Well-Rounded Broadneck Scholars Aurora Nelson And Lena Stern Earn Top Class Ranks


Earning the valedictorian and salutatorian ranks for Broadneck High School’s class of 2024 were two students with talents and interests wide-ranging from STEM to art, athletics to engineering, foreign language to community service, and neuroscience to music. Aurora Nelson and Lena Stern, friends since elementary school, could not think of a better ending to their public-school experience than walking onstage together and ranking one and two during their graduation ceremony on June 6.

“We’ve known our class rank since sophomore year, but I don’t think we had a specific goal of valedictorian and salutatorian at that time,” said Nelson, Broadneck’s valedictorian. “I just tried to challenge myself by taking hard classes. When I learned Lena would be salutatorian, I knew it would be fun to be onstage together.”

After an impressive high school career, these scholars may have the hardest challenge yet in front of them. They now have to narrow their talents and passions and think about careers. Nelson will attend the University of Maryland, College Park to study engineering. Stern will attend Washington University in St. Louis to study neuroscience or psychology.

“I am interested in a lot of things!” Stern said. “Washington University is a good place to study multiple disciplines.”

Nelson was a scholar–athlete who earned Advanced Placement Scholar with Distinction and Advanced Placement Scholar with Honor awards. She’s earned several art awards, won contests, and had her art displayed throughout Maryland. She was a member of the national art, math and French honor societies, in which she held offices. Nelson participated in numerous clubs, including Model United Nations, and earned the Girls Scout Gold Award.

In addition to academic achievement, Nelson excelled in soccer as a four-year member of the Broadneck High School varsity girls team and earned all-county honors. She also plays piano.

Stern represented Broadneck High School at the Maryland Hugh O’Brien Youth leadership conference and was a member of the national and Tri-M music honor societies. As a musician, she was named the Maryland all-state band’s second chair flutist; was elected to Anne Arundel County all-county band, Annapolis Symphony Academy, Chesapeake Youth Symphony Orchestra; and she completed masterclasses with Jean Ferrandis and Aaron Goldman.

Among her many tutoring and club activities, Stern was in the Model United Nations, for which she represented Ukraine in the Disarmament International Security Committee at Washington Area Model United Nations Conference in 2023 and represented Rwanda in the climate change committee at Old Dominion Model United Nations Conference in 2024. She is the founder of Melody Makers, a volunteer organization that provides free music lessons taught by high schoolers to beginner musicians, and she established a relationship with Naptown Sings in Annapolis to use its studio on Sundays.

Both students said of all their high school experiences, it’s their friendships with so many people that they will miss the most. They also agreed on some of the teachers who made the greatest impact on them.

“There are so many great teachers, but I will miss (Christina) Houstian, (social studies department chair),” Stern said. “I learned so much from her and I appreciated how she made close connections with students.”

Nelson said, “(John) Allyn was a great AP biology teacher who brought a lot of energy to the class. And [Chris] Shelby had a lot of patience to teach AP math courses.”

Stern said she loved the community that high school creates but is excited for what she expects to be “great things to come in college.”

“There are so many different careers I can see myself doing,” she added. “I’m excited to take a lot of diverse classes and see what I like.”

Aurora Nelson is the daughter of Charles and Annalisa Nelson. Lena Stern is the daughter of Stephen and Jacquelyn Stern.


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