What does it say when four graduates from The Lexington School class of 2015 go on to become Valedictorians? It says a bunch about THEM (and maybe a little about TLS). Here’s the little about TLS: historically, The Lexington School sends bright, hard-working students on to do very well in high school. Over the years, the school has seen a number of its graduates move on to achieve the honor of valedictorian. But this year there are FOUR! That certainly sets a new record, and these awesome four are certainly worth highlighting.
From the TLS class of 2015 Luke de Castro, Wick Hallos, Hart Hallos, and Alex Mills ran the entire course of high school, competed with hundreds of bright, hard-working students, and still came out on top.
THEM. HOW DID THEY DO IT?
ALEX: It takes a lot of hard work and the desire to take the harder courses and independent studies. If you go in just wanting to learn as much as you can, the higher GPA follows.
WICK: I tried not to think too much about GPA, especially while my actual classes were going on. I think the best way I approached learning in my classes (although, admittedly, I didn’t do it in every class) was to take a genuine interest in it or to at least approach everything as developing my skills that will later be used in my life.
HART: I committed to understanding the material and acknowledged that in some way it could contribute to my future plans or sense of self, even if right now I couldn’t imagine how. Doing that really helped me to become more invested in my classes, which I think is much more beneficial to one’s GPA than actively thinking/worrying about one’s GPA.
LUKE: In general, to have the highest GPA in the senior class, one must choose the harder course at every opportunity. Accompanying that decision is the hard work and confidence required to succeed in those more difficult classes.
THEM. WHERE ARE THEY HEADED NEXT?
Alex Mills moved to Greece after completing Montessori at The Lexington School. Years later, he returned to middle school with very little English. “I basically had to start over,” he said. “I remember the first day in math class I had to raise my hand and ask what a triangle was. I knew what it was; I just didn’t know the word!” Alex will attend Vanderbilt University where he was awarded the Cornelius Vanderbilt (full merit) Scholarship. Hart and Wick Hallos are fraternal twins who spent ten years together at The Lexington School. For high school, they went their separate ways for the first time in their lives. Hart attended Lafayette High School to study art and engineering and Wick moved on to Sayre School. What are the odds that both would aspire to Valedictorian and both would move on to study Columbia University in New York? Luke de Castro is the third of three de Castros become Valedictorian! He made his own way at Henry Clay High School and will do the same as he joins his brother Leo (currently in grad school) at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
TLS. WHAT WAS THE IMPACT?
WICK: I felt like I had the skills necessary to begin to analyze deeply, to begin to challenge myself in math and science—both of which are really important. MY High school helped me add (a lot) to those skills and to use them in different, more creative ways, but my starting point was solid because of TLS. Away from academics, TLS also taught me to make personal connections with teachers, which was really nice to be able to do in high school. I wasn’t scared to ask for help or to talk to teachers about random things I was interested in—I think that’s because TLS helped me practice that skill a lot, and it made my high school experience much more fun and interesting and meaningful.
ALEX: TLS created a community and supported me in trying to play catch up in English. There is such a great faculty at TLS. Definitely helped me develop my work ethic.
LUKE: For me specifically, I have TLS to thank for my early lead because I was the only one in my class able to take advanced French after my rigorous middle school French curriculum. After that, a combination of AP courses and UK classes helped me take my academics to new heights.
HART: On the surface, TLS heavily influenced where I went to high school, what I was interested in, and the knowledge I had in a variety of subjects. But more deeply, TLS taught me a lot of personal skills, things that apply to my life inside and outside of the classroom. TLS taught me to ask for help when I need it, to think critically and reflectively, even how to make friends. It shaped me as a person and a student.
BEYOND TLS. SOME ADVICE.
HART: I think that part of high school, maybe the most important part of high school, is realizing where that [TLS] base ends and growing on top of and beyond it. I changed a lot in high school; I’d like to think for the better, or at least for the more authentic. My friends changed, my memories changed, and my experiences changed. So take TLS for what it is: a great home and a great place to start, but don’t limit yourself to who you are at TLS because you still have a long way to go.
ALEX: Wherever you go from TLS, high school, or even college, if you go in just wanting to learn as much as you can, the GPA or whatever goal you are trying to reach will follow.
WICK: Academic flexibility is really important, and being able to break the rules that TLS gives you is something that is really good for your growth. Being willing to try new things, not just activities, but different styles of essay writing or looking at historical trends or reading poetry is vital. Really, really vital.
LUKE: I was able to give a commencement address in front of a few thousand people at Rupp Arena. It was nerve-racking to stare in the faces of so many strangers, but I knew that hard work during my years of education at TLS and Henry Clay prepared me for that moment. In my speech, I talked about the importance of peer support and friendship because nobody’s accomplishments, including mine, are entirely their own.
Four good friends, four valedictorians, three high schools, one TLS. Their accomplishments are their own, and The Lexington School shares in the celebration of their achievements and wishes them the best as they take on the next chapter in their illustrious lives. CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL FOUR!