Learn About Your Pals: The Vals And Sals

Smiling sensations —Seniors Kimberly Lu and Weiting Hong pose with Ms. Cruz, Dr. Gitz, and Ms. Rapp as they are honored for their academic dedication.
By Celine Macura

Given South’s competitive high school environment, high GPAs and impressive academic accolades are not uncommon. However, two seniors’ successes have risen above the masses. Seniors Kimberly Lu and Weiting Hong were named the 2018 valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively. While their considerable work ethic and academic dedication helped them maintain their high GPAs, their memories at South are not only those of textbooks and tests.
“We’re both involved in many clubs. I think underclassmen should try to find something they like to do and, in addition to their studies, put efforts into their extracurricular activities,” Lu said.
“And don’t forget to sleep,” added Hong.
While academics can be stressful, both students have found comfort in the family that South has become for them. Looking back on her high school career, Lu said that she will never forget the memories made in Science Olympiad. It’s the team’s tight-knit friendships, pranking culture, and inside jokes that make this club most special for her.
Similarly, Hong says he’ll never forget the support that he received from South the summer before his junior year. After Visa processing issues rendered him unable to travel from China back to his home in the United States, former Principal Ms. Susan Elliott contacted the U.S. Consulate in Shanghai on his behalf. When his classmates were happy to help him catch up on missed work, Hong said he, “genuinely felt the warmth of the South High family.”
If she had more time in high school, Lu said she would have explored some of the fields from which she shied away. Lu particularly focused on science throughout high school, and she wishes that she had more time for art and robotics in her busy schedule.
Hong also looks back on his high school career with some missed opportunities. He wishes he had the time and drive to start an entrepreneurship club as an underclassman.
With such success in their past, the seniors are looking towards their futures, weighing possible majors and universities. Following in her parent’s footsteps, Lu wants to study medicine, hopefully becoming a physician after college. Since she’s been researching cancer throughout high school, she’s most interested in the field of oncology. At South, she’s been preparing for this career path with Science Olympiad and science research
Quite differently, Hong wants to take his education here at South to propel him into the world of business and financial analytics. He hopes to study behavioral analytics and data science in college to round out his educational goals. Hong’s success in the DECA business club and the Math Team demonstrate this career interest.
So what’s the secret vals and sals know to maintain such high averages? “Grind!” jokeed Hong as he reflected on his work ethic throughout high school. On a more serious note, however, he stressed that grades are not the driving factor in education. “While grades are very important, don’t forget to pursue what you actually want to do. Pursuing your own interest and excelling at it is more important than grinding until 3 a.m.”