Congratulations to Fifth Formers Kevin Xiao and Dev Chhokra, selected as Lawrenceville’s 2019 Valedictorian and Aurelian Speaker, respectively. Read more about both of these outstanding students in stories from The Lawrence.
Xiao ’19 Named Valedictorian
By Isabelle Lee/The Lawrence
Director of the Fifth Form Jason Larson announced that the Class of 2019 Valedictorian is Kevin Xiao ’19, as chosen by Larson, Dean of Students Blake Eldridge, Assistant Dean of Students Emilie Kosoff, and Housemasters. Xiao will address the School at Commencement on Sunday, June 2.
“I am really honored to be selected [Valedictorian] to represent this School […] Although I’ve never thought of myself as a genius, I know this position involves faculty recommendations, so I am really thankful,” Xiao said.
The selection process began by narrowing down a group of candidates to 10 students who have demonstrated academic excellence throughout their Lawrenceville careers.
“The Valedictorian is someone who is intelligent, motivated, selfless, humble, and displays dedication and passion not just in the community, he or she lives in, and [Xiao] embodies that role so well,” Kennedy Housemaster Andrew Kukla said. He later added that throughout Xiao’s two years in Kennedy, “[Xiao] always made himself available and wanted to get to know other people in a genuine way. He always had a smile on his face and was both present and giving of himself.”
During his time at Lawrenceville, Xiao has served in various club leadership positions. He has served as the president of operations of the Speech and Debate Team. Xiao was also the editor-in-chief of The First Amendment, the School’s premier political magazine. He currently serves as the president of the Allegro Council and the editor-in-chief of the Lawrenceville Historical Review. Xiao was selected as a Heely Scholar in his Fourth Form year and as a New Jersey Scholar in 2018.
“I love all of the clubs that I do, but it wouldn’t have been the same without the people. We are a team, and everyone is working toward the same goal and the same beautiful product, so I wouldn’t be here without the people who have supported me throughout my four years at Lawrenceville,” Xiao said.
Outside of Lawrenceville, Xiao interned at the Philadelphia district office of U.S. Senator Patrick Toomey. Next year, he will be pursuing a bachelor of arts in political science and economics at Yale University.
“Lawrenceville has really shown me how being present makes a difference. It’s not about where you start out, but more of what you make of the experience,” Xiao said.
Chhokra ’19 Named Aurelian Speaker
By Ashley Lee ‘21/The Lawrence
The Lawrenceville Class of 2019 has chosen Dev Chhokra ’19 to be its Aurelian Speaker. Annually, a Fifth Form student is elected as the Aurelian Speaker for his or her “sterling character, high scholarship, and forceful leadership” by his or her classmates.
Reflecting on being named as Aurelian speaker, Chhokra said, “I am so honored that my classmates would like to hear [my speech] on the last night we are together.” According to Chhokra, the best part of being an Aurelian Speaker is “that [he can} leave [his] classmates with a few departing words that could help them [reflect upon their] Lawrenceville experience.”
Chhokra came to Lawrenceville as a Second Former. During the spring term of his Second Form year, Chhokra become a Ropes Course instructor. He was selected as a Hutchins Scholar in his Third Form year and conducted research at the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh during the summer of his Fourth Form year. According to Chhokra, through the Hutchins program, he received the opportunity to “interact with a lot of people with whom [he does] not always interact with and learn about working in a lab, thinking critically and planning research.” Chhokra previously served as the Community Service representative of Woodhull House and the head of Hot Karl’s. Currently, Chhokra is a prefect in Woodhull House and the Community Service Representative on the Student Council. From all of these experiences at Lawrenceville, “I learned how to listen and how to interact with others. The interaction with my peers made me a better, more generous and more caring person,” Chhokra said.
In his Third Form year, Chhokra received a Welles Grant, which supports student to complete a project of their interest during the summer. Chhokra worked with Meg Small P’18, who had led a Community Day workshop on the Syrian refugee crisis, on the project CurioSpace, a Penn State startup that combines stories with a building activity to educate kids. At the Health and Human Development Design for Impact Lab, Chhokra worked on the prototypes for education tools that promote social-emotional learning.
Chhokra will attend Dartmouth College in the fall of 2019 and he aspires to become a teacher and work for a startup for education.
Reflecting on his years at Lawrenceville, Chhokra said, “[The best parts of Lawrenceville are] getting to interact with people in all social settings 24/7, learning a lot about yourself, learning how to listen, and seeing similarities and differences that build a stronger community.”
Chhokra will deliver his speech to his classmates on June 1, the evening before Commencement.
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