchenkellerr.

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