In the final year of the Heritage Valedictorian and Salutatorian tradition, seniors Arnav Kumar and Carol Jiang earned the respective titles from their years of academic excellence. Kumar acquired a weighted grade point average of 6.10 over the past 4 years, while Jiang reeled in a 6.05.
Kumar and Jiang, although with slightly varying GPA’s, participate in many of the same extracurriculars. Kumar serves as president of the Linguistics team, while Jiang serves as vice president. Both are also members of the National Honor Society and Florida Youth Orchestra (FYO) and received recognition as Presidential Scholars. Kumar plays the bassoon; Jiang plays the violin but can also play piano. Kumar played as a part of the Patriot Band his freshman year and Jiang for the school orchestra, but both have played their respective instruments from a young age. In addition to her membership, Jiang is also secretary of the Science National Honor Society and has been assistant concertmaster for FYO.
Notably, both students are high-ranking members of the Mu Alpha Theta math team and share mathematics as their favorite subject. Kumar is a consistent member of the bowl team, with eight first place trophies from regional, state and national conventions, and Jiang also has her fair share of awards. Within the team, Kumar has served as Vice President of Alpha for two years, and Jiang is a teaching assistant for statistics.
Mu Alpha Theta coach Mr. Richard Rovere has witnessed Kumar and Jiang grow throughout high school, from their days as freshmen starting out with the team to their final competitions as seniors.
“They’ve always been polite and helpful. Carol has that quiet strength, and Arnav has that intensity,” Mr. Rovere said. “The strength of our program isn’t just mathematical ability, but also the relationships between our students, and I think Carol and Arnav are two of the best examples of that type of commitment.”
As if that weren’t enough, the top two students from Class of 2020 work community service into their individual schedules. Jiang utilizes her musical ability in her volunteer work, playing violin and piano for patients in local hospitals. She is the school English nominee for the Silver Knight awards.
For the past four years, Kumar has volunteered with the Special Olympics bowling team. He has an avid love for sports, as seen by his actions as football team co-statistician from the past two seasons.
“[Being co-statistician] is a good way to blend my fascinations with math and sports,” Kumar said. In his free time, he enjoys watching sitcoms such as “The Office,” “Community” and “30 Rock,” although he attributes his academic achievement to his all-time favorite show “Spongebob Squarepants.”
In his high-school career, Kumar has taken 17 Advanced Placement courses. “It’s an honor to receive such a prestigious recognition at such a competitive school,” he said. “Mr. Rovere always said ‘Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard,’ and I believe that.” As of now, Kumar is undecided as to the university he will attend, but he intends to major in statistics.
Jiang has taken 15 Advanced Placement courses in high school, motivated by Kumar’s inspirational quote, “Why fail, when you can just not?” Jiang hopes to study mathematics in college and has been accepted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She also hopes to continue practicing her whistling skills.
Next year, the Class of 2021 will move away from the Valedictorian/Salutatorian system, replacing it with recognition for the ten highest-ranking students in the class.