Graduating class led by two valedictorians


Photo Henna Dhingra

Valedictorians Gabrielle Russo and Riley Casey shared the exact same GPA and were surprised that two people could be ranked first in the class.

Shannon Youngberg, News Editor

Seniors Gabrielle Russo and Riley Casey were both named valedictorian of the 2016 graduating class, making it the first time in the school’s history that two students have shared the title.

According to Principal Tom Mead, Russo and Casey had the exact same GPA, allowing no way to distinguish them numerically. Mead described the process of determining the valedictorian.

“It depends on how you count and how precise you are,” Mead said. “There’s really not a good reason to go out to ten thousandths or one hundred thousandths of a place. Out of the far reaches of those decimal places is where it begins to distinguish one person from another.”

Russo and Casey not only share the same GPA, but they share the same drive that has helped them be so successful throughout their high school career.

“My motivation probably has helped me the most,” Russo said. “I always feel an internal desire to want to do my best; it’s not like a pressure from my peers or my family.”

According to Casey, her perseverance and determination have allowed her to perform so well throughout high school.

“I always try to do my best and constantly seek to improve my performance in academics,” Casey said.

Mead hopes that Russo and Casey are able to appreciate the fact that they have been given the opportunity to share something so special.

“I hope they’ll be gracious, and that they’ll be humble, and that they’ll be happy with this delightful dual circumstance,” Mead said.

Russo is thrilled about this unique experience.

“I’m actually really excited,” Russo said. “[Sharing the title of valedictorian] was kind of shocking at first because I never thought of that as a possibility; it just doesn’t seem like something that usually happens.”

Casey was also initially surprised, yet satisfied with the idea that both her and Russo’s hard work is being acknowledged.

“I knew we were very close but never thought we would tie,” Casey said. “We both worked hard, and it’s nice to see both of our efforts throughout high school recognized.”

Russo emphasized that she never payed much attention to how her classmates were doing, but tried to focus on her personal successes instead.

“When I do my work, I want it to be my best effort,” Russo said. “I don’t really care how it does in comparison to other people.”

However, Mead also hopes students understand that how they perform academically in comparison to others does not hold the highest level of importance in the grand scheme of things.

“We’re trying in some ways to downplay the negative aspects of class rank…I don’t know that we could ever get rid of it or eliminate it entirely, but I don’t think we need to make a big deal about it,” Mead said.

Russo offered some advice to students looking to prosper in their studies.

“Figure out what motivates you, why you want to learn, what you want to learn, and realize the steps to get to where you want to be,” Russo said.

Casey also provided a few words of encouragement and urged students to make the most of their academic opportunities.

“Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself by either taking a different subject area than you’re used to or signing up for a more difficult class,” Casey said. “If you put in the effort, you may be surprised what you can accomplish.”