Education

Three friends share valedictorian honors at Bryan Station High School

Bryan Station High School valedictorians Marylynne Anderson-Cooper, left, Cameron Jackson and Logan Jackson have  identical grade point averages out to four decimal points.
Bryan Station High School valedictorians Marylynne Anderson-Cooper, left, Cameron Jackson and Logan Jackson have identical grade point averages out to four decimal points.

When diplomas are passed out to the Bryan Station High School Class of 2011 on Friday, not one, not two, but three valedictorians will be recognized.

The three tied for the highest academic average in their class during the past four years — the first time that has happened at Bryan Station.

Perhaps almost equally notable is that two of the three are twins, and all three young women are close friends and in the Spanish Immersion Program. All three are musicians and have lettered in sports at Bryan Station. And they have supported and encouraged one another since meeting in first grade at Maxwell Elementary School.

Indeed, valedictorians Cameron and Logan Jackson and Marylynne Anderson-Cooper are so close that many folks around Bryan Station jokingly refer to them as "the triplets."

"At the end of middle school and freshman year of high school we really started to become close friends," Logan said. "We were in the same scout troop, and sophomore year we had every single class together. I guess it grew from that."

Spanish also has been a constant for all three. They began taking it together in first grade at Maxwell and have been in the Spanish Immersion Program for 12 years. Studying Spanish helped them in their other classes, they say.

"Reading Shakespeare in Spanish was hard," Cameron said. "After that, when we had to read Hamlet in English, it was easy."

During spring break, the girls went to Spain, touring Barcelona, Madrid, Grenada and other major cities. The Spanish skills they had labored to develop over the years stood them in good stead.

"I think all of our tours were in Spanish, so we got to speak Spanish a lot," Marylynne said. "The trip was really fun."

Guidance counselor Ann Hurt, who works with the Spanish Immersion Program at Bryan Station, gives the young women high marks in all areas.

"They have exactly the same GPA, going out to four decimal places, which is pretty unusual," Hurt said. "And it's really refreshing to see their friendship. There is no competition there. All three girls do really well, and they are so happy for each other."

Their parents say they never had to push them to hit the books or complete their homework. All three are self-starters, they say.

"Cameron and Logan are very organized, except for cleaning their rooms and things like that," quipped their mother, Tonya Jackson. "About the only thing I did was read to them early and often. They've always wanted to learn, and we just tried to cultivate that."

Marylynne's mom, Debra Anderson, said her daughter stayed so busy she often couldn't keep track of her activities.

"She might say, 'I'm going over to Eastern State Hospital this afternoon, and I'd say, 'What's that for?' And it would turn out she was doing volunteer work," Anderson said.

"I told Marylynne from her early years that the reason we're in this world is to help each other. That's been our family philosophy, and she just ran with it."

In fact, all three girls have volunteered at Eastern State, where they did such things as help put on bingo nights for residents.

Last year, they worked through the Bryan Station Beta Club to start a tutoring program at Arlington Elementary School, helping students there with math.

Somewhere in between, they played in Bryan Station's chamber orchestra — Logan on viola, Cameron on cello and Marylynne on violin. Marylynne also is an accomplished singer.

They also found time to letter in sports, Marylynne in volleyball, Logan and Cameron in soccer.

With graduation at hand, they say they're ready to move on.

Logan will attend Northeastern University in Boston, where she plans to study engineering. Her sister Cameron will attend Tufts University, near Boston, where she wants to major in Spanish and music. Marylynne will enroll at Northwestern University, where she plans to major in theater and Spanish, with perhaps a minor in performance studies.

"Theater is what I love to do; it's my passion," Marylynne says.

The young women say they aren't feeling nostalgic about saying goodbye to high school and going their separate ways — at least not yet. They'll still have the summer together.

And for right now they're still polishing the valedictory speech they'll give jointly at commencement on Friday night, each composing a part to make up the whole.

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