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‘It’s a Great Thing’: Arkansas Teens Make History as School’s First Black Female Valedictorian, Salutatorian

A pair of Arkansas teens are graduating at the top of their class and making history in the process.

Junction City High School seniors Alexis Peterson and Taykeetria Rogers claim this year’s titles of valedictorian and salutatorian, becoming the first Black American females to graduate with the schools two highest academic honors.

Alexis Peterson and Taykeetria Rogers

Alexis Peterson (right) and Taykeetria Rogers have known each other since kindergarten and are now graduating at the top of their class. (KTVE / video screenshot)

“This is the first time we have had a black female valedictorian and black female salutatorian,” Principal Joy Mason told local station KTVE.

Peterson, the valedictorian, plans to attend Northwestern State University in the fall while Rogers, the salutatorian, will head to Louisiana Tech.

“It feels good to be the top two black females because they have never had it,” said Peterson, who’s maintained an impressive 4.0 GPA all throughout high school.

On top of her studies, the college-bound teen has juggled cheerleading and several extracurricular activities. She has also spent time serving at church and in her community.

“You have to take it day by day so that you won’t become frustrated with it,” she added.

Rogers is also a member of several school clubs, including the cheer squad and basketball team. The young athlete was named all-conference and player of the year in basketball and earned a spot on the all-state cheer team two years in a row, KTVE reported.

The road to success wasn’t always smooth, however. Rogers found herself under both mental and physical stress after she suffered two consecutive anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries while playing basketball. 

“It made me miss out on softball for two years,” she said. “But I came back even stronger and finished out my senior year.”

“It’s a great thing to me,” Rogers added, referring to her academic honors.

The teens, who’ve known each other since kindergarten, never thought they’d be the first Black women to make history at their school. Now they’re showing other students that they too can succeed, despite life’s obstacles.

“They’ve set an example for other kids around them, so that they can see they can achieve this as well,” Peterson’s mom, Cazandra Holliday, told the station.

Watch more in the video below.

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