Inside the Life of GHS Class of 2021 Valedictorian, Iris Shi

Written by Kade Tibberts, GHS Class of 2021

Iris Shi at her desk in her home. Photo: Kade Tibberts

Beyond the time she spends studying to earn her 5.19 GPA, Iris Shi, the GHS class of 2021 Valedictorian, enjoys reading, writing short stories, watching anime, and playing video-games.

She is the Captain of the GHS Math Team and a member of four clubs: the Gay Straight Alliance Club, Model United Nations Club, Greenwich Humor Society, and Victorian Serial Novel Book Club. 

Where does she find the time for so many hobbies? She claims it’s all time-management.

“I like to do things ahead of time or the day it’s assigned,” Iris said. “If something is due in a week, I like to do it before the deadline so that I have more free time later on.”

She says she takes advantage of all hours in the day and jokingly advises other students who want to achieve: “Don’t sleep.” 

Her high GPA is also due to the number of honors and AP classes she took. “I think the most advanced classes are the most fun,” she explained. 

She described math, her favorite subject, as “satisfying” because she likes “the problem-solving aspect” of finding a solution to complex problems. 

Iris Shi at home in Old Greenwich. Photo: Kade Tibberts

She feels grateful for the support of her teachers who helped her through these challenging classes, especially Maryann Franchella, her math teacher of three years.

“Ms. Franchella is one of my favorite teachers,” she said. “She’s really good at explaining difficult concepts in a way that makes them pretty easy to understand.” 

Covid-19 has made it hard for Iris, being so distant from teachers and friends. As a silver lining, she said taking classes fully-remote let her use her opens to practice her instrument.

Iris plays the clarinet and saxophone in the GHS band and jazz ensemble. Her favorite memory is when the band traveled to Ireland and played at “Barretstown,” which is a camp for terminally-ill children and their families.

 “It was a really emotional experience for me,” she commented. “I still remember that performance even now.”

With her success both musical and academic, she has many avenues available for her future, but she currently plans to go to MIT next year to study computer science.