A Pre-Kindergarten - Grade 12 co-educational independent day school in Westchester, New York

Six RCDS Seniors Named Presidential Scholar Candidates

Rye Country Day recently learned that a sixth member of the Class of 2021 was named a 2021 Presidential Scholar Candidate. Congratulations to Matthew Harkness. Please read the updated announcement below.



Congratulations to Campbell Babiarz ’21, Katie Farrell ’21, Andrew Felton ’21, Francisco Gonzalez ’21, Matthew Harkness '21, and Matthew Mandell ’21 who were named candidates in the 2021 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program, which recognizes the nation's most distinguished graduating high school seniors. 

“We are very proud of Campbell Babiarz, Katie Farrell, Andrew Felton, Francisco Gonzalez, Matthew Harkness, and Matthew Mandell. They are dedicated students with excellent track records of academic achievement and leadership both at school and beyond. As exemplars of Rye Country Day School’s commitment to outstanding scholarship and meaningful service, these young leaders impress and inspire.”  — Head of School, Scott A. Nelson 

Campbell Babiarz is an outstanding, thoughtful student with notable academic and extra-curricular achievements. When he graduates in June, Campbell will have taken a demanding curriculum at RCDS with consistently stellar performance. A skilled athlete, Campbell has been a member of Lacrosse and Soccer teams, and he was nominated by his soccer teammates to Team Captain this fall. Campbell is also an avid photographer and an OPI (Oral Proficiently Intern), helping younger RCDS students in their study of Spanish. Actively committed to public purpose, Campbell also dedicates his time to a number of service organizations, including NBA Cares, Kids In Crisis, Adopt-A-Dog, and the Byram Shubert Library.

Katie Farrell’s impressive academic career at RCDS includes an advanced and rigorous curriculum with a focus in computer science and STEM, as well as an independent study in computer hardware and logic. She has been a leader within the RCDS community as Cross Country Team Captain, a member of the Developers Club and Robotics Team, and a Peer Leader. Pairing her interest in computer science with her commitment to public purpose, Katie was selected as a Community Engagement Fellow in 2018 and taught coding and Arduino classes at the Carver Center in Port Chester. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Katie's desire to give back prompted her to train to become a certified volunteer EMT.

Andrew Felton is an accomplished student with consistently excellent academic achievements and a special interest in classics and the humanities. Andrew is a thoughtful contributor to class discussions and a leader at school and in the local community. He tutors Latin and Greek both at RCDS and Don Bosco Community Center in Port Chester. Andrew also volunteers as a group leader and mentor to boys ages 5-15 at the JCCA (formerly known as Jewish Child Care Association) residential foster care/treatment program for children with emotional and developmental challenges, and he is a Special Olympics Unified Bowling Partner. Last summer, Andrew participated in the Shalom Hartman Institute, a leading center of Jewish thought and education, serving Israel and North America.

Francisco Gonzalez is an accomplished critical thinker with a special interest in the humanities, namely philosophy, politics, and economics. Particularly interested in civic engagement, Francisco is a four-year member of the UN Club, serving as co-president since his junior year. A talented musician, Francisco is a member of Rye Country Day’s a capella group, the WildScats, and choir. He also volunteers in the RCDS A-Chord program, teaching piano and alto saxophone to elementary students at the Carver Center in Port Chester. Last summer, Francisco participated in The John Locke Program at Oxford, a ten-day residential course for students to study philosophy, politics, economics, and history. Francisco is also a four-year member of the Varsity Cross Country team.

Matthew Harkness is a complex and broad thinker with exemplary problem solving skills. A top student at RCDS, he has taken the most demanding program the School has to offer, including BC Calculus and AP Physics MEM in his junior year. Having taken such a rigorous curriculum, he has been able in his senior year to explore his broad range of interests, from AP Music Theory to the Advanced Topics in Computer Science course Coding for a Cause. In addition to excelling in STEM, he is a talented writer and purpose-driven in his pursuits—he hopes to choose a career that will make the world a better place. He is also a dedicated outdoor enthusiast who has enjoyed and grown from the physical and intellectual challenges and camaraderie that hiking and canoe trips offer.

Matthew Mandell is an exemplary student who has excelled during his time at RCDS. His favorite subjects are mathematics and computer science, specifically pure or applied mathematics. Matthew hopes to pursue collegiate study in the STEM field, and he has gained hands-on experience as a Software Engineer for Capitolis during school breaks. A talented trumpet player, Matthew is an RCDS Band Captain, and on the weekends, he studies music at Mannes School of Music’s high school program. Pairing his interest in music with a commitment to public purpose, Matthew volunteers locally as a music tutor through the A-Chord program. As a member of the Varsity Hockey team, Matthew’s enthusiasm and dedication also shine on the ice. 

Campbell, Katie, Andrew, Francisco, Matthew, and Matthew are six of approximately 4,000 candidates selected from millions of U.S. high school seniors. In April, approximately 800 semi-finalists will be selected by a panel of educators. In May, the Commission on Presidential Scholars, appointed by the President, will select up to 161 scholars.

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