As La Jolla High School grads threw their caps in the air this month, campuses recognized their top students, who gave their classmates a little advice.
A common lesson – GPA doesn’t matter as much as doing what you love.
The Episcopal School
The Bishop’s School Harvard Cup is awarded annually to the senior with the highest GPA. This year, Alexandra Midler finished the first semester with a mark of 5.01.
Midler said the award was “icing on the cake for high school. …Valedictorian was never my goal.
“I worked hard because I loved my classes,” she said. “I always want to learn something as much as possible to understand it as best as I can.”
Midler, who will next head to Stanford University to study biology and creative writing, said those hoping to emulate her valedictorian success should “take courses you find interesting and work hard for that joy. to learn and create”.
“High school is something to savor,” she added. “You should enjoy the whole experience, not just think about an end goal.”
Joseph Aguilar won the Michael W. Teitelman Loyalty Cup from Bishop’s, given to a senior who demonstrates loyalty, excellence and integrity in all aspects of student life.
The honor surprised Aguilar, who said, “I’m really grateful.”
Reflecting on his time at Bishop’s, Aguilar said, “I invested myself in everything I did. Bishop’s gave me so many opportunities and things to try out and get excited about,” from improv shows to creating a barbershop quartet to volunteer programs.
“I was so ready to take advantage of it… and really see what I could do,” he said, in addition to “investing myself in my studies to get the most out of my classes.”
Aguilar advised those following a similar path to “do what makes you happy” and take advantage of what school has to offer.
Aguilar will now head to Yale University as a computer science and arts major.
La Jolla Country Day School
Khalil Desai won the La Jolla Country Day School Administrators Award for achieving the highest cumulative GPA in the class with a 4.8.
Although Desai said GPA is an “outdated metric [and] not a great measure of academic potential or skill,” he added, “it was a lot of work and it took a lot of time, so in the end I’m proud of myself.”
Desai, who will be attending Brown University in the fall to study biology, said those who put weight on GPA should “always take the toughest courses that will give you [a] quality bump” and apply consistently.
“Most… people could do it,” he said.
Sohan Chunduru won Country Day’s Principal’s Award for achieving the second highest cumulative GPA with a 4.77.
Chunduru, who will go to Stanford to study political science or public policy, said he didn’t expect such a high ranking, but “I worked pretty hard in college, so it’s good to knowing that it paid off.”
“Interest in a variety of subjects helps keep you motivated to work hard in school,” he added.
He advocated for young students to maintain a “good balance between school and life in general, because if you spend all your time studying it will end up being worse for your mental health”.
La Jolla High School
La Jolla High School valedictorian Dagny Whall said earning the highest honor with a 4.92 GPA “is exciting to see all the hard work pay off.”
Whall said she and Salutatorian Andrew Park and third-place finisher Leon Wang pushed each other “to do our best and work with each other rather than against each other.”
The three often collaborated while studying, Whall said.
Becoming valedictorian seemed “out of reach” early in high school, Whall said. But “as it crept in, it became more of a possibility. I think that definitely helped motivate me in the end.
Whall, who will enroll at Georgetown University in the fall to study computer science and economics, advised students entering high school to find subjects they like and try to progress as much as possible. .
“That way you’re not only good at what you do, but you also enjoy the time you spend doing it,” she said.
Rob Tindall, her math teacher at Muirlands Middle School, had a positive impact on her, teaching her to cope with stress and to “deal with something when you don’t understand it and move on”, she said.
“We applied that in math, and then I apply that in the rest of my life,” Whall said.
Park, who had a 4.9 GPA, said earning the rank of salutatorian was “a byproduct of the courses I wanted to take. It wasn’t really a goal I was actively pursuing.
Rather, he said, his GPA reflects “how I wanted to be challenged.”
Park advised future top GPA hopefuls to ‘devalue the GPA [and] focus more on courses and experiences that make you happy.
“Just looking at GPA as the end goal is, I think, a very naïve and dangerous construct that people can fall into because at the end of the day often the GPA ranking doesn’t reflect the students who have worked the hardest,” he said. . “It’s something that leans heavily towards people who prefer and thrive in an academic setting.”
Park will go to Princeton University to study economics, applied mathematics and politics.
Wang, La Jolla High’s third GPA winner with a 4.8, echoed Park’s thoughts that “the GPA is definitely not the most important thing.”
“If you have to prioritize one thing or another, then you should do your own hobbies,” he said. “A lot of people think you have to do certain things to look good on your college application, like nonprofits or research, but there are a lot of things like…side things you like that can also work.”
Wang now plans to study biology at Dartmouth College. ◆