For the first time in Mundelein High School's 51-year history, this month's graduation ceremony will feature a pair of valedictorians.
And they're best friends to boot.
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Seniors John Syme and Stephen Slaughter have earned identical 4.56 weighted grade-point averages, out of a possible 5 points, officials said. Each earned straight A's all through high school.
Slaughter said he and Syme have suspected since early in their high school careers that at least one of them would be valedictorian.
"We've kind of known since the end of freshman year," said Slaughter, 18, of Round Lake. "Definitely by the middle of sophomore year."
They projected their final grade-point averages by figuring in A's in as many Advanced Placement classes as they could, said Slaughter, who's heading to Cornell University to study engineering.
Syme, of Mundelein, is going to study biomedical engineering at Duke University. He couldn't be reached for comment.
School board President Karen Havlik called the teens' accomplishments "phenomenal."
"That is remarkable, that two students can do that well," Havlik said. "I'm just so happy for them."
Both Syme and Slaughter will speak to the gathered students, parents and staff at commencement, which is scheduled for 3 p.m. May 19 at the Libertyville Sports Complex.
More than 500 graduates are expected to cross the stage.
Syme and Slaughter have known each other since first grade, but they became good friends in seventh grade at Fremont Middle School. They've had a friendly competition when it comes to their grades ever since, Slaughter said.
Slaughter sounded relieved he and Syme tied for the best grades in their graduating class, rather than one friend edging out the other.
"I'm really happy that it worked out," he said.
Because two students will share the valedictorian honor, the Class of 2013 won't have a salutatorian, officials said.
The ceremony will be historic in a second way, too: It will feature 71 summa cum laude graduates, more than any other year.
To earn that honor, a student must maintain a 4.05 weighted grade-point average or a 3.90 unweighted average.