June 30, 2013

Together in success


---- — SARANAC — The 2013 valedictorian and salutatorian of Saranac High School have more in common than simply having the highest GPAs of their graduating class.

In addition to having the same interests, hobbies and ambitions, the Dannemora natives share the same birthday and even the same physical appearance.

Identical twins Sarah and Victoria Farrell learned of their unique accomplishment in February, when their guidance counselor, Jeff Ehrlich, called the sisters into his office for a chat.

“He was like, ‘Unfortunately, you guys have to make speeches because you’re valedictorian and salutatorian,’” said Sarah, whose 97.38 GPA narrowly topped her twin’s by just two tenths of a percentage point.

Upon hearing the news, the sisters embraced.

“It was definitely a happy moment,” Sarah said.

And though the twins are highly competitive with one another, Victoria said she is pleased with the final academic standings, especially since she and her sister were ranked fourth and second in their class, respectively, at the start of the school year.

“I just wanted to be salutatorian,” Victoria said. “That’s all I wanted, so going up to two, I was just, like, happy with that.”

“We were definitely happy for each other,” Sarah added.

In fact, Sarah credits her twin with much of her success.

“Victoria is the only reason why I’ve been this successful,” she said. “She’s always there to push me. We were never competing with our class; we were just competing with each other most of the time, and that’s why we ranked one and two because we just worked so hard at competing with each other.

“If one of us is studying then the other has to be studying, too.”

“I think it’s a healthy competitiveness,” Victoria added.

In addition to studying together, the 17-year-olds were both members of the National Honor Society, as well as Saranac Central’s Multicultural Club and track and indoor-track teams.

The duo also spent part of the school year volunteering as religion teachers to children at St. Joseph’s Church in Dannemora.

The twins share a bedroom, a wardrobe, an affinity for math, a love of camping and an innate desire to be together.

“We’re always hanging out,” Sarah said. “You’ll never see us apart really.”

Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the sisters will both attend SUNY Albany this fall, where they have been accepted into the school’s Honors College, have plans to room together and will major in criminal justice.

“It will be scary to leave (home), but I think having Victoria there will definitely make it so much easier,” Sarah said of going away to college. “I’ll always have a part of my home with me because she’s always with me.”

In addition to each other, the twins credit their parents, Linda and John Farrell; and brothers, David Owen, 25, and John Farrell,16, with supporting them on their journey to the top.

“Our parents have definitely helped us out a lot,” Sarah said. “They’ve been very supportive. The whole family has been.”

In fact, when Saranac Central’s initial senior-class standings were announced last fall, Linda did everything she could to make it easier for her daughters to climb the ranks.

“I found myself doing, like, the little extra things for them to make their life a little less stressful like cleaning their room, which I usually would never do,” she said, “but I wanted them to come home to a clean room.

“I’m just so so proud of them.

“They’re amazing young ladies.”

Linda noted that the teachers and access to advanced-placement and college-level courses Sarah and Victoria have had at Saranac Central have also been instrumental in their success.

“It’s definitely helped us a lot in preparing for college,” Sarah said of attending the school. “I definitely feel more prepared.”

Victoria added that having Ehrlich, an “awesome guidance counselor,” didn’t hurt either.

Before leaving high school behind, however, the valedictorian and salutatorian were scheduled to speak on behalf of their class at Saranac High School’s graduation ceremony on June 21.

They planned to write and deliver a speech together, of course.

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