Talk about a proud family at a high school graduation.
On June 24, at Parade Field, identical twin sisters Jennifer and Jenesis Gallego will graduate as 2012 Class Valedictorian and Salutatorian, respectively.
The achievements were earned with grade-point averages that separated the 18-year old twins by a mere 0.31 points.
“I had a 99.4 and Jennifer had a 99.7 average,” Jenesis said. “We always have strived to be the best we can be and we both have made our parents dreams become our own dreams too.”
These accomplished students credit their parents, Angel and Maria Gallego, with motivating them to achieve academic excellence throughout their school careers.
Both parents immigrated to the United States from Ecuador in search of better opportunities for their family; the twins were born here and attended the Peekskill public schools. Angel works in the construction industry and Maria has worked odd jobs—the couple also learned English, all the while inspiring their daughters to succeed.
“I am so honored to be named valedictorian,” Jennifer said. “It means that my parents did what was right by showing us that hard work pays off—they taught us that whatever type of labor you do, you have to do it right and do it well.”
Sherrill Lazarus, the principal of Peekskill High School said she finds it unique and charming to have twin sisters be named valedictorian and salutatorian this year.
“The girls are so devoted to one another, it is heartwarming—they are extremely competitive except when it comes to supporting and being there for each other—and have always applauded each other’s successes,” Lazarus said.
The school principal also acknowledged the Gallego family for their role in the twins’ success.
Jennifer and Jenesis come from a family with strong and positive values who have great respect for public education,” she added. “The family is a tribute to the Peekskill community—I wish I had 850 families just like them.”
Both girls were elected to the National Honor Society in their junior year and have shown a strong interest in science, having participated in Peekskill’s Authentic Science Research program for the past three years.
Outside of academics, the two young women practice Aikido, a type of martial arts, and Jennifer enjoys drawing and the arts.
“For me, Peekskill High School is a diverse, colorful place that has really given me a chance to become an open-minded person,” Jenesis said. “I have had great teachers who have inspired me to form my own opinions about things and I am grateful for that.”
In the fall, Jenesis will attend New York University and intends to major in architecture while Jennifer will pursue her interests at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, including a possible major in general engineering.
And though some classmates have confused the top-notch twins over the years, Jenesis said that it has never bothered her or her sister and the bond between the twins is strong.
“It is a lot of fun when people mix us up, even though we have tried to individuate ourselves.”
“Jennifer is really like another “me,” Jenesis explained. “She is my best friend, the person who ‘gets’ me the most and we are just so proud to represent our school and our family.”
Commencement ceremonies will be held on June 24, 2 p.m. at Peekskill High School, Parade Field.