JOHNSBURG – Brothers Ian and Sean Nykaza insist it wasn’t a competition to see who could finish at the top of their class.
But “he has to come out first in everything,“ Sean said.
The twins walked across a stage set up on the Johnsburg High School football field on Friday, with Ian named valedictorian and Sean named salutatorian of the Class of 2014.
“We’ve always tried to do the best we can in any situation and that’s what it was,” Ian said.
The difference in their GPAs was only .03.
“It sounds cliché, but it was brotherly,” Sean said. “There was no animosity between who got first or second. We just strived to achieve what we could, and I think we did well.”
The Nykazas will attend the University of Minnesota – in the appropriately named Twin Cities – although they said they made their decision independently and will not room together.
“It’s funny, I guess,” Ian said. “Go Gophers!”
Both said they want to make a difference in the world: Sean through studying mechanical engineering and Ian through physics with plans to earn a doctorate.
“With that degree, I’m going to try to get to the quantum level of physics,” Ian said. “I want to be on the cutting edge.”
In his speech, he told his classmates they, too, should do what makes them happy in life.
“Not what your parents or friends want you to do, but what truly makes you happy and allows you to look in the mirror at the end of the day and say, ‘Wow, I look good and I have no regrets,’ ” Ian said.
During his turn at the podium, Sean poked fun at his small town by saying the only thing more plentiful in Johnsburg than corn is the potholes in the high school parking lot.
Class president Chloe Hurckes continued the chiding, saying that “only in the 'burg” do the parking lots flood.
But there also are many positives to the 'burg, she said.
“Only in the 'burg do we have 19 people in our class score above a 30 on their ACT,” Hurckes said. “Only in the 'burg do we have our football star be an ensemble member in the musical and go to state for discus.”
Hurckes, who plans to attend Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, this fall, recalled her great-grandmother’s 100th birthday in April.
Hurckes said her great-grandmother told her that she only regretted dropping out of high school at age 14 to take care of family.
“When you stop to think about it, almost everyone [here] has been given the opportunity to get an education that our grandparents maybe didn’t get,” she said. “We woke up for the past 15 or so years and went to school, not realizing that there are people who never got the chance.”
Hurckes said her wish for her class was to appreciate their education at JHS.
“Never take those times you had to force yourself out of bed to go to class, a practice, or a meeting for granted,” she said. “Every single thing we’ve experienced here has shaped us into who we are today and who we will become.”