Lakeside High School has two valedictorians this year. Twins, Suzzana and Tommia Pakootas, daughters of Nicky and Gene James and Tom Pakootas will be honored as co-valedictorians.
Both girls participated in associated student body leadership; family, career and community leaders of America and National Honor Society for three years.
Suzzana and Tommia each played four years of basketball and golf. They went to state this year.
The girls also maintained their places on the high honor roll every semester of high school.
“I’m very excited for them they’ve always been good students, very self-motivated,” Ms. James said. “Their favorite thing to do is to compete with each other.”
Ms. James said while the two are competitive it’s a sisterly competition.
“They’re very close, and get along great, but have always had that drive since they were little guys,” she said.
Ms. James said the twin sisters often compete down to a tenth of a point on their GPA scores. They last tied with a score of 3.83 when being reviewed for the title of valedictorian.
In addition to school, the pair also held part-time jobs at the Coeur d’Alene Casino this past spring.
Not ones to waste time, the girls have already completed college math, English and economic courses at North Idaho College.
Tommia has signed a letter of intent to play basketball for Lower Columbia College near Portland, OR., where she will pursue a nursing degree.
Suzanna will pursue pre-medical studies at University of Washington.
According to Ms. James, Suzanna has always wanted to pursue medicine. She was inspired by her battle with bone tumors that required her to have five surgeries as a child.
Ms. James said Suzanna chose University of Washington in honor of her sister Olivia Pakootas who died in 2018.
An accomplished student athlete, Olivia was killed in a single-vehicle accident when her vehicle flipped over a guardrail on State 58. She was 21 years old.
“I’m very proud of them and very humbled at their strength and their drive after our tragic loss to still push through and accomplish what they did,” Ms. James said. “They’re father is very proud of them.”
Both girls begin school in August.
Look for an interview with them in next week’s paper, as the two were also selected for The North Idaho Student Teacher Achievement Recognition awards.
Lakeside’s, class of 2019, salutatorian is Logan Fude, daughter of Joe Fude. The family could not be reached in time for the publication of this article.