Classmates: Competition didn’t come into valedictorian race

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 28, 2001

FERRIDAY, La. — Robert Taylor and Tracey Allen have a friendship forged by years of shared experiences at Ferriday High School.

&uot;We don’t act like it, but we do get along,&uot; Taylor said.

Allen agreed that the two recent graduates like to joke with each other.

&uot;He likes getting on my nerves, but I don’t take it seriously because I know him,&uot; she said.

Taylor was the valedictorian of Ferriday High School this year and Allen was the salutatorian.

Since they both excelled in academics, they often took classes together or attended the same programs in high school.

But both say the academic pressure did not make them compete too much with each other.

&uot;It wasn’t a competition to me,&uot; Allen said. &uot;He probably figured it was competition to me.&uot;

Taylor, a Ferriday native, said his path to becoming valedictorian actually began when he was in junior high school.

&uot;For me it started out as a joke,&uot; he said.

While attending Ferriday Junior High School, he and classmate Maurice Gipson’s began joking about how who was going to have to call who &uot;Val&uot; and &uot;Sal&uot; when they got to high school.

He soon discovered that making good grades was a way to earn recognition, especially for a football player.

People would often make comments like &uot;a football player getting grades like that,&uot; as if they were amazed by the idea, Taylor said.

Allen, who moved to Ferriday from Chicago in the sixth-grade, remembered being named the valedictorian of her eighth-grade class at Ferriday Junior High School.

After that, Allen said she continued to keep her grades up.

&uot;It felt good to say that you were known for being special for something,&uot; she said.

Both Taylor and Allen plan to attend Louisiana State University this fall. They joked about how they decided to go to the same college after all their years in school together.

Taylor plans to study business administration and is the son of Cynthia and Ronald Platt. Allen plans to study computers and is the daughter of Rosie and Lloyd Allen.