For a time, Alexx Bryant-Hopkins felt getting B’s in school was just fine. Alexx’s identical twin thought otherwise.
Now the 18-year-olds are nearing graduation from Minneapolis North High School with Allie Bryant-Hopkins’ 3.9 grade-point average earning her top honors as valedictorian, while Alexx will close out at North with a 3.7 GPA and be recognized as salutatorian.
“I was cool with B’s when I was young, in middle school and elementary,” Alexx said Thursday. “Allie said to me, ‘No, you can do better.’ Now I am right here with her.”
Once graduation comes and goes on June 10 in the North gym, Allie and Alexx’s inseparability will then face its stiffest test yet when they enroll in different universities.
Allie is heading to the Twin Cities campus of the University of Minnesota, where she will study business and put her saxophone talents to the test trying out for the marching band. Alexx will study psychology at St. Cloud State University. Allie said she and Alexx looked into attending the University of Minnesota Duluth together, but “we just liked two different majors.”
The twins got a slight taste of being apart when they attended a college-readiness program at the U over the summer and stayed in the same dorm — on different floors.
“It kind of hit you what it will be like” when off on their own college adventures roughly 70 miles apart a few months from now, Alexx said.
Allie said she’ll miss being in the same classes with Alexx, which was often the case at North. They weren’t competitive about grades though. “If we were struggling, we’d help each other out,” Allie said.
North High pride
Allie said she’s feeling particularly grateful that she and Alexx have brought so much positive attention to North, which survived the district’s threat in 2010 to close the school because of plummeting enrollment and lackluster academics in a part of the city that struggles with crime and poverty.
“I wanted to make sure North is known about as a good thing,” she said. “I don’t want it to be known as the school that almost got shut down. ... North is like home for me. When I first started, I wanted to go to a small school, otherwise I wasn’t going to learn well. I wanted to have a connection with the teachers.”
Alexx’s experience at North validates Allie’s preference for a big city high school with something less than a big student body. North has an enrollment of about 370.
Principal Shawn Harris-Berry “is really not a principal, but she’s a cool friend who also helped me with relationships,” said Alexx, who was born female and now identifies as male. “She’s the one who pushed us to do well.”
The twins’ mother, Joleen Hopkins, said she always emphasized “how important an education will be to them and to do the best they could. And look at them. I do think it’s very important though for parents to be involved in their children’s education.”
Alexx revealed a little secret about the twins’ mother’s encouragement early on in their schooling: “She’d reward us with toys.”