The next "B" grade Retta Karpinski receives in a class will be her first.
The personable young lady, who earned a grade point average of 4.83 during her four years at Point Loma High School, earned the title of class valedictorian.
Karpinski wasn't phased when the current coronavirus crisis prevented the Class of 2020 from holding its traditional commencement exercise in the school's stadium. With the help of neighbors, she gave her graduation speech, in shimmering white cap and gown, to a group of neighbors and friends while standing on the roof of her family's Mission Hills home.
The event raised $1,200 for "Feed San Diego" and was covered by local television news.
Karpinski, the daughter of Becca and Eric Karpinski of Mission Hills, went to Grant Elementary (K-8) before her time at PLHS. She will be heading cross-country to Rhode Island to enter Brown University – but not until January.
The Ivy League school decided to postpone the entry of its incoming freshman class, with the second semester to be held in the summer of 2021. Karpinski is in agreement with the schedule change because "all their decisions are made after tons of research."
So, while she awaits her departure for Brown, Karpinski is taking emergency medical technician (EMT) classes at National University. "I'm doing it as something to fall back on because of COVID," she said.
"I'm undecided as to what I'll be studying. I'm hoping to study everything, which is what I really loved about Brown. I don't have to pick one thing, I can study a whole bunch of things. I love math, literature, English and the philosophy of physics, and whatever classes sound interesting once I get there."
"Lots of the teachers I had at PLHS were really good," Karpinski said, singling out history teacher Glenn Richard ("I'm still in touch with him") and film arts teacher Brian Compagnone as two that really made a difference.
Characterizing her Class of 2020 peers, Karpinski said, "During my senior year I came to realize our class was a lot more well-rounded and was impressed with our performance."
While at PLHS Karpinski co-founded the Pointer Press with Levin Guerra, Class of 2019, which is the school's online newspaper. She was also a member of the varsity tennis team and varsity track and field team where she ran hurdles and high jumped. She plans to join the ultimate Frisbee team at Brown.
"Pointer pride was something I experienced here (when I wore my Point Loma clothing) and that sense of community is really nice," Karpinski said. "You don't get that everywhere else."
Her advice to incoming freshmen: "Be resilient and flexible with this new (COVID) time. But just enjoy it! Don't get so wrapped up in your grades. And always think 'What am I going to do to take care of myself?' Every day in high school lots of teenagers were really tired and bad with their sleep schedules."
She praised the school district's decision moving PLHS's starting time back to 8:45 a.m. for the coming school year.
Karpinski staged her own graduation speech, enlisting a classmate as a camera operator and former principal Hans Becker as the only audience member. She stood at a podium in the school stadium with Becker vigorously applauding her words. The speech can be seen at youtube.com/watch?v=q27AibtFNbI&t=170s.