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LABRAE HIGH SCHOOL The brainy bunch: Grad is 4th valedictorian in family



Published: Tue, June 12, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Being at the top of their class is a family tradition.

By JENNINE ZELEZNIK

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

LEAVITTSBURG -- The Sewell kids don't think they're all that special.

Really, it's no big deal, they say. So all four were valedictorians -- who cares?

Tell that to their parents.

"I'm in shock," Russ Sewell said. "I can't believe that all four of them did this."

Adds Peggy Sewell, "We're amazed. We told them to do their best in school. I guess they did."

The youngest daughter, Laura, just graduated tops in her class from LaBrae High School. Her siblings -- Adam, 1995; Jeremy, 1997; and Vicky, 1999 -- did the same.

"I told them that I paved the way and they have to ride on my coattails," Adam joked.

As the last one, Laura felt the most pressure -- not from her family, but from herself.

"Senior year was the hardest," she said. "I wanted to get out, so I was slacking off, but I forced myself to work hard."

Vicky said it wasn't such a big deal for her.

"I didn't think about it as much as my sister did," she said. "I knew if I didn't get it, it wouldn't be the end of the world."

Didn't push: Their parents are just amazed that their children did so well.

"I was like 20th in my class," Russ said. "It's not like [Peggy and I] were super geniuses."

He attributes his kids' success to their own hard work.

"They're self-motivated," he said. "Peggy and I didn't push them -- we didn't chain them to their desks at night to study."

He said Laura, whom he describes as a perfectionist, was the most motivated.

"Laura used to do her homework, then copy it because it wasn't neat enough," Russ said. "She always liked to be perfect."

The kids say their close extended family always helped, as did their parents.

"My dad used to check my homework at night when I was in grade school," Jeremy said. "And Mom helped me study."

Athletic, too: Besides schoolwork, all the Sewells played sports.

The girls and Jeremy played three each, and Adam played two, Peggy said.

Jeremy said the sports helped him with discipline.

"Homework was just part of my schedule," he said. "I played sports, then came home and did my homework. I seemed to get everything done."

Each maintains that the scholastic honors were no big deal.

"I don't like bragging about it," Jeremy said.

He allows, however, "It's something to be proud of. I guess we made a pretty good name for ourselves at LaBrae."




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