At many high schools across America, being the valedictorian or salutatorian involves cut-throat competition. The race toward the finish line for the highest grade-point average can be contentious.
Seniors Nicole Formhals, Sarah Morimoto and Stephanie Demos started out at Joliet Catholic Academy as friends. Formhals and Morimoto are the valedictorians, Demos the salutatorian for the Class of 2012.
And they remain close friends.
“We stood by each other and stuck together,” Formhals said. “It’s competitive here, but not too competitive, and we worked together. The classroom sizes are small so you develop a bond with everyone, and I really do believe we are a real family. There have been great times these years.”
“I really think the people make it special at JCA,” Morimoto said. “And you can make what you want of it. Having a small atmosphere, you know everybody. I feel honored. We worked hard for four years and it was something I couldn’t even imagine happening, but it’s everything I hoped for and more.”
The daughter of Joseph and Anna of Joliet, Formhals will attend the University of Missouri and major in biology for pre-med. The three words she used to describe herself are organized, passionate and adventurous.
The daughter of Dr. David Morimoto and Dr. Celeste Kaliski of Joliet, Morimoto will attend Northwestern and major in pre-med. The three words she used to describe herself are hard-working, driven and compassionate.
Demos, a National Merit Commended Student, is the daughter of Brian and Kim of Plainfield. She will attend Ohio State and major in business administration. The three words she used to describe herself are focused, caring and dedicated.
“I hoped, but I never dreamed I would do this with two of my best friends and that we would be competitive, but we would be so close,” Demos said. “We’ve always wanted the best for each other, and it’s a great group of people to graduate with. The whole four years, we came together for each other.”
Before the graduation ceremony, Formhals noted how happy she was to “meet new people” at JCA. She was looking forward to college as was Morimoto, who confirmed that she “definitely feels prepared academically, mentally and spiritually for continuing my education” because of the JCA experience.
While Demos was excited to be wearing her cap and gown, she described the moment as “bittersweet.”
“It’s the people,” Demos said, when asked about what makes JCA special. “Everyone wants the best for you and they are looking out for you. You know you can go to anyone for help and they will be there.”