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Thacker twins named 2024 valedictorians for Senator Gershaw School

Posted on May 23, 2024 by Ryan Dahlman
Commentator/Courier Photo Submitted. SHARING THE MOMENT: Ria and Gabe Thacker are co-valedictorians for 2024 at Senator Gershaw School.

By Samantha Johnson
Prairie Rose Public Schools Content Writer

T

he co-valedictorians at Senator Gershaw School for 2024 are twins Ria and Gabe Thacker.

“I’m happy that we are sharing,” said Ria, “because our marks were so close. Every assignment we completed, there was a different result (for who received the higher mark) and I feel like it wouldn’t be fair for one of us to get it.”

“It is kind of sad because my grand plan was to win valedictorian and then when we are in a nursing home when we are 80 to continue to hold it over Ria’s head,” added Gabe.

It’s been a rivalry since the two were in Grade 5, when Ria earned the top student spot. For Grades 6 through 10 it was Gabe with Ria taking the victory again in Grade 11. Ria said, “it’s been a big competition throughout school.” To which Gabe added, “everybody was cheering for Ria this year, and nobody cheered for me.” Principal Scott Angle called over from his hallway office desk that the statement wasn’t completely true because he’d cheered for them both equally. 

Both play volleyball and are active on student council. Gabe started working towards his fourth-class power engineering certificate when he was 14 years old and is currently working towards his third class. He uses this certification to work at the distillery on their family farm, which is how he spends his summers. Ria is a certified lifeguard and plans to work at the Bow Island pool again this summer.

For this September, Ria is enrolled in the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Calgary (U of C) to pursue a degree as a registered nurse. “Being a lifeguard, I’ve always been interested in healthcare, and I wanted to do something in that field. When I was applying, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I applied for different programs in different schools, something broad enough I could upgrade later so that at least after four years I’d have a job.” Ria was accepted into all the programs and schools she applied for and chose the one that most appealed to her.

Gabe will be attending the University of Alberta (U of A) for engineering, which will effectively end the academic competition for the twins. “We’ll compare GPA’s,” said Gabe, “but I know Ria’s GPA will be significantly higher than mine all throughout university.” Ria disagreed as she was uncertain this statement would turn out to be true. Gabe hasn’t decided which branch of engineering he will enter and plans to wait until after his first year to decide. 

Gabe’s last year in Senator Gershaw is ending well as he recently found out he was awarded a $120,000 Schulich Leader Scholarship. Additionally, he also received $6,000 for being a Loran finalist.

“I looked at the most valuable scholarships and I went down the list and started applying and I ended up winning the biggest one, so it worked out well,” explained Gabe. “There’s been lots of celebrating.”

September will be a momentous transition for both Gabe and Ria, who grew up and have attended Bow Island schools all their lives and always been together. “It will be a big change going from 16 people in a class to some courses with over 500 students,” said Gabe.

 “This year my cue to study was when I would walk upstairs and see Ria already studying because then I knew if I wanted to beat her, I also had to study. I won’t have that next year.”

“It will be hard to get used to doing schoolwork when we aren’t doing the exact same stuff. I won’t be able to go home and ask him a question or if he’s finished something yet,” added Ria.

Although Ria has applied for residence and got a room, it wasn’t the style she was hoping for and plans to look at other options. However, she is glad she has something to fall back on if she can’t find alternate accommodation. 

“I’m excited but I’m also scared and definitely a bit nervous,” said Ria, who said nobody else from her graduating class will be attending U of C. “I’ll eventually like it but know it will be a rough few months.” 

Gabe added, “It’s fairly similar for me, but I have a friend in engineering who completed his first year at the University of Lethbridge and will be going up to U of A so we’ll both be there. He’s continued to remind me that it sucks, and it gets way harder, he’s sort of terrifying me.”

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