Lakeland graduate becomes fourth valedictorian in family

Four members of the same family have graduated at the tops of their classes.

LAKELAND, Fla. (WTSP) -- Mary Claire Madden graduated at the top of her class at Lakeland Senior High School this year.

“It was really exciting. It was really fun,” she said. “Nerve wracking, but at the same time, kind of like a relief.”

Madden said she asked her family members to look over her valedictorian address before graduation day, and fortunately they have some experience writing them.

Her older sister Caroline was valedictorian at the same school in 2012. Their mom and grandmother also graduated at the tops of their classes at their out-of-state high schools.

Madden’s mom didn't find out her mom, who went to school in Arkansas, was valedictorian until Caroline got the honor.

“When my daughter called her that day to tell her, my mom actually started crying,” said Madden’s mom, Lory.

Five years later, she has another reason to celebrate.

The three generations of valedictorians have all pursued different careers, and they say there's no "secret" to their success—just old-fashioned hard work.

Mary Claire Madden plans to major in accounting at the University of Florida.

She does have a younger sister going in to high school next year. She looks up to her older siblings, but she doesn't feel any pressure to become valedictorian too.

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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