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Danbury High School
Yale, Boston College, Georgetown, Tufts, University of Virginia
SATs: 730v, 690m
Boehringer-Ingleheim Pharmaceuticals intern; editor in chief of school newspaper; tennis team; peer leader; Science Horizons Regional Fair winner; Connecticut Audubon Society Award; United States Army Award; Maxwell Anderson Young Connecticut Playwright Award; Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership Award; Bausch & Lomb Scientific Scholar; Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Scholarship and Award; Key Club.
What is your career aspiration? "I am thinking about something in law or government. I think those areas will best suit my goal of doing something good for my country."
Have your life goals or outlook on life changed since Sept. 11? If so, how? "Perhaps for the first time, many of my generation have seen just how fragile things are. Everything has gone so easily for those in my generation. The recent events probably represent our first challenge."
What should adults know about teens today? "I would like to think that the youth of today would be seen as more advanced, mature, and more active than previous generations. So much is expected, so much is possible for teenagers today. It is my experience that more teenagers are stepping up to the plate, so to speak, trying to do good things. I would like to think that this is a sign of things to come."
What advice do you have for high school freshmen? "Definitely I would tell them to have a good time. They should have fun, work hard and set goals. If you start looking at it for what it is, high school is such a phenomenal time. It is so much a process, a time for finding themselves. In the end, it is such a great time."
Do you have a hero? If so, who is it and why? "This is going to sound sappy, but it's got to be my mom. When I start thinking about the people that have meant so much to me, I look first to my family and foremost my mother. She is such an incredible person. She has always been able to keep me in balance, no matter what. She has taught me to be happy with my best."
Close-up: Michael Casino knows a thing or two about being first.
At the 2,700- student Danbury High School, the state's largest, Michael scored the highest grade point average - at 5.02 - in the school's history. He never earned less than an A-plus average for any marking period.
No matter what the discipline, Michael tackled each course with commitment to learn as much as possible in his classes.
"I very much enjoyed my years at Danbury High," Michael said. "It was a lot of hard work, but it was worth it. I got so much out of it."
While he expects to major in political sciences or economics in college, his high school resume is replete with awards and distinctions in the pure sciences, too. Michael was a finalist in the prestigious Intel International Science and Engineering Fair and a top finisher at the Science Horizon Regional Fair. He also was a member of the math team for four years.
He was the recipient of the Maxwell Anderson Young Connecticut Playwright Award in 1998 and he published works for his high school's literary magazine.
A peer leader, he spent countless hours volunteering for community and youth organizations. He served as a tutor for fellow students and as a mentor in an after-school program for younger students.
Michael's achievements outside the classroom are equally notable. He was editor in chief of the high school's newspaper and he was captain of the varsity tennis team and its No. 1 singles player for three years.
In the community, he served on a number of committees for St. Peter's Church and was the first youth representative for the parish council.
The first in his family to attend college, he credits his parents' support and guidance for his success. Michael looks forward to the challenges of Yale University this fall.
"I think it is going to be a tremendous opportunity," Michael said. "I am really looking forward to being with so many other students that achieved at a similar level as I did and above my level. It's going to be a tremendous challenge, but I am so excited, I can't tell you."
- PETER DOWNS