It is the time of year that graduates look back upon their high school years, but also look forward with a zestful freedom for what the future may bring. Palm Beach Central High School will graduate the Class of 2019 on Tuesday, May 21 at 2 p.m. at the South Florida Fairgrounds Expo Center. Two outstanding students will graduate at the top of their class — valedictorian Coby Farhi and salutatorian Duc Tran.
Farhi came into his freshman year with a plan to stay strong mentally in order to gain the chance of furthering his education. It wasn’t about having a goal to be valedictorian.
“My parents and I decided that I should take a very rigorous course load from the start, so that I could hopefully get myself set up with scholarships and other financial aid for college,” he recalled. “My freshman year, I just started off strong. It wasn’t a goal of mine, but it just fell into place.”
Fahri has enjoyed his time as a Bronco.
“Palm Beach Central High School has been a second home to me, whether it has been for educational purposes, clubs or sports. I have spent the majority of my time at the high school these last four years. It was most influential on my knowledge and opinions. I think the education is top notch,” he explained.
Teachers have played an important role in Farhi’s education. His sophomore year, he particularly enjoyed his history class with teacher Dana Drummond. “I credit him for some of the drive I have for school,” Farhi explained. “He always said, ‘Proper planning prevents poor performance.’ This has stuck with me throughout high school. I always have a plan and a schedule to keep things on track.”
Another teacher who was equally inspirational was math teacher Neil Scher. “He was a stark believer in putting the responsibility on you,” Fahri said. “He called it putting the onus on you. It was up to us to get good grades. It was up to us to keep track of our own scheduling, putting us in a college environment to learn.”
Fahri took dual-enrollment courses over two summers in high school at Palm Beach State College, and also went abroad to study. His education took him to the Alexander Muss High School in Israel between his sophomore and junior years.
“It was a wonderful, lifetime experience,” Farhi explained. “It was a six-week program that had emphasis on learning Israeli history. Not just learning facts, but first-hand witnessing and exploring the culture of Israel. It was an overall amazing, eye-opening experience.”
This also put him more in touch with his family’s history.
“My dad was born in Israel,” he explained. “It was really cool for me to get to know his family and see where he grew up.”
Farhi is the president of the Future Business Leaders of America. He has learned to harness his leadership skills from being in the organization. In his downtime, Farhi likes to play soccer, volleyball, go fishing, go to the beach and relax at home with his family.
Farhi is passionate about the sciences. He will be attending the University of Florida as a biology major. He wants to go to medical school after his undergraduate studies.
“The biology program at the University of Florida is extremely good. The school is one of the top schools in Florida,” he said. “I don’t know what kind of doctor I want to become, but I have plenty of time to make this decision. I hope to be able to hone-in on different opportunities at the University of Florida that can help me to decide where I would like to end up with my career.”
Tran, the school’s salutatorian, did not set out to be high ranking. It was the advanced course load he was taking that catapulted him to the front of his class. In his senior year, he found out he would be salutatorian.
Tran has been on a STEM track in high school. He enjoys biology, chemistry and physics. He enjoys the classes because of their lab portion. “These [labs] give us very practical skills in each subject area,” he explained.
The Math Honor Society holds a special place for Tran. “The club that I hold very closely is the Math Honor Society. It operates every week, every day during lunch time. It allows us to go in and tutor kids who need help.”
Social studies teacher John Dalman was influential for Tran. “He changed my viewpoint of the world. He really stressed the idea of viewing things from different angles,” Tran said.
Tran will attend the University of Florida in the fall. He wants to focus on pharmaceutical engineering, a branch of engineering focused on discovering, formulating and manufacturing medications. “I look forward to the laboratory research. I want to discover medicine for particular diseases,” Tran said.
What advice would he give young people looking to get a good education?
“One thing that helped me along the way as I progressed through high school is that I took classes and didn’t worry that the classes I was taking were difficult. I never took the difficulty into consideration. Because if you are interested in a particular subject, and have the curiosity for it, then you will do fine,” he said. “Go out of your comfort zone and take courses that you feel you want to take.”
Tran enjoys gardening and hanging out with his dog Chowder.
“I enjoy taking my dog Chowder out for walks in the park. Another thing I do to relax is gardening. It is something that pleases my mind to see. At my house, I have roses and hydrangeas. I enjoy putting in the effort and having something grow back so beautiful. I have an appreciation for the environment, so on my own accord, I feel I want to make my environment look better and feel more pleasant,” he explained.