Two High-School Students

Penelope and Janice attended high school together and were both what everyone considered good students and good kids. Both listened in class, studied hard, passed their exams, and completed their projects with high marks. However, one of them flourished and developed more than the other.

Penelope focused on her schoolwork and on staying out of trouble. Her aim for good grades crowded out other activities. As a result, she didn’t know other students well, and all anyone really knew about her is that she was at the top of her class and always had the right answers. No one tried to tempt her to engage in delinquent behavior because they always figured she was too busy studying. Years after graduation, not many people remembered Penelope’s name, but they remembered she was smart and always stayed on the teachers’ good side.

Janice made sufficient time for her studies and projects, but she also sought out opportunities to help the school. She worked as a teacher’s assistant in multiple classes through high school, and she participated in an after-school program for students with disabilities. Later, she ran for student body office and won, and using her position, she raised awareness in the school about the needs of disadvantaged students. She ran drives and fundraisers to help these students and their families. While Janice had no inherent interest in risky behaviors, she was simply doing too many good things to even think about participating.

Both Penelope and Janice high academic achievement placed them in consideration for the honor of valedictorian of their graduating class. They had equivalent academic records, but because of the positive effect Janice had on others and the school, administrators selected her for the honor.

Classmates later had little trouble recalling Janice by name, and many considered her not only a good person but also a friend.

Photo by Ivan Samkov on

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2 thoughts on “Two High-School Students

  1. Maerhwyn 20 February 2022 / 8:56 pm

    When I was a sophomore in high school, Becky, the student body president, was like Janice. She smiled all the time and was nice to everybody. We happened to be in an extra curricular program together for a few weeks in the fall. She was so popular I didn’t expect her to remember me, but for the rest of the school year if she saw me in the hall, she always smiled and greeted me by name. On the other hand, my senior student body president was a popular boy who happened to enjoy teasing me and making me cry in junior high. I don’t remember his name anymore. But I remember Becky.


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