In an exclusive interview with Trenton Central High School’s 2020 Valedictorian and Salutatorian, Aldair Desiderio and Te’amo Nazario talk about future plans as they dream big, prepare for college, and set out to take the world by storm.
Aldair Desiderio (Valedictorian) a proud graduate of Trenton Central High School’s class of 2020, will be heading to Bates College for the upcoming school year, to major in engineering. For elementary and middle school, Aldair attended Hedgepeth-Williams before enrolling in Trenton High.
Te’amo Nazario (Salutatorian), also a proud graduate of Trenton Central High School, will be going to Ivy League Dartmouth College enrolling as undecided. For elementary and middle school, he attended Parker Elementary and Dunn Middle School before enrolling at Trenton High.
Q. How does it feel to know that you are Trenton Central High School’s Class of 2020 Valedictorian/Salutatorian?
Aldair Desiderio: “It feels great…more than confident about being valedictorian especially when I see that I’m making my parents proud, and also being a leader for my classmates, it makes me feel good. It shows me that people are looking up to me but also I’m setting an example and hopefully sharing those leadership characteristics with others.”
Te’amo Nazario: “I mean it feels great, definitely what I’ve been working for since freshman year, my mother always expected a lot of great things out of me, it feels right working hard this entire time and just letting that hard work show, especially when I was able to give a speech at graduation and really speak about the things I wanted to speak about. Overall it feels good.”
Q. What have you done within school academically for the past four years to get you this far?
Aldair Desiderio: “For the most part it’s being dedicated to my studies. For example, I’ve never liked procrastinating at all, so I’ll get home and then probably go right into doing my homework and study for any exams or quizzes the next day. Also opening up to different organizations within my community, I think that’s a huge part of my success. They’ve provided a lot of great insights and opportunities that will make you grow as a person.”
Te’amo Nazario: “Just a lot of reflecting, really asking myself who I am in the face of adversity or anything I can view as an obstacle, pretty much just every time I felt unmotivated or I just didn’t feel like doing something, just asking myself is that really what I want to be the best option here, and just finding the better version of myself, which in that case was doing the work, doing a lot of studying and staying on my grind pretty much just getting good grades and raising that GPA.”
Q. Name some of the organizations/extracurricular activities you have been a part of and your experience with them?
Aldair Desiderio: “I can start with “Science Mentors”, I’ve been in Science Mentors for the past four years and I think I’ve done a lot of exploring with Science Mentors, especially on the science aspect for the science fairs that take place every April. What we do is find a topic that interests us, we do a lot of research and come up with a final project that will reflect what we’ve learned. With that group, I’ve opened myself up more especially with the presentations we’ve had to do. Another group is the “Next Generation Community Leaders.” I’ve done a lot of projects to help my community to improve the overall health of Trenton, I’ve revitalized two parks in Trenton. During this whole pandemic, we created 100 care packages and we distributed to people who needed the help, especially with COVID. For math, I’ve been a part of two math competitions, Princeton University Mathematics Competition and also a math competition at Columbia University. It was a challenge, did not go as I expected but it only helped me realize that things get a lot harder over the years so I had to be prepared. It also made me realize that we’re not accomplishing these standards dealing with diversity, I feel like we need a lot more minorities out there that can help us represent ourselves in those types of areas and fields such as math and science, so that has pushed me to be a greater student in those areas, and to hopefully become an engineer. I only did soccer at Trenton high, from soccer it gave me a better sense of how teamwork works. Most of the time people who are independent, for example, me as the valedictorian, you would think I did everything on my own, yes its due to my efforts that I’m the valedictorian of Trenton High, but I needed support from other people as well. Got a great sense of how teamwork plays out, not only in soccer but in my whole academic aspect as well.”
Te’amo Nazario: “I’m currently in PUPP, (Princeton University Preparatory Program) I also was in the Princeton rowing club, I did wrestling all four years. I love wrestling, it’s a pretty physical sport and you get to see what person you are, you pull up on that mat and you’re just like “yeah bro I’m about to destroy some people” but then you get handed out so you see what kind of person you are, I love that about wrestling. In combination with that and PUPP, it has been tough, mostly just because PUPP has a lot of work, it’s a lot of time you have to devote because we have a lot of excursions when we get to visit different theatres and operas and stuff. Definitely tough having to manage my time. I always had to devote a lot of time to wrestling as well, I went to a lot of practices after my own practice at school, I would have some at Ryder or TCNJ. I try to devote a lot of time to anything I do because I want to do it 100% don’t want to leave anything up on the table. It’s been a good experience, a lot of learning, you learn a lot of things about yourself and others, it’s been a really good experience overall, tough but good.”
Q. Who has been your support system?
Aldair Desiderio: “I will start with my family, I value the roots and beliefs they have instilled within me, definitely vital principles, inspiration, dedication, perseverance that has stuck with me, that’s who I really look up to as well. Support systems are once again the organizations in my community and just the relationships that I’ve built with different community partners that have helped me throughout my high school years.”
Te’amo Nazario: “Definitely want to say, my coaches, Coach Prunetti and all the other assistant coaches; Coach Kyle, Coach Ted, anybody who just comes out and helps out. Pendelfinni was great to have around for strengthening and conditioning, Coach Adams, I freaking love Coach Adams this year, a lot of the coaches saw a lot of potential in us especially me personally, and they really wanted me to actually get to see it. When I won a district wrestling championship, of course, it was exciting but for them, it was just like “ah that’s Te’amo, that’s what we expect out of him,” so it was really nice having a crew like that just always expecting the best out of you. The same thing with my mother, I think my mother is my biggest fan personally, my mother and my big sister are definitely my biggest supporters. My mom always tells me ever since I was born, she looked at me and was like: “This kid is going to do some pretty big things in the world one day.” She always expected the best out of me, so I’ve always brought the best out of myself because someone believed and that whole thing. My dad is also very supportive as well.”
Q. What do you hope to gain from being Trenton Central High School’s Valedictorian?
Aldair Desiderio: “What I will take out of it is taking advantage of the opportunities and support that’s around the city, many of the support and just the organizations and their mission/goal they’re hidden, so just going for it and not waiting for it, that means you have to know what you want for yourself and what you want for your city, you know how you want your city to view you as, go for the support go find it and take advantage of it. Yes, I will come back to my city definitely to be engaged and help give back.”
Te’amo Nazario: “Initially what I hoped to accomplish was to have something good to put on my resume for when I apply for colleges, but as time went on I realized I managed to put myself in a position where I can give a speech to a large audience and that right there I guess that’s something really nice as well from being salutatorian, is that I’m able to put out a message where I can have others listen. But again to speak on something that I learned throughout high school so that hopefully I can share that with others and they can learn from the lessons I’ve learned as well. I really hope I inspired my younger brothers, they’ve been having a hard time, they haven’t done the best in school but I really hope that they can see some of the stuff that I’ve done, we grew up in the same household so witnessing the same personal things I’m hoping that they can be inspired and want to do bigger things as well. That’s just the first thing, I expect big things out of myself so looking forward to see what happens next.”
Q. How will you give back/invest in the Trenton Community?
Aldair Desiderio: “I will come back to my city definitely to be engaged and help give back.”
Te’amo Nazario: “Absolutely seeing my little brothers, like I said they don’t have the best rep, a lot of kids in Trenton are going through the same thing as well, but I see a lot of potential in kids like that, I know people have a certain idea of what Trenton is and personally I believe anyone from Trenton has a lot of potential it just their surroundings kind of limit that a lot, so I’m really hoping I can come back and get a lot of these kids to really find out what they’re truly capable of, if they really put their minds to it they can really do a lot, I definitely see that in my little brothers and in a lot of students I went to high school with, they all had some cool things to offer to the table it’s just not the right mindset, so I’m really hoping I can come back and start a program and help out people get over those certain initial mindsets they have that are limiting their growth and hopefully get them to do some bigger things, that’s what I’m hoping, definitely want to come back and help out.”