Interview with the “2 Smartest Girls In School” and How They Can Help You


Valedictorian Emily Liew, Principal Moore, and Salutatorian Valentina Pappano. Image via WOBOE

No matter what grade you are in or what courses you take, you will always face challenges while in school. Whether with a specific assignment or test-taking, we must push ourselves to find a way to thrive despite our personal hardships. I sat down with the Class of 2022 Valedictorian Emily Liew and Salutatorian Valentina Pappano, who have clearly figured out what works best for them; they want to offer their advice to help you succeed with the utmost of achievements.  


The Pioneer: What habits did you develop early on, whether it be in middle school or high school, that aided in your success? 


Valentina: Taking school seriously is a huge factor. I remember my sophomore year in gym class, we had a super short, easy PBA to complete. Only four people in the class did it, including myself, and all of those students happened to be in IMS. The amount of emphasis you put on schoolwork is so important, no matter how big or small the assignment is.


Emily: Putting in effort for every assignment, and spacing out your schoolwork, so you aren’t doing everything last minute.


The Pioneer: Was it your parents who had pushed you to do well in school?


Valentina: My parents definitely pushed in the beginning, but once they realized I had motivation within myself and I could do well without them, they stopped pushing as hard. I put it on myself to get the A+.


Emily: I definitely agree with Valentina, my parents are always telling me to stress less, but it is important for me to strive to do the best I can.


TP: Did any electives help personalize or help your high school experience? 


V: I take theater and dance, so those are fun classes for me that I can use to take a mental break from the day.


E: Coming into high school, I had a slight idea that I wanted to go into computer science, and taking electives helped solidify that idea for me and realize this was a career path I wanted to pursue.


TP: If you only had one piece of advice for incoming freshmen, what would it be?


V: Freshman year matters so much. I  had lower grades freshman year than I did my sophomore and junior year, and I feel like it significantly lowered my GPA. I had more time my freshman year as well, so I wish I had done better to have set up a better foundation for my GPA because your freshman year GPA is the number you are most likely to stay around all four years of high school.


E: I feel like freshman year I had so much time, I wish I had joined more clubs because now I do not have the time. It’s a fun thing to do but also looks great for colleges.


TP: What is the impact of procrastination, in your opinion? 


V: Of course, people are going to procrastinate, and I feel like we both procrastinate to an extent. Never procrastinate when it will not be finished in a timely manner. It’s important to know how long each assignment takes you so then you can plan your day accordingly.


E: I understand how long each assignment takes me, so I procrastinate up until it starts to affect my planning.


TP: How important is it to get an efficient amount of sleep? 


V: It is definitely important, and my extensive physical activity definitely requires my body to need more sleep.


E: It is so important to get a good amount of sleep, so then you can be alert and absorb the information in all of your classes. I take a nap when I get home as well because it is important to get rest and rejuvenate for homework.


TP: How did you overcome any challenges you had in school? 


V: If you are having a hard time in a specific class, developing new habits and putting in extra hours is a good way to overcome your challenges. It’s not frustrating working harder than usual, though, because I know it will pay off in the end. 


E: We definitely had a few trials and errors, and we would create study groups on Facetime and dedicate a bunch of time to this specific class we both struggled with, which was Calculus BC.


TP: Did you ever have to supplement your learning for a specific class? 


V: I would ask my sister for help and reread the textbook over and over again. In the summer leading up to taking Calculus BC, I took a whole semester of Calculus AB on Khan Academy to get myself familiar with the subject.


E: I’ve found Khan Academy to be super helpful and rereading the textbook.


As you can see, these girls have worked very hard to get where they are today, and with perseverance and good habits, you can too.