Two Jacksonville, Florida high school seniors, made history by becoming valedictorian and salutatorian at Jean Ribault High School for the first time.
Jeffrey Francis and Darrell Worrell were the top two students in their class to be honored with the prestigious titles next to their names on graduation day, WJXX reported.
The two young men delivered their speeches during the commencement ceremony on May 26, marking the duo as the first to receive such honors since classes 1976 and 1985.
Meet the top of the class at Ribault High! Jeffrey Francis (left) & Darrell Worrell (right) are valedictorian and salutatorian respectively. It’s the 1st time Ribault High has ever has the top 2 both be African-American young men. pic.twitter.com/5zfMURjpQX
— Leah Shields (@LeahShieldsNews) May 26, 2022
Francis, the valedictorian, shared a story about his sister’s graduation and wondered why there weren’t many young Black men with the academic honor.
“In elementary school, my sister graduated 8th in her class, actually from here, Ribault High School. From there, I kind of aspired to be number one,” he said.
“I seen that there weren’t many African-American men who were valedictorian. So I wondered how I could inspire other African-American young men if I was valedictorian.”
Worrell, the salutatorian, wanted to be the first in his family to break a generational curse as the first to graduate from high school.
“I wanted to get rid of a generational curse,” Worrell said. “You know like a lot of my family some of them didn’t graduate.”
The two reached their academic dreams together as best friends, scoring the highest grade point average in a class of nearly 300 students.
“Becoming salutatorian kind of more so fell in my lap,” Worrell said humbly. “I did work hard for it of course, but it definitely was like oh I’m moving up in ranks.”
The high school graduates maintained an extensive list of extracurricular activities, including an associate’s degree, before earning their diplomas a few weeks ago.
Worrell also revealed more surprising details about his family during the interview with the NBC affiliate.
“I’m a first-generation college student,” Worrell said gleefully with a smile on his face.
Before heading off to college, they wanted to provide other young men and women with advice in their academic lives.
“You can do anything you set your mind to do,” Francis said.
“There is nothing wrong with being smart,” Worrell said.
The teens are preparing for the next chapter of their academic careers as college freshmen.
Francis will be attending FAMU and majoring in medicine. Worrell will be attending FSU and wants to major in finance.
Watch the full interview below.