Leigh Foran, valedictorian, Staples Class of 2024
Leigh Foran

WESTPORT — A Staples High School senior and valedictorian for the Class of 2024 has been named a U.S. Presidential Scholar.

Leigh Foran is one of three Connecticut students among 161 nationwide selected for the honor, according to an announcement Thursday by the U.S. Commission on Presidential Scholars.

Recipients were nominated for their high academic performance and for distinguishing themselves by overcoming hardships, achieving a unique accomplishment or demonstrating outstanding leadership.

Foran also has won a National Merit Scholarship.

Named this year’s Staples valedictorian with the highest grade-point average, Foran not only has achieved academic and athletic distinction at Staples, but has pursued a range of remarkable activities outside of school as well.

For instance, she participated in biomedical research at Yale University, focusing on kidney disease; was the youngest member of a research team at Norway-based Center for Global Health Inequalities that examined COVID mortality rates, and also did research with Fairfield University’s Dr. Anthony Santella, looking at HIV disparities in healthcare providers.

Foran also participated in another Fairfield U. research project, with Dr. Kimberly Doughty, on maternal stress in breastfeeding outcomes, and worked last summer at the Yale Center for Analytical Sciences, where she learned to code and organize data on autism. 

She has been published in the International Youth Sciences journal. 

At Staples, she helped to found a group called “IDEA” (Inclusion and Diversity through Education and Awareness), which teaches young children about the importance of inclusivity. 

As a sophomore, Foran won third place in the annual diversity essay contest sponsored by TEAM Westport, the town’s multi-cultural advocacy committee. 

Her essay, “Embracing Privilege to Tackle Racism,” argued that a color-blind approach to combating racism doesn’t work and that having difficult conversations should be encouraged.

Staples’ Leigh Foran, in action earlier this year, netted a goal in the Wreckers’ 4-2 FCIAC Tournament opening win Thursday.
Leigh Foran in action for the Staples girls soccer team.

She is a member of the high school’s Link Crew, the support program for freshmen; president of the Math National Honor Society; co-president of the National Honor Society; vice president of the Science National Honor Society, and a member of both the Spanish and Social Studies National Honor Societies.

She also volunteers with the Save the Children Action Network and at Norwalk Hospital. 

“That’s a lot,” Foran said in a profile released by Staples when she was named the 2024 valedictorian. “But sports help me decompress.”

In athletics, Foran anchored the Staples 4-x-800-meter relay track team that finished eighth at the national level, and played on the soccer team that won two state championships.

Gov. Ned Lamont, in a Thursday statement, congratulated Foran and the state’s two other 2024 Presidential Scholars for the “prestigious national honor in recognition of their academic achievements.”

The scholars, the governor added, “represent some of the very best of Connecticut and we are proud to have such accomplished students representing our state. I look forward to witnessing their future educational and career accomplishments.”

For the complete list of this year’s U.S. Presidential Scholars, click here.