For Michael Merritt, having his twin brother, Matthew, as a classmate was like having a friend in class. The two could go over notes together, bounce questions off each other and listen to each other’s concerns. If they needed help from teachers, they would split up after school to cover all bases.
Both seniors at St. Vincent Pallotti High School, the two were named co-valedictorians — a first since the school opened in 1921.
“We definitely can rely on one another,” Matthew, 18, said. “For a math test, talking with Michael is especially helpful.”
“I take better notes, he takes better tests,” Michael said. “We have slightly different strengths that work together.”
During their first year at Pallotti, the two were part of the school’s first robotic club.
“I had never thought of robotics before high school,” Michael said. “My computer science teacher talked about starting it. We did it all four years. It was very fun.”
Matthew was the team’s programmer and Michael was responsible for the engineer’s notebook.
“It’s not exciting, but we had to document every program,” Michael said, “and specific details.”
The brothers encouraged their friends and underclassmen to join. By their senior year, the team made it to the MD-DC FIRST Tech Challenge Championship in Westminster for the first time, held right before the coronavirus pandemic on March 1.
“It was quite a learning experience,” Matthew said. “Robotics will get a little smaller as there were a lot of seniors. The teacher was trying to recruit more people from the engineering classes.”
Academically, the brothers both enjoyed the subjects of computer science and math. When all classes moved online, they found new challenges.
“I have missed a bunch of my teachers,” Michael said. “Ethics and Spanish are difficult online.”
Sandra Bock, a Spanish teacher at Pallotti, had both boys for Spanish II honors as freshmen and for level Spanish IV honors during their senior year.
“I’m so proud of everything they have done in their four years at Pallotti, and I’m especially pleased that they have realized that the ability to speak another language is a true accomplishment,” Bock said in an email. “They are phenomenal young men.”
While the scheduled graduation ceremony in May at the Basilica did not happen due to the pandemic, the two are proud of their accomplishments at Pallotti and look forward to the future.
“It is a little disappointing,” Matthew said, of spending their final months of senior year at home. “We had our senior banquet and awards online. The pinning ceremony, when the juniors are pinned the new seniors, we did not do.”
In August, the two are planning to attend Quinnipiac University in Connecticut. While it was not their original plan to attend the same college, both liked the campus after a trip to 14 schools in New England, where they have family.
“We are planning to room together,” said Matthew, though they are not sure if it will be on campus due to concerns about the coronavirus.
“Initially, I was very afraid moving far from home. New state, new college," Michael said. “Due to this situation, it is is not going to be as bad as I once thought. The communication methods help. I will still be able to keep in touch.”
The two will also have each other.
“It is so beneficial to work with him [rather] than against him,” Michael said.
“I don’t like fighting with him,” Matthew said of his brother. “He is a great resource and friend to me.”