The Pressure is On

Sarah Rosselet, Staff Writer

It takes a lot to be ranked number one in the class. Hours of studying and the dedication to take AP class after AP class, but are the lives of the highest ranked students limited to school and studying? Maybe not.

The highest ranked junior last year was Julie Chang, and the second highest was Daniel Huang. The latest senior ranks were released Monday, September 21. Chang and Huang have kept their high-standing ranks, even though the competition is high.

“Once you get up there, everyone expects you to stay up there,” Chang said, “that, or they want to beat you.”

Obviously, there is competition for the number one and two spots, especially when it comes down to being valedictorian or salutatorian. For seniors, there are only two semesters left to raise their GPA, or keep an already high rank. Even one failed grade can cost valuable GPA points.

“There is stress to stay on top of the game,” said Chang.      

It’s the pressure, whether external or internal, that keeps Huang going. With 5 AP classes and extracurricular activities like Math Club, Whiz Quiz, NHS, Computer Club, Academic Decathlon, and FBLA, Huang credits his hard work to his personal motivation.

“I keep a high standard for myself,” Huang said. “I want to be above. I want to do well in school. There really is no external pressure, I want to succeed out of my own initiative.”

Chang participates in a different kind of extracurricular activity; after school she works at University of Texas at Dallas helping to find alternate treatments for cancer. This doesn’t leave her much time for a social life on weekdays, but on the weekends she has time to do things besides school and UTD research.

“I don’t really have time during the week [to be with friends],” Chang said. “But during the weekends I like to go shopping and hang out with people.”

To Huang, socializing during the week isn’t unattainable. His take on hanging out with friends is much more relaxed; being number two apparently doesn’t keep him from having a social life.

“I have plenty of time.” Huang said. “Last night, I was hanging out with my friends until 7.”

Chang participates in the Junior Classical League, an organization of high school students interested in ancient Greek and Roman culture. She says she was enrolled in ‘Chinese school’ during middle school, but doesn’t take any supplementary classes now.

“Its not like I spend my whole life reading books,” Chang said.

GPA is considered by many students to be a prime factor in college acceptance. The top 10 percent of students get the privilege of automatic admission to many significant Texas universities. With so many options available for students with the best grades, college and careers are definitely weighing heavily on the minds of high-rankers Huang and Chang.

“I haven’t really decided what I want to do,” said Huang. “I’m waiting to see what options I can explore in college.”

The title of number one is synonymous with AP classes and hard work, a stereotype that is both good and bad. The label of number one gives people preconceived ideas, and the highest ranking student can be both looked up to and scorned.

“I’m proud, but embarrassed.” Cheng said. “But I definitely wouldn’t change it.”

Through all of the hype about being number one and two, Huang and Chang are just two high school students. Socializing, extracurricular activities, and college occupy their minds like everyone else.

“I actually have fun on the weekends,” said Huang.