The Best and Brightest 2017: Valedictorian, Salutatorian and STAR Student


Jack Stenger

Salutatorian Stockton DeLaria, STAR Student Zeke Day, and Valedictorian Sterling Speigl.

The highest achieving students of the class of 2017 have managed to share coincidental features in their intellectual endeavors. The valedictorian, salutatorian and Star Student for the 2016-2017 school year are Sterling Spiegl, Stockton De Laria and Ezekiel Day, respectively.

The schools valedictorian is the senior with the highest grade point average and the salutatorian has the second highest GPA. The STAR student is the senior who scored highest on the SAT.

For the first time ever in school history, the top three members of an academic class are all males. “It’s very rare for this to happen,” said senior counselor Dionne Williams. “What’s even more serendipitous is that they’re all friends.”

And perhaps most remarkable is that all three are part of multiple sibling sets. Spiegel is triplet and both De Laria and Day are twins.

“The best part of being salutatorian is the validation after four years of constant hard work,” said De Laria. “It’s just a ranking that gets sent to the colleges but it also represents how much effort had to be put in.”

According to Day, the trick is balancing the three pillars of high school: the social, sports and academic lives. “This year I really had to cut back on being socially active,” he said. “I kind of had to weasel my way up to this spot and it was worth it.”

Day participates in varsity lacrosse while managing the International Baccalaureate workload.

Beginning to reminisce about his senior year already, De Laria stated that the leadership exhibited by the 12th grade administration eased his process in succeeding throughout the year. “The most stressful time was probably during the fall. We had a lot of classwork to complete and college applications to turn in,” he said.

For college, Spiegl will attend Princeton University and hopes to major in biochemical engineering. De Laria is leaning toward Georgia Tech and plans on a career in finance and economics. Day also plans on attending Tech and wants to major in mechanical engineering in preparation for a career in aerospace engineering.

Spiegl offered advice to any student who wants to succeed in the long run. “Don’t stress too much during high school. It’s just four years – you don’t have to go out and impress anybody,” he said. “I walked in here with a class of 625, and am going to walk out with 400 and I’ll probably keep in touch with four of them.”

De Laria said that at the end of the day, it’s just about how well-rounded you are. “At a certain point, the GPA becomes negligible. It’s about who you are, what you want to be, and what you’re doing to get there,” he said.

As the three sat with each other in describing their high school careers, they reflected on them as if these past four years have been inspiration and motivation for their continued success. In May when they deliver their speeches and walk away with their diplomas, the three will, without doubt, leave behind a legacy of hard work and dedication.