Max Robins can sit back this summer as he gets ready to begin his freshman year at American University and rest assured that he made every day he spent at Huntington High School count.
The Class of 2018 member immersed himself in school life, exploring his interests, determining his passions, gaining confidence and leadership skills and building a strong foundation in every academic discipline.
“It was an active experience that has absolutely shaped my adolescence and youth,” Mr. Robins said. “It has made up every nook and cranny of my life these past four years in more ways that I can count and likely more ways than I’d like to admit.”
The teenager had many college options to weigh. He considered Binghamton University, Northeastern, Brandies and City University of New York, before narrowing the possibilities down to either American University or Macaulay Honors College at CUNY-Hunter College in Manhattan. “Both offered me fantastic opportunities, but in the end, American just felt right,” Mr. Robins said.
Located in Washington, DC, American University has about 7,900 undergraduate students and another 5,500 studying on the graduate or post-graduate levels.
“American University is perfect for me for many different reasons,” Mr. Robins said. “There, I’ll be presented with first class academic opportunities, featuring professors at the top of their fields, research opportunities like no other and phenomenal study abroad options that are unparalleled. I was incredibly fortunate to be one of 25 students, out of approximately 2,000 applicants to be granted admission to American’s honors program, for which I am incredibly eager to be a part of.”
A self-described “political activist”
Huntington Class of 2018 grad Max Robins.
A self-described “political activist,” Mr. Robins plans to study political science at American. He believes the Washington, DC environment is perfect for his interests. “What better place to be for what I want to study?” he asks.
An overnight stay at American is when Mr. Robins “truly fell in love with the students, professors, campus, city and school,” he said. “Everyone and everything related to American is exciting: the people are energetic and the campus is dynamic. I know it’s a place where I’m going to thrive.”
Mr. Robins said that “without a doubt” the highlight of his high school years were the clubs and activities he participated in and “the fantastic people I’ve met during them.”
The teenager served as president of Huntington’s mock trial club and captained the team that won the Suffolk championship for the first time ever and finished ranked No. 3 in the state finals. A three-year member of the team, he was its lead attorney as a senior.
“Our performance at the state championships was exemplary and I’m so proud of the team and its growth,” Mr. Robins said. “I have met the most amazing people during my time on the team and couldn’t be happier with the experiences I’ve had with it.”
The mock trial team consumed as many as 20 hours of Mr. Robins’ time each week between practice sessions with faculty advisors Suzie Biagi and Sarah Buchalter and legal advisors Xavier Palacios and John LoTurco and competitions against other high schools. He considers it time well spent.
Editor-in-chief of The Dispatch
Editor-in-chief of the high school newspaper, The Dispatch, Mr. Robins brought the publication to new heights while collaborating with next year’s editors Kerrie Joyce and Hannah Bailin to help insure a smooth transition.
“I’ve had very fond experiences with The Dispatch, especially working closely with dedicated faculty advisers Aimee Antorino, Steven Kroll and Edward Florea,” Mr. Robins said. “I obviously couldn’t do it alone and owe a great amount to our advisors, our dedicated team of writers and our editorial staff of copy editors and our layout editor, Erica Vazquez. I’m most proud of expanding the op-ed section threefold. I am happy to say that in doing so, I helped run an increasingly balanced paper in terms of ideas and increased the interest in the paper among students, teachers and the administration in terms of the quality of student content.”
Mr. Robins was the popularly elected vice-president of the school-wide student government as a senior. “Student government has always been an important activity to me and has further fueled my interest in political science,” he said.
Highlights of Mr. Robins’ participation in student government include the Homecoming Day float building and parade, the Stuff the Bus” food drive, organizing last year’s prom festivities “and many of the other fantastic things student government does around our school,” he said.
The teenager also served as vice president of Huntington’s National English Honor Society chapter. Particularly poignant memories include the last three poetry cafes, organizing the school’s spelling bee and coordinating the largest book drive in recent years, if not in school history. “With my fellow officers’ help, I reached out to numerous local businesses, libraries and organizations to receive well over 600 donated books,” Mr. Robins said. “We donated them to various charities throughout Long Island.”
As vice president of Huntington’s French Honor Society chapter, Mr. Robins worked with the rest of the executive board and faculty advisor Madame Deidre Mayer to organize a sizable donation to a school in Haiti, as well as coordinate a dodgeball tournament to raise monies that funded that initiative.
National History Day produced thrills
As if his plate wasn’t already overflowing, Mr. Robins was among the officers of the high school’s National History Day club. “One of the absolute highlights of my Huntington career has been mentoring and helping underclassmen with their NHD projects,” he said. “I remember when I was in their position and needed all the help in the world. Now that I’m experienced and older, I feel it’s my responsibility to pay it forward.”
Mr. Robins’ said he was “thrilled” as a junior to win first place in the local NHD competition for his individual historical website entry on the student protests of the 1960s, which qualified him for the regional contest at Hofstra.
Outside of the school arena, Mr. Robins has devoted a good amount of time to bicycle racing and March For Our Lives Long Island.
“My dad introduced me to the joy of cycling from a young age,” Mr. Robins said. “He used to race when he was in high school and continued up until the time I was born. As I didn’t have too much going on in the summer going into sophomore year, he fixed up an old bike for me and I began seriously riding. I started racing last year and couldn’t be prouder to say that last season alone, I captured two individual state titles, including a gold medal in the New York State Road Race Championship for 17-18 men as well as a gold and bronze medal in various disciplines of track cycling.”
Mr. Robins also owns silver medal that he captured in the New York State Criterium Championship, which is a road race on a short circuit.
Co-organizer of March For Our Lives Long Island
The teenager was one of the co-organizers of March For Our Lives Long Island, which organized an anti-gun violence rally at Huntington Town Hall that drew a crowd of more than 3,000 last March. “I gave the closing speech and it was one of the best moments of my life,” Mr. Robins said.
Mr. Robins’ senior year academic schedule included Advanced Placement Calculus AB, AP US Government & Politics, AP Research, AP Microeconomics, AP Macroeconomics and Honors French.
“My teachers, advisers and mentors throughout high school have made everything I do an absolute pleasure,” Mr. Robins said. “I first have to thank my coach, advisor, mentor, role model and absolutely above all, dear friend, Xavier Palacios. I first met Xavier three years ago through the mock trial team and since then have fostered a priceless relationship with him. He is a man beyond reproach and of the highest caliber and quality. He has advised me countless times over more issues than I can count and has devoted unfathomable time to the mock trial team and our district. I wouldn’t be where I am today without his help and guidance. He is an amazing mentor and role model and an even better friend.”
The teenager credits high school AP United States History teacher Kenneth Donovan for helping shape his interest in political science. “The wit, intellect and intelligence of Mr. Donovan, both inside the classroom and out have guided my academic and career interests ever since I took his class,” Mr. Robins said. “He was influential in my college decision, among many other important decisions I’ve made in the past two years.”
Huntington AP World History teacher Lauren Desiderio has also played an outsized role in Mr. Robins’ life. “She served as a selfless advisor for both me and my entire class,” he said. “As one of the advisors to the Class of 2018 and as the ninth and tenth grade history teacher for many of us, Mrs. Desiderio became the ‘matriarch’ of our class as many of us like to say. She devotes huge amounts of personal time to her students, to student government and to National History Day.”
Warm feelings for many teachers
Mr. Robins thanked many teachers who he has worked with over the years. “I first had Mrs. Suzie Biagi as my personal law teacher in ninth grade,” he said. “Since then, she’s seen me grow mentally, intellectually and emotionally and also physically; she used to be four inches taller than me, now I’m five inches taller than her! She has helped guide me in my career decisions and has served as a selfless advisor to the mock trial team. I must also thank Mr. Steven Kroll, who I have worked with very closely on The Dispatch, as well as in his AP Research class. I completed my AP Capstone research paper for his class. ‘How the United States Can Shape Immigration Policy to Maximize Benefits to the American Agricultural Industry,’ is almost a senior thesis of sorts. He has provided incredible guidance to me during the past two years we’ve together.”
Although Mr. Robins never took a class with her as a teacher, he also gave a shout-out to Sarah Buchalter, “who provided incredible guidance and help to me the past two years, ever since she became an advisor to the mock trial team.”
English teacher Aimee Antorino has been another influential faculty member. “She left a very lasting impression on me during the time I had her,” Mr. Robins said. “She helped me take on the responsibilities of The Dispatch and provided incredible help and support to me when I needed it most.”
Mr. Robins and his French teacher, Madame Mayer also worked together closely over the years. “She has seen me grow and has helped me navigate the whims and whimsies of the French language,” he said. “She encouraged me in my decision to attend a French language immersion program in Quebec before going into my junior year and has further sparked my interest in studying abroad in France, if not a francophone country during college.”
Teachers Dianna Molenko, Katelyn Hanft, James Graber, Peter Crugnale and Kimberly Schiller “have certainly left a lasting impact on me in one way or another,” Mr. Robins said.
“When it comes to the highlights of my time at Huntington, I immediately think of the walkout against gun violence that took place last March,” Mr. Robins said. “I was so moved after the Parkland tragedy that my friend, Sara Frawley and I, along with several friends of ours decided to lead a student walkout effort to unify our youth. It was Huntington’s first student walkout in over 20 years and I couldn’t have been more proud of the result. Over 800 students walked out onto the snow covered football field in freezing temperatures to stand in solidarity and remember the lives lost in Parkland.”
Winning mock trial county title a highlight
Winning the Suffolk mock trial championship is another memory that will never fade. “This was my third year on the team and as its longest participating attorney member, winning the county title was a goal that was always just out of reach,” Mr. Robins said. “We just missed the reaching the title match two years ago, losing to perennial powerhouse Ward Melville. Well this year we turned that around, avenging our prior defeat by capturing the county title against none other than Ward Melville. In addition to the pure ecstasy I felt after winning, it was cathartic to finally win the county against our archrival Ward Melville. Of course, it would be outright crazy to take full responsibility for the win; every member of the team has been integral to its success. Our 12 member team devoted countless hours practicing and preparing and the win is just as much theirs as it is mine.”
Mr. Robins’ future plans include attending law school and pursuing a career as an attorney. “My experience with the mock trial team has only served to further reinforce this decision,” he said. “I have a passion for public speaking, arguing, debating and litigating and hope that wherever I land in the legal profession will allow me to make great use of these skills.”
As he prepares to leave home for American University and four years of college, Mr. Robins took some time to reflect on his four year high school run.
“My time at Huntington High School has been such an incredibly rewarding experience,” Mr. Robins said. “I will never forget the great friends I’ve made, the dedicated teachers I’ve had and the wonderful memories I’ll be sure to treasure forever. My time there was not some passing activity. It was an active, all-encompassing joyride that I will never forget. From amazing teachers and irreplaceable peers to an environment that allowed me to thrive and grow, my time at Huntington High School will forever and always be an important part of my life.”