Down to the Wire: Two Future Ivy Leaguers Battle to the Last Day for Top Spot

One is going to Dartmouth College, and the other is going to Harvard University, and the competition to be the top senior in the Class of 2021 was not only with great pedigree, but also with tremendous competition.

Oscar Amaya Yanes, who is going to Dartmouth, and Richard Flores, who is going to Harvard, both came down to the wire this year in trying to become valedictorian, but in the end it was Yanes that took the top spot.

Chelsea Public Schools (CPS) announced on Monday that Yanes was the Valedictorian and Flores was the Salutatorian, but as recently as last week it was still unknown.

Yanes is described as a true scholar, who is deeply curious about the world around him. This year, he was awarded the prestigious Questbridge Scholarship and he was accepted to Dartmouth College as well. He plans to pursue a career in engineering at Dartmouth.

“Oscar’s intellectual curiosity has carried him far in his academic career,” read a bio of him prepared by CPS. “His teachers note that he possesses a kind of determination and grit that is rarely found in adolescents his age. He will be the first in his family to go to college and is thrilled to have this incredible opportunity.”

Yanes is a committed athlete at Chelsea High, and began a track and running career as a sophomore when he went out for cross country, indoor track and outdoor track. He was inducted into the National Honor Society this past February, and has a deep desire to serve the community. Last summer, he was awarded the AP We Service Award. Outside of school, he is a member of Summer Search Boston, a college prep program geared toward low-income and first-generation high school students in the Boston area.

“My message to all of my classmates is this: all forms of activism are essential and the most important thing is to be true to yourself,” he said. “To bring about change, it takes all kinds of people: quiet, shy, funny, loud, bold, assertive, social – and the list goes on. In other words, this means we are all capable of making a difference. While the future may be uncertain, do not let the fear of the unknown sway you to miss out on a chance to grow.”

Flores, who is headed to Harvard University, has served as vice president of his class throughout high school, and is an active member of National Honor Society. Flores’s dedication to learning was shown when he took two separate independent study classes to challenge himself, and then also enrolled in a cooking class outside of school.

“He’s managed an increased amount of family responsibilities and a near full time job throughout the past year,” read the bio prepared by CPS. “He did all of this while maintaining near perfect grades. To say his accomplishments are impressive would be an understatement. Richard dreams big and his ambition is fueled by a selflessness that is rare amongst high school students. He works relentlessly to meet his goals because he understands the power of a positive example and wants to inspire others through his hard work.”

Flores has also served as the student representative on the Chelsea School Committee and is described by others as a very well-rounded young man.

“I would say something that was a belief from my uncle that inspired me:  If my goals do not scare me, it is not big enough,” he said.

Graduation will take place on Saturday, June 12, in the evening, and then all day on Sunday, June 13. The graduation will not feature any speakers or any type of ceremony. Families will make an appointment to appear at the Chelsea Stadium at a certain time on either day. When they show up they will register, and then have their name called by Principal Mark Martineau. After an official photo is taken, they will proceed to the photo booths and other fun activities before leaving.

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