Best friends share valedictorian title

Written by: Ellie Harris, Editor in Chief

Photo Provided by: Caroline Clayton

After the last chapter test in AP Psychology while other students were looking at their phones or scrambling to finish next period’s assignment, 2018’s NPHS valedictorians Olivia McKilligin and Hannah Taggart shared a Twix bar.

“We typically have pretty nutritional diets because of the sports that we play. But when we do something good, especially academically, we like to celebrate it together,” McKilligin said.

This attitude of teamwork is what sets McKilligin and Taggart from past valedictorians. Especially for students high in class ranking, a GPA can get in the way of friendships.

“I think once we realized we could do this together, it kind of takes some of the competition out of it within our friendship,” McKilligin said.

Especially when it comes to sports, there is some competitiveness between them, but it never gets in the way of their friendship.

“I think it’s a beneficial competitiveness,” Taggart said.

While also maintaining their rank positions, both girls play sports throughout nearly the entire school year, playing soccer in the fall and participating in track in the spring.

“I think it’s easier to do sports and school because your mindset is ‘I have to stay on top of it’. The nights I don’t have practice or something I’m like ‘I have all the time in the world’ and then I don’t do my homework until like 9:30 at night,” Taggart said,“It’s like using a different kind of energy, and you feel more balanced overall.”

Every student knows that stress is part of school, and McKilligin uses sports as a way to unwind.

“It teaches you time management, but I think sports is a little bit of a release of the pressures and stress of school,” McKilligin said, “So if (I) have big projects I can go to practice and not have to think about these big projects for a while.”

As for the biggest responsibility of the Valedictorians — the speech — McKilligin and Taggart are still working out the logistics.

“Miss Clayton wants us to do it together,” McKilligin said.

“But we both agreed we want to say different things,” Taggart finished.

Graduation ceremonies can be tedious, but Taggart and McKilligin are working to make their time more interesting.

“We thought about putting a continuous joke through mine and then her finishing it off so if I starting my speech with ‘today I’m going to persuade you…’ and then Hannah would conclude with ‘today I have persuaded you…’,” McKilligin said

“I think the hardest thing is that I’m not that plugged in to the whole class so I don’t know how to bring up stories that a bunch of people would know, all I have is inside jokes,” Taggart said.

Though their hard work has gotten them to the top, after the end of May, it will all be over. McKilligin is attending University of Notre Dame to study Mathematics, and Taggart is attending Olivet Nazarene University to study engineering.

“I think staying in touch is important but I don’t think we should cling for dear life to each other when we’re exposed to new opportunities,” Taggart said.

McKilligin and Taggart stand next to Salutatorian Jacob Long and Senior Class President Austin Wood Photo provided by Caroline Clayton

McKilligin and Taggart stand next to Salutatorian Jacob Long and Senior Class President Austin Wood
Photo provided by Caroline Clayton

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