Nnyla Lampkin becomes Illinois high schools first Black valedictorian black history education first black valedictorian

(Photo: Fox 32 Chicago)

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Thornton Fractional South High School has never had an African-American valedictorian, not in 57 years.

Nnyla Lampkin made history when she changed that, and she has known for four years that she was going to be the one to do it.

“Going into the lunch room, you see like a line of pictures for every valedictorian. I noticed that there are no African Americans up here….nobody up there looked like me and I was like let me try to be the first one,” said Lampkin.

Lampkin is graduating after taking honors and AP courses with a 4.36 GPA, a full point ahead of salutatorian Frances Romero, who is also making history, this time as the first Latina salutatorian for the school.

“I’ve spent 19 years here and I’ve seen a demographic change and I think it’s a wonderful, break through moment for our school,” said Jake Gourley, principal.

During graduation, Superintendent Creg Williams announced Lampkin as “Our first African American valedictorian,” to cheers from the assembled crowd, but Lampkin wanted to focus that day on the accomplishments of everyone in her class.

“We all have a wide variety of accomplishments . It’s the class of 2017, so that’s what I wanted to focus on, not me myself,” said Lampkin.

Lampkin plans to attend Howard University and major in political science.

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