Coed, independent, PK3-12th grade school in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Meet Karlei Kongsiri - Salutatorian

For someone who is known for creating the recycling drive at Shorecrest and winning a science fair for a chemistry project on using recycled glass to create an aggregate to build roads, Karlei Kongsiri's advice for her younger schoolmates is to "try something new," no, really, “try something new!”

“Growing up, adults would always tell me how I could accomplish anything that I set my mind on. As a response, my 12-year-old self would simply roll my eyes. However, upon reflecting on my last four years in high school, I’ve realized that they weren't completely wrong. Maybe I won't become the first 5’0” pro basketball player or solve the issue of climate change before I’m 20, but I have accomplished things I had never thought possible. At the start of high school, I had never once stepped inside of a sailboat. Now I’m committed to sail at the University of Pennsylvania. With some hard work and perseverance I was able to accomplish what I had previously believed to be impossible. Looking forward, I’m excited to see what other things I can achieve intellectually… maybe even solving climate change.”
In one of the most competitive classes in Shorecrest history, Karlei earned the honor of Top Scholar as a sophomore, received our Princeton Book Award as a junior, and is the Class of 2019’s Salutatorian.

Karlei Kongsiri enrolled at Shorecrest in eighth grade. She was born in Singapore and raised in the United Kingdom, Australia and now the United States. Karlei shares “When I moved here in eighth grade and looked at the sea of new faces, I tried to picture what it would be like 5 years later when we were graduating together. I hoped that these strangers would become my friends. But what I’ve found is even better. I’ve found a family. Today, I couldn’t picture a more perfect class to be graduating alongside.”

As Salutatorian, Karlei provided the welcome at this year’s Commencement. She borrowed from a popular Jimmy Fallon skit with handwritten “thank you notes” to her teachers, her classmates and her family.

Karlei said of the faculty here at Shorecrest, “We couldn’t have done it without you. That might sound obvious, but you guys have done so much more than just teach us. You have provided us with support, and words of encouragement when we needed it most. You have gotten to school early and left late for any students who might have needed the extra help. And you have taught us important life lessons that have helped shape us into our best selves. I can’t tell you how many emails my calculus class and I have received from Mrs. Thorn in the last couple of weeks with links to tutorials and practice tests just to make sure we were all prepared for the AP exam. In the midst of all the practice problems, she didn’t forget to include some calculus memes just to make sure we would take a break from stressing and actually laugh. This is the kind of dedication each teacher has provided their students here at Shorecrest.”

The feeling is certainly mutual, if you speak to any of Karlei’s teachers. Upper School Spanish Teacher Teri Andres shares, “Karlei has been the type of student who aims for organization and preparation. She has goals of which no one needs to remind her to pursue; she is her own taskmaster and does exactly what needs to be accomplished. Her determination has proved successful in her studies in my courses, and in her other courses as well. In the classroom, Karlei is very much prepared for class activities, seeks help in becoming the best student that she can be, and self-corrects easily. She is also very helpful to her fellow classmates, and they in turn, seek validation from her when they question themselves during class time activities.”

Whether considering her participation in the science fair or her enrollment in an engineering program at Georgia Tech last summer, Karlei’s independent pursuit of knowledge beyond the Shorecrest curriculum is predictive of one who will be an avid pursuer of the STEAM fields.

Karlei attended Georgia Institute of Technology’s Summer Engineering Institute (SEI). This program is a highly competitive internship in which for three weeks the best students across the nation are brought together and challenged to solve problems that are relevant at a global scale. During the program, Karlei and the group worked in the production of bioethanol from lignocellulosic residues.

Juan Manuel Restrepo Florez, Karlei's instructor at Georgia Tech’s SEI, enthusiastically remarked, “Ever since the program started Ms. Kongsiri proved to be both a technical and personal leader in her team. She has an out of the ordinary capacity for understanding complex ideas in a short period of time, and she made herself available to her peers such that the whole team reached the same level of understanding. Our curriculum is very diverse and demands a high commitment from the student side. We cover such diverse areas as biology, chemistry, physics and computer science. In all of these areas Ms. Kongsiri managed to excel, proving herself above the average of her class. I can assure you that Ms. Kongsiri is definitely in the top 1% of all these students.”

The College Counseling team adds, “When Karlei is at Shorecrest, you can be sure she’ll raise the class discussion to new levels and encourage collaboration from her peers. By the time she graduates, Karlei will have maxed out our English, Spanish, Physics, Computer Science and Art curriculums -- all with  straight A’s.” It is also important to point out that besides her academic achievements, Karlei is a talented artist and skilled sailor.
Karlei joined Shorecrest’s nationally ranked Sailing Chargers as a freshman, and after only a short month of work was moved from JV to Varsity. She found competing on the water to be fulfilling and challenging. Sailing is a unique sport at Shorecrest because it’s not conducted on campus and most of the competitions (regattas) don’t coordinate with the school’s schedule. Because of this, Karlei has had to sacrifice Homecoming activities and dances, Spring Break, etc. in order to sail with the team. Now Karlei is committed to sail on the collegiate level at the University of Pennsylvania.

With her art, Karlei spent two days per week volunteering this past summer at PARC, an organization that works with adults who have severe learning differences. She worked with the clients at PARC to help them create artwork they could sell. It was wonderful to see her share her passion of art with others.

In addition to her service learning spent at PARC, Karlei’s time was spent focused on environmental sustainability and preservation. For the past few years, Karlei has been talking about the need for the community to recycle more. Karlei has acted on her concern and has started a recycling program for old technology items at Shorecrest. This past year Karlei also volunteered for a Mayoral campaign whose platform focused around environmental sustainability and preserving our beautiful city.

We know Karlei is bound for great things, both on the water and on land! We look forward to seeing her accomplishments at the University of Pennsylvania and beyond.
    • Excerpts from Karlei Kongsiri's Salutatory Commencement Address

Shorecrest Preparatory School

5101 First Street Northeast
St Petersburg, FL 33703
Phone: (727) 522-2111  |  Fax: (727) 527-4191
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Shorecrest Preparatory School is a private, non-sectarian, coeducational, college preparatory day school for students preschool through high school, located in St. Petersburg, Florida.