Kerry Mullins

This story was written by Bridget Fesko and Lillian Baptist

Dryden, N.Y. — The Ithaca Voice is highlighting a handful of the many impressive graduates of local high schools.

(We previously did so for New Roots and Ithaca High School.)

Today, we are running a story about four graduates of Dryden High School.


1 — Writing papers on North Korea, working as a farm hand

Kerry Mullins, Dryden High School class of 2014, is one of Dryden’s most impressive graduates. She has become involved with agriculture and sustainability  issues and wrote a paper on famine in North Korea, and strategies to bring food there, that won an award from the World Food Prize International Summit.

Mullins also attended the State Future Farmers of America convention and shared additional research. During her senior year, Mullins participated in Cornell’s New Visions program. This meant she took classes at Cornell involving agriculture and Plant Science in order to receive college and high school credit.

Mullins has also worked as a farm hand at Jackman Vineyard. She is attending Cornell University to major in agriculture. Her focus will be on sustainability. Mullins’ goal is to own a small farm.

Kerry Mullins

2 — Varsity athlete, musician, church leader

Benjamin Lewis, who recently graduated from Dryden High School was active in both his school and church communities throughout the last four years.

Benjamin Lewis

Lewis played on two Dryden varsity teams, including golf, for which he was captain.

Lewis was a part of the Dryden High School Jazz Band for three years. He played trumpet.

Lewis has been a member of the Holy Cross Church Youth Group for four years, and was awarded the Hands of Christ Award for his work in the group.

Lewis received the Dryden Sport and Spine Scholarship Award as well as the Jim Schug Memorial Scholarship. He was also named the Frederick L. Billard Student of the Month for January 2014.

This fall, Lewis is attending Nazareth College, where he plans to major in physical therapy. He hopes to specialize in sports medicine and to work with athletes.

3 — Mental health work, flautist, writer

Olivia Lutwak, Dryden High school class of 2014, was an important member of the community during her high school career.

Lutwak volunteered at Ithaca’s Suicide Prevention and Crisis Services. She also participated in “The Role Players,” a theater troupe that acts out scenes for an audience having to due with depression, suicide, anger, and other related topics.

She also helped design a mental health app to help people who are struggling with mental illness plan their future, create goals and track emotions.

Olivia Lutwak

Lutwak was also a member of the performing arts community at Dryden. She was the vice president and a student director for the Dryden drama department as well as the vice president, first chair flute, and first chair piccolo for the Dryden wind ensemble.

Lutwak was co-president, treasurer, and section leader for her high school’s chorus. She played tenor saxophone and flute in the school’s Jazz ensemble. She also participated in Flumerflutes choir.

Lutwak also participated in All­County and All­State ensembles. These ensembles include All­County Chorus, Soprano, All­County Wind Ensemble, Flute I and Piccolo, Are All- State Mixed Choir, Soprano I and Area All­State Orchestra, piccolo.

She finds that most of her passion and talent is in music, which she attributes to Flo Flumerfelt, her flute and piccolo teacher of six years.

Lutwak has also won twice first place for writing plays in the BOCES writing contests. Last year, she also won a Regional Scholastic Writing Silver Key for her poetry.

This year, she is attending Cornell University’s College of Arts and Sciences.

4 — From Switzerland to the didgeridoo to aviation

John Varvayanis, a recent graduate of Dryden High School, has excelled as a student, athlete and musician.

John Varvayanis

During his time in high school, Varvayanis played several sports. He participated in track and ski club. Varvayanis once served as co-captain of the junior varsity soccer team and was captain of the wrestling team for two years.

He also went to school in Switzerland for about a year, where he was in the ski club, and played rugby on a team that became national champions.

Varvayanis was a part of the wind ensemble and the jazz band at Dryden High School on the trombone. He has also played the baritone for the wind ensemble. In Switzerland, he was a member of band and in a trombone troupe.

Varvayanis has performed in the Area All-State band and in the pit orchestra for two of Dryden High School’s musicals. Fun fact: He also plays the didgeridoo.

Varvayanis has made an impact outside of school as well. He volunteered as an English teacher in Spain, and still keeps in touch with some people that he met there.

Varvayanis is a member of the Harris Hill Juniors and helped to found the Ithaca branch of aviation explorers He is attending Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute this fall, where he plans to major in engineering.


Follow The Ithaca Voice on Facebook | Twitter

Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.