Palm Beach Central High School’s Class of 2018 graduates on Monday, May 21 at noon at the South Florida Fairgrounds. Valedictorian Brandon Truong and Salutatorian Aleecia Marshall will lead the ceremony, as some 730 students cross the stage.
“I tell this senior class that they are my favorite class because we came to this school together,” Palm Beach Central Principal Darren Edgecomb said. “I started here when they started here. We went through a lot of firsts together, and we’ve had an incredible journey these four years. This will be a very special graduation for them and for me.”
Edgecomb beamed with pride when talking about the legacy being left behind by this year’s graduating class.
“I am so proud of the intelligent, athletic, philanthropic and giving kids in this class,” he said. “These kids have done so much to make this school better.”
Truong pushed himself during his last year at Palm Beach Central when he found out how close he was to being first in his class.
“I never really had my mind set out to be valedictorian,” he said. “I always just tried to do the best I could. But, when I saw how close I was, I thought I could push a little harder, and now everything I worked for came together. When I was called down to the principal’s office, I thought I was in trouble. I really didn’t know I had done it.”
In the fall, Truong will be attending Princeton University in New Jersey. He plans to major in computer science and economics.
“I have had a lot of experiences in school that made me grow to enjoy [these subjects],” he said. “I enjoy that everything I learn is applicable to real world situations and helps solve problems.”
Truong grew up in Wellington, attending Panther Run Elementary School and Polo Park Middle School.
In high school, Truong served as president of Key Club, was a member of the Future Business Leaders of America, the National Honor Society, ran on the cross-country team and was a Pathfinder nominee.
Truong is thankful for his education and educators at Palm Beach Central, but is especially grateful for the guidance he received from Key Club sponsors Patrice Elysee and Donald Meyers.
“They really taught me that I can always accomplish more than I think I can if I really put my mind to something,” Truong said. “They also helped grow my love for the community.”
Truong hopes to continue on a path of success with confidence and by always aiding people in his community.
“[Some] of the most important things I learned in high school was how important it is to feel like I’m helping others and to not define my success by others’ success. It’s important to find your own definition for success, because no one will ever have that same definition,” he said.
Long nights of studying also paid off for Marshall, who will be attending the Georgia Institute of Technology to study chemical engineering. She aims to specialize in biotechnology and put forth effort toward finding cures or solutions to existing autoimmune diseases.
Marshall was involved in service clubs such as the Beta Club, the National Honor Society and Interact. She was also a Pathfinder nominee. Her legacy, she explained, will lie within the school’s Mathematics Honor Society, where she served as vice president.
“We got to tutor students during lunch hours,” Marshall said. “We tutored for [a total of] over 2,000 hours [this year], which got the math scores in the school to improve.”
Marshall largely credits her mother for her success.
“My mom gave me the drive to excel and always carry on. Whenever I thought I couldn’t do something, she always helped me succeed,” Marshall said.
On campus, Marshall bonded with English teacher Joanne Biferie.
“She has been so helpful. Whether I had a personal problem or any question, she was always there, and I always knew that I could talk to her,” Marshall said. “She also helped me become a better writer, and I’m so thankful for that.”
Marshall is looking forward to the next chapter of her life, though she knows she is going to experience many sudden changes.
“My biggest message [to my classmates] is to not be afraid of change,” she said. “We are all going through a time that is really exciting, but also scary. I think it’s important to embrace the change in order to grow as individuals to become the men and women we always wanted to become.”
Edgecomb looks forward to these two special students sending their class off into the real world.
“I am so extremely proud of and excited for them,” he said. “Not only are they extremely intelligent, but they are also such good people.”