What is Revere’s loss will be Princeton’s gain.
As Revere High School (RHS) prepares to send another class of students into the world next week, the two top students in the class will be headed off to one of the elite universities in the nation.
Valedictorian Danielle Fortuna and Salutatorian David Landeta have both committed to Princeton University this fall to continue their studies.
“Honestly, I have been working for this my entire life,” said Fortuna in a recent interview. “It would be a lie to say I haven’t worked hard. I can’t say I expected to be in an Ivy League school like Princeton, but I felt the work I did reflected getting into that kind of school. I really feel that RHS prepared me for a school of that caliber. RHS will give you the tools for everything you want to do, but if you’re not the kind of kid that will push yourself and take advantage of opportunities, that won’t happen.”
Fortuna has dedicated her high school career to academics, attending the McKinley School and the Rumney Marsh Academy’s Pre-AP Honors program before coming to RHS.
In high school, she played soccer, indoor track, outdoor track and was a captain in all three sports. She also participated in Powder Puff, the Spanish National Honor Society, the National Honor Society and Student Council.
In the summer, she works in the City’s Water Department.
She said her admittance into Princeton was kind of a surprise. She was kind of down because the day that acceptances came, she didn’t get into her choice schools. However, there was a glitch with the Princeton website and she wasn’t able to get confirmation.
“I couldn’t seem to log into Princeton,” she said. “I figured I didn’t get in. The next morning I went to the Guidance Office and we couldn’t get in either. We call them and they said, ‘Congratulations.’ It was amazing. It was one of my top schools.”
Fortuna said she will be pursuing an English degree, perhaps for scriptwriting, journalism or literature.
Landeta’s story begins in Ecuador, where he was born and where his family resided. His father was a psychologist and had his PhD. there, but gave it all up for the family to seek a better life in America.
He attended the Whelan School, the RMA and RHS. While always an honor student, he began to hone in on his studies after a sports injury derailed a promising soccer career.
“I was originally hoping to have a professional sports career in soccer, but a bad injury in my freshman year changed that,” he said. “I began to focus more on school. I didn’t really think about elite schools until the end of my freshman year. I saw there was a guy from RHS going to Harvard, and I began to believe if I put the work in, I could be that guy also. That’s when I began to see that the high school has the track record to send kids to those schools – not just the top two, but the top 10 percent.”
Landeta participated in swimming all four years, and was the Student Council treasurer for four years. He also was on the Science Team and founded a student-led mentoring program called RHS Excel.
Between all of that, it was Gerald Cifuni, teacher of Advanced Placement (AP) Calculus, which really pushed Landeta.
“He is the main reason I became very ambitious and aggressive when it came to the college process,” he said. “He taught me that if you really want it, you have to have the fire in your eyes.”
Fortuna said her biggest role model to date is her brother, Derek Fortuna.
“If I was to pick a role model, I’d have to say it’s him,” she said. “He is the complete opposite personality as me. He is going to Fitchburg State and majoring in film production, which is really competitive.”
Landeta said the same of his sister, Karen Landeta – who is now going to UMass-Boston.
“My sister does not experience the college experience,” he said. “She works a lot – two jobs – and studies all the time. She helps out at home. She really has shown me how to balance work and study. She’s my role model.”
Landeta is the son of Stalin and Margarita Landeta.
Fortuna is the daughter of Fire Capt. Robert Fortuna and Lisa Fortuna.