This year’s AHS students with the highest GPAs were separated by six points

ATASCADERO — At Atascadero High School’s (AHS) graduation ceremony on June 2, both the valedictorian and salutatorian were called to the stage by AHS’s Principal Dan Andrus to be recognized by the crowds filling Memorial Stadium. 

“The student with the highest cumulative GPA (grade point average) is recognized as the valedictorian of the class,” Andrus said before introducing the graduates. “Now, the student with the second-highest GPA is recognized as the salutatorian. A perfect, straight-A GPA in all college preparatory classes is 4.0. Both of our students tonight have earned higher than a 4.0 GPA by taking advanced placement college-level courses.” 

This year’s AHS students with the highest GPAs were separated by six points. Valedictorian Kylie Sims’ GPA was 4.59, while Salutatorian Alexander DeFraga’s GPA was 4.53.


Both Sims and DeFraga grew up in Atascadero, and while Sims was born here, DeFraga moved to the city when he was 1 1/2. Both students started and ended their pre-college school careers in the Atascadero Unified School District.

Sims stated that COVID-19 made the last couple of years different than normal and that she was glad that she was still able to thrive academically.

“I still enjoyed doing school because I just like learning, and I enjoy just seeing how much I can improve in all my classes,” Sims said. “So, I was really happy with how I was able to preserver through that [COVID] and continue to get A’s throughout the past couple years and to get valedictorian. That was a big accomplishment for me.”

“It [valedictorian] really wasn’t my goal originally until this year. I’ve always just pushed myself to get good grades, but it was more for me; I wasn’t thinking about a big award or anything,” she added. “But this year, when I found out I was in the running, then I was like, ‘oh, that’s really cool if I actually get that,’ because then I thought that would be a cool representation of all the work I’ve put in.”

Sims took advanced placement (AP) and honors classes this year to help maintain her high GPA, including AP literature, AP Spanish, AP calculus, AP government, and honors anatomy. She also participated on the track team and played tennis all four years at AHS, including making the varsity team for her last three. She also volunteers for Letters for Rose, a group that sends letters to the elderly in nursing homes.

Kylie Sims will be attending Cal Poly in the fall, majoring in computer engineering.

DeFraga, also took a full load of AP classes this year to maintain his high grades.

“This year, I’m taking all AP classes. So, six of them, and then last year I took three, and then sophomore year I took one, in addition with some honors classes,” he said. “Those all boost your GPA a bit extra if you get an A in them because they’re honors. That really helped my GPA move to second place.”

Aside from academics, DeFraga was also on the AHS improv team and performed in both high school drama productions his senior year. He is also a part of the California Scholarship Federation (CSF), which is a community-service-based club at AHS.

“I would say my goal was to always do the best that I could in courses that I felt challenged in because I always wanted to challenge myself with whatever course I took,” DeFraga added. “Maybe not necessarily valedictorian/ salutatorian, but I’d say just doing the best that I can has always been a goal of mine.” 

Next year DeFraga will be attending UC Berkeley.

“I haven’t decided my major yet, [I’m] undeclared, but I’m excited,” he said.