Oak Lawn High School holds commencement for the Class of 2013 in the Shannon Center at St. Xavier University in Chicago's Mt. Greenwood neighborhood Wednesday, May 15, 2013. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 22, 2013 2:22PM
If incoming freshmen want to follow the footsteps of Kyle Cheng — he of the glittering 4.717 grade point average — Oak Lawn Community High School’s top student has some tips.
Cheng, 18, is valedictorian of the 2013 graduating class. He has the highest grade point average by the slimmest of margins over Connor Niemiec’s 4.714.
Niemiec is the class salutatorian, and sometimes needles Cheng about a summer class Cheng took after eighth grade providing the valedictorian with a GPA edge.
That’s at a school where a 4.0 is an “A.”
His GPA is higher thanks to honors and advance placement courses that are on a 5.0 scale, “so it boosts the average,” Cheng said.
His advice for those who want to follow in his footsteps?
Spend less precious time having fun on the computer, and have a study plan.
“I’m a schedule kind of guy,” Cheng said. “I write down everything I need to do. A lot of times, I get too busy and forget. Time management, that’s key. Stay away from doing too much social networking. It leads to procrastination.”
Even stellar students find themselves distracted by chatting with friends on Facebook or watching videos on YouTube.
It happened to Cheng when he was writing his speech for last week’s graduation ceremony in the Shannon Center on the campus of St. Xavier University.
“Don’t do it. Don’t go on (the computer) during (homework). Lesson learned,” said Cheng who enjoys reading live blogs.
He’s not sure what drives him to excel in school. “It’s just something in me,” Cheng said.
His favorite subjects are math and science. He intends to major in biomedical engineering at Boston University.
“They don’t give scholarships but they do give out grants. I’ve almost got it covered,” he said of his college costs.
It’s not all school for Cheng.
He enjoys playing the piano and writing his own classical compositions. He’s played for 11 years, and finds it relaxing.
“That’s time for me to be creative,” he said.
He also volunteers to work the front desk at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn.
“I started when I was 16. It’s a good job. It got me out of my comfort zone because I had to talk to more people,” Cheng said.
Chen, who lives in Oak Lawn, has an older sister named Winnie. Their parents are Heung and Kam Cheng.
His graduation ceremony speech talked of “that kid who stays at home and does his homework,” proving smart guys can poke fun at themselves.
He also made a point to remind his peers that although they often hear high school called the best four years of their lives, those are really “the best four years thus far.”