These San Bernardino twin sisters finished 1-2 in their senior class

June 28, 2020
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Twin sisters Valerie and Vanessa Gonzalez are separated in age by a minute.

Less space separates them in the classroom.

The San Bernardino sisters are Pacific High’s valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively, finishing their senior years with grade-point averages of 4.62 and 4.61.

What accounts for that one hundredth of a point, you ask?

Not even they know.

“I never thought I would be in the top position,” older sister Valerie said.

“I never imagined I’d be in this position either,” Vanessa added, “because while I always kept my grades up throughout my years in high school, I never thought to compare myself to other students. I never thought about that.”

“I never focused on the ranks,” Valerie said, “until it was brought to my attention.”

While grade-point averages as high as the Gonzalezes’ suggest a certain ease to completing schoolwork and acing exams, the sisters admitted to having their share of tough classes over the years.

Luckily, they said, they had someone to turn to for help.

“We definitely relied on each other,” Vanessa said. “We would help each other on essays on how to explain main points. We studied together for tests.”

Active in their community and participants in a number of extracurricular activities, the Gonzalez sisters exemplify the type of well-rounded student Pacific High principal Natalie Raymundo said the school hopes to send off to college.

And more than their stellar grade-point averages, Raymundo said, their humility is easy to see.

Asked recently how many Advanced Placement and honors classes they had taken between them in high school, the sisters guessed seven.

Try 18, Raymundo said.

“Vanessa and Valerie are great examples of exactly what we hope for our students,” Raymundo added. “They’re well-rounded, have a lot of experience and do their work with flair, with humility and integrity. They make us proud.”

The Gonzalezes aren’t the only set of San Bernardino twins to finish atop their graduating class this year, nor the first to do so at Pacific.

At Cajon High, twins Ryan and Trevor Chapin are two of nine valedictorians in a class of more than 650.

Meanwhile, twins Caitlin and Claire Todd topped Pacific’s 2018 senior class with identical grade-point averages.

For the first time in their 17 years, Valerie and Vanessa Gonzalez will go their separate ways in the fall, Valerie bound for UC Riverside to study environmental science and Vanessa set to attend UCLA to take up biochemistry.

As college beckons, the sisters already have found a way to ultimately close the distance between them.

“I’ve mentioned to Valerie that I would steal one of her bracelets as a memory,” Vanessa said. “But I still don’t know what I want to give her.”

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