SARASOTA — In his four years at Cardinal Mooney High School, Konrad Coutinho never earned a grade below an A in any class.
His 5.06 grade point average was not only sufficient to earn him Class of 2009 valedictorian, but may launch him into the Cougar academic record books.
“He’s as strong a student as we ever had at Cardinal Mooney High,” Principal Steve Christie said moments before Coutinho received his diploma along with the rest of the Cougar seniors at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Center in Friday night.
“If his isn’t the highest grade point average we’ve ever had, it’s got to be among the leaders,” Christie added.
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But for all his smarts, Coutinho takes time to enjoy the journey, too, which was part of the message he wanted to give his classmates.
“He’s really funny,” classmate Amanda Chalaire said of Coutinho, who has the nickname, “K-Rad.”
Coutinho and class salutatorian Zachary Glasser were the student speakers for the evening, joining the Most Reverend Frank J. Dewane in addressing an enthusiastic throng of 1,700.
Coutinho speaks often of family — his own and his school family — as being the key influences on his life.
Both of Coutinho’s parents are doctors. His mother was born in India and was aided by Catholic missionary sisters who encouraged her to come to the United States to get her education.
“She made it to America and lived her dream,” Coutinho said. “Both of my parents went to Catholic schools and I learned from them that you have to give back to your community. That was also reinforced every day in school.”
Coutinho’s sisters — Danielle, who graduated from Cardinal Mooney in 2004 and Lisa Marie, who graduated in 2002 — were also class valedictorians.
Coutinho will be studying economics at Yale University.
Glasser’s speech was also moving.
He spoke of the journey each student has taken from scared and small freshmen to cohesive and confident seniors.
He spoke of how students grew to love each other and to bond.
He spoke of how the four years rushed by, marked by events that are now humorous, like the freshman mixer pizza eating contest and the time that an open vial of mercury closed down the school for awhile.
He spoke of the anxious moments waiting for college acceptances to come in the mail, a reward for a lot of hard work.
“Now, we are freshmen again,” Glasser said. “Let’s get started.”