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PHS releases valedictorian and salutatorian

Valedictorian Rayna Samples and Salutatorian Vivian Long.

The final rank has been calculated for Princeton High School, and the top two grads in the Class of 2021 have been announced. Rayna Samples is the valedictorian, and Vivian Long is the salutatorian.

Rayna Samples Rayna, who has attended Princeton schools her entire life, ended with a 5.38 GPA and plans to attend the University of Texas-Austin in the fall.

“I want to focus on education and teach English on the middle school or high school level,” Rayna said. “It was my English teachers who impacted me so much. They have been there for me and were the ones who supported my heart when I needed it, and I want to pay that forward.”

Rayna, who has been very involved in band and choir throughout high school serving as the drum major and advancing through the TMEA All-State choir process, gets her motivation from her own desire to do well.

“My parents never got involved with my education,” she said. “They never were the kind to check my grades. So if I want to get, I’ll get it.”

Because of her dual credit courses, Rayna will nearly be classified as a junior in college when she arrives at the UT campus.

“I’m really excited for the future,” she said. “I can’t wait to experience everything college has to offer.”

Vivian moved to the states from Belgium when she was 3 years old and came to Princeton for 6th grade. She will finish her Princeton education with a 5.3 GPA and comes from a long line of valedictorians in her family.

“My dad was the valedictorian for his class in Belgium, and my mom was the valedictorian at her school in Vietnam,” said Vivian, whose brother, Ron, was also the valedictorian of the PHS Class of 2018. “When they released rank after freshman year and Rayna was already first and I was fifth, I think everyone in the family was a little disappointed.”

But Vivian redeemed herself and climbed to salutatorian and will major in chemistry at the University of Texas-Austin this fall. She will enter college with the equivalent of an associate’s degree in dual credit courses and wants to be an anesthesiologist.

“Academics are important to me, and I like the satisfaction to be able to say I know what I need to know,” Vivian said. “Being salutatorian has provided me with the avenue to keep exploring and given me the tools to make the world a better place.”

Salutatorian Vivian Long. Vivian, who was active in debate throughout high school, plans to continue to use those skills at UT.

“UT will give me the opportunity to study abroad and expand my horizons,” she said. “Debate has given me a love for research, and UT has given me a place where I can research with professors.”

The valedictorian and salutatorian have been friends throughout high school and have enjoyed their friendly competition in their academia, and they agree on one thing outside of education.

“My hobby outside of class is hanging out with friends,” Vivian said.

Rayna agreed.

“I love doing anything with friends,” she said. “I have fun as long as the people I love are doing it with me.”