Kevin Mathew and Jerric Clemente stood side by side and put their arms around one another to pose for a picture. There was not one hint of hesitation. The comfort level between them had been established long before a formal announcement of their positions at the top of their class had been made. They smiled, reveling in the moment that they have worked so hard for.
The honors were four years in the making for these best friends, who will lead Elmont Memorial High’s class of 2013 out of high school and on to college.
Mathew is noticeably taller than his best friend, but the point differential in their GPAs is hardly as pronounced. Mathew edged Clemente for the distinction of valedictorian by a mere .78 points, as both racked up similar grades en route to the top.
Both were named Advanced Placement scholars with honors. Mathew is a member of the science research program, president of the Science National Honor Society and vice president of the Mu Alpha Theta math honor society, and has received many awards in science and engineering competitions. Clemente is a member of the school’s talented/gifted program, the National Senior Honor Society, the Math Honor Society and the Science Honor Society. In his spare time, Mathew likes to play basketball and enjoys playing the trumpet. Clemente enjoys a wide variety of music and likes to play baseball and basketball.
Mathew said that receiving the news of his place at the top was a validation of years of hard work. “It was good news,” he told the Herald. “I did work for years trying to get it, so it was more of a consolation finally knowing that the work that I did did pay off in the end.”
Mathew, who plans on attending the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education in the fall, said that the respect and the expectation to be a role model that comes along with being valedictorian are the best things about the achievement. He also stressed that enjoying one’s time in high school, in addition to working hard, is paramount to success.