The Class of 2023’s co-valedictorians: Jackson Bramlette and Sa’ar Lipshitz

Dani Steinberg

Sa’ar Lipshitz and Jackson Bramlette have been named the co-valedictorians of the Class of 2023. With their grade point averages (GPAs) being almost identical and over 4.5, Principal Barnaby Payne awarded them both the title. Throughout all four years of their high school careers, Bramlette and Lipshitz have followed their interests, regardless of if that meant enrolling in a majority of Advanced Placement (AP) and honors courses or not.

Jackson Bramlette and Sa’ar Lipshitz began their educational journey together in kindergarten and are now ending together as the Class of 2023 valedictorians.

“I didn’t want to shape my high school [experience] around being valedictorian, but I did kind of know that it was a possibility,” Lipshitz said. “I started thinking about [the likelihood of being valedictorian] probably either junior or senior year. I never really thought that I would [receive the title], but knew I was probably in the running.”

Bramlette entered high school with a similar mindset, and after taking the available advanced courses in middle school, he decided to continue challenging himself through accelerated courses in high school.

“I’ll say that [being named valedictorian] was in the back of my head. But in my first two years [of high school], I probably had a GPA that was like what a lot of kids had, and I wasn’t that worried about it. Then [in] junior year, I realized I wanted to take harder classes, and I kind of changed my strategy around high school,” Bramlette said. “I’ve always been a nerd, but in high school, my personality has changed a lot. I’ve tried to branch out [socially] from being a nerd because it’s not always so fun.”

Despite his rigorous schedule, Sa’ar Lipshitz has still found time to follow his passion for music.

Throughout all four years, Lipshitz has not only taken 14 AP classes and three honors classes, but he has also contributed to the Redwood community by partaking in Jazz Band, Advanced Performance Workshop, Chemistry Club and Poetry Club. Regardless of how difficult his classes were, Lipshitz strived to work hard and follow his interests, whether that be in music or learning, which ultimately led him to commit to Stanford University. 

Similarly, Bramlette decided in high school that he would work hard, push himself and in turn, get a high GPA to attract colleges. The primary result of his goal was committing to Columbia University.

Regardless of his intentions, Bramlette emphasized that his 10 AP and six honors classes during his time at Redwood did not stop him from participating in the community. Despite his rigorous schedule, he is president of the Poetry Club and on the varsity tennis team, in addition to growing as a person individually and socially. Bramlette’s intense schedule and involvement in the community has allowed him to gain more knowledge than the typical high school student.
“I’ve learned a lot. … I feel like I have a base knowledge that a lot of high schoolers don’t [have] about a number of topics. And I think that’s the best way to approach college. I’m not 100 percent sure of what I’m interested in, and I might be interested in learning a number of topics, but I have a base knowledge in a lot of subjects,” Bramlette said. 

As a four-year varsity tennis player, Jackson Bramlette has also followed his interests in and outside of the classroom.

Although this is not the first time Redwood has named two valedictorians, it is not common. However, Payne believed looking into other aspects of the two students’ transcripts would be unfair. 

“[Valedictorian is solely based on] GPA. [Lipshitz and Bramlette did] not have identical [GPAs] because they’ve taken different classes, but the separation was so minute that I started to look into their transcripts and classes and that felt like kind of going too far,” Payne said.

While these two are the only students to be named valedictorian this year, it is notable that over 180 seniors have a weighted GPA of a 4.0 or above.

Bramlette and Lipshitz have both worked incredibly hard to further explore their interests and have also been friends since kindergarten, making this award even more meaningful for the two.

“We’ve been friends and peers — we have gone through different paths through high school in terms of academics — but it’s fun that we’re both nerds, and we both have a similar friend group. And now we happen to have similar enough GPAs that we both get the award,” Bramlette said. 

Lipshitz has no regrets in terms of his classes and the work he put into each of them. However, if he had the opportunity to go back and talk to his freshman self, he would have liked to follow his passion for music more seriously. 

“I would say to [to my freshman self] to follow my interests and do more music because I didn’t take any music classes until my junior year. And even though I’ve been playing music for a while, I didn’t take any music at Redwood,” Lipshitz said. “I think I would have liked to follow my interest in music and have more performances, play more songs and get better.”

Bramlette and Lipshitz will be honored and speak at the graduation ceremony for the Class of 2023 on June 8.