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It all came down to nine hundredths of a point.
That was the difference between the 5.34 grade-point averages of the two co-valedictorians and the 5.25 GPA of the two co-salutatorians in this year’s graduating class at Fike High School.
Graduates will be sit through four speeches from the best and the brightest students on commencement day.
“I was shell shocked and delighted at the same time,” said Guang Ken Lin, upon learning he had ascended to the position of co-salutatorian. “I was also delighted because the co-salutatorian and the co-valedictorian are three of my best friends I have had since I started freshmen year.”
“I don’t think we have ever had co-val and co-sal,” said Cassie Jones, a co-valedictorian. “I think that’s really cool. I am proud of each and every one of them.”
“Fike is a trendsetter,” said Principal Randy St. Clair. “I don’t know if it is the first time it has happened for us, but we are OK with it. It is extraordinary that these students get the opportunity to represent their class in this way.”
St. Clair said the students’ achievement leaves him “at a loss for words to see the level of intrinsic motivation not only to be great students but to be great people as well.”
Co-valedictorian Claudia Claire Dixon, daughter of Drs. Marilee Williford and Forrest Scott Dixon, said she achieved her academic success with support from home and school.
“The teachers at Fike have been very supportive,” Claire said. “Even my coaches, like with soccer, they have always put school first, always made sure that I had my priorities straight.”
Claire plans to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, major in biology and minor in Spanish and is looking at a career in medicine.
Cassie, daughter of Dwayne and Faye Jones, said she tried to take the most rigorous courses that were available to her.
Cassie said she had to learn how to best study as an individual.
“That took from 10th grade to 11th grade totally transitioning the way I studied and the way I best approached different classes.
“Don’t be afraid to take challenges and to take rigorous courses even if you are not sure how they are going to turn out or are scared of those challenges but to take those challenges and use them,” Cassie said. “Even if you make mistakes, take those mistakes and learn from them. They will make you a better person than you were the day before.”
Cassie plans to attend UNC-Chapel Hill to study biology on the pre-med track and wants to become a pediatrician.
Co-salutatorian Abby Murray Hodges, daughter of Sherry and Gary Hodges, said participating in the International Baccalaureate program helped her prepare to take challenging classes.
“It definitely helped me figure out exactly how to manage multiple higher-level classes at one time,” Abby said. “Through that I was able to reach a higher GPA.”
Abby said students should use the support of parents, teachers and peers to excel academically.
“They pushed me to do my absolute best in every class even when my motivation level was not at its peak,” Abby said.
Abby will attend North Carolina State University and study biotechnology with the intent of gaining employment as a genetics counselor.
Ken, son of Xue Guo Lin and Liu Xiu Hua, said support from peers, teachers and parents is the key to her success.
Ken’s advice to younger students is to “do what you like to do.”
“If you do something that you have a passion to do, in the future, it has a better outcome,” Ken said. “Never, ever give up. Even though there might be some hard times, it’s always best to continue on and never give up.”
Ken plans to attend UNC-Chapel Hill to major in biology and minor in Spanish and hopes to have a career in the medical field.