GARLAND, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – One of the biggest honors awarded to graduating high school seniors is to finish academically among the top in their class.

Garland ISD went out of its way Friday to congratulate those students who are still schooling from home.

Zach Nguyen has spent almost every day the last two months with his family inside their Garland home.

The high school senior, with a 5.6+ grade point average said he misses going to class.

“It’s definitely been really hard,” said Nguyen. “It’s also been hard on the college aspect of it because we haven’t been able to go visit colleges”

The 18-year-old had some VIP visitors Friday with a special surprise in store.

Nguyen’s teachers and principal, along with the superintendent and school board members delivered a trophy and a yard sign with the news the teenager has been named valedictorian of his graduating class.

Zach Nguyen – Garland High School Valedictorian (CBS 11)

“Definitely meaningful that they recognize how hard that we worked even though the whole pandemic is going on and taking time out of their day to travel all around Garland just to visit us. I think that is just such an honor,” he said.

Work started early in the morning, decorating cars for a parade to the homes of Garland ISD’s valedictorians and salutatorians who, before COVID-19, were honored at a pre-graduation banquet.

“I think this is almost a more personalized experience,” said Garland High School principal Holly Hines. “We’re coming to each of their homes individually with groups of teachers, of course administrators and school board members. I think it’s just as special, if not more special.”

Isaac Yu was surprised at the coffee shop where he works with his trophy that comes with being salutatorian of his senior class.

“It means a lot that we have so much support from GISD,” said Yu.

Administrators visited the top students at each of the district’s high schools to recognize their accomplishment and make their parents proud.

“It’s amazing, unexpected, I never thought something like this this would happen,” said Zach’s mother, Kimam Vy.

A small gesture of appreciation for a big achievement.

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