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How They Did in High School

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Obama: Great, for a Slacker
Obama attended the elite Punahou prep school in Honolulu from fifth to twelfth grade after he was admitted with the help of his grandfather’s boss, an alum. He wasn't fully devoted to academics in high school, instead spending time at the beach, going to parties, and playing basketball. Obama was on the state-championship team his senior year but rode the pine, and still holds a grudge against his coach for not starting him. Obama played defensive line on Punahou’s football team his freshman year (he was much heavier then than he is now). Though he was well liked and seemingly content, Obama felt confused by his mixed-race heritage. A B student (his worst grade on record is a D, received in eighth-grade French), his professors saw untapped potential in “Barry,” as he was then known. And they were right!

McCain: Didn’t Get Kicked Out!
Known as "Punk" and "McNasty"—he had a penchant for fighting—McCain was an average student at his Episcopal boarding school. He excelled in English, government, and history, but had little interest in other subjects. His high-school friend Rives Richey once said, "You know, frankly, honest to goodness, if they'd have rated everybody in that class for likely to succeed, I guarantee you he'd have been in the bottom ten, without any question." Like his father before him, McCain also rebelled against the rules. He earned demerits for refusing to shine his shoes, speaking in ranks, and refusing to clean his room—but never acted out enough to get expelled or endanger his chances at the Naval Academy.


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