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Nguyen is 2021 East Union valedictorian
EU val sal
From left, salutatorian Daniel Ngo and valedictorian Minh Nguyen are recognized as the top academic students for East Union High’s Class of 2021.

Minh Nguyen and Daniel Ngo will have plenty of chances to iron out any kinks in their graduation speeches.

As valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively, the two East Union High seniors will lead the Class of 2021 at the two commencement ceremonies planned for Thursday, May 27, and Friday, May 28.

They prefer that over last year’s drive-thru graduation amid the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, they know they’ll still have to play it safe in order to prevent any future spread of the coronavirus – any such changes could mean a change of the current plans.

As far as having to do two graduation speeches to accommodate both ceremonies at Dino Cunial Field?d

“It’s a little intimidating,” said Nguyen, who is the daughter of Phi Phai (mother) and Phuoc Po (father).

She earned the top academic honor with her 4.4 grade point average. Nguyen, who will be attending UC Berkeley in the fall – she plans to major in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science – achieved those high marks despite taking seven AP classes during a time of distance learning.

“It made it hard to study,” she said, missing the educational atmosphere of the classroom.

Nguyen, who attended elementary school at nearby McParland, had an artistic outlet with her drawings. She has a several entries in the school’s current online Art Show, and was also active in the Art Club along with Key Club (president) and the Science Olympiad, to name a few.

Ngo is the son of Derek Ngo and Loan Huinh. He, too, is going to UC Berkeley this fall and, like Nguyen, is majoring in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

Daniel Ngo attended Joshua Cowell Elementary School and played tennis all four years for the Lancers. “We only played a one-quarter of the season last year,” he said, recalling the abrupt halt to the 2020 season due to the stay-at-home orders.

During distance learning, he took six AP classes along with three AP tests. Ngo had a 4.39 GPA, earning salutatorian. His brother, Dustin, was also salutatorian at EU about two years ago.

Danial Ngo also served as president of Key Club and vice president of the Science Olympiad.

As for the upcoming ceremonies – scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. on both days – Nguyen and Ngo will have recited their graduation speeches four times (counting rehearsals) when all is said and done. 

“We will at least have a chance to get it right,” Ngo said.

Each graduating student will be allotted four tickets for family or guests.

Those in attendance will continue to follow safety protocols, including wearing masks and social distancing.

Nguyen and Ngo, in the meantime, are hoping to score additional graduation tickets to invite more family members.