Editors-in-chief share valedictorian honor

I’ve known Frances Walton since the third grade, when we argued over Taylor Swift songs in our after school Kidzone program at Hermosa Drive Elementary. Between birthday parties at the beach and multiple group projects that ended in tears, it’s safe to say we grew up together. Now, we’ll take on the last big milestone of high school–graduation–as co-valedictorians, a title I could not be prouder to share with Frances. 

In junior high, we sang in the same choir and performed in the school musicals. Yes, we were theater kids. In the seventh grade, we put on Legally Blonde–I know, an odd choice for a middle school–where I was a sorority sister and Frances was a prep school girl turned (spoiler alert!) convicted felon. 

We walked into yearbook our freshman year with zero expectations. Now, as seniors, we have produced three nationally-recognized yearbooks. Frances and I spent the last two years as editors-in-chief, cultivating a supportive community of yerds (yearbook nerds) who are creative and diligent. We leave our legacy in that yearbook classroom. Not to be dramatic or anything.

There is something extremely special about being friends with people for so long because you don’t need to explain yourself to them. Frances and I have experienced frustration and loss, joy and excitement. Most importantly, we have always been there for each other. I’m going to miss her a ton, but I am so excited for all she will accomplish at Scripps. And I’ll just be about an hour west at USC. 

We still argue sometimes, but our discussions have evolved to current events and literary fiction. And occasionally Taylor Swift songs. 


Alia and Frances get ready to see “A Christmas Carol” at the Segerstrom Center. The pair met in the third grade at Hermosa Drive Elementary School. (Photo courtesy of Alia Noll)
Alia and Frances enjoy Hermosa Drive’s Hawk-tober Fest, a carnival put on by the school during the week of Halloween. (Photo courtesy of Alia Noll)
On a choir field trip, Alia and Frances spin in the teacups at Disneyland. The two sang in Ladera Vista’s women’s ensemble choir during seventh and eighth grade. (Photo courtesy of Alia Noll)
Alia and Frances in Downtown Brea in December of 2018. (Photo courtesy of Alia Noll)
Alia and Frances celebrate pajama day during their freshman year. (Photo courtesy of Alia Noll)
For their sophomore year Halloween costumes, Alia and Frances were tourists with friends Nicole Sonneville, Reiley Williams, Angella Yurek, and Kennedy Hetts. (Photo courtesy of Alia Noll)
Alia and Frances placed first in the 2021 Orange County Journalism Education Association Yearbook competition. (Photo courtesy of Alia Noll)
Yearbook exchanged Secret Santa gifts before winter break. Alia and Frances have been the editors-in-chief for the past two years. (Photo courtesy of Alia Noll)
Alia and Frances pose under the UCLA arches. Alia will attend the University of Southern California to major in journalism and Frances will study anthropology at Scripps College. (Photo courtesy of Alia Noll)
Alia and Frances earned their valedictorian honor and yearbook cords during Senior Awards Night. Frances also earned the seal of biliteracy. (Photo courtesy of Alia Noll)