Zhang and Chou named valedictorian, salutatorian
According to Myron Zhang and Elaine Chou, the two top students for the class of 2012, the key to success in school is working hard, rather than focusing on a title like valedictorian or salutatorian.
“I don’t think becoming valedictorian was ever a goal in and of itself.” Zhang said. “Although it sounds slightly corny, it was really just a case of performing at the highest possible levels, trying my best. Academics was never about competing to be No. 1.”
Chou, the salutatorian, echoed this sentiment.
“Don't worry excessively about receiving any titles. because it just distracts you from doing your best,” she said.
Chou outlined the need for her to be passionate about what she was doing.
“Just find something you're passionate about and go for it. Taking interest in the subject material makes studying feel like a lot less work, ” Chou said. “It's not worth it to take a class you aren't interested in and kill yourself over it just because it's AP.”
Assistant principal Brian Safine said being valedictorian or salutatorian isn’t something that should be a goal for students.
“I get a ton of parents asking me how their children can become valedictorians,” Safine said. “It’s not exactly a set goal with a set route you can take. These extremely smart students take the hardest classes and happen to get A+’s, pulling ahead by ever so little of other very smart students.”
For their part, Zhang and Chou both completed a multitude of AP and honor courses: Zhang took 16 and Chou 14.
Together they racked up two of the high GPAs in school history: 4.82 for Zhang and 4.75 for Chou.
However, because both Zhang and Chou focus mostly on their interests, both lead balanced lives.
Chou’s guidance counselor, Frances Saiki, admired Chou’s willingness to pursue her interests.
“[Chou] is awesome with computer and technology things. That’s what she loves doing,” Saiki said. “What’s unique about her is that she doesn’t hide [it].”
Zhang’s guidance counselor, Alina Satake, also applauded Zhang’s deep passion for the humanities, especially history, and emphasized his well-rounded personality.
“He’s got a quirky sense of humor, very dry and very scholarly,” Satake said. “He might discover the cure for cancer, but he also might be the curator of the Smithsonian.”