June 7, 2007
A not-so-random sampling of the Class of 2007
(Page 2 - Previous Page)
From: Van Nuys High School Medical Magnet
and Temple Judea Religious School
To: George Washington University
What Madeleine Morgenstern likes best about the prospect of attending George Washington University is that it is three blocks from the White House, which she one day hopes to occupy.
"I aim high," says Morgenstern, who is graduating from the Van Nuys High School Medical Magnet.
Meanwhile, Morgenstern is secretary of the school's student government and has helped get the students more involved in creating and changing policies that affect them.
When it came time to do a medical-related senior project, a magnet requirement, Morgenstern went undercover as a pregnant teenager to research how medical, social and religious organizations counsel teens, and whether political bias entered the equation.
For several years she has volunteered at the USC Medical Center's Women's and Children's Hospital, visiting patients and playing with the kids. She was in Girl Scouts through 10th grade, reaching the rank of senior scout.
She describes herself as being hyper-aware of politics and current events, even pre-empting headlines on illegal immigration when she brought the issue up in school, which is 70 percent Latino, well before last year's rallies.
Morgenstern is dedicated to understanding and talking about the issues, and not only in the political realm. She has been a religious school teaching assistant and tutor at Temple Judea in Tarzana since the eighth grade.
"There are certain prayers that I love, and when I'm tutoring a kid and she's able to read through the prayer and say it, I think, 'Yeah, this is what I'm doing here,'" she said.
That has also translated over to the Jewish Student Union, a lunchtime Jewish club, of which she is president. The club offers free lunch and discussion of a Judaic topic. While an adviser teaches many of them, sometimes Morgenstern steps in herself to lead the group.
She plans to keep teaching in college, and has already contacted a synagogue in Washington -- one that will keep her nice and close to Pennsylvania Avenue.
Serving Community Service
From: Shalhevet High School
To: Nishmat and Barnard College
In ninth grade, Mitzi Steiner gathered a handful of friends to spend Thanksgiving Day feeding the homeless at the Santa Monica Civic Center. This year on Thanksgiving she had a group of about 30 teens, and most of them were there thanks to her efforts to organize Shalhevet's community service programming.
In her sophomore year, Steiner created the Community Service Committee, designed to match up students and organizations for volunteer work. She exposed students to new organizations and energized the school's community service program.
"I think an important aspect of community service is not giving just for the sake of giving, but giving in a way that is meaningful to you," Steiner said. "I want community service to be something that touches the students, not something they do for [required] hours or because they have to."
Steiner, a member of the Westwood Kehilla, volunteers with KOREH L.A., The Jewish Federation of Los Angeles' reading tutorial program; Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters of Los Angeles; and Etta Israel Center, where she pairs up with disabled young adults for weekend retreats and special events.
She embarked on her work with KOREH L.A. to fulfill a community service requirement following her summer as a Bronfman Youth Fellow, a highly competitive Israel trip where 26 high schoolers from across North America are selected to tour the country, meet with leaders and determine their own role as future leaders.
Steiner spent previous summers at Drisha Institute in New York, where she studied Talmud and Jewish texts, a passion she took back to Shalhevet as a founding member of the school's rigorous Beit Midrash program. She is the school's valedictorian this year, and also earned numerous other awards, including the Bureau of Jewish Education's Ahavat Torah award for Jewish learning.
As co-captain with her twin brother, Benjamin, of the school's Model U.N. team, she took home a best delegate award, and she has acted in, directed and written many of the school's theater productions.
After a year studying at Nishmat in Jerusalem, she will enter Barnard College in New York.
Reaching for the Stars
From: North Hollywood High School Highly Gifted Magnet and
Los Angeles Hebrew High School
To: University of Michigan
The first time Andrew David was wowed by a sky full of stars was on a night hike at Camp Ramah in Ojai when he was in sixth or seventh grade. When he goes back to camp this summer as a counselor, he's bringing his telescope to initiate a new astronomy program. Aside from showing the kids what's up there, he hopes to be able to answer their questions about science and religion.
Questions about the sky were more fact-based when he competed as the astronomy expert with his school's science bowl team, which won the regional competition this year, as it has nine out of the last 10 years. He plans to major in mechanical or aerospace engineering at the University of Michigan.
One of his first stops when he gets to school will be the campus Hillel, which he sees as an extension of his activities with his youth group, United Synagogue Youth (USY). David is the vice president of religion and education of the USY chapter at Adat Ari El, where he attended Hebrew school through his bar mitzvah. After that he went on to Los Angeles Hebrew High School, which he attended through 12th grade.
At Adat Ari El, David also played a role in the USY production of "My Fair Lady," directed by Rabbi Moshe Rothblum.