(Editor’s Note: Amaiana Sajjad is a senior at North Plainfield High School and an intern for TAPinto North Plainfield.)

NORTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Yanqing Liang has been named valedictorian of North Plainfield High School’s (NPHS) Class of 2017 and Kevin Andrade has been named salutatorian.

“It feels wonderful to be the valedictorian, knowing that my hard work for the past four years has paid off,” said Liang. “I think it's also an extreme honor to have such a notable title, as it is difficult to maintain good grades while being an active community member and having fun at the same time.”

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Andrade added, “There's a lot work and studying that goes into maintaining such a position. I've always been self-motivated, but knowing that I had the pressure to maintain such a position pushed me further. Most of the work and preparing came from being motivated and having goals that allowed me to always push forward.”

During their high school career, both students were active members of the NPHS community service club, Interact, as well as the National Honor Society, Italian Honor Society, Science League, Canuck Mentors program, and more. Additionally, Liang and Andrade were also involved in athletics. Andrade played soccer throughout his high school career, including serving as the varsity team his junior and senior year; Liang was a member of the varsity tennis team for three years.

Although Liang and Andrade were both enrolled in advanced proficiency classes since sixth grade, neither entered high school with the goal of being the top two students in their graduating class. Grateful and honored to have achieved this rank, Liang and Andrade said their parents have been the inspiration for their success.

“I don't think I necessarily have a person to look up to as a model for maintaining high standards and grades, but it's more like a mindset that I developed because of my parents,” said Liang, noting that her father was a fantastic mathematician who, unfortunately, did not have the opportunity to further his education in China. Additionally, her mother was unable to finish high school due to economic limitations.

“Knowing their situations and their expectations of me made me want to make them proud. I never really had being a valedictorian as a goal until sophomore year,” said Liang. “My attitude towards school was always to be the best so that I can be to make my parents proud.”

For Andrade, the inspiration for maintaining such high academic standards has always been his parents. “I know how much they have sacrificed for me to be where I am today,” Andrade said. “I want to make their sacrifice worthwhile so I set high standards for myself.”

Come the fall, Liang will attend Stevens Institute of Technology and major in civil engineering with a minor in environmental science. Andrade is headed to Princeton University and plans to pursue a degree in aerospace engineering.

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