Students atop their graduating class at Clover High School took different paths getting there. But neither did it alone.
Patrick Smith, whose twin brother Garrett Smith finished fifth in their class, found out less than a week before graduation that he’d need to give a speech. Smith earned valedictorian honors with a 5.221 GPA.
“At the beginning of this year I was No. 3,” Smith said, “so I didn’t think that I’d make it to No. 1.”
He did, largely thanks to teamwork.
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Smith said he loves the definitive, right and wrong nature of math but struggles, at least by comparison, with English and similar subjective studies. He and his twin worked together. Plus two older brothers who already graduated.
“It’s helped a lot,” Smith said.
The Smiths are the youngest of four boys, and the family lives in the Five Points area. Smith is the son of Tom and Alice Smith. Salutatorian Harriet Hall is the oldest of three sisters, and the live in the Bethany area. She is the daughter of Edmund and Kathy Hall.
Hall said she most enjoyed her English classes, but had a harder time with computer studies.
Hall didn’t have a sibling pushing her academic progress, but she had plenty of help at the school.
“It was definitely a surprise,” Hall said of her salutatorian honor, earned with a 5.163 GPA. “The entire top 10 were very close, and any of us would have deserved it.”
The students have some similarities. Both performed as members of the Choraliers. Both have an eye on pre-med studies, Smith as a marine biology student at the College of Charleston Honors College and Hall studying biology at Wake Forrest University. Both have to prepare remarks for the graduation.
“It was kind of stressful,” Smith said last week of his last extra assignment in high school, a graduation speech researched for several hours with only days to finish it. “It’s going to be in front of thousands of people, so we’ll see how it goes.”
Both students also have big plans after Clover High.
Smith and his brother will attend the same school. Smith wants to combine his passions for environmental service and medicine. Hall hopes to earn a medical degree and spend time working in developing countries.
“I feel like you can do a lot with a medical degree to help people,” she said.
Both also have words for would-be graduates to come.
Smith, who participated in the Spanish Club and Student Council, didn’t think long on what he would tell eighth-graders now finishing middle school. That “you can do pretty much anything you want in high school,” but that each class matters.
“Every grade matters,” he said. “Everything in the long run matters. Don’t take any class for granted.”
Hall, a tennis player for the school since seventh grade, offered similar wisdom. And a reminder how important the people in high school are, both students and teachers.
“Definitely reach out to the people you don’t know, and try as many things as you want to,” Hall said. “I think you’d be surprised what your passions may be.”
John Marks • 803-831-8166