Thomas Kanz, a junior at Warwick Valley High School, has earned Summa Cum Laude honors every marking period of his high school career. This year, he’s taking a full schedule of advanced classes, including two simultaneous AP computer science courses. He is an active member of numerous academic and service clubs, both inside and outside of school. This National Honor Society member — and lifelong learner in the making — loves to challenge himself and approaches each day with his personal mantra in mind: Your day is what you make of it.
“I believe that. Your day is what you make it,” he said. “It’s important to test your limits and go for the things you choose to pursue wholeheartedly. Only you can decide what those things are and put in the work to get the most out of them.”
Thomas said he takes so many advanced classes because he enjoys academic pursuits. Two of his favorite areas of study are computer science and economics. He discovered his love of computer science last year and loaded up his schedule with more this year.
“As for economics,” he said, “I’ve always been interested in learning how the world works and how its resources flow.”
That interest led him to his position as president of the WVHS Future Business & Investors Club, which teaches students about money matters and investing principles through group projects and activities like playing the virtual stock market. The group is currently working on plans for a WVHS store, which they plan to pitch to school administration.
Thomas is also part of the WVHS Youth in Government club, where he has helped create and propose policy platforms, presenting them against teams from different high schools in our area at Policy Conventions. There are also Steering Conventions, where students run in mock elections for government positions. Thomas ran for Orange County Executive and won!
“So now I’ve recorded a speech for the general election,” he said. “That goes out to students at all the high schools in Orange County, and we get to vote during our history classes.”
Thomas is already president of the Warwick Valley chapter of Future Farmers of America (FFA), where he has been developing his leadership and public speaking skills. Last spring, he won the FFA Eastern Sub-State Leadership Development Event in Extemporaneous Public Speaking, and he’ll be going back to defend his title in March.
“I’m also practicing with our Parliamentary Procedure team, and we’ll be competing in that again, too,” he said. The Parliamentary Procedure team also placed 1st at last year’s FFA competition.
WVHS Principal Marguerite Fusco also pointed out that Thomas is an integral member of the Warwick Valley High School’s successful Academic Team, which competes in the Orange County Academic League (OCAL).
“It’s almost like Jeopardy, in a sense,” said Thomas. “We compete head-to-head against teams from other schools, answering different academic and intellectual questions that range across math, science, history, culture, technology, across the board.”
The Academic Team is currently practicing for an OCAL tournament in February, which will be hosted at Warwick Valley.
And, as if all this weren’t enough, Thomas is also a Life Scout with the Boy Scouts of America. As the Patrol Leader for Troop 38, he helps plan and run meetings and events, and he is currently working on his Eagle Scout project.
“My project is to build Leopold benches for the Warwick Valley Humane Society,” said Thomas. He planned his project to align with the Humane Society’s current renovation, so that he will be able to install the new outdoor seating when they reopen.
Thomas, who trains and competes as part of the WVHS Crew Team, picked up a love of sailing from his grandfather and father. In his free time, he enjoys being on the water as much as possible – even when it’s frozen!
“We do a lot of ice boating in the winter,” he said, adding that he and his family travel to Bantam Lake in Connecticut on winter weekends to enjoy the sport with other members of the Connecticut Ice Yacht Club. “Basically, it’s a boat with skates – almost like ice skate blades – and we just sail on the frozen water.”
It’s clear that Thomas definitely makes the most of every day, taking on intellectual and physical challenges – he also plays tennis, by the way – and pursuing each one with gusto. Furthermore, he does it all with a positive and outgoing, carpe diem attitude.
“Thomas is an excellent student who maintains excellent grades taking what is certainly a rigorous academic schedule of honors, AP and college-level courses,” said Ms. Fusco. “He’s personable, reliable, and well respected by his peers and the faculty.”
“Your day is what you make it,” he said. “It’s important to test your limits and go for the things you choose to pursue wholeheartedly. Only you can decide what those things are and put in the work to get the most out of them.”--Thomas Kanz, WVSD junior