Two seniors receive highest honors to end their high school careers
Emily Greene wasn't in school the day administrators scurried from class to class in an attempt to give her the good news: She had earned the honor of salutatorian.
Instead, she was in Hartford as part of a 20-student advisory board for the state Department of Education.
The next day, Greene went to Darien High School believing it would be the same as any other day. But when she arrived, she was told to report to the principal's office right away.
Once inside, she was given the good news alongside Wen Cong Toh, who was selected as the valedictorian.
"You hear mutterings around school about who may get it," Greene said. "I'm pretty excited. This is a great honor."
Toh, who will attend the University of Notre Dame in the fall, had an idea being chosen as valedictorian was a possibility.
"I was a little bit surprised, but my GPA was pretty up there," Toh said. "But there were four or five kids that were in the running."
Greene, who will attend Dartmouth in the fall, said her classmates were intensely competitive and that students would make it a point to compare grades on even the smallest assignment.
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"I was never the type to want to beat out other classmates," Greene said. Even though students' grades aren't made public, "some kids seem to know everyone else's GPAs," Greene said.
"In general, the community at Darien (High School) was competitive, but not in an aggressive way," Toh said. "Not in a way that we're hurting each other, but more in a friendly competition to push each other to get better."
For Greene, the secret to her success wasn't to hole herself up in her room every day after school and spend countless hours poring over her books and notes. It was more of the opposite.
"I definitely took on a lot in high school," said Greene, who was president of Post 53, the all-teenager volunteer ambulance corps.
"I definitely got a lot less sleep than other people," she added. "But that's the nature of who I am. I like to take on a lot of things at once."
Throughout high school, Greene was a varsity cheerleader, a member of the Tri-M music society -- she plays violin and viola, she ran a season of track, was the treasurer of her temple youth group, a "few clubs here and there," and was a member of the pit orchestra.
Toh was just as involved and credits his work ethic and parents' encouragement for his successes.
He was involved with the debate team, the Model Congress Club, Theatre 308, the Model UN, Tri-M group and played violin in the strings and orchestra groups.
Greene is undecided about what she will study at Darmouth, to which she was accepted through early decision, but her major would be along the lines of math or physics.
She is also completing a four-week internship with a cardiologist in Stamford.
Part of Toh's requirements as valedictorian is to deliver a speech at graduation on Thursday, June 20 . He hasn't quite finished it yet, but he knows what he has in mind.
"I want to do something that closes up the four years that we've been here," he said. "I'm going to try and make it light and funny."