HAINES CITY, Fla. — The Haines City High School senior class is making history this year with its top two students. 

What You Need To Know

  • Valedictorian Myles McCants credits much of his success to his mother

  • Salutatorian Aria McDaniel competed in volleyball, weightlifting, track

  • McCants heading to USF, McDaniel off to UF

  • More Good News stories

This year's valedictorian, Myles McCants, is the first African American male at Haines City High to achieve the honor. His friend, Aria McDaniel, the salutatorian, is also African American. 

Guidance counselors say to have both the valedictorian and salutatorian be African American is a first, as well.

McCants said the two been competing for their class' top honor for years.

“We didn’t talk about our GPA’s on purpose because we knew where our ranks were,” he explained. 

He went on to attribute much of his success to his mother, who was strict about his grades and took his cellphone away if he came home with anything less than a high A. 

“If I had a 90 in the class, I wasn’t going anywhere until the grade was up,” said McCants. 

To keep those grades up, he said he sacrificed sports except for golf, electing to spend his time taking dual enrollment courses, instead. 

“Basketball was taking up a lot of my time," McCants said. "So after freshman year I had to go more toward golf because they were a little more flexible with their schedule."

McCants is the senior class president, too.   

Meanwhile, Aria McDaniel was co-captain of the school's volleyball team, captain of the weightlifting team, and she ran track while still rising to second in her class. 

“It makes me feel great," McDaniel told us. "I worked a long time very hard towards it."

McCants is headed to University of South Florida to study political science. He wants to become a contract lawyer.

McDaniel, on the other hand, is headed to the University of Florida to study biology. She hopes to become a pediatrician. 

Both students will give a speech during Haines City High School’s graduation ceremony, scheduled for June 18 at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium.