LHS valedictorian, salutatorian have GPAs higher than 4.5

Girls headed to Harvey Mudd, Stanford
By: Steve Archer, Reporter
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Know and Go:

What: Lincoln High School graduation

When: 8 p.m. June 8. Gates open at 6:30 p.m.

Where: Lincoln High School stadium, 790 J St.

Admission: Free but must have ticket to attend

What a difference eight-hundredths of a point make.

In the world of academic excellence, eight-hundredths of a point is what separates the grade point average of Lincoln High School’s valedictorian Susan Li from salutatorian Xin Ma’s. Li will graduate Friday night with a 4.67 GPA and Ma with a 4.59 GPA.

Neither girl was shocked upon learning they were the top Lincoln High School students.

“I knew I was up there but I didn’t have it confirmed until the vice-principal and counselor told me I had to give a speech,” Li said Wednesday. “I haven’t started working on the speech yet.”

And Ma wasn’t surprised, either.

“We knew our ranks before then,” Ma said.

In the fall, Li will attend Harvey Mudd College in Claremont and Ma will attend Stanford University. Li plans to study either engineering or computational biology and Ma is undecided but is interested in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

“I’m interested in manufacturing bio-medical devices,” Li said. “Some medical devices are still very primitive and the industry is expanding with longer life-expectancies.”

Both Li and Ma have attended Western Placer Unified School District schools since middle school. Li moved to Lincoln from the Bay Area in eighth-grade and Ma moved to Lincoln from Paradise in seventh-grade.

Li said she her favorite subjects are biology and math, while Ma’s favorite classes are honors chemistry and Advanced Placement physics.

“I also enjoyed my honors English class,” Li said. “The teacher, Miss (Tara) Jeane, taught in a way that made me think from a different perspective and really opened my eyes. I liked reading ‘The Scarlett Letter’ and ‘Bless Me Ultima.’”

Li’s advice to underclassmen at Lincoln High School is to take care of one’s self.

“Sleep if you want to,” Li said. “If there is an assignment that your grade doesn’t depend on, choose sleep.”

“My favorite memory is after my (Advanced Placement) test and I didn’t have to do anything but watch movies and eat snow cones,” Li added.

Ma’s advice was about self-knowledge.

“Find what you are passionate about learning and it will make you love school,” Ma said.

Vice-Principal Mike Maul, who will be the Lincoln High School principal in the fall, said he knows the girls because he has been the Advanced Placement coordinator for the last seven years.

“They are both very driven students who took the most challenging courses and excelled at them,” Maul said. “Typically, Advanced Placement subject matter is intense.”

There is “pretty significant training for advanced placement teachers,” Maul said, through the College Board, which runs the Advanced Placement programs.

“You have to be a subject matter specialist and an Advanced Placement structure specialist,” Maul said, of AP teachers. “Usually, you have been a teacher for many years. It’s an intense process.”