These Pittsfield twins fought their way to the top – against each other

  • Twins Matthew (left) and Dalton out in front of Pittsfield Middle High School on Friday. Dalton is going to Dartmouth in the fall and Matthew is going to William and Mary in Virginia. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Dalton Swenson at Pittsfield High School graduation Saturday. By Ray Duckler—Monitor staff

  • Matt Swenson at Pittsfield High School graduation Saturday. By Ray Duckler—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 6/18/2022 4:01:22 PM
Modified: 6/18/2022 4:01:01 PM

Their names have been tied for their entire lives, and Saturday morning’s graduation at Pittsfield Middle High School was a great snapshot of that.

The Swenson twins, Matt and Dalton, were the co-valedictorians, following one another in the lineup of speakers featured at the ceremony. 

The Swensons have created a healthy climate within their brotherhood. They fiercely competed to gain an edge over the other during their high school years, yet their bond never allowed jealousy to enter the mix. Not in this dogfight.

“We are happy for each other when we both succeed,” Dalton said, prior to the ceremony. “But it’s definitely been competitive to this day, and that’s one of the reasons why we’re successful, because we always try to challenge each other, but we really work together at the same time.”

The dynamic duo made up two of the 25 graduates honored on stage in the packed gymnasium.

Lilli Brisbois spoke first, saying, “Congratulations, classmates. All our hard work is finally paying off. I’m excited, although I’m a bit nervous, but we’re ready for this chapter in our lives.”

Dalton Swenson followed. He recalled his soccer career at Pittsfield, saying that he was never a great player, but he’d always cherish the game-winning goal he once scored. He suggested that his classmates “take risks.”

Matt Swenson followed, naturally. “We all have the potential to become whatever we dream,” he told the gathering, “but be mindful to stay grounded. You’re neither more nor less than anyone.”

School board member Adam Gauthier apologized for choking up and pausing, and keynote speaker Sarah Carson, an English teacher, did the same. She mentioned the fierce debates that occurred between Dalton and Matt before telling the class that she loved them.

“The debates are mostly from school,” Dalton said, prior to the event. “We definitely have this competitive spirit among each other, just to beat each other, even with minor things, anything you can do to get approval from your parents over the other.”

Dalton smiled broadly when asked who was older. “Older by a minute,” he said.

Their passion over besting the other was, to borrow a line from “The Godfather,” business, not personal.

They differ in politics. Matt said he leans left. Dalton said he’s a moderate conservative. They both said compromise between the two sides is vital before any real harmony can be reached.

“I could disagree very much with him, but then it’s never personal,” Matt said. “Yeah, we do raise our voices, but I don’t think it’s ever out of anger or distaste for the other person. We’re passionate about what we believe in.”

Said Dalton, “We have our political views that are very different from each other, so very often we get heated with each other. But right after, it doesn’t mean anything and our feelings don’t get hurt. It’s made us both understand our views and understand the world better.”

Politics aside, their rivalry extended to the soccer team as well. Neither wanted to be outworked by the other. Dalton was named the Most Improved Player as a sophomore. Of course, Matt won it last season, as a senior.

In school, they tied for the top GPA at 3.95, earning co-valedictorian honors. And they each received $6,000 – the only two awarded that much among a large group of recipients – from the Foss Scholarship.

“If we had a test and I saw him studying,” Matt said, “I’d have to study so he didn’t do better than me.”

That GPA feud will continue in the fall, only this time Dalton be at Dartmouth College majoring in government. He’ll attend law school after that. Matt’s going to William and Mary to study public policy.

Asked if they had White House aspirations as the first brother ticket in history, Dalton said he’d thought about it, acknowledging that may be difficult because they have different political views.

If it happened, their names, once again, would be connected, side by side. Asked who’d run for president, a few seconds of silence passed before Dalton said, “I don’t know. I guess we’ll have to wait and see in 40 years.”

Ray Duckler bio photo

Ray Duckler, our intrepid columnist, focuses on the Suncook Valley. He floats from topic to topic, searching for the humor or sadness or humanity in each subject. A native New Yorker, he loves the Yankees and Giants. The Red Sox and Patriots? Not so much.

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