Identical twins with identical GPAs share valedictory honors at Notre Dame High School

by Jenara Kocks Burgess

North Texas Catholic

May 19, 2020

Thomas and Andrew Koch
Andrew (left) and Thomas Koch (courtesy photo/Angela Cuba)

WICHITA FALLS — As identical twins, Andrew and Thomas Koch share even more than most siblings do. Now, with the same GPA — 4.0508 — they are co-valedictorians of Notre Dame Catholic High School in Wichita Falls.

“We weren’t totally surprised as they’ve always had virtually the same grades from kindergarten on, and they’re highly competitive with each other,” said their mother, Susan Koch. “It’s actually a relief that they tied, rather than have one be valedictorian and the other salutatorian.”

Andrew and Thomas each had his own perspective on being co-valedictorian.

“From the time I began school, I have always strived to succeed academically, so being valedictorian has been a goal of mine,” Andrew said.

“I started out my schooling with the goal to do my best and learn well but not necessarily thinking about being valedictorian. I always have not liked losing though, so there’s a competitive aspect there,” Thomas said.

Despite having many things in common, the thing the Koch twins want people to know the most about them is they are two individuals.

Andrew and Thomas both said the advantage to being a twin meant you had someone to play outside with or to ask about one of their classes.

“However, being a twin also means that people constantly compare you. The biggest disadvantage of being a twin is the idea some people have that you and your twin are essentially the same person, and treat you as such,” Andrew said.

Thomas also said always being compared to his brother is difficult.

“You try so hard to be your own unique person and everyone sees you two as the same or comparable and always compares you to the other instead of being his own person,” Thomas said.

Thomas Koch
Thomas Koch (courtesy photo/Angela Cuba)

The Koch twins, as well as their older sister Elizabeth, attended Notre Dame Catholic School from kindergarten through their senior year.

Even though Susan Koch said she and her husband, Richard, both had good experiences in public schools, they felt like times had changed by the time they were looking for schools for their children and wanted a smaller school for them.

She said another thing they liked about Notre Dame is it would allow their twins to be in the same class.

“The public school’s policy is to separate twins. Some twins do okay being separated, but the way their two personalities were at that age, we thought it would be better for them to be together,” she said.

Since birth, Andrew and Thomas have attended Sacred Heart Parish in Wichita Falls with their family. They both said the incorporation of their Catholic faith at Notre Dame was significant to them.

“I enjoy the Catholic aspect of Notre Dame, as my faith is important to me,” Andrew said.

“I enjoyed the closeness you felt with everyone surrounded in a faith-based atmosphere,” Thomas said. “We were all family through Christ and in the classroom,” he said. 

Susan and her husband believe they made the best choice by enrolling all three of their children at Notre Dame.

“They have been able to take advantage of excellent academic instruction, learn and practice their faith at school, and participate in a variety of activities; they are all very well-rounded individuals. As we can see by our daughter’s success at Texas Tech, they are all totally prepared to go out into the world beyond high school and home,” Susan said.

Elizabeth Koch, who finished third in her class at Notre Dame, will graduate from Texas Tech in December, partly because she was able to start college with 22 concurrent credit hours she earned while at Notre Dame.

Andrew and Thomas each had 18 concurrent credit hours and were both accepted to the Honors College at Tech.

Andrew will major in biology and his future goals include going to medical school and becoming a diagnostic radiologist.

Thomas was thinking about majoring in mechanical engineering at first but is investigating a different major now.

“I took a psychology class at MSU (Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls) my junior year, and that’s really what sparked my interest to become a psychiatrist,” he said.

Andrew Koch
Andrew Koch (courtesy photo/Angela Cuba)

Their father said even though he is a 1988 graduate of Texas Tech, he did not force them to go there.

“After a few visits to Lubbock, as well as a number of other universities, all three kids felt at home in Lubbock at Texas Tech.  Lubbock is a very friendly community that is centered around the university. I have many fond memories of my time in Lubbock, and I am sure all three kids will make great memories there as well,” he said.

In addition to excelling in academics, both Andrew and Thomas enjoyed a lot of success in athletics at Notre Dame, winning district and state honors in football and track. They also played basketball and baseball, and Andrew also participated in tennis. Both earned multiple district and all-state honors in football and both brought home state championships in track.

Notre Dame School Counselor Hollis Cluley said each twin is a great representation of what it means to be a valedictorian, and they both deserve the honorable title.

“Thomas and Andrew have shown drive, determination, and strength during their time at Notre Dame,” Cluley said. “Andrew and Thomas have been successful academically, in their extracurricular activities, and in their roles as senior leaders. It has been such a joy to watch them grow academically and personally into wonderful young adults. I look forward to seeing what their future holds.”

Andrew and Thomas Koch

WICHITA FALLS — As identical twins, Andrew and Thomas Koch share even more than most siblings do.

Published (until 5/19/2036)