With many students aiming to obtain high grades and focusing on their studies throughout the year, being ranked first and second of this year’s senior class is no easy task. However, through hard work and focus, seniors Thomas Schultz and Dean Toumajian surpassed their peers and were named this year’s Valedictorian and Salutatorian respectively.
Schultz, who is pursuing the IB diploma, will be attending the University of Texas at Austin as an architectural engineering major in the fall. His overall academic goal was to have options for universities. Schultz’s title as Valedictorian, along with his outstanding grades, allowed him to be accepted into the schools he wanted.
“I didn’t plan to be Valedictorian exactly,” Schultz said. “I just wanted to get all A’s in each of my classes and things just worked out the way they did. I am very fortunate for that.”
According to Schultz, he was able to maintain his grades by turning all of his assignments in on time and by studying hard. Despite his efforts, he did face some academic challenges when he missed two weeks of school in his junior year.
“I had a lot of makeup work and I missed two exams, which were hard to make up. I worked hard after those weeks and I got through it,” Schultz said.
While Schultz is proud to be recognized as valedictorian, he understands that the title will not mean much in college.
“While I am very happy to be the Valedictorian, it doesn’t mean that much to me going forward because I’m going to have to restart again in college next year,” Schultz said. “It certainly is a great accomplishment, but I am going to have to forget about it pretty soon and reset.”
According to Schultz, the best advice he can give is to “take the right classes.”
“Make sure when you’re meeting with your counselors that you are getting the highest classes that you can, 5.0 classes,” Schultz said. “Also take classes that you have interest in learning about, otherwise it’s just not worth it. Make sure to do your best in school and get all A’s, that’s the only way.”
Similar to Schultz, Toumajian wasn’t planning on being the salutatorian.
“I went into high school knowing I wanted to get all A’s and my family encouraged me to go for number one. However, the classes I chose to take weren’t for the purpose of being number one. My focus was just to maintain good grades and I ended up here,” Toumajian said.
Toumajian, who is also hoping to obtain the IB diploma, will be majoring in political science at Rice University in the fall. Toumajian placed his focus more towards his extracurriculars as opposed to his academics because he was confident in his academic ability.
“Getting into Rice was really about showing that I got good grades and focused on extracurricular activities that fulfilled me,” Toumajian said. “You know, showing that I took really hard courses, four HLs, and I participated in many clubs. Again, nothing was pre-planned, it was just ‘do well and you’ll succeed.’”
When Toumajian was informed of his final ranking, he was unsurprised.
“I always knew that it was definitely a possibility for me to be Valedictorian or Salutatorian,” Toumajian said. “I’m not unhappy about being number two as it’s still a great accomplishment, but it wasn’t the goal. My dad teased me about being number two but I know he is still very happy for me.”
Even though Toumajian doesn’t hold the top spot of this year’s senior class, his high ranking and academic excellence were very advantageous for his college applications.
“The schools I applied to wanted high academic achievement,” Toumajian said. “Beyond that, both Thomas and I are going to prestigious schools that are really competitive. So once you’re there, you are competing with your peers academically at a level beyond the competition in high school. I want to take my confidence in my academic abilities with me into college.”