Valedictorians (and competition)—a family traditionJun 18, 2018 12:28PM ● By Jet Burnham
Sara, Hana, Alex and Carl Fauver: three of them displaying their valedictorian medallions while the fourth shows how she feels about only being third in her class. (Photo courtesy Carl Fauver)
By Jet Burnham | [email protected]
Carl and Patti Fauver told their children they would pay them for each straight-A report card they earned in high school. Their four children responded by all earning nothing but A’s.
So, $1,200 later, they had four straight-A students and three West Jordan High School valedictorians.
“I don't think it was really a factor in motivating them,” said Carl Fauver. “Their competitive spirit with one another did all of that.”
The competition began when the oldest daughter, Alex, was ranked third out of 596 graduating students in 2004. (Her dad believes she missed out on the No. 1 spot because her many choir classes weren’t weighted as high as AP classes.)
Next, Sara earned the No. 1 spot and valedictorian of the 2012 class of 433 students.
Carl Jr. followed his sister, also ranking No. 1 and valedictorian of the 2015 class of 396 students.
Not to be outdone, the youngest Fauver, Hana, became WJHS’s 2018 valedictorian, ranking as the top student out of 518. Her siblings all attended her commencement address to cheer her on in what had become a family tradition.
Hana said there was a lot of pressure for her to be the top in her class like her siblings. But she also found a way to best them.
“Yeah, I had to get No. 1, and I also had to get the highest ACT,” she said. Hana earned a 33 on her ACT, trumping the 31 and 32s her siblings had scored.
The Fauvers have accrued many academic achievements, always trying to out-do each other more than their peers. Collectively, they passed 24 Advanced Placement exams (11 with perfect scores). All four Fauvers were also Sterling Scholars.
The siblings admit they are very competitive.
“We’re not ones to be outdone in our family,” Carl Jr. said. “Whoever comes out last has a tendency to do their darndest to get ahead of the people who came before them.”
The competition extends outside of academics as well.
For example, Sara holds a school track record for the 2-mile race. Carl Jr. ran track for WJHS three years later.
“I don’t hold the boys’ record, but I ran way faster than Sara, and that’s what matters,” he said.
The siblings compete about who will finish reading the “Harry Potter” series first and who has been to the most states.
Despite the constant competition, the siblings are very close.
“I live in Wisconsin now, but I talk to every member of my family at least once a week on the phone,” said Sara.
The Fauvers said they enjoy having fun together and they enjoy learning.
“Learning was just something instilled in our family,” Carl Jr. said. Family vacations centered around activities like the Lewis and Clark anniversary celebration and the Golden Spike Reenactment.
The Fauvers collectively earned a total of 601 A’s between eighth grade and graduation. But earning straight A’s was not always easy. Carl Jr. said there were “absolutely a lot of close calls.”
“The cut-off is 93 percent,” he said. “I hung out right around about 93.1 percent in a couple classes.” His hardest A was for an AP Music Theory class, which he took to challenge himself even though he is not a musician.
Sara said her hardest A was in an AP US History class in which she struggled because it wasn’t logic-based like math or science. Alex’s hardest A to earn was in AP Biology, and Hana’s was in AP Chemistry. Ironically, Alex ended up majoring in Biology and Hana plans to major in biomedical engineering. They said their first AP classes had required more work than they had expected.
Straight A’s earned all four Fauvers scholarships and promising futures. All three girls have been invited to participate in the prestigious Access summer program at the University of Utah for women in science. But not to be outdone, Carl Jr. recently took fourth place in a national Skills USA competition.
(Carl Fauver Sr. writes on a freelance basis for other City Journals in the valley)