Creig P. Sherburne/Atascadero News • Max Morton, 4.83 GPA, and Emily Thurston, 4.86 GPA, are Templeton High School’s salutatorian and valedictorian respectively for the class of 2012 school year. Both will study computer science in college after graduating high school on Thursday.
TEMPLETON — Dr. Seuss wrote a book called “On Beyond Zebra,” which explores the mystery alphabet that continues after the letter Z. But what if you, like Templeton High School seniors Emily Thurston and Max Morton, went the other direction? How does one get a GPA so high that it goes up above A?
“Not a lot of social life,” Morton said. “A lot of studying. I try my hardest on things I want to do. Grades are one of those.”
Morton, 18, has a GPA of 4.83, closer to a Seussian grade nobody’s ever heard of than the previously perfect A. He is joined in such excellence by Emily Thurston, 18, who has done even better: 4.86.
“I’ve always been really dedicated to learning,” Thurston said.
So she took as many advanced placement classes as she could. Advanced placement classes earn students college credits and add an extra grade point — up above A — to that student’s transcript.
It’s not much of a secret, but it’s a major achievement for both of these top scholars.
THS Principal Tom Harrington said that Morton has completed 10 A.P. classes in his high school career, and Thurston’s completed a whopping 12.
“A truly gifted student, Emily has contributed much to the school. She possesses a superior mind and willingness to help those around her,” Harrington said. “[And] Max is an outstanding student. He is active in campus organizations and committed to making the world a better place.”
Which certainly isn’t to say it’s been easy for either of them. Thurston said that physics was especially hard for her, being full of concepts her brain had a hard time absorbing.
“I had to put lots of time into that class to keep the A,” she said with a tiny grimace.
She added that she used the majority of her teacher’s office hours to keep her grade up.
For Morton, the hardest was A.P. statistics.
“Understanding the concepts wasn’t difficult,” he said. “But the formulas were all tiny variations of each other. That was hard.”
In addition to keeping up good grades, Morton is also the editor of The Aerie, the school’s newspaper, was a member of the International, Environmental and Kindness clubs and he goes to Bible class every weekday before school.
“The alarm goes off at 6 a.m. and I’m usually out of the house by 6:15,” he said.
Thurston was treasurer of both International and Kindness clubs.
The Kindness Club, by the way, is almost exactly what it sounds like. Thurston said that one kindness event the club set up took place during some lunchtimes over about a week. Students could head to a table and write nice anonymous — or not — notes to other students they didn’t know well simply to, well, be nice.
Thurston said that the motivation for keeping her grades up was all internal, though her parents were enormously supportive.
“On the late nights, they’d bring coffee,” she said with a laugh.
Morton was a little more competitive. He said he has two older brothers who graduated with 3.9 and 3.95 GPAs so he “set [his] sights on being the best.”
“School is kind of a good place for learning random facts,” he added.
After graduation, Morton is headed to Berkeley where he will study electrical engineering and computer science. He said he thinks he would like to do work in the field of smart prosthetics.
Thurston’s headed to Brown University in Rhode Island where she will study computer science. She said she doesn’t have much in the way of plans after that, but knows it’s going to be something computer related.
Thurston and Morton will graduate with the rest of Templeton High School’s senior class on Thursday, June 7 at 7 p.m. at the school.