Cadet Yuxuan Zhou of China named the class of 2021 valedictorian at St. John’s Northwestern Academies

Yuxuan Zhou

DELAFIELD, Wis., July 21, 2021 – Cadet Yuxuan Zhou of China was named the Class of 2021 Valedictorian at St. John’s Northwestern Academies! Zhou started his journey as an international student in 2017 as a high school freshman in Ontario, Canada where he faced challenges adapting to a new culture and studying in English. As a result, his overall GPA averaged 2.5, and his parents quickly recognized that he needed more structure, support, and motivation. At that time, a friend of the family’s son was a cadet at St. John’s Northwestern Academies, and they recommended the Academies to them. Soon after, Yuxuan Zhou arrived at St. John’s Northwestern for the beginning of his sophomore year. The structure of the daily schedule, small class sizes, and individual interaction with the teachers and resident life staff were all factors in the beginning of his academic turnaround. He was a fast learner, and he absorbed the English language remarkably quickly. Zhou embodied the motivation in himself and from the fellow cadets in his company. And, in his sophomore year, embraced all four pillars of the Academies: academics, leadership growth, athletics and wellness, and spiritual and character development. He earned Dean’s List with Honors each quarter, and his GPA began a steady climb. During his sophomore year, he earned “Best in Class” for his work in both Geometry Honors and in English 10, which is quite an honor for a new international student. While it does not imply that his English was the best, it does mean that he consistently worked hard, always gave his best effort, and maintained a good attitude. Zhou was also recognized as an exemplary cadet in the Military Academy by earning a Top 10% JROTC Wreath and was even acknowledged as an emerging leader. In athletics, he earned his JV letter in both soccer and baseball. It was in this year that he also discovered what it meant to serve his community boasting over 25 hours of community service. In his first, successful year at St. John’s Northwestern, he seemed to find purpose and motivation in all four pillars of the academy, and in doing so, set the stage for the remaining years of his high school career.

Zhou’s junior year proved to be just as successful as his sophomore year. He continued to earn high academic honors each quarter in a full schedule of honors-level courses, he earned a good conduct medal in JROTC, and he served over 100 hours of community service. These exceptional efforts earned him admission into the National Honor Society for his commitment to academics, leadership, and service. At the end of his junior year, he earned “Best in Class” in his Principles of Engineering class, and was also chosen for the very prestigious “Manning C. Rider Most Promising Math Student” award, designating him as a math student in the academy with the most promising future in math. It was also during this year that he became very involved with our Academies peer tutoring program. He spent many hours tutoring his fellow classmates, and was so inspired by the cadet leaders of the program, he would eventually become the Battalion Academic Officer for the entire Corps of Cadets and student body during his senior year.

In Zhou’s senior year, he continued to challenge himself academically by taking AP courses in English, Physics, and Computer Science, as well as a college Calculus course. Additionally, he took an honors history course and advanced to our honors band. He earned straight As his entire senior year. He led a very successful peer tutoring program as the Battalion Academic Officer, and at the end of the year, he continued to earn awards as the Best in Class for AP Physics, the best senior history student, and he was recognized with the Chidester award as having the highest GPA in the Academies, earning over a 5.0 weighted GPA from his straight As in his honors courses. This helped propel him to earn the honored distinction of Valedictorian of the Class of 2021, graduating with a cumulative high school GPA of 3.9869. What a tremendous accomplishment for a bright young man who started his journey as a new international student just four years earlier!

After making the switch to St. John’s Northwestern Academies and becoming a Military Academy cadet, Yuxuan found purpose, confidence in himself and his English, and the motivation to excel to the highest level. Yuxuan Zhou chose to become involved, challenge himself academically, and serve the community. He is now a proud SJNA graduate, Class of 2021, and has chosen to attend the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania in the fall where he will continue to make us extraordinarily proud!

Founded in 1884, St. John’s Northwestern Academies develops young men and women inspired to become responsible citizens and moral and ethical leaders for the global community. For more information, visit


Stephen Matz
Dean of Advancement
Office: (262) 646-7184