After Lucretia Sexcius was named valedictorian of her junior high school class, she decided to try for a repeat performance in high school.
"I said I only have one life to live-I might as well do my best," said Sexcius, who this year was named valedictorian of the senior class at Ballou High School and has received a scholarship to the University of Pittsburg to study medicine.
Sexcius was one of 34 students from public and Catholic schools in the District who were honored at the 19th Annual Valedictorians' Awards Luncheon sponsored by the Washington chapter fo the Frontiers International Club. The club has 75 chapters around the world dedicated to promoting civic pride in communities and activities that will encourage excellence in youth.
Many of the 34 graduates had earned straight A's through high school. A few, however, like Chad Uy, had erred-earning "one B in English"-somewhere along the way.
Throughout the afternoon the young men and women were lauded for their achievements by D.C. Superior Court Judge Margaret Haywood and various members of the Frontier Club.
The speakers praised the youths' exemplary achievements. Special praise was given to those students who, according to one speaker, the Rev. Albion Ferrell, have excelled in public schools stepped in the "indifference and mediocrity into which we have allowed them to fall."
The graduates accepted the praise good naturedly, and later, after accepting their bronze plaques, some of them shrugged off the comments about the public school system with amused indifference.
"Sure I had to motivate myself," said Sexcius. "The teachers were helpful, but you just have to push yourself and go to the teachers sometime. I wouldn't say the teachers are bad."
"There's nothing wrong with schools," said Uy, the 18-year-old valedictorian from McKinley High School who came to the U.S. from the Philipines six years ago. "It's probably the students, the way they react. I've learned to put time on my side, to discipline myself."
In the fall, Uy said, he will enter George Washington University on scholarship to study electrical engineering and medicine.
"You get what you want out of the school system," mused Alvin Hawkins, 17, the valedictorian from Randall Aerospace and Marine Science School. "If you don't try, (the teachers) are not going to force you. It's what you put forth."
His success, he said, came from the values instilled in him by his father.
"He would say, "If you want to go to college, you'll have to make good grades.' Then he would leave it up to me to decide."
Beaming with pride, the parents of the valedictorians fluttered around their offspring, taking pictures and accepting congrulations.
"I didn't except him to be valedictorians because of tthe competition," said Pedrito Uy, who attended the luncheon with his wife, Asuncion. "We were really surprised. He didn't tell us anything. But I always knew he was an A student.
Sheriel Sexcius, a District school teacher, said her biggest problem with Lucretia was dragging her daughter away from the books.
"She studied from 6 p.m. until 11 p.m. Off and on I would insist she take the breaks."
The 34 valedictorians are: Karen Ann Silver of Anacostia High School, Fred Allen Jr. of Archbishop Carroll High School, Josephine Jenkins and Lucretia Sexcius of Ballou High School, Leroy Thomas Peterson of Bell Career Development Center, Shirley Yolanda Clark and Frances Harris of Burdick Career Development Center, Bernadine L. Morielli of Capitol Page School, Tony A. Robinson of Cardozo High School.
Also, Gloria Daise of Chamberlain Career Development of Center, Tommy Kwong Doong of Coolidge High School, Oscar Fairley of Dix Street Academy, Marcus Talley of Duke Elington School of the Arts, Robert Kevin Pines of Dunbar High School, Deborah Anne Colbert of Eastern High School, Sean T. Enright of Gonzaga College High School, Caroline Rebbert of Immaculate Preparatory School.
Also, Chad Villarose Uy of McKinley High School, Arnold D. Bullock of Mackin Catholic High School, Julie David of Notre Dame Catholic High School, Thomas McKinley Alston of Phelps Career Development Center, Alvin Hawkins of Randall Aerospace and Marine Science School, Carmen Mary-Lee West of Theodore Roosevelt High School, Sharon Brown of St. Anthony's Catholic High School, Leila Francine Broussard of St. Cecilia's Catholic High School.
Also, Timothy Givens of St. John's Catholic High School, Kathleen Parish of St. Patrick's Catholic High School, LaShawn O. Vaulx of School Without Walls, Kyle Jackson of Sharpe Health School, Rebecca Shields of Spingarn STAY, Theresa Mae West of M.M. Washington Career Center, Wai Foo Hom of Woodrow Wilson High School and Rodney L. Carter of H.D. Woodson High School. CAPTION: Picture, Valedictorians honored recently included, kneeling, Sean Enwright and Alvin Hawkins; standing, Frontiers president Al Briscoe, Theresa Vest, D.C. Superintendent Vincent Reed, Kathleen Parrish, Chad Uy and LaAhawn Vaulx. By Craig Herndon-The Washington Post