To ‘B’ or not to ‘B’ |

To ‘B’ or not to ‘B’

by Amy Alonzo
Class of 2017 Valedictorian Hunter Celio and Salutatorian Alex Jacobson at Douglas High.
Brad Coman |

The difference between Douglas High School’s valedictorian and salutatorian is a “B.”

Seniors Hunter Celio and Alex Jacobson each took 15 advanced placement and honors classes at the high school level. Hunter earned an “A” in every class. Alex earned an “A” in all but one class — their junior year he earned a “B” in honors calculus.

That “B” is the difference in their GPAs, and Hunter, with a weighted 4.571 GPA, bested Alex, who earned a weighted 4.512 GPA, for the title of valedictorian.

“The difference is marginal,” Hunter said of their GPAs.

Hunter and Alex first realized they had the potential to graduate at the top of their class during their freshman year. Ninth grade was still offered at the middle school, and the two were riding the bus to Douglas to take honors math three, something the average student takes as a junior, Hunter said.

“We kind of realized it was just going to be the two of us,” she said.

“In the beginning we weren’t the nicest to each other,” he added. “But now, it really doesn’t matter anymore.”

Hunter and Alex said there isn’t a secret to becoming a valedictorian or salutatorian — it’s just hard work.

“You’ve just got to get it done,” he said. “People complain it’s hard, but so what? Get a pot of coffee and stay up until 3 a.m. if you have to.”

Alex said he enjoyed the challenge of taking advanced classes.

“It’s hard work, but once it’s done, the pride you have in your own work is probably the biggest reward,” he said.

Hunter said she pushed herself through high school to stay stimulated.

“I can’t be in normal classes,” she said. “I get bored.”

Hunter is the daughter of Jennifer and Clint Celio of the Woodfords area. She will attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the fall to study mechanical engineering. She has netted about $16,000 in local scholarships toward her tuition, she said.

She is a three-year varsity member of Douglas’ track and field team and volunteers as a tutor at Diamond Valley Elementary School.

Her goal is to work in the automobile industry, she said. She watched eight seasons of “Top Gear” on Netflix, and since then, “cars have kind of been my passion,” she said. “It’s an interesting field for me. There are not a lot of women in the field.”

“I like my horsepower in a different way,” Alex joked. “I’ll take the literal.”

Alex is the son of Jay and Karin Jacobson of Minden. He competes in dressage in northern California and Nevada with his thoroughbred cross, Joey. Growing up in Hollister, Calif., his mom taught him how to ride as a child, and “I really found my niche there,” he said. “It’s basically a lifestyle.”

He is attending the University of Puget Sound’s honors program in the fall and plans to double major in history and international political economics. He hopes to work as an attorney or in international affairs.

He was offered a scholarship to the university that covers the full cost of his tuition, although he will pay for room and board. Because of the number of advanced high school classes he has taken, he will enter the school as a sophomore.

The pair will offer valedictorian and salutatorian speeches at tonight’s graduation ceremony, set for 5:30 p.m. at the school.