This year’s valedictorian and salutatorian at Seton Catholic Preparatory aren’t taking the traditional college path. They’re among a handful of classmates who proved themselves worthy scholars at the nation’s top naval and air force academies.

(courtesy photos)
Kelvin Taylor, Sarah Naldo and Kohl Dorsey (courtesy photos)

The academies reportedly receive about 40,000 applications annually with about a 10 percent acceptance rate. Sarah Naldo and Kohl Dorsey, Seton’s valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively, made the cut for the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis alongside classmate Kelvin Taylor.

The academy is the undergraduate college of the U.S. Navy and prepares graduates to become professional officers of competence, character and compassion in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. Graduates spend a minimum of five years as an active-duty military officer.

Bridger Barker was accepted into the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado — where 1,475 cadets of the 9,700 applicants were offered admission — and Luke Zuluaga will attend the Air Force Academy Prep School, a 10-month program that prepares applicants for full admittance.

Five academy-bound Sentinels out of a graduating class of 148 is impressive and the most in recent memory, according to Assistant Principal David Sorkin.

“These students epitomize what it means to be a Seton Sentinel—young men and women who achieve academic excellence, leadership and loving service,” Sorkin said.

Top scholars

Naldo, the valedictorian, received scholarship offers to other institutions and numerous academic honors, including the U.S. Marine Corps Distinguished Scholar Award, an AP Scholar with Honor Award, the Cum Honore Maximo Egregio Award for a perfect score on the National Latin Exam and departmental awards for various academic subjects.

Other high school activities included tutoring classmates in Latin and math and singing in the choir at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Scottsdale. Naldo supported Seton’s varsity tennis team and has participated in Seton soccer, track and field, and cross country.

Dorsey, Seton’s salutatorian, received scholarship offers to other colleges and received several awards, including the U.S. Army Reserves Senior Scholar/Athlete Award, AP Scholar with Honor Award and the Woodmen of the World American History Award. He served as a tutor, member of Arizona Boys State and volunteer with the Boys and Girls Clubs of the East Valley.

For his senior service project, Dorsey worked as a medical volunteer in India. He also plays varsity baseball.

Taylor, commuted to Seton from Queen Creek and was an Honors and Advanced Placement student and Eagle Scout. He tutored other students as a volunteer and helped at a family emergency shelter. A standout wrestler, he finished sixth in state in his weight class and had a 26-10 record during his senior season.

Bridger Barker and Luke Zuluaga (courtesy photo)
Bridger Barker and Luke Zuluaga (courtesy photo)

Barker of Chandler was also a wrestling star — state runner-up in his weight class and finished the season with a 40-4 record. The future airman received Seton’s Faith Charism Award for exemplifying one of the religious tenets set forth by St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.

Zuluaga of Tempe competed in varsity football, basketball, baseball and track and field. In his two years on the track team, he set three school records, won two state championships and ran the fastest 400-meter of any state high school athlete. Zuluaga volunteers at Our Lady of Mount Caramel Church in Tempe.