Abraham Buckner is the First Black Valedictorian in His Illinois High School’s 100-Year History


Since the school’s founding in 1913, no Black student had graduated as valedictorian at St. Teresa High School in Illinois. Abraham Buckner, who created history a century after the high school was founded, just ensured that is no longer the case.

“I just feel grateful for the position I was in. Everything just goes to my environment that I was in. It just helped me build myself up to try to stay disciplined,” Abraham, St. Teresa High School’s first Black valedictorian, told WAND.

Besides earning a 4.86 GPA, Abraham also partook in various organizations and volunteering openings. He also shares similar traits with his father, Brian Buckner. “Always a thinker, always reading. And I’m a writer, so he and I have had a lot of different discussions about a lot of things,” Bucker said.

“I just can’t explain it. You can lead your child so far, but it’s up to them, in the end, to make us proud,” Buckner added.

Abraham credits Kobe Bryant for being one of the key figures who motivates him to keep striving for the best. “When he died after COVID, during that whole thing, that just really pushed me to be like if I wanna go for something I gotta go for it,” Abraham told WAND.

The valedictorian plans to have his college education at Virginia’s Hampton University. “I plan on getting my Ph.D. I want to do research in, right now it’s molecular slash cellular biology. I want to push into that field and hopefully maybe work on medicines to help people,” said Abraham.

Buckner also showered his child with praise, saying Abraham is “the best son I could ever ask for.” “We’re not perfect people, so if everything was perfect it wouldn’t really mean anything. So, every time we fail it should be exciting. It’s like, ‘look I can improve on this, I can get better,’” Abraham also said.

Larry Daly, who is the principal of St. Teresa High School, said they are very “excited” about Abraham’s achievement. “He worked hard for this. I’m excited for him, he’s a great kid and he’s done a lot for his class as well,” Daly said.

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