Stepsisters graduate at top of their class at Faith Academy (video)

Jennifer Lee Preyss By Jennifer Lee Preyss

May 30, 2013 at 12:30 a.m.
Updated May 31, 2013 at 12:31 a.m.

Isabella Najus, 18, left, stands alongside her stepsister, Emily Reinke, 18, in the Faith Academy gym. Najus is the valedictorian, and Reinke is the salutatorian.

Isabella Najus, 18, left, stands alongside her stepsister, Emily Reinke, 18, in the Faith Academy gym. Najus is the valedictorian, and Reinke is the salutatorian.

When Faith Academy seniors Isabella Najus and Emily Reinke were in second grade, they pretended to be sisters.

A few years later, Reinke's father married Najus' mother, and the elementary school best friends officially became stepsisters.

"At first, it was really hard because we had to get used to being around each other all the time. But when our families joined, we formed a sister bond as well as a friend bond," said Reinke, 18.

Najus agreed.

"I didn't really have a dad before my mom married her dad. So, if you can imagine how great it was to become sisters with your best friend and have your family come together," she said.

For the past 10 years, the sisters have shared everything.

And Sunday, they will share another significant life moment - delivering the valedictorian and salutatorian speeches to their 2013 graduating class.

Najus, Faith Academy's valedictorian, and Reinke, salutatorian, said they were within one-tenth of a point when their GPAs were totaled.

The girls said their academic pursuits to secure the top ranking spots in the class was a friendly and sisterly competition.

"I didn't care if she got it; we just did our best," Najus said.

"We've always been good academically and at the top of our class, so we knew one of us would get it."

At home, the girls are equally diplomatic. They said their home and family is strong, and no matter what happens, they're always encouraging one another to do their best.

"Most blended families clash, but we're all really close," Reinke said.

While attending Faith Academy, Najus played basketball, two of those years on the varsity team. She also participated in fine arts, performing in four musicals. She was vice president of Student Council and maintained her studies while working two jobs at Chick-fil-A and Collins Supply.

Reinke's achievements include playing on the varsity basketball team, volleyball team and freshman track and field team. She, too, worked at Chick-fil-A, and she volunteered in Faith Family Church's nursery and served on the church's chapel team.

Though they share many similarities, the girls said they have many differences.

Najus is outgoing, while Reinke is an introvert.

Najus is considering a future in the ministry, while Reinke wants to be a neonatal nurse.

Following graduation, the sisters plan to attend Victoria College to complete their first two years of school before moving on to a larger university.

"We're not like most teenagers that want to graduate and get out of here. We're really close with our family, and we want to stay at home a little longer," Najus said.

During their speech, which they will deliver together, the sisters said they plan to encourage their classmates to overcome the hard moments in life and strive to do their best after high school.

"We kind of want to share our story - and how we've gotten as far as we have," Reinke said.



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