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Twin brothers ‘val’ and ‘sal’ for Locust Valley’s class of 2017

Identical twins Nicholas, left, and Matthew Rizzo, right,

Identical twins Nicholas, left, and Matthew Rizzo, right, are congratulated by their sister Elizabeth after their commencement ceremony at Locust Valley High School on Saturday, June 24, 2017. Nicholas was the ceremony's valedictorian and Matthew was the salutatorian. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

Lucia and Nicholas Rizzo watched with pride Saturday as their son Matthew gave a speech as salutatorian of Locust Valley High School’s class of 2017.

Minutes later, they watched with pride again as their son Nicholas gave a speech as valedictorian.

The identical twins earned the top spots in their class of 161 students, marking the first time in decades — and possibly the first time ever — twins at Locust Valley have graduated as “val” and “sal.” Nicholas had a 107.90 grade-point average at the time the honors were announced, while Matthew had a 107.77. Each participated in the school’s International Baccalaureate program and received a diploma with distinction Saturday.

In addition to their academic achievements, the 17-year-olds served as co-captains of the cross country team, co-founded the school’s computer engineering club and were involved in National Honor Society, quiz bowl and robotics competitions.

The two gave separate speeches to show their personalities and individuality, Matthew said. Each highlighted Locust Valley’s athletics, academics and staff as well as their parents and fellow students.

Matthew told his classmates their four years at Locust Valley High School “form the backbone of who we are today.”

“I would not trade my education at Locust Valley for anything in the world, and likewise, my fellow students, I think we should all pat ourselves on the back,” he said. “Because, I mean, look at us; we didn’t turn out too shabby.”

Matthew also thanked his parents, his older sister Elizabeth, “and I suppose, Nick,” saying his family pushes him “to demand nothing but my complete effort and dedication to everything I do.”

Nicholas said it seemed like only months ago that the class walked into the school as freshmen “wanting to make a name for ourselves.”

“Congratulations, graduating class of 2017, on being the brightest and most savage class one could hope for,” he said.

The two will attend Northeastern University in Boston this fall, and both plan to major in chemical engineering. They said they considered other colleges with an engineering focus — including Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Virginia Tech — but Northeastern’s co-op program and campus within a city attracted them to the school.

Their parents said Matthew and Nicholas excelled in school on their own, and they never had to push their sons to study.

“No question about it, We’re very proud of them,” said their father, Nicholas.

“I’m really honored to be the mother of two brilliant kids,” Lucia said Friday. “I’m really happy for them and what they’ve accomplished.”


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