If I were you, I would describe them in the past perfect progressive, just to throw things off and spice it up a little, and I mean, let's face it, nobody's going to read your present tense drivel anyway, so who cares?
"Tom had been a nice kid. And he had been doing well in school."
The reader will be thinking "Wait, is Tom dead? What's going on here?"
And then you come back with "Tom walks across the street. He sees that dame from history class - the brunette with the gazungas, Tracy Trapani...
"Tracy had been a nice kid. And she had been doing well in school."
It'll be fantastic.
This stuff just writes itself really.