By Alex Lippa
He's the class president, secretary of the Key Club and president of the debate team.
Academically, he has reached heights no other Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School student has achieved. With all those accomplishments, Whittier senior Dan Muise already has a packed resume. He can now add one more achievement to the list.
Muise was named Whittier's Vocational Student of the Year by school administrators and guidance counselors last week. He was selected for his leadership abilities, community involvement and expertise in his vocational major.
"At first, I was thinking 'of the year' — that can't be that huge," Muise said. "Then I realized that I am in a class of 329 students. I'm really honored and it's fantastic."
Muise is one of the more fascinating students to receive this honor because of the wide variety of extracurricular activities he participates in. In addition to being class president, he also is the host of Whittier's radio show. This weekend, Muise will be using his big voice as the lead in the school's performance of the musical "Once Upon A Mattress."
"Dan has always stuck out," said Jack Ulrich, one of Muise's teachers. "He's always amazed me with his ability to do so well in his shop work and academics and yet stay involved so many school activities, especially the play, which takes an enormous time commitment."
One would think all of Muise's extracurricular activities would take a toll on his work in the classroom. But Muise has a 4.3 grade point average, good for second in his graduating class. He also scored 2140 out of 2400 on his SATs, the highest score ever by a Whittier Regional High student.
Muise's vocational-technical major is computer aided design and drafting. He uses computer technology to design mechanical and engineering tools. With his accomplishments in that field, Muise is already certified by the American Design Drafting Association, an achievement that is rarely earned by high school students.
"Dan has shown great potential in the field of design," said Scott Robertson, his CAD instructor. "Not only does Dan achieve greatness in his technical area, he also excels in his academic classes. He possesses natural leadership qualities which he demonstrates effortlessly."
With all his accomplishments, the one that Muise said he is the most proud of is being the lead in the school's musical for the last two years. He did not act at all during his freshman and sophomore years, before being asked to try out for the play by one of his teachers. He did not know what type of success he would find with acting, but he immediately began to excel.
"In this environment, he is so playful and willing to take risks," said drama teacher Linda Urban. "In the arts, that is so important."
Muise will be honored as student of the year at a banquet next month that recognizes the top vocational student in all 26 of Massachusetts' vocational schools.
Next year, Muise will attend UMass Lowell on a full scholarship. He will study chemical engineering, with a focus on nanotechnology. He hopes to create technology able to entering a person's bloodstream to attack tumors.
He will face a whole new set of challenges as he enrolls in one of the toughest programs at UMass Lowell, but he knows that his experiences at Whittier will make things much easier than they would have been.
"I have heard that if I enroll in nanotechnology, I will have time for nothing else besides sleep," Muise said. "I think Whittier helped me choose that major because here I've been able to do multiple things at once."
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