After four years of classes, tests and extracurriculars, we gave the top graduates at Pinellas County’s public high schools one more assignment: Write a Twitter-length paragraph about what you’re thinking as graduation day approaches.

It could be something heavy or light, we told them. Perhaps a reflection on the past or the future, or on the people who helped them along the way. Whatever they wanted — all in 280 characters or less.

Here’s at look at this year’s valedictorians and salutatorians, and what they had to say:

Boca Ciega High

Virginia Weaver is the 2018 valedictorian at Boca Ciega High School.
Virginia Weaver is the 2018 valedictorian at Boca Ciega High School.

Virginia Rose Weaver, 18

Valedictorian

GPA: 4.68

PARENTS: Mary and Gregory Weaver

COLLEGE: University of South Florida, Tampa

MAJOR: Chemical engineering

PARTING THOUGHTS: Exiting the comfortable life of high school and entering into the realm of college is perhaps the most terrifying and exhilarating concept I have ever faced. While I may miss the lovely people I grew close to over the years, I look forward all that awaits me in the future.

Lillie Marie Rooney is the 2018 salutatorian at Boca Ciega High School.
Lillie Marie Rooney is the 2018 salutatorian at Boca Ciega High School.

Lillie Marie Rooney, 18

Salutatorian

GPA: 4.66

PARENTS: Tammie and Eugene Rooney

COLLEGE: St. Petersburg College

MAJOR: Undecided

PARTING THOUGHTS: After high school I plan to complete my AA at St. Petersburg College, then transfer to a university or perhaps serve in the Air Force. I have dreams of becoming an author/illustrator, learning a trade, and working in forestry.

• • •

Clearwater High

Derek Jack Tassone Jr. is the 2018 valedictorian at Clearwater High School.
Derek Jack Tassone Jr. is the 2018 valedictorian at Clearwater High School.

Derek Jack Tassone Jr., 18

Valedictorian

GPA: 4.82

PARENTS: Derek Jack Tassone Sr. and Jennifer Mara Tassone

COLLEGE: Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

MAJOR: Government and economics

PARTING THOUGHTS: Some call my generation the iGeneration, others prefer Gen Z. I think we are the Fix-It Generation. Not since the 1960s has a generation been so motivated to fix the problems of the world. We can do this if we remain united, embrace equality, and peacefully push for progress.

Annie Muller is the 2018 salutatorian at Clearwater High School.
Annie Muller is the 2018 salutatorian at Clearwater High School.

Annie Muller, 18

Salutatorian

GPA: 4.81

PARENTS: Jennifer and Jeff Muller

COLLEGE: Colby College, Waterville, Maine

MAJORS: Chemistry and visual art

PARTING THOUGHTS: First, I want to thank my parents for their endless support. Second, thanks to my incredible friends for making these high school years the best ever. I couldn’t be more proud to graduate alongside you all and I know this generation is going to change the world.

• • •

Countryside High

Daniel Eli Warshofsky is the 2018 valedictorian at Countryside High School.
Daniel Eli Warshofsky is the 2018 valedictorian at Countryside High School.

Daniel Eli Warshofsky, 18

Valedictorian

GPA: 4.73

PARENTS: Nina and Keith Warshofsky

COLLEGE: University of Florida, Gainesville

MAJOR: Nuclear engineering

PARTING THOUGHTS: “One day I will be a giant whose shoulders are stood upon.”

Samuel Robert Licht is the 2018 salutatorian at Countryside High School.
Samuel Robert Licht is the 2018 salutatorian at Countryside High School.

Samuel Robert Licht, 18

Salutatorian

GPA: 4.67

PARENTS: Amy and John Licht

COLLEGE: University of Florida, Gainesville

MAJOR: Biomedical engineering

PARTING THOUGHTS: I want to thank everyone who has gotten me to where I am today, especially my parents, my swim coach, and all of my teachers. I am very excited for all the future holds and I can’t wait to see how I grow not only in my studies but as a human being.

• • •

Dixie Hollins High

Veronica Sade Clanzy is the 2018 valedictorian at Dixie Hollins High School.
Veronica Sade Clanzy is the 2018 valedictorian at Dixie Hollins High School.

Veronica Sade Clanzy, 18

Valedictorian

GPA: 4.71

PARENTS: Natalie and Vincent Clanzy

COLLEGE: Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

MAJOR: International business

PARTING THOUGHTS: I’ve been blessed with great friends, amazing teachers, the world’s best brothers, and a saint of a mother. I have learned a great deal from all of them and I hope to pass it on. My advice to others is this: Work hard and remember that no small deed goes unnoticed.

Morgan Buchanan is the 2018 salutatorian at Dixie Hollins High School.
Morgan Buchanan is the 2018 salutatorian at Dixie Hollins High School.

Morgan Buchanan, 17

Salutatorian

GPA: 4.70

COLLEGE: Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md.

MAJOR: Molecular and cellular biology

PARTING THOUGHTS: I’m looking forward to meeting new friends and finding new opportunities in Baltimore! Thank you to everyone who has helped me to be successful. I couldn’t be here without you all.

• • •

Dunedin High

Kate Milligan is the 2018 valedictorian at Dunedin High School.
Kate Milligan is the 2018 valedictorian at Dunedin High School.

Kate Milligan, 18

Valedictorian

GPA: 4.66

PARENTS: Roni and Chuck Milligan

COLLEGE: University of Central Florida Burnett Honors College, Orlando

MAJOR: Entertainment management

PARTING THOUGHTS: I would love to thank my parents for teaching me that successful people are willing to do what unsuccessful people are unwilling to do. Thank you to my brother and dad for being so supportive of me, and thank you to my mom for being my best friend. I owe this honor to my family.

Jami Doolittle is the 2018 salutatorian at Dunedin High School.
Jami Doolittle is the 2018 salutatorian at Dunedin High School.

Jami Doolittle, 18

Salutatorian

GPA: 4.55

PARENTS: Rene Wong Doolittle and David Doolittle

COLLEGE: University of Tampa

MAJOR: Pre-med biology

PARTING THOUGHTS: Take a moment to enjoy the present, don’t get caught up in the future too much because before you know it it’s over. Emily, Sammi, and Kaitlin thank you for endless memories. I love you guys.

• • •

East Lake High

William Hasell is the 2018 valedictorian at East Lake High School.
William Hasell is the 2018 valedictorian at East Lake High School.

William Hasell, 18

Valedictorian

GPA: 4.75

PARENTS: Thuy Pham and Douglas Hasell

COLLEGE: University of Florida, Gainesville

MAJOR: Political science

PARTING THOUGHTS: Thank you to those who helped me and taught me to always take life two ways: with enthusiasm and not too seriously.

James Ivory Hasell is the 2018 salutatorian at East Lake High School.
James Ivory Hasell is the 2018 salutatorian at East Lake High School.

James Ivory Hasell, 18

Salutatorian

GPA: 4.71

PARENTS: Thuy Pham and Doug Hasell

COLLEGE: University of Miami, Coral Gables

MAJOR: Music engineering technology

PARTING THOUGHTS: Find what excites you, have fun, and get pumped to be you!

• • •

Academy of Engineering at East Lake High

David Hutchins is the 2018 valedictorian in the Engineering Academy at East Lake High School.
David Hutchins is the 2018 valedictorian in the Engineering Academy at East Lake High School.

David Hutchins, 18

Valedictorian

GPA: 4.77

PARENTS: Lynn and Gary Hutchins

COLLEGE: University of Florida, Gainesville

MAJOR: Computer science

PARTING THOUGHTS: The fact that we graduate so soon is both exciting yet terrifying. Try to remember to stay true to who you are and always put your best foot forward. You may not believe it but you’re readier than you think.

Alexandra Ghisson is the 2018 salutatorian for the Academy of Engineering at East Lake High School.
Alexandra Ghisson is the 2018 salutatorian for the Academy of Engineering at East Lake High School.

Alexandra Ghisson, 17

Salutatorian

GPA: 4.73

PARENTS: Chris and Julie Ghisson

COLLEGE: Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Ga.

MAJOR: Industrial engineering

PARTING THOUGHTS: Walking through GT for the 1st time since committing, I feel ready to leave behind everything I’ve ever known for everything I’ve ever wanted. The lyrics “I’ll be back in town for a minute” echo through the coffee shop, & I realize the next 3 months are going to be a long minute.

• • •

Gibbs High

Nicolas Glenn is the 2018 valedictorian at Gibbs High School.
Nicolas Glenn is the 2018 valedictorian at Gibbs High School.

Nicolas Glenn, 18

Valedictorian

GPA: 4.67

PARENTS: Darryl and Isabel Glenn

COLLEGE: University of Florida, Gainesville

MAJOR: Architecture

PARTING THOUGHTS: As we approach graduation, I think back on the time when I was deciding on a high school. At first, I didn’t even consider Gibbs. But now I realize it was the best choice I could have made. I want to thank my parents, teachers, and my best friends for helping me along the way.

Taylor Aronson is the 2018 salutatorian at Gibbs High School.
Taylor Aronson is the 2018 salutatorian at Gibbs High School.

Taylor Aronson, 17

Salutatorian

GPA: 4.55

PARENTS: Sandal Aronson

COLLEGE: Texas State University

MAJOR: Musical theatre

PARTING THOUGHTS: After graduation, I will be pursuing the arts. The arts are the closest thing to magic that I’ve ever seen. What else can make people laugh, cry, or see the world in a new light merely by observing it? As an artist, I am a part of the magic, and for that I am forever grateful.

• • •

Lakewood High

Martin Salamanca is the 2018 valedictorian at Lakewood High School.
Martin Salamanca is the 2018 valedictorian at Lakewood High School.

Martin Salamanca, 18

Valedictorian

GPA: 4.21

PARENT: Ramon Salamanca

COLLEGE: New York University, New York, NY

MAJOR: Psychology

PARTING THOUGHTS: Working to make the future brighter and pave the way for innovation is a goal I will continue to work for as a valedictorian. I hope the future chooses to bring us closer together, instead of farther apart, allowing us to shape something beautiful for more than just ourselves.

Alexis Crawford is the 2018 salutatorian at Lakewood High School.
Alexis Crawford is the 2018 salutatorian at Lakewood High School.

Alexis Crawford, 18

Salutatorian

GPA: 4.12

PARENT: Mary Wooding

COLLEGE: Spelman College, Atlanta, Ga.

MAJOR: Biology

PARTING THOUGHTS: One thing that is especially important to me is the future. The future inspires me to get through small obstacles as I am sure that I will do big things later in life and that all the challenges I face now are just preparing me for greatness.

• • •

Center for Advanced Technologies at Lakewood High

Carson Hamel is the 2018 valedictorian for the Center for Advanced Technologies at Lakewood High School.
Carson Hamel is the 2018 valedictorian for the Center for Advanced Technologies at Lakewood High School.

Carson Hamel, 17

Valedictorian

GPA: 4.64

PARENTS: Harvey and Nicole Hamel

COLLEGE: University of Florida, Gainesville

MAJOR: Computer science

PARTING THOUGHTS: So far, life has been like a river, with the current of the next assignment, due date or grade level always pushing me ahead. Now, I’ve reached the open ocean and I can’t wait to set sail.

Anthony Gruber II is the 2018 salutatorian at the Center for Advanced Technologies at Lakewood High School.
Anthony Gruber II is the 2018 salutatorian at the Center for Advanced Technologies at Lakewood High School.

Anthony Gruber II, 18

Salutatorian

GPA: 4.62

PARENTS: Anthony and Kelly Gruber

COLLEGE: University of Florida, Gainesville

MAJOR: Biomedical engineering

PARTING THOUGHTS: All too often we focus on the smaller things in life that we believe form us as a person. An individual. Causing us to not necessarily reach the goals we hope to achieve. So as we move on in life, remember to look at the bigger picture and work for a better tomorrow.

• • •

Largo High

Daniella Montero is the 2018 valedictorian at Largo High School.
Daniella Montero is the 2018 valedictorian at Largo High School.

Daniella Montero, 18

Valedictorian

GPA: 4.34

PARENTS: Lydia and Oscar C. Montero

COLLEGE: University of South Florida, Tampa

MAJOR: Biomedical sciences

PARTING THOUGHTS: I could never have made it this far without the support of my mom, dad, and brother. I’d also love to give a shout out to all my amazing friends and teachers. And a special thanks to Mr. Cox. Without you guys, I don’t think I’d be the same person I am today.

Christine Lopez is a 2018 co-salutatorian at Largo High School.
Christine Lopez is a 2018 co-salutatorian at Largo High School.

Christine Lopez, 17

Co-salutatorian

GPA: 4.33

PARENTS: Miguel and Elizabeth Lopez

COLLEGE: St. Petersburg College

MAJOR: Psychology

PARTING THOUGHTS: I am very excited to start this new chapter of my life! I look forward to continuing my education, and pursuing my chosen career choice

Ambar Rubí Matos-González is a 2018 co-salutatorian at Largo High School.
Ambar Rubí Matos-González is a 2018 co-salutatorian at Largo High School.

Ambar Rubí Matos-González, 18

Co-salutatorian

GPA: 4.33

PARENTS: Glorymar Gonzalez and Luis Matos

COLLEGE: University of South Florida St. Petersburg

MAJOR: Financial services

PARTING THOUGHTS: In light of recent events I have realized the importance of leadership. As a generation we must begin to lead and lead fast. Whether it is in the workforce, college, or military, we must seek opportunities to lead and pave the way for positive change.

• • •

International Baccalaureate Program at Largo High

Brooke Brady is a 2018 co-valedictorian in the International Baccalaureate program at Largo High School.
Brooke Brady is a 2018 co-valedictorian in the International Baccalaureate program at Largo High School.

Brooke Brady, 17

Co-valedictorian

GPA: 4.73

PARENTS: Leslie and Bill Brady

COLLEGE: University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va.

MAJOR: Neurology

PARTING THOUGHTS: If there is one thing that I feel I have learned over the four years of high school, it is that work ethic is the most important aspect of life. As best summed up by my boss at Silver Queen Jewelry, “good things happen to good people that work hard.” Always persevere.

Nisha Desai is a 2018 co-valedictorian in the International Baccalaureate program at Largo High School.
Nisha Desai is a 2018 co-valedictorian in the International Baccalaureate program at Largo High School.

Nisha Desai, 18

Co-valedictorian

GPA: 4.73

PARENTS: Hetal and Hemant Desai

COLLEGE: University of Chicago, Chicago, Ill.

MAJOR: Undecided

PARTING THOUGHTS: If I have learned one thing in high school, it is the importance of surrounding yourself with the right people. I am so blessed to have received so much love and support from my friends, family and teachers, and I thank them for all they have done for me.

Sophie Wagner is a 2018 co-valedictorian in the International Baccalaureate program at Largo High School.
Sophie Wagner is a 2018 co-valedictorian in the International Baccalaureate program at Largo High School.

Sophie Wagner, 18

Co-valedictorian

GPA: 4.73

PARENTS: Tom and Joanna Wagner

COLLEGE: University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va.

MAJOR: Public policy/global studies

PARTING THOUGHTS: I am grateful for the relationships I have been able to form throughout my high school years — with my soccer teammates, classmates, teachers and family. I’ve learned it’s best to surround yourself with people who encourage and challenge you to be your best.

Victoria Chbane is the 2018 salutatorian in the International Baccalaureate program at Largo High School.
Victoria Chbane is the 2018 salutatorian in the International Baccalaureate program at Largo High School.

Victoria Chbane, 17

Salutatorian

GPA: 4.72

PARENTS: Roberta and Dimas Chbane

COLLEGE: University of Florida, Gainesville

MAJOR: Psychology

PARTING THOUGHTS: The biggest lesson high school has taught is to be unafraid to take risks. Every time I attempted something new, I didn’t always succeed, but I did always grow and learn with the support of my teachers, family and friends. The most memorable experiences often involve a chance of failure, that‘s what makes them noteworthy.

• • •

Northeast High

Evelyn Ruth Jerger is the 2018 valedictorian at Northeast High School.
Evelyn Ruth Jerger is the 2018 valedictorian at Northeast High School.

Evelyn Ruth Jerger, 18

Valedictorian

GPA: 4.64

PARENTS: Adam and Lori Jerger

COLLEGE: Auburn University, Auburn Ala.

MAJOR: Microbiology

PARTING THOUGHTS: I am thankful for all of it. The highs and the lows. The blessings and the lessons. The setbacks and the comebacks. The friendships and the mentors ... I am His promise fulfilled. Congratulations to the Class of 2018. Practice kindness and live with purpose. Go be amazing!

Arrianna Durrance is a 2018 co-salutatorian at Northeast High School
Arrianna Durrance is a 2018 co-salutatorian at Northeast High School

Arrianna Durrance, 18

Co-salutatorian

GPA: 4.53

PARENTS: Kris and Eric Durrance

COLLEGE: University of Florida, Gainesville

MAJOR: Undecided

PARTING THOUGHTS: Hopefully in these next few years I’ll be able to pursue my dreams and begin to impact others in a positive way, even if I’m not quite sure exactly how I’ll do that yet. “Whatever you do, do it well.” — Walt Disney

Rachel Katherine Early is a 2018 co-salutatorian at Northeast High School.
Rachel Katherine Early is a 2018 co-salutatorian at Northeast High School.

Rachel Katherine Early, 18

Co-salutatorian

GPA: 4.53

PARENTS: Richard and Kimberly Early

COLLEGE: University of Florida, Gainesville

MAJOR: Biology

PARTING THOUGHTS: I would like thank my parents for teaching me to be the best version of myself, my sisters for always challenging me, my friends for bringing endless joy to my life, and to Mrs. Dudley for her endless love and devotion. I will always be a Viking but, Go Gators!

• • •

Osceola High

Emma Carpenter is the 2018 valedictorian at Osceola High Fundamental High School.
Emma Carpenter is the 2018 valedictorian at Osceola High Fundamental High School.

Emma Carpenter, 17

Valedictorian

GPA: 4.65

PARENTS: Jamie and Gary Carpenter

COLLEGE: University of Florida, Gainesville

MAJOR: Undecided

PARTING THOUGHTS: I am proud to be a part of a generation that is using their voice for positive change. Notwithstanding our differences, I have learned that no matter how young or old we are, we all have a voice to use for the betterment of our community and nation.

Rebecca Davis is the 2018 salutatorian at Osceola Fundamental High School.
Rebecca Davis is the 2018 salutatorian at Osceola Fundamental High School.

Rebecca Davis, 18

Salutatorian

GPA: 4.62

PARENTS: Gale Moore and Steven Davis

COLLEGE: Florida State University, Tallahassee

MAJOR: Undecided

PARTING THOUGHTS: I’m thankful for those who have rewarded my curiosity, especially my parents who were constantly asked, “Why?” One thing that I’ve learned is that success can be measured in many ways. I love engaging in new opportunities and I am excited for the next four years at FSU. Go Noles!

• • •

Palm Harbor University High

Peter John Karras is the 2018 valedictorian at Palm Harbor University High School.
Peter John Karras is the 2018 valedictorian at Palm Harbor University High School.

Peter John Karras, 18

Valedictorian

GPA: 4.65

PARENTS: Dena and John Karras

COLLEGE: Florida State University, Tallahassee

MAJOR: Computer science

PARTING THOUGHTS: I’ve learned a lot from the people around me, especially my mentors, teachers and family. As I move towards college I hope that my future holds more people that can help me grow as they did, and I hope to one day be as selflessly helpful as they have been.

Norris Boyd is the 2018 salutatorian at Palm Harbor University High School.
Norris Boyd is the 2018 salutatorian at Palm Harbor University High School.

Norris Boyd, 17

Salutatorian

GPA: 4.64

PARENTS: Michael and Jacqueline Boyd

COLLEGE: University of Florida, Gainesville

MAJOR: Chemistry

PARTING THOUGHTS: I am extremely fortunate to have such encouraging and supportive parents who have helped me through all aspects of my life. I am also very grateful for the incredible education I have been able to receive through such dedicated teachers in this school district.

• • •

International Baccalaureate Program at Palm Harbor University High

Arshad Shams Mandani is a 2018 co-valedictorian in the International Baccalaureate program at Palm Harbor University High School.
Arshad Shams Mandani is a 2018 co-valedictorian in the International Baccalaureate program at Palm Harbor University High School.

Arshad Shams Mandani, 18

Co-valedictorian

GPA: 4.70

PARENTS: Shams and Hameeda Mandani

COLLEGE: Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Ga.

MAJOR: Biomedical engineering

PARTING THOUGHTS: Humility, morality, education; the most valuable things I’ve ever learned from my parents. It’s their support that’s carried me to where I am today. It brings me incredible happiness to know I’ve made them proud, that I’ve made their struggles worth it. This one’s for them.

Garrett A. Toenjes is a 2018 co-valedictorian in the International Baccalaureate program at Palm Harbor University High School.
Garrett A. Toenjes is a 2018 co-valedictorian in the International Baccalaureate program at Palm Harbor University High School.

Garrett A. Toenjes, 18

Co-valedictorian

GPA: 4.70

PARENTS: Lori and Rick Toenjes

COLLEGE: University of Florida, Gainesville

MAJOR: Engineering

PARTING THOUGHTS: One of the most influential phrases I’ve read is “You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room. You just have to be on the team with the smartest people.” By cooperating to solve common problems, I hope to follow this advice and influence and give back to our community.

Julianna Lindsay Lazzari is the 2018 salutatorian in the International Baccalaureate program at Palm Harbor University High School.
Julianna Lindsay Lazzari is the 2018 salutatorian in the International Baccalaureate program at Palm Harbor University High School.

Julianna Lindsay Lazzari, 18

Salutatorian

GPA: 4.69

PARENTS: Victoria Liu and Chad Lazzari

COLLEGE: Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md.

MAJOR: Public health

PARTING THOUGHTS: As I begin to approach graduation day, I come one step closer to beginning a new journey — a journey that has been made possible by my family, friends, and coaches during these past four years. I am forever grateful for their unwavering support.

• • •

Pinellas Park High

Elizabeth Jane Casale is the 2018 valedictorian at Pinellas Park High School.
Elizabeth Jane Casale is the 2018 valedictorian at Pinellas Park High School.

Elizabeth Jane Casale, 17

Valedictorian

GPA: 4.60

PARENTS: Nancy and David Lewis

COLLEGE: University of South Florida St. Petersburg

MAJOR: History

PARTING THOUGHTS: We all must keep in mind the weight of our decisions. This generation embodies the future and all that it will be. Therefore, it is time to create the world we’ve dreamed of, not only for ourselves but for those we care about.

Nicoletta Ann Verrocchio is the 2018 salutatorian at Pinellas Park High School.
Nicoletta Ann Verrocchio is the 2018 salutatorian at Pinellas Park High School.

Nicoletta Ann Verrocchio, 18

Salutatorian

GPA: 4.53

PARENTS: Thomas and Kerrie Verrocchio

COLLEGE: University of South Florida, Tampa

MAJOR: Biomedical sciences

PARTING THOUGHTS: I can’t wait to go to college and start my life. I have worked so hard in school striving to get to where I am now, and I couldn’t have done it without support from the people close to me. There have been many ups and downs, but I pushed through and it was completely worth it.

• • •

Seminole High

Andre Adler Marroquin-Garcia is the 2018 valedictorian at Seminole High.
Andre Adler Marroquin-Garcia is the 2018 valedictorian at Seminole High.

Andre Adler Marroquin-Garcia, 17

Valedictorian

GPA: 4.70

PARENTS: Juan Carlos Marroquin and Virginia Marroquin

COLLEGE: University of Arizona, Tuscon, Ariz.

MAJOR: Chemical engineering

PARTING THOUGHTS: People come and go, the only person’s approval you need is your own. The best thing that you can do is compete against yourself and don’t fret about what other people can do that you can’t, but rather focus on what you can and how to improve.

Alexey Edward Brensel is the 2018 salutatorian at Seminole High School.
Alexey Edward Brensel is the 2018 salutatorian at Seminole High School.

Alexey Edward Brensel, 18

Salutatorian

GPA: 4.69

PARENTS: Julia and Jarrod Brensel

COLLEGE: Undecided

MAJOR: Environmental engineering

PARTING THOUGHTS: For over a decade, I’ve coasted through life by simply following directions from teachers, which ultimately landed me here. But now I need to move on and learn what life really is. Frankly, I’m scared. Please wish me luck; I’ll probably need it.

• • •

St. Petersburg High

Blaire Ingrid McCarthy is the 2018 valedictorian at St. Petersburg High School.
Blaire Ingrid McCarthy is the 2018 valedictorian at St. Petersburg High School.

Blaire Ingrid McCarthy, 18

Valedictorian

GPA: 4.62

PARENTS: Sally and Bill McCarthy

COLLEGE: Brown University, Providence, RI

MAJOR: Economics

PARTING THOUGHTS: I am looking forward to sailing on the Brown University Sailing Team. Thank you to my friends, family, coaches, teachers, and especially Mr. Benton — a passionate teacher who sets a standard all educators should strive for.

Ariannie Gomez is the 2018 salutatorian at St. Petersburg High School.
Ariannie Gomez is the 2018 salutatorian at St. Petersburg High School.

Ariannie Gomez, 18

Salutatorian

GPA: 4.45

PARENTS: Janny Perez and Adrian Gomez

COLLEGE: University of South Florida St. Petersburg

MAJOR: Environmental science

PARTING THOUGHTS: The past year was one of the hardest and most fulfilling years of my life. I am so grateful to have found people in my life who have supported me throughout my high school years. It’s bittersweet, knowing that high school is over, but I look to my future with joy and excitement.

• • •

International Baccalaureate Program at St. Petersburg High

Chelsea Rosen is a 2018 co-valedictorian in the International Baccalaureate program at St. Petersburg High.
Chelsea Rosen is a 2018 co-valedictorian in the International Baccalaureate program at St. Petersburg High.

Chelsea Rosen, 18

Co-valedictorian

GPA: 4.68

PARENTS: Drew and Meredith Rosen

COLLEGE: University of Florida, Gainesville

MAJOR: Biomedical engineering

PARTING THOUGHTS: Don’t be afraid to pursue a passion or try something new. You’ll never know how something will turn out until you try it. Always remember to just keep swimming and that everything will work out how it’s supposed to in the end.

Eli Thomas Rust is a 2018 co-valedictorian in the International Baccalaureate program at St. Petersburg High School.
Eli Thomas Rust is a 2018 co-valedictorian in the International Baccalaureate program at St. Petersburg High School.

Eli Thomas Rust, 17

Co-valedictorian

GPA: 4.68

PARENTS: Carol and Greg Rust

COLLEGE: University of Rochester, Rochester NY

MAJOR: Chemistry

PARTING THOUGHTS: It’s exciting to be headed to the snowy north to pursue medical research, chemistry, and swimming. A sincere thank you to my parents, brothers Sam and Alex, my IB teachers, Coach Fred Lewis and Msgr. Gibbons.

Julia McKay is a 2018 co-salutatorian in the International Baccalaureate program at St. Petersburg High School.
Julia McKay is a 2018 co-salutatorian in the International Baccalaureate program at St. Petersburg High School.

Julia McKay, 17

Co-salutatorian

GPA: 4.66

PARENTS: Maria and Fred McKay

COLLEGE: University of Florida, Gainesville

MAJOR: Computer science

PARTING THOUGHTS: The current administration running this country has made me realize how grateful I am to be in the company of eloquent and intelligent people every day.

Rena Upadhyay is a 2018 co-salutatorian in the International Baccalaureate program at St. Petersburg High School.
Rena Upadhyay is a 2018 co-salutatorian in the International Baccalaureate program at St. Petersburg High School.

Rena Upadhyay, 17

Co-salutatorian

GPA: 4.66

PARENTS: Hiten and Bhumi Upadhyay

COLLEGE: Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill.

MAJOR: Computer science

PARTING THOUGHTS: Individuals should not set a cap on their abilities. I used to have a ceiling for myself that I believed was the best I could achieve, but changing my mindset allowed me to reach a higher potential. Believing to have no limit allows a person to have a fuller sense of themself.

• • •

Tarpon Springs High

Eleni Demetra Lambrianos is the 2018 valedictorian at Tarpon Springs High School.
Eleni Demetra Lambrianos is the 2018 valedictorian at Tarpon Springs High School.

Eleni Demetra Lambrianos, 18

Valedictorian

GPA: 4.73

PARENTS: Chris and Penny Lambrianos

COLLEGE: Undecided

MAJOR: Sports medicine

PARTING THOUGHTS: To my friends, we’ve shared laughs, tears, food and homework answers. You’ve made these past four years great; I will never forget you guys!

Cierra Tinson is the 2018 salutatorian at Tarpon Springs High School.
Cierra Tinson is the 2018 salutatorian at Tarpon Springs High School.

Cierra Tinson, 17

Salutatorian

GPA: 4.68

PARENT: Leslie Tinson

COLLEGE: Undecided

MAJORS: High energy physics and applied mathematics

PARTING THOUGHTS: The hardest thing I learned in high school: it’s okay to not be okay. Life is stressful. Yes, you will fall down but no, you won’t stay down. My mom, Mr. Priddy, and Mrs. Halkias believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. For them, I am eternally grateful.

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St. Petersburg Collegiate High

Victoria Rose Bortner is the 2018 valedictorian at St. Petersburg Collegiate High School.
Victoria Rose Bortner is the 2018 valedictorian at St. Petersburg Collegiate High School.

Victoria Rose Bortner, 17

Valedictorian

GPA: 4.76

PARENTS: David and Erin Bortner

COLLEGE: Florida State University, Tallahassee

MAJOR: Biochemistry

PARTING THOUGHTS: I’ve learned that life is filled with events that I cannot control, but what I can control is making sure I spend time each day doing something that I love.

Florida Ly is the 2018 salutatorian at St. Petersburg Collegiate High School.
Florida Ly is the 2018 salutatorian at St. Petersburg Collegiate High School.

Florida Ly, 18

Salutatorian

GPA: 4.75

PARENTS: Long Ly and Ui Lam

COLLEGE: University of South Florida, Tampa

MAJOR: Biomedical sciences

PARTING THOUGHTS: It honestly still feels so surreal to me that I’m finally graduating from high school. When you consider those preceding nine years of serene, childlike bliss, it feels all the more other-worldly. Four years of nauseating, arduous work has amounted to this, a glorious 4th of May.