Kenneth Pulley says he's worked for years to graduate at the head of his class.
That's about to happen, and he'll have his twin brother, Kelvin, up there with him.
The Pulleys, both 18, are among the 128 Greenwood High School seniors who will receive diplomas during commencement exercises at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Leflore County Civic Center.
The Pulley family puts an emphasis on the value of academic achievement. The guys' dad is Cedell Pulley, superintendent of Leflore County Schools. Their mom, Dr. Margie Pulley, is an assistant superintendent of Greenwood Public Schools. Their grandmother, Claudine Brown, a retired educator, serves on the Leflore County School Board.
The brothers are graduating with hardly any difference in their grade-point average, although their accomplishments vary.
Kenneth's grade average is 4.45, so he's the valedictorian. Kelvin is salutatorian with an average of 4.32.
"Ever since I can remember, I have always wanted to be the valedictorian. I have always wanted to be the best, to have the better grades," he explained.
"The best thing about me, I never received a B - ever. I maintained all A's throughout all of my school years," Kenneth said.
"I know there are not too many people who can say that, so that's one thing I am proud of," Kenneth said.
Kelvin says he's made a B "here and there."
Especially important to both Pulleys is their perfect attendance record. Neither has missed a day of school. Period.
"I had the flu once," Kelvin remembered. "I think I went home after lunch."
Both said they have cooperated with one another in their studies rather than competed. In elementary school, they were in the same classroom. In the higher grades, they took the same classes. So they always were taking the same subjects under the same teachers at the same time.
They consistently studied together. For example, one would call out questions to the other, and then they would switch.
"It was an advantage," Kelvin said.
Kenneth stayed a point or two ahead and won the "major subject area" honors for the highest grades. These cover English I-IV, Algebra II, advanced algebra-trigonometry, biology, human anatomy and physiology, chemistry, Mississippi studies, world history, U.S. history and U.S. government and economics.
Kelvin has been honored for how he tries to lead his life. In "Who's Who" this year, he was honored for "best attitude." He also was cited for "best sportsmanship" in athletics; the brothers have played basketball for GHS.
Kelvin said he tries to be well mannered.
He said he believes that a person with high achievement goals must also have high standards of behavior. "I try to behave myself well. No. 1, it's the right way to act. No. 2., I try to be a role model for most of the children."
The brothers are musical and share their talents with civic groups and churches, including their own Traveler's Rest Baptist Church.
Kenneth sings; Kelvin's a pianist. He plays by ear and by training. He started taking lessons from musician Mildred Sias when he was 4 or 5.
Both Pulleys have four-year, all- expenses-paid scholarships to Jackson State University, so that's where they'll be in the fall. They'll be rooming together in the dorm.
Kelvin says he's not sure what he wants to study, but Kenneth says he expects to major in education.
He wants to be a superintendent. Kenneth said, "All of my life I have been around educators. Most of my family are educators. I just look forward to being like them."