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Valedictorians prepare speeches, speak candidly

Every year it is the custom to honor the top two academic students of the senior class and crown them valedictorian and salutatorian at graduation.

This honor salutes their hard work and dedication to a 4.0+ GPA, and admires all the effort they have put into their academics throughout their high school career.

This years two top students are Gary Darakjian, 4.30, and Jennifer Schmidt, 4.26.

Q. What was your reaction to hearing the news that you were going to speak at graduation?

A. Jen: When I first learned, I was happy to receive the honor, but I don?t like giving speeches in public, so it was nerve-racking for me at the same time.

A. Gary: I had been expecting it. Speaking in front of people doesn?t bother me, as long as I have something to read.

Q. Do you have any ideas what you will speak about?

A. Jen: My speech will be about thanking our parents and our support system for all they?ve given us over the years.

A. Gary: I will speak about the accomplishments of the class and lessons learned from them. It will be about how unless we carry those lessons forward, they don?t mean much more than distant memories.

Q. Who is your academic inspiration?

A. Jen: My dad, because he never went to college, yet he?s smart and successful, and I hope to be as smart as him some day.

A. Gary: As far as my desire to grow intellectually, my mom is most influential. But as for hard work and dedication, I followed my dad?s example.

Q. Were you thinking about your G.P.A. in 9th grade?

A. Jen: I wasn?t thinking about being number one or two, but I always wanted good grades. I was always holding myself to a high standard.

A. Gary: Yes, I wanted to be valedictorian since the beginning. I have held myself to that goal throughout high school.

Q. Where are you going to college and why?

A. Jen: I?m going to U.C. Davis near Sacramento. My goal is to become a doctor, and they have a really good medical program. I like the atmosphere as well.

A. Gary: I chose to attend Pepperdine University in Malibu. It is strong academically and has a great international program. Plus it?s located on the beach.

Q. What advice would you give to high schoolers?

A. Jen: Take it one day at a time. Each day is what you make it. It can be fun or miserable.

A. Gary: Enjoy the social side of high school. Get to know the people around you. Don?t take anyone for granted, because before you know it, you?ll be graduating, and you won?t see them again.

Q. Is there a downside to being valedictorian and salutatorian?

A. Jen: Knowing that I will have to speak in front of everyone dampers the experience. After I speak, I will enjoy my evening much more.

A. Gary: There is no downside. I?ve worked hard to reach this point, and now I will enjoy the fruits of my labor.

The honorees will be adorned with a medal at graduation, in addition to the respect of all their peers. They have the honor of being known as the ones who never stopped challenging themselves, and who will continue to try hard in everything they do.

The gradutation ceremony will be held May 25 in the Peoples Church sanctuary at 7 P.M.

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