Marist High School recently named Zachary Stack and Connor McNamara co-valedictorians for the class of 2020. The two tied for the highest grade point average in the class of 397 students.
Stack, of Orland Park, had a goal to be one of the top students in the class. “Since the beginning of freshman year, I have put in hours of studying and doing homework to accomplish my goal,” Stack explained. “When life got stressful and tough, I was able to settle myself and complete my schoolwork to the best of my ability in large part due to my goal being front and center in my mind.”
His hard work paid off and he will attend Harvard University to pursue a degree in finance.
Stack, a graduate of Cardinal Joseph Bernardin School in Orland Hills, was a busy student during his time at Marist. He was a member of the math team for four years. The team qualified for state each year. He contributed three years to the academic team and Spanish club and one year to Model United Nations. He was inducted into the National Honor Society and Spanish National Honor Society, serving as the vice-president of the latter.
Athletically, he played basketball for Marist his freshman year and baseball freshman and sophomore year.
Outside of Marist, he made the most of his summers. He worked as a laborer at logistics company Dynamic3Pl during the summer of 2018 and as a treasury operations intern at Citadel LLC in Chicago in 2019. He also worked on the behalf of others, founding the nonprofit organization OPBaseball4all with a mission to make the game of baseball inclusive for all. Stack worked to raise money to build a specially surfaced ADA compliant baseball field for people with physical and mental impairments.
Some of the best memories Stack has come from his math classes and time with the math team. “I really enjoyed BC Calculus at Marist due to the camaraderie and rigor of the course,” he said. “The three-hour class after school on Fridays was extremely memorable and incredibly fun. The complication of each problem fed into my desire to learn more and more and challenged my mathematical aptitude.”
He also looks back fondly on time with his fellow “mathletes,” remembering team dinners, trips down state, and strong friendships.
“Marist has prepared me especially well for the next chapter of my life,” Stack said. “Marist’s curriculum has helped me develop critical and logical thinking skills through the many challenging and demanding classes. Furthermore, Marist has instilled many different Catholic beliefs and teachings in me, and has helped me become a faith-filled leader who values integrity, honesty, and trustworthiness in all those I encounter.”
Marist’s class of 2020 graduated via a virtual ceremony on Sunday, May 24. Stack shared some comments during the event.