The scholars have been best buds since middle school and commented how several years ago they made a pact to be the top students upon graduation.
“I tell people this all the time … Jason and I, we’ve been friends since seventh grade and we’ve been talking about finishing first and second since eighth grade,” said Leahey. “It’s beyond wild that we actually did … I still don’t believe it.”
Leahey, the school’s valedictorian, will finish with a 4.36 grade point average and is heading to Princeton University in the fall to study public policy and finance.
He said he was very excited to receive the top nod, while mentioning he did give up a lot to achieve the status — staying in on the weekends and studying.
“It wasn’t as important to me once I got it, as when I was working towards it,” said Leahey. “Because I learned how to work hard and that’s priceless.”
Morris, salutatorian, has a 4.3 grade point average and will attend Yale University in the fall to study molecular biophysics and biochemistry.
When asked what attracted him to the school, Morris said the feel of the campus and its diversity were the top factors in his decision. He also liked the opportunity to possibly receive a research grant for the summer after his freshman year.
On Princeton, Leahey cited the Ivy League school’s strong alumni network and high profile professors.
Principal Fr. Joel Konzen, S.M., prided the scholars on being well-rounded students.
“Both Jack and Jason have worked really hard during their time at Marist — in the classroom, for sure, but also in a whole host of other areas,” said Konzen. “They’ve been leaders in their activities and examples to the younger students. We know they leave us as more than able regarding their next challenges, and we look forward to seeing what further dreams they will realize.”
On what they have learned most from their time at Marist, Leahey said he learned from his teachers to be conscious of what is around him, and to seek out the little things in life. Morris said his most important lesson was balance — learning how to juggle all of his activities to the best of his ability.
The students said they are not nervous about making their graduation speeches in front of their peers, parents, school faculty and staff — they look forward to making inspiring speeches to be remembered.
Marist’s graduation will be Saturday at 2 p.m.