WENDELL — Call him a whiz kid. You’d be right on a couple of counts.
Daniel Duttman is the valedictorian of East Wake’s School of Health Sciences. And it accomplished that feat quicker than most folks. After being homeschooled through the ninth grade, Duttman enrolled at East Wake High School as a sophomore. But the course credits he had already earned were enough to classify him as a junior.
So this week he will graduate one year earlier than most students his age.
In fact, he’s one of two EWHS valedictorians graduating a year early. He joins School of Integrated Technology valedictorian Shayna Jones in earning that distinction.
Duttman, the son of Dana and Lisa Duttman of Wendell, plans to attend N.C. State University in the fall where he will study computer engineering. He’s saving the decision of whether to focus on software or hardware engineering for later.
But that’s about the only thing Duttman has put off.
His 4.9375 grade point average is he highest among the four East Wake valedictorians. In the fall, when he enrolls at N.C. State, he’ll still be 16. That’s caused some extra paperwork for his parents because the university requires some special permissions since he’s not technically considered an adult .
Winning the title of valedictorian wasn’t a goal for Duttman, even though he was familiar with the title. His brother was the School of Health Sciences’ valedictorian in 2010.
Daniel Duttman kept his eye on his class rank using SPAN, the school system’s computerized student information system. He watched as his name slowly moved toward the top of the list. But where he ended up wasn’t his concern.
“I was going to go for an A in every class I took anyway, so I figured that would just take care of itself,” Duttman said.
Duttman credts part of his success to discipline. A competitive swimmer, Duttman endured weight training three mornings a week before school. Each afternoon after school and on Saturdays, there was swimming practice.
School, though, was always a priority, something he encourages younger students to keep in mind.
“They really should take it seriously from the very beginning. Too many people don’t worry about it when they are freshman and then try to improve their grades when they are a junior or a senior. By then it’s too late,”