Provided by Ursula Neuner
On March 17th, Bonita Vista High (BVH) announced its class of 2021 valedictorian and salutatorian. Senior Ursula Neuner is this year’s valedictorian with a GPA of 4.73 and senior Samantha Wu is salutatorian with a GPA of 4.61. The announcement happened during Math Analysis and Approaches IB HL 2 teacher and IB program coordinator Jared Phelps’s fifth period math class. BVH teachers and administrators drove to both Neuner and Wu’s houses to congratulate them.
“I was completely surprised. I had no idea they [BVH teachers and administrators] were going to show up to my house. I was just wearing pajama pants and a sweater and I had no idea what happened,” Neuner said. “It was awesome and it was really nice. I was shocked. I didn’t know I was going to get it [valedictorian] and I feel really lucky.”
Neuner is an IB diploma candidate and has taken 8 AP classes during her highschool career. She remarked how getting this title symbolizes the hard work she has put in over the last four years to get good grades in her classes. In addition, she emphasized her gratitude as she viewed other hard working students in her graduating class as equally deserving of the title.
“I’ve been thinking about it a lot and reflecting on it and I think it has so much to do with luck, because so many other people are equally deserving and extremely smart and talented. I just happen to probably nudge them out by like one tenth of a GPA so I feel really lucky to have gotten it,” Neuner said. “Obviously I’m happy and thankful, but also it puts into perspective that [the award] seems kind of arbitrary because there’s so many other people who deserve it too.”
Wu is also an IB diploma candidate who has taken several AP classes. She viewed getting salutatorian as a great honor and was shocked when she found out. She saw salutatorian as a representation of her graduating class.
“I always saw salutatorian as an honor of being able to represent the [graduating] class. I don’t consider [salutatorian] as this award for the student with the highest GPA, but of a student that reflects the work [of] the student body overall. Especially during this time with COVID-19, these kids really work hard, like my companions, my classmates, and the teachers. Salutatorian reflects that the students are like me in general and work hard despite [their] situations and will have the honor of representing the graduating class of 2021.”
Both Neuner and Wu are thankful to be class of 2021 valedictorian and salutatorian. Furthermore Wu had advice for students trying to reach similar goals as her and Neuner.
“It’s not just about getting the perfect grades and taking the hardest classes, It’s more about first of all trying to enjoy high school life,” Wu said. “And then, if possible, trying to put themselves or challenge themselves through a much more challenging journey through high school, to see how far or how much they could achieve in the future.”