2023 Valedictorians


Bottow row (left to right): Anna Cubito, Lara Tyranski, Caroline Fuss; Top row (left): Payton Ratkiewicz

Valedictorian is one of the most coveted titles in high school history. It highlights the hard work, grit, and determination of the student who graduates first in their class. This year at St. Petersburg High School, four incredible, dedicated students earned this honor, with one Valedictorian from the traditional class and three from the International Baccalaureate program.

We had the opportunity to interview them on their experiences, approaches to high school, and plans for the future.

Anna Cubito: Traditional Valedictorian

Anna’s journey to becoming Valedictorian was not a goal of hers until senior year, when she realized it was a possibility. Throughout high school, she simply wanted to “take hard classes and earn good grades for [her] college transcripts.” She attributes her success and motivation to organization and consistency. When she found out that she was awarded Valedictorian of the traditional class, Anna felt extremely proud of her accomplishment. Anna advises other students to stay positive and organized with school work and life in general. Anna will be attending the University of Florida in the fall and majoring in biology.

Caroline Fuss: IB Valedictorian

Caroline, similarly to Anna, never set out to be Valedictorian and did not envision herself with the title. She aimed to do the best she could and developed a focused mindset and desire to succeed academically. Her main motivation throughout high school was to “put one hundred percent effort into everything [she does], even the minor tasks.” Competitiveness is not a part of her nature, she notes, so prioritizing her own learning and focusing on being the best version of herself led to her amazing accomplishment. She states that it feels “a little surreal” to be one of the IB Valedictorians, as she is surrounded by classmates and friends who helped her get through the IB program. She also is proud to share the title with Payton and Lara. Caroline’s advice to students is to remind yourself that everyone moves at their own pace, but it’s important to trust you will get where you need to be. She says to “have faith in your abilities and surround yourself with people who make you feel good!” Caroline will be attending the University of Florida and plans to follow a pre-med track.

Payton Ratkiewicz: IB Valedictorian

Payton additionally never had the goal of being Valedictorian; she simply worked to get the best grades she could. She was motivated by her hopes to make both herself and her family proud. She wanted to be a good role model for her younger brother and simply took “each day at a time and tried [her] best.” For Payton, the role of Valedictorian is validating, and it is nice to be recognized for her hard work. She was extremely surprised when she found out, as well as incredibly excited to share the title with Caroline and Lara. She advises other students to “let things happen without complete perfection” and learn that a mishap does not really matter as long as you’re happy. Payton plans on attending the University of Florida in the fall on a Pre-Law Track.

Lara Tyrankski: IB Valedictorian

Lara’s goals in high school were to get straight A’s and to do well on AP Exams to strengthen her college applications and receive college credit. Although she never expected the title of Valedictorian, she is extremely thankful for it, as she put a lot of work into her academics and is excited to speak at graduation. Lara was motivated by her sister, Kasha Tyrankski, the 2022 IB Valedictorian, and is thankful to follow in her footsteps. She also credits her “desire to learn” as the factor that helped her put so much effort into her classes. Lara was extremely surprised but also proud when she found out she was one of the Valedictorians.  She notes that “it felt like all [her] effort was concentrated into a tangible achievement.” Her advice to students is to put all their effort into their classes, but in general, “just do what makes you happy.”

Congratulations to all of the valedictorians!