GBHS 2017 valedictorian and salutatorian announced

Kevin Yang and Allan Yu accept graduation honors


As Granite Bay High School says goodbye to two outgoing seniors, the University of California at Berkeley will welcome two incoming freshmen.

Seniors Kevin Yang and Allan Yu are the valedictorian and salutatorian for the class of 2017, respectively. Yang will be attending Cal to study pre-med, and Yu will be attending Cal for electrical engineering and computer science.

Yang said while his plan for the past four years has been to pursue pre-med, he might end up switching his major.

“I was set on becoming a doctor,” Yang said. “I was going to major in public health and maybe minor in bio or something, but after going there for Cal Day and exploring other options, (I considered) computer science …  Maybe I’ll take some computer science classes and if I really like it, I might do that.”

Although the valedictorian and salutatorian weren’t officially announced until the Academic Merit Awards last week, both Yang and Yu suspected they would fill the positions.

Yu said during the school year, someone mentioned there was a change in the class ranking. When he checked his class rank, Yu discovered he was ranked No. 2.

Officially, Yu heard the news when his counselor called his mom. Overhearing the phone call, Yu learned he would be salutatorian.

Yang found out he would be valedictorian directly from the school.

“Earlier the week before, my counselor came to me and officially told me, ‘Oh, you’re valedictorian,’” Yang said, “but even prior to that, I kind of had feelings that I (would) be it.”

Yang said it was a relief when he officially heard he would be valedictorian.

“I was still trying pretty hard in my classes spring semester of my senior year because I’m like, ‘Oh, I have a shot at becoming valedictorian. I can’t just just start slacking off,’” Yang said. “After they told me (I would be valedictorian), I was like OK, maybe I don’t have to put as much stress on myself trying to get perfect scores on everything.”

Yang said he is generally satisfied with his experience at GBHS, but the school has a few flaws.

“Granite Bay is definitely one of the better (high schools) just from all the AP classes they offer to extracurriculars,” Yang said. “I’ll definitely admit that there’s definitely more competition here in terms of academics than other schools. I know that a lot of people here try their hardest and are trying to go to top-tier colleges, and I guess the feeling of it can cause stress to you – just having the mentality (of) I’ve got to do better than these people if I really want to go to a top-tier college.”

Yu came to GBHS as a new freshman in the community, and he said he didn’t know very many people – but his high school experience got better as he became more involved.

“I genuinely did enjoy almost all of my classes and almost all of my teachers – not quite all of them, there were like one or two – but other than that, I genuinely did enjoy most of the learning environment here,” Yu said. “Yes, there are cliques and all that stuff, but it wasn’t too difficult to make new friends.”

Yu started participating in Club Rush in his sophomore year of high school. He joined a variety of clubs, and while he didn’t stick to all of them, he remained dedicated to Key Club.

“I remember Club Rush from freshman year … and I didn’t really do anything,” Yu said. “I kind of just wandered around eating lunch and stuff, and that kind of made me … remain solo freshman year. … Once I actually started joining clubs and participating in activities, I started actually getting (to be) part of the school environment.”

Yu plans on getting involved in clubs early on in college. He said he is also excited for the independence he will have in college.

“There’s no parents that are just telling you everything you have to do every day,” Yu said. “I mean I’m not going to do anything stupid but  – well, yeah, I probably am.”

Yang also participated in several activities throughout high school, including volleyball, Future Business Leaders of America, National Honors Society, Stronger Than Cancer and Grizzly Food Bank.

Yang said he wanted colleges to recognize him as more than the stereotypical Asian.

“If I had a sport while I was at school, it’d make me stand out a little bit more because they’d be like oh, he’s just not the typical Asian applicant,” Yang said. “It’s getting harder and harder to get into colleges applying as an Asian.”

Like Yu, Yang has had a positive experience with clubs. After trying out FBLA, Yang discovered he had an interest in business. He also met one of his future roommates, Cole Kahmann, through FBLA.

Yang is hoping to leave a lasting impact on the class of 2017.

“I know last year’s (valedictorian speech) was kind of serious,” Yang said. “(It was) talking about the school system and stuff, and I mean I don’t really want to copy him so I think I’m going to make mine more funny and lighthearted. … I just want it to be something that people are going to remember.”