For the first time in decades, these two students are their high school’s first Black valedictorian and salutatorian

Francis Akhalbey June 02, 2022
Jeffrey Francis and Darrell Worrell made history at their high school -- Image: First Coast News

The last time two students of color were named valedictorian and salutatorian at Florida’s Jean Ribault High School was in 1985. But the wait for such a feat to be reached once again is finally over as Jeffrey Francis and Darrell Worrell recently became the first African-American seniors to notch the school’s highest honors.

In an interview with WTLV-WJXX, the two young men said they want to serve as an inspiration to other students. “In elementary school, my sister graduated 8th in her class actually from here – Ribault High School,” Francis, who was named valedictorian, said. “From there, I kind of aspired to be number 1.”

“I seen that there weren’t many African-American men who were valedictorian,” he added. “So I wondered how I could inspire other African American young men if I was valedictorian.”

Besides wanting to inspire other young students, Worrell said he also set his eyes on the prize because he wanted to “get rid of a generational curse.” “You know like a lot of my family some of them didn’t graduate,” the salutatorian added.

The two brilliant friends edged over almost 300 students to receive their respective honors. “Becoming salutatorian kind of more so fell in my lap,” Worrell said. “I did work hard for it of course, but it definitely was like oh I’m moving up in ranks.”

Francis will be heading to Florida A&M University. He said he wants to pursue a career in medicine. Worrell, on the other hand, will have his college education at Florida State University. He has set his sights on working in the finance industry.

“You can do anything you set your mind to do,” Francis said.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: June 2, 2022


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