Jessica: I think I'm kind of unbiased, too. It's a good idea that they don't want just two kids to get this honor, but I also feel like the two kids who did work that hard, and it is a nice honor for them to have it.
Q: So, picture yourself going back to high school, only this time, when you go in, you cannot be valedictorian because they don't have that. Would that disappoint you?
Jessica: I think it would have been because I think I wouldn't have worked as hard for it. I would have worked very hard still because I'm that type of person who wants to achieve, but I wouldn't have done as much as I have done in high school because there wouldn't have been anything to work toward.
I feel like there's always something, some kind of goal, to set yourself to. If you're just saying, "I want to be a smart kid, " yes, you can be a smart kid and do anything. We're high school kids. We need some kind of guidance. We do need rules and we do need things, something tangible for us to obtain.
Q: Becky, Andrew: Neither one of you secured the top two positions. Did you set out to do that?
Becky: No, I was not aiming to be valedictorian or salutatorian. It wasn't in my quest to really get top two, and that's because I had other things that I was focusing on.
I had extracurriculars; school was my biggest priority. High school is a time when you have to get ready for college. It's a huge part of growing up and a huge part of what you're doing, but being top two or the top wasn't really what I was aiming for. I was aiming for the top, definitely, but not the top two -- that's just too much pressure.
Andrew: It's the same for me. My sister was actually in the top 10 of Hialeah-Miami Lakes when she graduated, and my family pushed me to get it, but it wasn't necessarily on my top priority.
I'm more of a social-activities kind of person than the grades, but of course, my grades are important. It was one of my priorities, but not as important as activities were.
Q: Talk about competition: Isn't it extremely American? Isn't that the ideal, to go out and be the best you can?
Weina: I spent the last two weeks in Wall Street basically in a Merrill Lynch program where I was able to get to know the leaders of Wall Street -- CEOs, COOs, presidents, vice presidents -- and it's all about competition.
Andrew: With having all of that and the competition, I understand that you're getting a lot of experience, but how do you feel? You said [earlier] that you really didn't have a social life.
Weina: High school, I get that it's all about competition, but you can have competition and promote well-roundedness, too. Having the summa cum laude, cum laude, magna cum laude -- it still fosters competition, but it also encourages students to strive for a well-rounded life. . . . Growing up, becoming an adult, becoming independent, is not all about grades. It's also about the people that you meet, the relationships that you form, the friendships that you make. Those are the things that will last you a lifetime, that will make you successful.
What I found these last two weeks is that there is competition in the business world, but also what made COOs and CEOs successful is networking. It's forming relationships with people. It's social life, having social skills. Staying in your room all day studying because you have eight AP classes every year is not fostering your social skills.