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ECHS Val, Sal: Pay attention

Ever since elementary school, Escambia County High School seniors Gerald Norris and Xavier Leslie have been in the same class.

The best friends are the class of 2016’s valedictorian and salutatorian.

Norris, the valedictorian, said early on, teachers would let the duo know that they were excelling at a rapid pace.

“They always let us know how good we’re doing,” Norris said. “I was No. 1 in the class when we graduated from middle school. He (Leslie) was three then.”

Leslie said they’ve had a friendly competition ever since.

“We help each other out,” Leslie said. “We study together.”

Their hard work paid off last night as ECHS held graduation ceremonies at the school’s stadium.

Norris finished with a 3.875 grade point average (GPA), and Leslie finished with a 3.75 GPA.

Both have plans to attend a four-year institution in the fall.

Norris is attending the University of Alabama at Birmingham to pursue a nursing degree, and then is aiming to get his master’s degree in anesthesia.

Leslie is attending Alabama A&M, where he’ll be studying mechanical engineering to start. He said he’s going to transfer to study aerospace engineering.

“I’ve always been fascinated with planes since I was a child,” Leslie said.

Both said a big key to their success during high school was paying attention to the little details in class.

“You pretty much get in what you put out,” Norris said. “If you put in a lot of effort, then you will get a lot of rewards.”

Additionally, Norris said that the group of people you hang out with also affects your performance in school.

“If you hang around negative people, then they’ll drag you around,” he said. “If you hang around positive people, they’ll help you and really drive you forward.”

Norris is the son of Mary Patterson of Atmore and Orlando Norris.

Leslie is the son of Shameka Leslie of Atmore and Marlow Cooper of Iowa.