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Twin brothers to graduate at top of the class in Clearwater

Clearwater High students, from left, Ben Thorn, Mike Steslicki, co-valedictorian Kevin Zandimoghaddam, salutatorian Kyle Zandimoghaddam and co-valedictorian Zaf Goss play Hail to the Chief, an academic board game, in an AP class on Friday.

DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times

Clearwater High students, from left, Ben Thorn, Mike Steslicki, co-valedictorian Kevin Zandimoghaddam, salutatorian Kyle Zandimoghaddam and co-valedictorian Zaf Goss play Hail to the Chief, an academic board game, in an AP class on Friday.

Clearwater High seniors Kevin and Kyle Zandimoghaddam — who are fraternal twins — compete in almost everything. • If one raises his hand to answer a question in class, the other will, too. A four-page paper written by one is likely to be topped by a five-page paper by the other. • On Thursday, the brothers will graduate together — Kevin as co-valedictorian and Kyle as salutatorian.

Kevin's GPA edged that of his brother — who got two B's his freshman year — by a fraction.

In the fall, the 18-year-old brothers will head to the University of Florida, where they plan to room together as they do now.

The twins say that years of good-natured competition helped them both succeed.

"I always want to beat Kyle," said Kevin, who has been top of his class since freshman year.

At Clearwater High, the twins have taken most of the same courses, even if they weren't always in the same class.

"They constantly keep each other on their toes," said classmate Zaf Goss, who is sharing the valedictorian crown with Kevin.

There are some obvious benefits to being in class with your twin.

"We can do homework and projects together," Kyle said. "If I don't understand something, we can work through it together.

"It's probably a little more of an advantage that other people don't have."

But even the help they give each other comes with friendly competition.

Aside from their GPAs — Kevin has a 4.796 while Kyle has a 4.75 — the twins' high school resumes are identical.

They both played JV football their freshman and sophomore years, were members of the Future Business Leaders of America club, volunteered with Clothes to Kids and are members of the National Honor Society.

Neither had to be pushed to take advanced classes or do their homework.

"They were always pretty good about doing things themselves," said older brother Ryan, an incoming junior at Florida State who had a high GPA of his own when he graduated from Clearwater High in 2008.

Their mother, Joy Zandimoghaddam, said they are usually midway through their homework by the time she gets home each night.

"They work really hard," she said.

Though she knew Kevin was in the running for valedictorian, Kyle's most recent grades put him at fifth or sixth in the class. Getting a call from a guidance counselor who said Kyle would be salutatorian was a complete surprise, she said.

In college, Kevin knows he wants to study something related to business or economics, but Kyle is undecided.

Their mother expects it will be difficult to send her youngest two away.

"I have a feeling I'll be on the phone with them a lot," she said. "They're not cooks at all — Mom's always taken care of them.

"Things will definitely be different."

Sara Gregory can be reached at (727) 893-8785 or sgregory@sptimes.com.

Graduation ceremonies

Bayside: 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Bayside High Gymnasium, Clearwater

Boca Ciega: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Progress Energy Park, St. Petersburg

Clearwater: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Bright House Networks Field, Clearwater

Countryside: 8 a.m. Thursday, Bright House Networks Field, Clearwater

Dixie Hollins: 7:30 a.m. Thursday, Progress Energy Park, St. Petersburg

Dunedin: 9 a.m. Thursday, Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater

East Lake: 1 p.m. Friday, University of South Florida Sun Dome, Tampa

Gibbs: 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Progress Energy Park, St. Petersburg

Lakewood: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Spartan Stadium at the school, St. Petersburg

Largo: 8 a.m. Thursday, Packer Stadium at the school, Largo

Northeast: 8 a.m. Thursday, John Sexton Stadium at the school, St. Petersburg

Osceola: 7:30 p.m. today, Bright House Networks Field, Clearwater

Palm Harbor University: 9 a.m. Friday, USF Sun Dome, Tampa

Pinellas Park: 8 a.m. Friday, Bright House Networks Field, Clearwater

Seminole: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Bright House Networks Field, Clearwater

St. Petersburg: 8 p.m. Thursday, Stewart Field at the school, St. Petersburg

Tarpon Springs: 7 p.m. Thursday, Sponger Stadium at the school, Tarpon Springs

Your pics: If you have a graduate in your family, please share your photos with us.

Get details on how to share them at tampabay.com/graduation.

Twin brothers to graduate at top of the class in Clearwater 06/07/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 8, 2010 8:14am]
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