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White Plains Seniors Look Forward At Graduation

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- In his graduation speech to students Thursday night, White Plains High School valedictorian Benjamin Van Doren compared the road ahead for his fellow graduating seniors to the migration patterns of the birds he researches in his spare time.

Both, he said during the ceremony at the Westchester County Center, will soon begin their search for food, shelter and a stable environment and must use their instincts to guide the path ahead.

"I just tried to reflect on the years of high school and encourage people to continue to learn as everyone goes forward and connected it back to my birds that I know very well," he said.

Van Doren will be going to Cornell University in the fall, where he plans to major in biology. He said he is still feeling out exactly what career path to pursue, but is considering science.

"I'm very interested in birds specifically, so I hope to make that a part of my future career," he said. "For many years I've been interested in birds. I've been conducting research on bird migration, specifically with the Science Research Program ."

Through the Science Research Program, Van Doren placed fifth out of 40 finalists in the Intel Science Talent Search this year for his project titled “Meteorological, Topographical and Behavioral Correlates of Diurnal Autumn Morning Flight Migration in the Northeastern United States”. In the process, he traveled to Washington, D.C., met President Barack Obama and won a $30,000 cash prize.

While Van Doren looked ahead in his valedictory speech, the 2012 salutatorian , Adam Jaffe, looked back on his years of school in the White Plains School District, which began at the Church Street School.

Jaffe, who will attend Columbia University, shared memories from his childhood. He talked about being in third grade and having his mother make him peanut butter and jelly sandwiches while he would listen to the New York Mets on the radio. Now, he said he gets his PB&J sandwiches from Chipotle and has learned better than to follow the Mets.

Van Doren and Jaffe were two of 480 graduating seniors who tossed their caps at the end of the ceremony.

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