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If students and school officials at Altoona High School in Altoona, Wis., feel a bit of d‚j… vu at their graduation ceremony this spring, they'll have a good reason.

The valedictorians in this year's 90-student class, Heidi Wall and Benjamin Webster, are following in the footsteps of their older and equally wise siblings. Two years ago, Heather Wall and Jennifer Webster shared the academic spotlight as the Class of '94 valedictorians.

Although having two valedictorians from the same families for the second time is a little unusual for a small community, the coincidence has a fairly simple explanation: Heidi and Benjamin knew almost a year ago that if they kept up the hard work, a repeat of their sisters' accomplishments was a possibility.

Brad Duggan, the executive director of the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association, has been chosen to head Just for the Kids, a nonprofit organization that works for education reform throughout the state. During his 20-year tenure with the administrators' association, Mr. Duggan helped promote changes in many state laws designed to improve elementary schools, including establishing class-size limits in grades K-4. As the executive director of Austin-based Just for the Kids, Mr. Duggan will help form local chapters in communities throughout Texas to improve and strengthen public education. ... When John Tesh, recording artist and co-host of "Entertainment Tonight," kicks off his concert tour this summer, he'll not only be promoting his "Discovery" album. Mr. Tesh has offered to donate $1 from each concert ticket sold to help maintain music-education classes at a needy elementary school in each of the 50 cities he plans to visit.

A year ago, students at Read Elementary School in Lockport, Ill., set out to hit the million mark. In coins, that is. The school's 500 students collected their millionth coin earlier this month, ending their quest to see what a million of something looks like. Now that the mission has been accomplished, the money, when it's all counted, will be used to purchase playground equipment. Craig Bates, the project organizer and a teacher there, said he has no doubt the equipment "will get a lot of use."

--Adrienne D. Coles

acoles@epe.org

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