Based on preliminary information provided by Coolidge High School, the Washington Post reported on May 23 that Coolidge's valedictorian this year was Sharon Murphy. Following final computation of grade averages. Trudie McCoy was named valedictorian and Murphy the salutatorian.
Only one wants to be a politician, at least two say they smoke marijuana occasionally, most want to be married in their mid-20s and one has already had five proposals of marriage. They are the valedictorians of the class of 1977 for high schools in the District of Columbia.
Ten of the 31 valedictorians who were interviewed by the Washington Post said unanimously that their curricular activities range from square-dancing to cheerleading to locking themselves up in their rooms and doing more studying.
Nineteen of the 31 valedictorians are females and the 10 who were interviewed attributed the imbalance to "all the other things a guy can do, like sports that girls don't get into . . ."
And the ten, who are all going to the college of their choice, said the biggest difference between them and the valedictorians of five and 10 years ago was that they feel thay are not as well-educated because they attended overcrowded classes and they feel they are not as aware of current events, or interested in them.
"I don't want anything to do with politics," said Herbert McCoy of Anacostia High School. He will be attending the University of Pennsylvania with the hope of becoming an engineer.
"There is too much corruption in politics for me to indulge myself in a City Council position or anything else in the hierarchy of the District government," he said. "I'd settle for a government job - GS 9 or 10 (salaries between $14,000 and $17,000) - or go into private business if they could offer me the financial security that a government job has to offer," McCoy said.
"I'd like the U.S. to stay the way it is," said Anne Marie Hill, of Wilson High School in Northwest Washington. "I don't know about what is happening in other countries but I'm comfortable and happy here.
"I feel capable of affecting things, but I'm not a person to push my ideas on people" she said. "I'm not the one that is going to change things."
"I keep up with politics and things a little bit," said Edmond Knights, of Bell Vocational High School, who was his school's outstanding welder, "but I have my friends my family, and karate. That is what I care about."
The valedictorians who were equated with athletic "superstars" by Washington's school superintendent Vincent Reed, attributed their success in school to various reasons and circumstances. Reed addressed the group Saturday at a Valedictory Award Luncheon sponsored by Frontiers International D.C. Club.
"In my case it is unusual," said Michael Johnson of Archbishop Carroll High School. "My mother doesn't work so I got more attention than other kids, you know, my family cats together every night and I can study a lot because when I get home I don't have to deal with a whole lot of other things."
Johnson, who will be attending Catholic University, the school of his choice, will be studying voice music. His hero is Stevie Wonder.
"Everyone is asking me why I'm going into music, they don't see the value of it" he said. "But look at someone like Stevie Wonder, he is spreading a message through his music and people listen to a message that has a good beat."
Kris Lorraine Price, valedictorian at Cardozo High School, said she had been inspired by her blind grandmother.
"She didn't have the chance to get an education and she let me know it," Price said. "So I took advantage of what I could get."
Price will be going to Trinity College and majoring in special education because "I want to help people like my great-grandmother who has been blind for 20 years."
Yvette Erwin, the valedictorian at Duke Ellington School of the Arts, said she had been able to be the school's top student because she spent a year at a private school, the Emma Willard School, in Troy, N.Y.
"I went away to Willard School and it gave me a very strong background, I was ahead of students in my school (Ellington)," Erwin said.
"And my mother helped too," she added. "She took us to museums and art galleries, read us books, she was determined that we would be proper young ladies," she said, referring to herself and her twin sister.
Erwin, who has modeled professionally, said she isn't sorry she left the private school even though she said she believes she would have better educated if she had completed high school there.
"I might be a smart cookie but I wouldn't be as smart about other things - survival - if I'd stayed in boarding school," she said. "I'd know books but I wouldn't know what is going on."
McCoy, the Anacostia valedictorian, has a clear, harsh vision of what drove him to become the valedictorian of his class.
"Whey my mother died (when he was in his first year of junior high school) I was old enough to see the pain she had to go through, to see how poor people are treated," he said. "She was in a award with lots of people and inadequate facilities. No one cared. I learned from that experience and I became determined."
Sharon Murphy, of Coolidge High School, who wants to be a doctor, said she succeded because her parents "geared" her into a study habit Murphy said her principal activity outside of school was cheerleading. She will be going to George Washington University.
June Chewning, of Chamberlain Vocational High who won the school superintendent's award nor the last three years, said she was successful because, "my teachers found me interesting so they helped me."
Chewning, who hopes to be a court reporter, said her homeroom teacher, Mable Turner, inspired her to keep at her work.
Quinton E. Hood, of the Washington Urban League Street Academy, a shy young man who said he has not applied to college because he doesn't know what he wants to do, said he did well in classes only after transferring from several public schools to the street academy where "teachers took time to work out problems."
When asked what they thought were the crucial issues facing their generation the valedictorians said: U.S. defense capabilities, Energy; problems of human communication and poor education. The students all praised public and parochial school teachers although most mentioned class overcrowding as a factor that they believed kept them from fully developing their potential in high school.
As for the future the 10 students had little idea of what they really wanted to accomplish or what was important to them besides obvious comforts.
"Success is more a matter of luck than talent," said Stephen L. Hayes of Gonzaga High, who is going to Yale. "If I'm honest that will be enough," he said. Hayes wants to write for the theater.