Summa Cum Laude (With Highest Praise)

Congratulations to the Class of 2019 Valedictorians and Salutatorians!


Aina Zabinski

The Valedictorians and Salutatorians pose with their medals after Senior Awards Night. Right to Left: Ryan Nguyen, Woon Na, Kathryn Alexa Watson, Frederick “Fritz” Humm, and Matyas Kisiday. (Not pictured: Khoi-Viet Le)

by Aina Zabinski, Editor

Special congratulations are in order for six high ranking Seniors, who have been selected as the Class of 2019 Valedictorians and Salutatorians–prestigious titles awarded by Central Kitsap High School staff. Valedictorians Frederick “Fritz” Humm and Kathryn Alexa Watson will be honored at graduation along with Salutatorians Matyas Kisiday, Khoi-Viet Le, Woon Na and Ryan Nguyen.

The Valedictorians and Salutatorians were chosen based on these criterion: status as a Distinguished Scholar, high grade point average (GPA), exam scores and aptitude scores, course of study, breadth and depth of study, and a demonstrated pursuit of scholarly learning. Distinguished Scholars are Seniors who have completed at least 18 semesters of advanced courses, and have never earned a grade of C or lower in high school, and Valedictorians and Salutatorians must be members of this select group of Seniors.

“We are so proud of all of our CKHS 2019 graduating seniors, and honored to be so well represented by these outstanding scholars!” said Co-Principals Craig Johnson and Gail Danner in an email to CKHS staff (as well as the Seniors selected for Valedictorian/Salutatorian status).

During the graduation ceremony, the Salutatorians will step onto the podium together to deliver the opening remarks, or salutation. Valedictorians will later address the graduating class at the end of the ceremony with their farewell speech. The tradition of selecting Valedictorians began in 1772 at the College of William and Mary, and public high schools adopted the practice in 1920. The word “Valedictorian” originated from the Latin word “valedīcere,” which means “to say goodbye.” Although graduates no longer use Latin oratory like they have in the past, Valedictorian status remains prestigious and highly coveted.

Valedictorian and Salutatorian status are not announced until late in the year, and have no bearing on college admissions; however, GPA and class rank are considered by universities during the college admissions process. So ranking highest in the Class would allow a student to compete for a spot in more prestigious colleges (as attested by Valedictorian Humm’s acceptance to MIT and Salutatorian Kisiday’s acceptance to Stanford University). Students selected as Valedictorian or Salutatorian may receive more access to internships and it is an impressive addition to their resumes.

Humm stated that status as a Valedictorian was a goal he strived for throughout high school. “I think at the end of the day it’s something meant to give people motivation during their high school career,” he said, “and I think the people who end up receiving it shouldn’t feel superior. It was a motivation not a reward.”

He commented that when he was told about his status, he felt proud and happy that he had received the support he needed to get there. “I was also extremely proud of the people who got it and I was happy to be among my peers who I think deserved it,” Humm added.

When he reflected on his high school experience, Humm said that “high school was made a lot easier because of the people that I spent my time with. The best memories I have from high school are with the people I’ve been friends with and people that I knew. At the end of the day, the positives far outweigh the negatives and I’ll remember high school as something I truly enjoyed.” But he is also excited for his future as he heads off to MIT with a NROTC scholarship. After college he will go into the Navy for a minimum of five years.

Watson, also ranked Valedictorian, agrees that best parts of high school involved her friend group and the CKHS community (particularly band, National Honor Society and ASB). “Once I found a fun, supportive friend group I began to enjoy high school a lot more because they reminded me that life isn’t all about spending hours reading textbooks, it’s about learning from and spending time with people who add value to your life.”

She said that high school was very challenging because of her course load and extracurricular activities, but she appreciates how that has prepared her for the future. “It feels really great to look back and see the challenges I overcame.” Watson’s hard work has certainly payed off–she has earned a perfect 4.0 GPA, is an accomplished pianist, and received several scholarships at Senior Awards Night, among other things.

Watson described herself as a perfectionist and very driven to do her best in everything she does. “I like going on adventures like exploring places, traveling, hanging out with friends and playing piano,” she said. Although she admits part of her was striving for Valedictorian status, Watson stated that she mostly striving for a good education for the sake of a good education. When she learned that she was selected as a Valedictorian, she said it “felt very rewarding, like the culmination of 4 years of really hard work.”

“I am honored to be chosen to represent Central Kitsap High School’s class of 2019,” said Watson, “and with the opportunity to speak at graduation I am able to represent our class, which is a great opportunity.” She looks forward to sharing the Valedictorian speech with the graduating class, which she described as focused on the future and congratulatory. Personally, Watson’s future includes attending the University of San Diego in California next fall, where she plans to study behavioral neuroscience.

For those who may be striving for Valedictorian or Salutatorian status, Watson said “take challenging AP classes and push yourself to excel in those classes even though it will be difficult at times. However, be careful not to burn yourself out and overwork yourself because at the end of the day, the ‘title’ of valedictorian or salutatorian isn’t worth sacrificing your mental health and well-being for.”

Na, one of the Salutatorians for the Class of 2019, advises students working towarding Valedictorian or Salutatorian status simply“don’t mess around too much, and focus on your studies.” He values his status as Salutatorian because it signifies that he is in the top of the Class at a prestigious high school. It was not his goal to become a Salutatorian or Valedictorian, but he said “I am really honored that the committee choose me as a Sal.”

Na enjoys volunteering for Harrison Hospital, and he’s the President of National Honor Society. He also like hanging out with my friends, enjoys learning new things, and has played the violin in Orchestra throughout high school. He was born in South Korea, and immigrated to the United States as a child. When asked about his plans for next year, Na said “I don’t know yet, but I have a lot of options.”

Although the Valedictorian and Salutatorian selections honor students for their own personal achievements and contributions to the community, they each emphasized their gratitude to their friends, family and teachers more than personal pride.

“I’m so grateful for all my teachers who helped shape who I am and advocated for me throughout my high school years,” said Watson. “I wouldn’t be where I am without them!”