Senior Dan Yamada has been named the class of 2018 valedictorian. Yamada has a cumulative weighted GPA of 4.49 and a 10-12 grade academic GPA of 4.74. He is planning on attending UC Berkeley in the fall and majoring in chemistry.
Yamada enrolled in a total of 12 Advanced Placement (AP) classes and four honors classes throughout his eight semesters at Redwood. Yamada said he dedicates about four or five hours to homework each night and the second semester of his junior year, he obtained a 5.0 GPA.
“I’ve challenged myself consistently throughout the years. I’ve taken advantage of all academic challenges I could. Especially last year, I took all AP classes, not necessarily for the AP credit but because there is just so much I wanted to learn about,” Yamada said.
Yamada said he is honored to hold the title of class valedictorian.
“There’s only one valedictorian and the fact that I’m [it], it’s just surreal. I’ve had a bunch of personal and college stuff going on last month and getting news like this prevents me from going to insanity and [lets me go] back toward being a normal person,” Yamada said.
Senior Vicens Vila, a friend of Yamada’s, has been studying for tests and completing homework with Yamada since elementary school.
“In high school, as things tend to become more challenging, we started becoming better friends. We would use each others’ strengths: I’m better in English and he’s way better in math, so I would get math help from him and I would revise his essays,” Vila said.
Eventually, Vila and Yamada’s relationship grew stronger through shared personal experiences.
“Our friendship is very academic but there’s a lot of sincere things about [our friendship] too. We’ve gone through the same issues through school and we have empathy for each other for the struggles that we had. Although [our friendship] is very academic-sounding, it’s also one that is very sincere and genuine and strong even if the shared academic traits weren’t there,” Vila said.
According to senior Jason Jaboor, a friend of Yamada’s since the sixth grade, Yamada’s hardworking nature was a factor in him receiving the title of class valedictorian.
“He goes out of his way to help students, and I think that feeds off of himself too. Helping others makes him a better student,” Jaboor said.
Emily LaTourrette, who was Yamada’s AP Language and Composition teacher his junior year, said she believes that Yamada has outstanding qualities on top of being a hardworking student.
“He’s obviously a tremendously hard-working person. He’s very thoughtful about school, but also just life in general and how he handles situations. He’s also super humble. Because he’s so gifted academically and such a hard worker, I think the fact that he has humility along with that just really makes him incredibly likeable,” LaTourrette said.
According to Yamada, there are a lot of people who he feels deserve the title alongside him. However, the valedictorian is chosen purely based on GPA, making Yamada the top contender.
“It shows on paper that I did the most and that’s what the school sees, and it’s satisfying to know that I’m the best at something. I don’t really do much so it gives me a sense of fulfillment,” Yamada said.
According to Vila, Yamada was apprehensive about committing to such a heavy course load his junior year and often didn’t receive attention for his academic achievements.
“I’m very happy for him. Throughout high school, I know he hasn’t gotten a lot of attention that I think he deserves and I’m very happy to see everyone give him a standing ovation [at the honors Banquet] and I know that he was embarrassed. But it’s something he took pride in,” Vila said.
According to LaTourrette, Yamada has taken a variety of classes, including AP Seminar, Honors Physics and AP Economics, that have strengthened his academic abilities.
“As far as being the epitome of a student who has worked really hard for the knowledge he’s acquired, he is also interested in a lot of different subjects. I think that the fact that he challenged himself in so many subjects is just indicative of how diverse his interests are. It makes him all the more deserving,” LaTourrette said.