Wang Linjia, 16, and Ye Mengyuan, 17, were students at Jiangshan Middle School in eastern China who were traveling on a summer camp program organized by the school to visit universities in California, state media reported Monday.
The group included 29 students and four teachers from four schools in the city of Jiangshan. They were to visit Silicon Valley, Stanford University and University of California's campuses in Los Angeles and Berkeley as part of an English-language program, according to the Youth Times, an official newspaper in Zhejiang province.
Wang was class representative for three years and teachers and schoolmates described her as excelling in physics and being good at calligraphy and drawing, according to the paper.
The newspaper said a reporter visited the girl's family at a hotel and that Wang's mother was sitting on a bed, crying silently while her father was sitting in a chair with a blank expression.
Wang's next-door neighbor, a woman surnamed Xia, described Wang as being quiet, courteous and diligent.
"She was very keen to learn, every time she came home she would be studying, very rarely did she go out and play," Xia was quoted as saying. She said Wang's father proudly displayed her calligraphy and art pieces on the walls of his office.
The other victim, Ye, also was a top student who excelled in literature and was talented with the piano, singing, and gymnastics. The Youth Times said Ye had recently won a national gymnastics competition and routinely received honors at the school's annual speech contests.
The two girls were classmates from four years ago and became close friends, the paper said.
The girls posted their last messages on their microblog accounts on Thursday and Friday. "Perhaps time can dilute the coffee in the cup, and can polish the outlines of memory," Wang said on Friday.
Her final message was simply the word "go."
Of the 291 passengers onboard, 141 were Chinese. At least 70 Chinese students and teachers were on the plane heading to summer camps, according to education authorities in China.
The flight slammed into the runway while landing at San Francisco International Airport on Saturday and caught fire, forcing many to escape by sliding down the emergency inflatable slides as flames tore through the plane. Officials said 182 people were taken to area hospitals.
Associated Press writers Louise Watt and Didi Tang contributed to this report.