Devon and Dylan Lee, of Albertson, twins born seconds apart, have hit a high note in their young lives.
They have been named valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively, for Herricks High School's Class of 2024.
Their academic achievement stands as an inspirational story at a time when so much about students these days concerns overcoming learning loss and other issues aggravated by the pandemic.
The Lee twins say they know the secret sauce in their success. Their edge, they say, is each other.
WHAT TO KNOW
- Devon and Dylan Lee, of Albertson, twins born seconds apart, have been named valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively, for Herricks High School's Class of 2024.
- Their sister, Jeylin, 18, was the school valedictorian last year.
- The twins also helped lead Herricks' boys volleyball team to back-to-back conference championships.
Throughout their 17 years, they have taken on life together. The two seniors attend the same classes at Herricks in New Hyde Park, and can, at times, communicate their reactions in class with just a shared glance. They often study together, filling in the blanks in each other's learning, and are even learning to drive together.
"We always have someone to work with," said Devon, who noted he is the elder of the two.
Dylan added, "We push each other. We know when the other is not working as hard as he should be. We hold each other accountable."
The two learned they were picked as the school's top scholars just before Thanksgiving, when it was announced over the school loudspeakers. Herricks officials looked at students' grades through their junior year.
"There were a lot of emotions. I was very excited," Devon said.
His brother continued the thought without missing a beat, adding, "Friends held up cameras. Some shook our hands."
Don't think these teens spend all their time in books. Both helped lead the boys volleyball team to back-to-back conference championships. Both are all-county volleyball players. And both play in the school chamber orchestra — Dylan plays bass, Devon cello — and both have played in youth orchestras at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, they said.
Talk about multitasking.
"Devon and Dylan are unusually reliable, in a music sense [and] as human beings," said Herricks orchestra teacher Catherine Birke. "They're brave. Musically they take risks to have an amazing performance, and I think that translates into their lives."
Of course, the pair credit their parents, as well. Cecilia Lee, a sixth-grade math teacher at Herricks Middle School, and Paul Lee, a software developer, said they've always told their kids to follow their passions. Luckily, those passions ran toward computers, physics and engineering.
Beyond that, their older sister, Jeylin, a mentor to both, was named last year's valedictorian at Herricks.
"We had a great foundation," Dylan said.
Cecilia Lee said she stressed to her children, "Education is something in which you have to try your best. Education is a big part of who you are."
Her reaction to the successes of her three children: "Surreal."
After graduation, Dylan and Devon will travel to separate colleges. Devon will be studying computer science at Cornell University, where both his parents attended. Dylan has been accepted at Yale, and while he favors engineering, he said he wants to see where the first year takes his interests.
"We'll be separated. It makes me a little nervous. But I'm excited to be on my own," Devon said.
Added Dylan, "Going to a new place, I hope to open up my own identity."
Jeylin is studying astrophysics and aerospace engineering at the California Institute of Technology.
The two brothers have their competitive moments, but it's more little digs and needling.
"I would think he's lazier. He sleeps more than I do," Dylan said.
"That's because," his brother snapped back, "I prioritize my health."