JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (WAVE) – Cole and Brady Paradowski have worked hard at school for years, helping each other to succeed. That work has paid off in a way the school district has never seen before.
From baseball and sports to video games and homework, Cole and Brady have grown up doing everything together. The pair even joked around while describing each other.
“Smart, good looking,” Brady said. “Because we both look the same.”
“Just great people!” Cole said, laughing.
They even work at the same business, Bush-Keller Sporting Goods in New Albany.
"But we don't work together, we work on separate days," Cole said.
Their high school math teacher, Shadd Clarke said they can be shy.
“Quiet, very quiet,” Clarke said. “But I don't think they said a single word their freshman year.”
"They were certainly special, the kind of kids you'll always remember," said Joshua Emily, New Washington Elementary School Principal. Emily taught both Brady and Cole in the fourth and fifth grade, he said their questions made the class better and the boys were always quick to help their classmates.
Cole and Brady never got less than an A in Clarke’s class, but sitting next to each other in class, they’d sometimes get each other's grades handed to them.
"I would pass back the wrong paper to the wrong student and they would just switch," Clarke said.
"People tell us the exact same jokes all the time like, one of you should wear a name tag or dye your hair a certain color so you can tell the difference. I've heard all of them 100 times," Brady said.
The identical twins have identical GPAs, both graduating number one in their class. So both were chosen valedictorian for 2019.
"First I was nervous because obviously they've never spoken in front of any kind of group of people," said Brian Paradowski, Cole and Brady’s father.
And the nerves were there for the brothers at first.
“When we were standing outside the gym, saw all the people in there. But once you started speaking, it was just,” Brady said, shaking his head.
"And yeah, I went after him and he did good enough so I was like, I can do this," Cole said, teasing his brother.
"These four years transformed us from 14-year-old kids to well-rounded adults ready to take on the world,” Cole said during his speech.
“It was really special to do it together because there's a valedictorian every year but it's not always twins,” Brady said, adding it was nice to see their four years of hard work in school pay off with these class speeches.
Emily, their fourth and fifth grade teacher, watched their speeches online, cheer them on.
"Pride's not the word, it's something stronger than that. It's just absolutely fantastic," Emily said.
"It's an amazing feat for brothers, for twins," Clarke said.
After years watching these boys focus on schoolwork, their father says he knows this designation was well deserved. It's an honor he knows well. After all, he gave his class valedictorian speech when he graduated.
"It's something you always remember,” Paradowski said. “Your classmates know you were the valedictorian and I think their classmates will remember them for that. It's a great honor.”
Cole and Brady have been inseparable growing up, so in the fall, they're sticking together again as they head to Purdue to study computer science. After 18 years together, they are planning to get a little space by pairing up with different roommates.
Talking about next year, Cole laughs, saying it’s the question they always get asked when it comes to college. But the brothers have a simple answer for the separate rooms.
“We've shared the same room basically for the last 18 years. So we just decided it was time to go our different ways, at least for a little bit,” Brady said.
Along with their father, Cole and Brady’s 16-year-old brother is also first in his class rankings too. Greater Clark County Schools approved a plan years earlier that will replace the valedictorian model with a different system, making Cole and Brady Jeffersonville High’s very last valedictorians.