High School Has 25 Valedictorians

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(Ocala, FL) 25 seniors at Vanguard High School have tied for valedictorian. Each has a perfect 5.0 grade point average.

"Oh my gosh, I'm so excited about this. This is something I've been working for since my freshman year and something I've really wanted since I was in middle school, since I first saw a valedictorian speaking," says Neha Bapatla, one of the valedictorians.

Principal Rick Lankford says, "I think it's fantastic for the school."

Lankford says hard work by students and faculty in Vanguard's IB or International Baccalaureate program was the catalyst.

"They take college level courses. When they finish those courses, there's a test at the end and if they score high enough on the test, then they receive college credit. So, a lot of our IB kids enter college at the junior level."

"One of the best things about IB is that it actually exposed me to so many different areas that I was able to see what I was strong in and what I really enjoy," says Preston Culbertson, another of the 25 valedictorians.

Neha has been accepted to the University of Florida Honors Program and wants to be a radiologist. "I'll have an upper hand in a sense because even if I have Biology One again, I will understand it because I will have already taken it in a sense. So, it will be easier for me."

Preston has been accepted to Georgia Tech where he will study mechanical engineering.

A committee will decide who will be the valedictorian after choosing one speech from those submitted by the students.

Preston says their hard work has already paid off. "We weren't competing against each other. We weren't trying to get a leg up on each other. But it's like, you get towards the end and look at all these people who have succeeded just as well as you have. So I think it's really great we can be rewarded in this way."

Even though one student will be chosen to give the valedictorian's speech, all of the valedictorians will be recognized and receive a silver plate once they walk across the stage.

Last year, the school had 11 valedictorians.

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