By Wyndi Veigel
The last week. The last football game. The last marching contest.
As best friends Grace Harrison and Jennifer Callaway enter their last chapter at Farmersville High School together, they are making final high school memories, those of valedictorian and salutatorian.
As valedictorian, Grace leads the class of 2015 with a GPA of 4.56. Jennifer follows her best friend as salutatorian with a GPA of 4.52.
The duo’s friendship started at Tatum Elementary School where Jennifer found Grace sobbing by herself in front of a giant Live Oak tree on the playground.
“A bunch of kids had ditched her and my friends and I went over to her and asked if she wanted to play hide and go seek with us,” Jennifer said, recounting the memory. “We refer to it as the friendship tree and we were so sad when they had to chop it down after the ice storm.”
Thus began a lifetime of friendship for the pair.
For both, moving apart from each other as they enter their college careers bring trepidation and a few tears, but they vow to remain friends.
“We are confident we can remain friends,” Jennifer said.
Grace will start her college career at Austin College in Sherman, majoring in physics and minoring in film studies.
Though she isn’t completely decided what direction she wants her life to go, she is very interested in special effects and the possibility of being a movie director.
Among her favorite films, though she stated she could not choose one, is the Star Wars saga and the Sound of Music.
Grace chose Austin College due to the family atmosphere and small class size.
For Jennifer, her college career will start at the University of Mary Hardin –Baylor campus in Belton. She will be majoring in Christian ministry with an emphasis in English and ultimately wants to go into foreign or local missions work.
Her passion stems from going to a camp her sophomore year and hearing about Compassion International.
“I want to help people and share the gospel,” she said.
Jennifer ultimately chose Mary Hardin – Baylor so that she could grow in her faith and get into the ministry, she said.
Both girls are involved in myriad extracurricular activities including band and National Honor Society.
For Grace, one of the highlights of her senior year was being assistant Drum Major with the Fightin’ Farmers Marching Band. During concert season, she also plays the saxophone.
She also participates in xxxxxxxxxx. She is the daughter of Mary and Phil Harrison.
Jennifer is also involved in the Fightin’ Farmers Marching Band as a section leader and as a trumpet player. She is the daughter of Doris and Wayne Callaway.
She also participates in xxxxxxxxxx.
Without a doubt, the pair has made many memories at FHS but they both list Ms. Burns English class as their favorite class that they attended.
“She’s a mentor and a friend,” Grace said. “We will really miss her.”
Ms. Burns was also the girls’ instructor for UIL Academic Ready Writing, strengthening their bond.
Grace is not only leaving her own family to venture out to college but also leaving her second family at the First United Methodist Church of Farmersville.
“I’m leaving my family and friends at my church and I will miss them,” she said. “I’ve gone there my whole life.”
Jennifer is also leaving her church family behind at Cottonwood Creek Baptist Church in Nevada.
As the duo advanced through the ranks to make top two of the FHS Class of 2015, there were trials and tribulations, including putting aside the more enjoyable parts of their friendship and encouraging each other to study.
“There really wasn’t a competition between us, we both just wanted to do well,” Grace said.
The friends mainly studied by themselves, but would occasionally text one another if they needed help.
“We had a tendency to talk or watch a movie if we tried to study together,” Jennifer said, laughing.
Both students had their difficult classes. For Grace, it was Spanish 3.
“I have a very thick Texas accent so when I spoke Spanish, it sounded odd,” she said.
For Jennifer, there were hurdles overcoming physics and pre-cal.
“They just didn’t make sense to me. It was frustrating,” she said.
For Grace and Jennifer, their last year at FHS has flown by and both wish they had more time to spend there together.
“It’s easy to want this week or this week to speed by so a weekend will appear and we can catch up on sleep,” Jennifer said. “Ultimately I think many of us will look back and regret that we didn’t value the time we had. We don’t have any more grades to go through.”
Both Grace and Jennifer will be leading the Class of 2015 with their valedictorian and salutatorian speeches at FHS commencement ceremonies at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 28 at Plano Centre. Everyone is invited to attend and tickets are not required.