Bellaire High School in Houston, Texas announced that their 2021 graduating class would include not one, but nine students bearing “valedictorian” status.
Principle Michael McDonough shared his surprise at the news with CBS, saying “I began to consider the idea of two to three valedictorians, but I never imagined nine.”
“These students are also involved in after-school activities and leaders in various organizations. To juggle their schoolwork and extracurriculars, then throw in a pandemic and virtual learning, and still maintain a 5.0 GPA — it is nothing short of amazing. I could not be prouder of them,” he continued.
Two of the seniors are twin sisters Annie and Shirley Zhu. Annie will be attending Stanford University to study symbolic systems. Shirley has not decided on university yet, but does plan on studying computer science. She also shared her thoughts on being one of nine valedictorians from her school.
“No one was trying to take down someone else, so it wasn’t difficult in that sense,” she said. “I think, in general, because we were challenging ourselves and pushing ourselves to take high-level courses, among other peers, it was never like we were vying for one spot.”
One of the projects the sisters undertook was cofounding an organization called Fresh Hub, which takes unsold food items and redistributes them to food-scarce regions in Houston.
The students are clearly all strong academically, but they also stressed the importance of balancing work with fun. Angela Ling plans on studying business or biology and said “Try to make goals that you think that will help you stay happy, but also challenge you at the same time.”
Another one of the nine, Wenson Tsiah-Hao Tang, harped on the importance of surrounding yourself with people who will motivate you in meeting your goals.
“The one thing that you need for success — because you can’t do everything all by yourself — you need other people to help support you,” he said. The student will be attending Carnegie Mellon University, and plans on studying electrical and computer engineering.
Bellaire High School held a Scholars Recognition Ceremony to honor the nine young people, who will also be acknowledged during their graduation ceremony in June.
Houston Independent School District Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan praised the students by saying “These students are inspiring examples of what can be achieved through dedication and hard work.”
“I am incredibly proud of all of them for this milestone achievement and know that they are also actively involved at Bellaire High School,” she continued. “Balancing school and extracurriculars is no easy feat, and they were able to do it and maintain a 5.0 GPA. I am confident each of them will find tremendous success and ultimately give back to our community in amazing ways.”