Kayla Patrick and Rebecca Smith both say they've worked hard.
The hard work paid off.
Patrick and Smith are at the very top of the Huntington North High School Class of 2013.
"I'm always just trying to do my best in whatever I do," says Patrick, who earned valedictorian honors with a four-year grade point average of 11.32. "I worked, not necessarily for that, but to make myself the best I could be."
It took "a lot, a lot of time and hard work," says Smith, who was named salutatorian with a GPA of 11.2941.
While Smith says she didn't begin her high school career with plans to finish at the top, she did have another ambition.
"One of my goals was to get all A's," Smith says.
She accomplished that, earning an A in every class, every quarter, every year.
"I think I've had a couple of A minuses, but nothing below that," Patrick says.
Even with the minuses, Patrick's GPA ended up slightly above Smith's because she took more advanced placement classes, which are given additional weight when figuring GPA. The weighted AP classes also explain why both students maintained GPAs above the school's 11-point grading scale.
Both Patrick and Smith say they didn't know they were in the top spots until recently.
"Not really until they called us down," Smith says. "I knew I was up there, but we're so competitive. There are a lot of good students in this school."
"At the end of this last semester, when it told me on our report cards that I was first in our class," Patrick says.
Class ranking hadn't appeared on earlier report cards, she explains.
"They are very worthy," HNHS Principal Chad Daugherty said of the students before handing the microphone to guidance counselor Elaine Willour to make the announcement on Tuesday, April 23.
The announcement was made during a breakfast attended by all HNHS teachers and included the naming of the HNHS teacher of the year, Debbie Wiley, a 40-year veteran of the family and consumer sciences department.
Patrick, Willour said, has been challenged by a significant hearing loss in one ear and multiple eye surgeries, but never used those challenges as an excuse not to work hard.
"As a matter of fact, I believe that she has used them as a catalyst to excel beyond what others could achieve," Willour said.
Patrick has been in the top 25 of her high school class all four years and is a member of the National Honor Society. She has participated in cross country, basketball and track all four years. She has also been a freshman mentor and a member of the Student Athletic Board and Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Outside of school, Patrick is a 10-year 4-H member and has volunteered with the Local Anti-Drug Coalition Effort, Boys & Girls Club, Fort Wayne Rescue Mission, the Angel Tree project, as a bell ringer for The Salvation Army and in the highway cleanup program.
"I'm extremely proud to say I've had a wonderful group of teachers here," Patrick said in accepting the honor, adding that the teachers taught her about life in addition to academics. "You teach us to be successful and decent human beings."
Patrick has been accepted into the engineering program at Purdue University and plans to pursue a degree in aeronautical engineering.
Parick is the daughter of Kevin and Cyndy Patrick.
Smith's quiet nature has not kept her from becoming a leader at school, Willour said.
"She is not afraid to speak up for herself and take a stand for those things that she feels strongly about," Willour said.
"Becca's quiet leadership in freshman mentoring, 4-H and FFA has been a huge asset to each of these programs ... She will be dearly missed in these programs next year."
Smith has also been in the top 25 all four years and is a member of National Honor Society.
She's a 10-year 4-H member and a member and officer of FFA, participating in many FFA competitions. She participated in the national FFA soil competition two years and, as a junior, placed 10th out of hundreds of students from across the United States.
She has also volunteered to tutor other students, played softball for two years and played volleyball for a year. She volunteers in the community with her youth group.
"A lot of time and hard work has gone into this," Smith said, as she thanked her teachers and her parents for their help.
Smith plans to study animal science at Purdue University, then enter the pre-veterinary program with a goal of becoming a veterinarian.
Smith is the daughter of Jon and Kristy Smith.