With the school year coming to a close, the Class of 2020 looks toward the future as local schools honor their students who made top marks.
Heritage High School named Nikhe Braimah, who earned a weighted cumulative GPA of 4.40, the valedictorian and Adam Chan (4.37 GPA) the salutatorian.
“Nikhe and Adam embody everything that is amazing about students at Heritage High School,” Heritage Principal Carrie Wells said. “They are both extremely intelligent and hard-working while at the same time committed to many activities and leadership roles in our school community.”
An active student, Nikhe served as the class president during his junior and senior years and treasurer for the National Honor Society. He was also the president of the Black Student Union (BSU) and vice president of the BSU’s March for Our Lives chapter. He contributed several hours of community service through the National Honor Society, the Village Community Resource Center and Shepherd’s Gate Women’s Shelter. In addition, he was a volunteer at the office of Assemblymember Jim Frazier.
When it came to naming his favorite teacher, Nikhe said it was difficult to choose.
“I’ve had so many who have influenced me,” he said. “But, if I had to choose a single favorite class it would be my AP U.S. history class with Mrs. Irwin, because it changed the way I view the U.S. and inspired my interests in law and politics.”
Nikhe expressed how incredibly honored he felt to be named Heritage’s 2020 valedictorian.
“It wasn’t something that I planned on achieving when I started high school, but it’s a goal that encouraged me to push myself both inside and outside the classroom,” he said. “I have so many people to thank, including my friends for supporting me, my teachers for making me aware of my potential, my family for instilling in me the value of a good education. I hope this honor validates all the time and energy they have invested in me.”
Nikhe will attend Yale University in the fall, though he hopes it won’t have to be online. He plans to double major in economics and African American studies. Nikhe’s mother, Ramat Braimah, naturally said she is extremely proud of her son.
“I was brought to tears when he told me he was accepted to Yale, and I am in tears again knowing that all of his efforts have paid off in him being named valedictorian,” she said. “His dedication and drive know no bounds, and every day, I am in awe of all the amazing things he has done. I look at Nikhe now, at all he has achieved, and I think that must have done something right raising him. He has given me so many reasons to be the proudest mother on earth. He is destined to do amazing things, and his compassion, intelligence and work ethic will guide him in however he chooses to change the world. I am so, so blessed to call him my son.”
During his time at Heritage, Adam was an athlete in addition to being an outstanding scholar. He played water polo and was on the swim team for three years. He served as secretary for the National Honor Society and is a lifetime member of the California Scholarship Federation. He’s also a Boy Scout, who’s logged more than 130 hours of community service, helping organizations such as Immaculate Heart and Contra Costa Food Bank, along with local schools. For his Eagle Project, he built a vegetable and herb garden for Shepherd’s Gate and, with the help of his volunteers, was also able to donate more than $300 worth of seedlings.
He noted all of the teachers he had throughout his high school career to be amazing and dedicated to their students, but he named one who impacted him the most.
“My favorite would have to be Mrs. Sanders,” he said. “Without her teaching style and fun lessons, I would have never enjoyed chemistry as much as I did.”
On achieving the title of salutatorian, Adam said it felt surreal.
“If you told my freshman-year self that he would be the salutatorian of his class, he would’ve thought you were crazy,” he said. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without my parents, who built my foundation and encouraged me to do my best in everything I do. To everyone who has supported me so far, I hope I continue to make you proud.”
This fall, Adam will attend UCLA to study business and pursue an economics major.
“We are extremely proud of Adam for being recognized for his academic achievement,” Adam’s mother, Jeanie Gee, said. “This honor validates all the hard work and effort that he has put in all the years. We have always encouraged him to be the best person he can be, whether in school, in sports or in Scouting. We couldn’t be more proud of him!”