Siblings share valedictorian title
The Richert family produced their third valedictorian this year with the graduation of Allen Richert III from Ridgeland High School.
Like his older sisters, Juliette and Claire Richert, Allen was in the Ridgeland High School Band, was named STAR Student and graduated valedictorian and like his siblings, he is looking to attend Rice University in the fall.
“It is very exciting and kind of nerve-racking,” Allen said.
He is the son of Allen Richert Jr., M.D., and Jan Richardson. RHS held its graduation on May 17 at the Mississippi Coliseum.
Juliette, RHS class of 2016, now lives in Austin, Texas and is the senior research analyst for a venture capitalist firm called the Artemis Fund. She led the charge for her siblings to Texas when she graduated valedictorian and chose Rice University for her college experience.
She says her siblings made “independent decisions on both their parts” to attend her alma mater. She said the exposure to the school they experienced through her time there helped more than anything she said or did.
“I knew they would be happy and do well wherever they chose to go but I certainly encouraged them to apply and consider it,” Juliette said. “I think they have found reason to love it on their own.”
Allen said he was drawn to the school's strong STEM and engineering programs. He will major in one of his favorite subjects, math.
“I really like math,” Allen said. “Specifically, I really like how through physics you understand the foundation of how the world works and it gives you a way to interpret the world through something other than words.”
Allen will not be alone in Houston. His sister Claire Richert, RHS class of 2020, will be going into her junior year studying mechanical engineering. She said she is proud to see her siblings do well.
“There was just a joy surrounding (graduation),” Claire said. “My graduation was the COVID year so I didn't get to go to a big ceremony but I always thought it is a really nice thing to get to celebrate together.”
Juliette said watching her siblings give their valedictorian speeches illustrated how different of an experience each child had during their time at RHS alone.
“They both gave unique speeches that reflected their different experiences,” she said.
Allen’s family knows him as a quiet young man and Claire said she was proud of how “practiced and eloquent” her brother was when it came time to give his valedictorian speech.
“I was glad he got to have his moment because he worked really hard and deserves it,” Claire said.
Dr. Richert described his son as intelligent and quiet with a dry sense of humor.
“He is very easy to please and tends to be a happy person, which I think is important,” Dr. Richert said.
All three siblings said they were set up for success by their parents.
“Mom made sure we did our homework and got involved and Dad always encouraged us to explore our curiosities,” Claire said.
Juliette said her parents instilled a love for learning in her and her siblings at a young age that started with reading to them when they were young. She was always inspired by her parents who were involved and encouraging.
Dr. Richert said reading his children bedtime stories was an important early step in getting involved in his children’s lives and showing them how fulfilling an interest in education could be but he said it was the bonding he treasured most.
He said as proud as he was when his children wanted to read on their own it was “sad to lose that opportunity to spend time with them.”
The Richert children were not only encouraged to pursue academics. Allen Richert said he is thankful for his seven years in the band at Ridgeland where he played trumpet and was involved in many aspects of the band experience including related clubs and student groups.
“I spent many hours and many weeks doing that,” Allen Richert said.
Allen brings his success back to the environment his parents created.
“There was never pressure on me,” Allen said. “My parents always said we want you to do well and believe you can and I think that created a subconscious desire to perform well and accomplish things.”
Richardson said she is thankful for the complete education her children received through the Ridgeland school system.
“My children were given the chance to learn in the classroom, through the arts and music programs, and in extracurricular programs, like robotics,” Richardson said. “With the excellent teachers in Ridgeland public schools and the support of our school board, administrators and partners, like the City of Ridgeland, our three children are just examples of how our local students are and can be competitive on a local, state, and national level when provided the opportunity. We all look forward to continue to advocate for our local schools because they have given us so much.”
Dr. Richert said he is proud of what his children have accomplished but said the important thing for him and his wife is to make sure their kids know they are loved.