The race to the top


Valedictorian for IB Catherine Johnson, Salutatorian for IB Milin Kurup and Valedictorian for traditional Eve Glenn all smile for a celebratory photo.

Anna Thomas, Editor-In-Chief

The competition for the top academic spots was intense for this year’s graduating class. On Tuesday, Feb. 13, the school board announced the National Merit Finalists, valedictorians and salutatorians of the senior class.

Robinson had nine National Merit Finalists this year: Anna Weber, Hana Yankowitz, Tatiana Fabian, Nathan Lee, Jamin Liu, Elizabeth Shuman, Jake Orlick, and Carl Baab. These nine scholars are now eligible to possibly receive the National Merit Scholarship.

The 2018 National Merit Finalists gather in the courtyard of Robinson.

Meanwhile, the traditional class named Eve Glenn (’18) as their valedictorian and Lane Johansen (’18) as salutatorian. Catherine Johnson (’18) was named valedictorian of the IB class and Milian Kurup (’18) was named salutatorian.

“I always thought [the valedictorian] was going to be Milian,” Johnson said. “But then, about a week ago, he and I were comparing our GPAs and we realized that mine was higher. I was kind of surprised by that because I didn’t even think I was going to be salutatorian either.”

The race for the IB class was unpredictable. According to Johnson, being the top student was never her goal but she got there by taking and succeeding in extra classes for college requirements.

As for Kurup, this is a prize he’s had his eye on.

“It feels great [to be salutatorian of the IB class],” Kurup said. “It’s a goal I’ve had since freshman year to become valedictorian, but at least I got this far.”

Kurup got ahead of the game in eighth grade, where he began taking high school classes a year early. He continued his rigorous studies throughout high school while maintaining a life outside of school.

“Even if you want to achieve this award, you don’t have to give up your extracurriculars,” Kurup said. “I was able to play basketball… be president of science club and Mu Alpha Theta. I did whatever I enjoyed. So, I had to balance it by having fun while still doing my work.”

Johnson and Kurup, though proud of their accomplishments, are not the only ones left in shock with the news. It was a tight race to the top, which left much uncertainty among the student body until the announcement.

“It’s always close when you are getting to the top one or two in the class,” Assistant Principal for IB Curriculum Brian Hoover said. “But this year it was specifically close.”

According to Principal Robert Bhoolai, Johansen’s and Glenn’s GPAs were within approximately two-tenths of a point of the GPAs of Johnson and Kurup on the IB side.

“So, what this tells me is that our traditional side is becoming just as strong as our IB side,” Bhoolai said. “…with respect to the courses offered and students being successful in them.”

And with a high level of competition, nobody expected Glenn, a transfer student from Germany, to come in and claim number one for traditional.

“Especially transferring from another country…although it was a military school, some of my credits weren’t able to transfer over,” Glenn said. “So, originally, I didn’t believe that I would receive all of the weighted GPA credit.”

Prior to Glenn’s arrival, common belief held Johansen to take the valedictorian spot. But Glenn and Johansen have built a connection outside of academics over the course of their senior year, making it easier to share the pride in their accomplishments.

“It feels really great [to be valedictorian] and I’m glad that my friend, Lane Johansen, was salutatorian,” Glenn said. “She was the first person that I met when I came here. We’ve become very close.”