MADISON, Ill. – It’s double success for twin sisters in the Metro East. Ariana and Briana Straughter graduated from Madison High School, earning top honors for the class of 2023. It’s the first time in the district’s history with twin co-valedictorians.

The twins spent four years motivating each other, and sharing this honor has always been their dream.

“We have encouraged each other continuously, we have studied together, made sure our projects were good together, and we have always received feedback from our teachers,” said Ariana, who is the older sister by one minute.

Briana and Ariana used their commencement address to deliver a message of hope to their fellow graduates.

“To never give up and strive for greatness,” Briana said.

Briana and Ariana’s teachers and grandfather said all of their hard work paid off.

“They were normal, but everybody is normal until given the opportunity to be something different,” Jerry Straughter said. “They had the opportunity, they just had to recognize it and, luckily, they did recognize it, and hopefully, we were a catalyst and the entire family.”

Terrien Fennoy, principal at Madison Jr. High School, credited the girls’ focus.

“They never let the outside noise get in the way of their business in the classroom,” Fennoy said. “They were always polite and always helped in the classroom, they even checked on me. So, they deserve this honor. They worked hard.

The twins will be attending Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville in the fall on full-ride scholarships. Ariana is majoring in nursing and Briana arts education.

“It was amazing because of all the support we got,” Ariana said. “We all encouraged each other to keep going and making sure everyone was on the same page.”

In another historic moment for the school and district, the sisters have two sets of cousins, who are also twins, who also graduated Madison High School.