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2010 valedictorians and salutatorians for Pinellas public high schools

PARTING THOUGHTS

We asked Pinellas County's top grads to answer these questions:

IN CHARGE:
If you were president, what one thing would you change?

SECRET
INGREDIENT: What's the secret to your success so far?

INSPIRING
PEOPLE: Name one person who has influenced your life. How and why?

MEMORABLE: What is your best high school memory?

GIVING BACK/TOP JOBS: List your top senior volunteer work/community project/job.

BOCA CIEGA HIGH SCHOOL

. VALEDICTORIAN

Mikel Graves, 17

GPA: 4.7

COLLEGE: University of South Florida, Tampa

PARENTS: John and Christiana Graves

IN CHARGE: If I was president, I would offer more temporary employment opportunities that service the community to combat the ongoing recession, similar to Franklin Roosevelt's Civilian Conservation Corps.

SECRET INGREDIENT: The secret to my success is hard work and persistence. I always ensure my work gets done thoroughly and on time, no matter what.

INSPIRING PEOPLE: The person who has influenced my life the most has been my father, John Graves, because I have yet to meet a more hardworking, civil, generous individual in my life. His dedication and good morals have had a large impact on my life.

MEMORABLE: My best high school memory would be hanging with my friends after school.

GIVING BACK/TOP JOB : My top senior job would be with my current employer, the Kmart corporation. Kmart has given me a consistent, dependable job, and in return I have given them my time and effort toward making Kmart an enriching experience for both customers and fellow employees.

. SALUTATORIAN

Min Jang, 19

GPA: 4.66

COLLEGE: University of Florida, Gainesville

PARENTS: Jin-Soo Jang and Yoon-Jeong Choi

IN CHARGE: Nothing in American politics interests me more than immigration issues. If I were to become the president, I would support the DREAM Act in order to help countless undocumented students who are discouraged by their inability to receive financial aid and postsecondary education.

SECRET INGREDIENT: Internal motivation to succeed is all I've got, and that worked out fine for me. My parents were a bit greedy with my education during my childhood, and perhaps that's what set me up for my basic intellectual advantages.

INSPIRING PEOPLE: My dad, Jin-Soo Jang, has been the most influential person in my life. While working hard to pay for my education in the U.S., he's been constantly supporting my decisions and personal development with my coming of age for the past seven years. His bold and strong yet generous character is something that I admire and pursue, and his advice and personal stories never cease to inspire me.

MEMORABLE: From meeting my wonderful girlfriend, Liz, to playing tennis and video games with my best friend Gurdeep, just about every high school experience I've undergone was enriching and memorable.

GIVING BACK: I have been helping countless international students and foreign immigrants from Korean and other foreign communities to overcome language barriers, cultural differences and the ways of American education that are unfamiliar to most of them.

CLEARWATER HIGH SCHOOL

. CO-VALEDICTORIAN

Zaf Goss, 18

GPA: 4.796

College: University of Florida, Gainesville

Parents: Glenn and Mary Goss

IN CHARGE: I would like to eliminate government involvement in business and social life, preserving peace, of course.

SECRET INGREDIENT: It may be a novel concept, but hard work and determination play a major role.

INSPIRING PEOPLE: My Da (grandfather) has greatly influenced me through his life lessons and wisdom as an immigrant making it successful in America. He has always been a beacon of support and a solid source of advice.

MEMORABLE: My senior football season. I will never forget the lessons gleaned and the friends discovered.

GIVING BACK: I most recently concluded my volunteering at Clothes to Kids, an excellent organization that does great things to combat the effects of poverty in Pinellas County schools.

. CO-VALEDICTORIAN

Kevin Zandimoghaddam, 18

GPA: 4.796

COLLEGE: University of Florida, Gainesville

PARENTS: Joy and Reza Zandimoghaddam

IN CHARGE: I would definitely want to improve the public education system by offering vocational classes to students who do not wish to attend college that will be applicable to what they are going to do in life.

SECRET INGREDIENT: Just taking pride in my work and wanting to be the best. Also, conveniently locating myself next to someone smart.

INSPIRING PEOPLE: My mom has definitely influenced me more than anybody else. She's raised three young men and put up with everything we've put her through over the years, without complaining too much.

MEMORABLE: Probably all the different and interesting people I've had the pleasure of getting to know over the years. Life is all about connections.

GIVING BACK: The most volunteer work I have done is helping out at a local nonprofit organization called Clothes to Kids that allows underprivileged children to have more confidence and self-esteem by providing them with nice clothes.

. SALUTATORIAN

Kyle Zandimoghaddam, 18

GPA: 4.75

College: University of Florida, Gainesville

Parents: Joy and Reza Zandimoghaddam

IN CHARGE: One thing that I would change is the financial aid process that affects students entering college.

SECRET INGREDIENT: My success is most likely attributed to self-motivation and attendance. Not attending class is a good way to fall behind.

INSPIRING PEOPLE: My mom has been the most influential person in my life. She is a single mother who has taken good care of my brothers and me and has allowed me to focus on my studies without getting a job.

MEMORABLE: My best high school memory is when (my friend) received a referral for writing (a student) "is going to ball you" on a note. (The teacher) thought it was something disgusting, but he meant that (one student) was better than (another student) at basketball.

GIVING BACK: Most of my community service took place through Clothes to Kids, an organization that gives underprivileged students the opportunity to have new clothes for school.

COUNTRYSIDE HIGH SCHOOL

. VALEDICTORIAN

Helen Virginia Moscardini, 18

GPA: 4.66

COLLEGE: New College of Florida, Sarasota

PARENTS: Charlotte and Michael Moscardini

IN CHARGE: If I were president, I would outlaw questionnaires that asked what students would do if they were president.

SECRET INGREDIENT: I think the secret to my success so far is looking toward the future — knowing that, though it might not seem like it, hard work now will eventually pay off later.

INSPIRING PEOPLE: My parents have been a great influence in my life. They always stressed the importance of hard work and a good education. More than that, however, they encouraged me to greater heights than even I thought myself capable of achieving. I am very grateful for their continuing support.

MEMORABLE: My best high school memories are laughing with my friends. They always had a way of transforming bad days into good ones.

GIVING BACK: This year, through the National Honor Society, I helped with Relay for Life registering cancer survivors for the relay.

. SALUTATORIAN

Rachel Marie Lubitz, 18

GPA: 4.6393

COLLEGE: George Washington University, Washington, D.C.

PARENT: Nancy Adams

IN CHARGE: I would give all the children the same resources in school so they all have the same opportunity to succeed.

SECRET INGREDIENT: Pure self-motivation and the lack of fear of failing.

INSPIRING PEOPLE: My mom for telling me to pursue every opportunity, encouraging me and telling me to never be afraid of falling on my face.

MEMORABLE: Mr. Straub's Christmas Magic Show and realizing he looked exactly like Andy Samberg 20 years ago.

GIVING BACK: Interact Club blood drives and adopt-a-family, 300-plus hours at Clothes to Kids, a presidential campaign, exchange student for the Clearwater Sister City Program with Nagano, Japan, Pinellas County Youth Advisory Committee, Kids Voting USA, editor and music critic for tb-two*/internship with the St. Petersburg Times, Poynter Journalism Program.

DIXIE HOLLINS HIGH SCHOOL

. VALEDICTORIAN

James Tyler Foster, 18

GPA: 4.6

COLLEGE: University of South Florida, St. Petersburg

PARENTS: James E. and Lois F. Foster

IN CHARGE: (Change) the Social Security system.

SECRET INGREDIENT: Trying not to get too stressed or overworked, and having some kind of release.

INSPIRING PEOPLE: Kelly Essary, who first taught me commercial design and gave me invaluable work experience.

MEMORABLE: Playing live shows for the school through the Guitar Club.

GIVING BACK: Volunteering at Westgate Elementary.

. SALUTATORIAN

Mollie Wilfert, 18

GPA: 4.58

COLLEGE: Pursuing a B.S. in political science and then attending law school.

PARENTS: James and Laura Wilfert

IN CHARGE: I would strictly adhere to the United States Constitution and allow citizens the right to vote on any new laws that would dramatically impact their lives.

SECRET INGREDIENT: My secret to success has been dedication, perseverance, sacrifice, prioritizing and time management.

INSPIRING PEOPLE: My parents have been the most influential people in my life. They have shown me how to live a life that matters and instilled in me the ethics, values and morals that define who I am today.

MEMORABLE: My best high school memory is being tapped for initiation into National Honor Society.

GIVING BACK: My top senior volunteer work was preparing and serving food at the Food Center of St. Vincent de Paul.

DUNEDIN HIGH SCHOOL

. VALEDICTORIAN

Sarah S. Hammond, 17

GPA: 4.8367

COLLEGE: Florida State University, Tallahassee

PARENTS: James and Polly Hammond

IN CHARGE: I would work to decentralize the power of the federal government except in the areas of national defense, interstate highways and the federal courts in order to give states more autonomy.

SECRET INGREDIENT: My parents have always pushed me, not to be the best, but to do my best and work hard, to give my all.

INSPIRING PEOPLE: Mr. Bill Smith of Clearwater, a Christian mentor and family friend, gave me the book Knowing God, by J.I. Packer, last summer. Because of Mr. Smith's willingness to follow God's leading in giving me the book, a great change has come about in my life, a rejuvenated passion and love for God.

MEMORABLE: Above all, I will remember and treasure every new, smiling face, the glance of a kindred spirit, the sharing of a laugh with a classmate, or a meaningful conversation with a member of the "band fam."

GIVING BACK: This Christmas I was given the opportunity to work at the Toys for Tots distribution as a member and officer of Sociedad Honoraria Hispanica (Spanish Honor Society).

. SALUTATORIAN

Morgan Donovan, 17

GPA: 4.77

COLLEGE: University of South Florida, Tampa

PARENTS: Lori and Steve Donovan

IN CHARGE: I would put a greater focus on education because today's youth is our country's future.

SECRET INGREDIENT: Putting forth my best effort in everything I do and not being afraid to ask questions!

INSPIRING PEOPLE: My mom. She has taught me by example the values of hard work, independence, perseverance, kindness and, most of all, love.

MEMORABLE: I honestly can't pick just one; all of the memories I have from sports, clubs and homecomings are special to me.

GIVING BACK: As president of Dunedin High Interact Club, I participated in volunteer work throughout the community, such as Relay for Life and Students-Teaching-Students, where fourth-graders are taught about the dangers of smoking.

GIBBS HIGH SCHOOL

. VALEDICTORIAN

Samuel French, 18

GPA: 4.6154

COLLEGE: Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pa.

PARENTS: Linda Rogowski and Thomas French

IN CHARGE: If I were president I would do what I could to energize the youth of America. We have so much potential, and I would hate for any of it to go to waste.

SECRET INGREDIENT: The secret to any success that I've had is simply enjoying life. As long as I was having fun, I knew I could do anything.

INSPIRING PEOPLE: My older brother Nat has influenced me more than anyone. I always work my hardest because I always want to make him proud.

MEMORABLE: My best high school memory is traveling to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands with a few of my best friends and some wonderful teachers. Snorkeling with penguins, playing futbol with little kids, and trying guinea pig makes for a wonderful experience.

GIVING BACK: My most rewarding experience was starting a children's theater troupe with other actors from the Pinellas County Center for the Arts. I directed the show The Arkansaw Bear, performing it for students at Perkins Elementary and Sunflower Elementary.

. SALUTATORIAN

Janet Lorenz, 18

GPA: 4.6

COLLEGE: Warren Wilson College, Asheville, N.C.

PARENTS: Ellen Arky and Matthew Lorenz.

IN CHARGE: I'd make sustainability a top priority. People forget that a green revolution isn't just necessary for environmental stability, but economic and political stability as well.

SECRET INGREDIENT: I don't neglect my physical and mental health. By being as active as possible and making sure my emotional needs are being met, I maintain the energy and confidence I need to succeed.

INSPIRING PEOPLE: My brother. He's always been there for me, as a role model and a best friend, and he's completely changed my view of what's important in life.

MEMORABLE: Traveling to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands with friends from school.

GIVING BACK/TOP JOB: For the past two years I've worked at Suncoast Neuroscience Associates, a neurology research center. It has been a wonderful experience.

EAST LAKE HIGH SCHOOL

. CO-VALEDICTORIAN

Kelly Douglas, 17

GPA: 4.89

COLLEGE: University of Florida, Gainesville

PARENTS: Chris and Karen Douglas

IN CHARGE: I would shrink the government and give it back to "We the People".

SECRET INGREDIENT: Hard work, dedication and the drive to succeed.

INSPIRING PEOPLE: My flag football coach, Chip Taylor, has really inspired me to do my best and never give up. He taught me how to deal with adversity when trying to reach my goals and to never forget about the small details when trying to achieve them.

MEMORABLE: Any time I was playing flag football and spending time with my teammates.

GIVING BACK: Volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club in Tarpon Springs and participating in a National Honors Society walkathon for cancer.

. CO-VALEDICTORIAN

Brandon Moores, 18

GPA: 4.898

COLLEGE: University of Virginia, Charlottesvile

PARENTS: Blake and Sue Moores

IN CHARGE: The one thing that I would change if I was president would be enacting fiscal responsibility in our government.

SECRET INGREDIENT: The secret to my success so far is hard work and perseverance.

INSPIRING PEOPLE: My dad is the person who has influenced me the most in my life. He really helped me develop into the person I am today and has shown me how far confidence in your ability and perseverance can go.

MEMORABLE: My best high school memory was state high school hockey playoffs my senior year in Miami with my teammates. We finished third in the state and it was a blast!

GIVING BACK/TOP JOB: I interned at Client 1st Advisors Inc., a financial planning company, the summer before my senior year. It was the major factor in me deciding to pursue business as my major in college.

. CO-VALEDICTORIAN

Sam Shaffer, 17

GPA: 4.898

COLLEGE: University of Florida, Gainesville

PARENTS: Sam and Jill Shaffer

IN CHARGE: I would change the Bowl Championship Series.

SECRET INGREDIENT: Hard work and football in my life are the secrets to my successes.

INSPIRING PEOPLE: My grandfather has influenced my life because he has always been an intellectual role model for my brother and me because he was always the "smart guy" in the family, and he always encouraged his grandchildren to succeed in school.

MEMORABLE: My best high school memory was beating Tarpon as a sophomore and a senior.

GIVING BACK: My top volunteer work was working on more than five Habitat for Humanity houses.

. CO-SALUTATORIAN

Avery Fox, 18

GPA: 4.820

COLLEGE: Duke University, Durham, N.C.

PARENTS: Bill and Virginia Fox

IN CHARGE: I would work at bringing government back to its founding principles. I believe Washington is just a mess right now, and I don't believe our government is running the way our founding fathers intended it to.

SECRET INGREDIENT: Keeping busy; it has helped me to work hard at everything going on in my life. When you're bored, you're lazy.

INSPIRING PEOPLE: My mom and dad. They have led by example rather than by force, and I believe that's why I've grown to be the determined and independent person that I am today.

MEMORABLE: Playing on the flag football team. It's the best decision I've ever made in high school.

GIVING BACK: I'm a server in the independent living dining room at Stratford Court in Palm Harbor (a Sunrise Senior living facility).

. CO-SALUTATORIAN

Bryan Emory Maynard, 18

GPA: 4.824

COLLEGE: University of Florida, Gainesville

Parents: John and Cynthia Maynard

IN CHARGE: If I were president, the one thing I would change is to reduce the government's influence in private business. The fact that businesses need to be regulated is necessary but the fact that we are controlling whether they stay in business with bailouts and such proves that it has too great a power over our economy.

SECRET INGREDIENT: The essential secret to my success so far could not be attributed to anything other than good old-fashioned hard work and determination.

INSPIRING PEOPLE: The person that has influenced my life could be none other than my father. He is the shining example of persistence that does not falter in the face of sickness and always has the interests of his family in mind so he has clearly been someone to model myself after.

MEMORABLE: My best high school memory would have to be winning the recycle regatta my junior year. It was a major project for my trisics (trigonometry and physics) class.

GIVING BACK: My top community project of my senior year was participating in Paint Your Heart Out where a myriad of people dedicate their day to painting houses for the less fortunate.

LAKEWOOD HIGH SCHOOL

. VALEDICTORIAN

Anneliese Karina Delgado-Cate, 18

GPA: 4.327

COLLEGE: University of North Florida, Jacksonville

PARENTS: Ney Delgado and Andrea Cate

IN CHARGE: I would take all of the troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq because I feel there are more negative outcomes of being in the Middle East than positive aspects.

SECRET INGREDIENT: I make it a point to try to take advantage of every opportunity presented to me because you never know where you will get if you don't try.

INSPIRING PEOPLE: My mother has been very influential in my life. She has encouraged me and raised me to be a person who I am proud to be.

MEMORABLE: My best high school memory is of my soccer team. Lakewood's girls varsity soccer team has had so many hilariously memorable moments, both on and off the field.

GIVING BACK/TOP JOB: I have been working at Winn-Dixie my whole senior year. This job has instilled in me characteristics that are valuable in any work place such as patience and self-restraint.

. SALUTATORIAN

Latesha Johnson, 18

GPA: 4.2935

COLLEGE: University of Florida, Gainesville

PARENT: Wanda Gibbs-Johnson

IN CHARGE: I would try to make sure that every homeless person was off the streets and had access to food and shelter at all times.

SECRET INGREDIENT: The secret to my success so far is knowing when it's time to goof off and when I need to buckle down and get myself together.

INSPIRING PEOPLE: Necole Tunsil (high school basketball coach) has influenced my life in several ways. She has helped me become a woman and her past experiences have helped me make some important decisions in life.

MEMORABLE: My best high school memory is being a part of the first team to give coach Tunsil her first district championship in all of her six years at Lakewood.

GIVING BACK: St. Anthony's Triathlon, Reading Across America, and St. Anthony's Rehabilitation Service

LAKEWOOD HIGH SCHOOL

Center for Advanced Technologies

. VALEDICTORIAN

Alexander Webb, 18

GPA: 4.71

COLLEGE: University of Florida, Gainesville

PARENTS: Robert and Dr. Beth Webb

SECRET INGREDIENT: I have always pushed myself by taking challenging classes and working hard to stay on top of all my responsibilities. I was lucky enough to have some really great teachers in the CAT program who inspired me to do my best.

INSPIRING PEOPLE: My grandparents encouraged me to broaden my horizons through life experiences and travel.

MEMORABLE: My favorite Lakewood memory is cheering at the powder puff game and breaking my hand at swim practice.

GIVING BACK: My volunteer activities included summer camp at Great Explorations, tutoring for National Honor Society and Spanish Honor Society, and working Special Olympics with the swim team.

. SALUTATORIAN

John Stephen Annunziata Jr., 18

GPA: 4.69

COLLEGE: University of Florida, Gainesville

PARENTS: John and Wendy Annunziata

IN CHARGE: I would make universal health care a reality because if other industrialized nations can do it, so can we. Access to good health care should not be determined by income, and it is ridiculous that medications and medical supplies that cost a pittance in other countries cost a fortune here.

SECRET INGREDIENT: I have great parents who make sure I work hard, and I have great friends who make sure I party hard.

INSPIRING PEOPLE: My parents have been a great influence in my life because they have shown me the value of hard work, the importance of compassion and the necessity of a good sense of humor. I am proud to say that I have inherited my father's Italian zest for life and my mother's Hungarian recipe for goulash.

MEMORABLE: Last month, when some friends and I auditioned for my school's lip-synch contest, our dance routine imploded when one of my friends — who was supposed to end the routine with a headstand — collapsed into a weird somersault instead, hitting the desk of a Spanish teacher judging the auditions and knocking over her drink. Incredibly, we still made the cut, but I think it was a moment that my friend and Señora Santiago will never forget.

GIVING BACK: Over the past three years, I have done more than 100 hours of volunteer work at the Florida Holocaust Museum.

LARGO HIGH SCHOOL

. VALEDICTORIAN

Elda Agastra, 18

GPA: 4.67

COLLEGE: St. Petersburg College, Seminole

PARENTS: Mirdash and Majlinda Agastra

IN CHARGE: If I were president, one of the things I would change would be the costly tuition for college. The high costs of attending a college or university intervene with education for many bright students.

SECRET INGREDIENT: My secret to success so far is simply working hard and giving my all to everything I do.

INSPIRING PEOPLE: One person who has influenced my life is my cousin Ardit. His success and hard work have made me look up to him, and it has encouraged me to make something of myself.

MEMORABLE: The best high school memory I have is when some of my friends and I joined other students and our principal to plant around our school. It was a great experience to know that I had an influence in the school in some way that will last for a long time.

GIVING BACK: I volunteered at the Largo Medical Center for about two months, and I was also involved in Relay for Life through my school's Spanish Honor Society.

. SALUTATORIAN

David Jewett, 17

GPA: 4.62

COLLEGE: University of South Florida, Tampa

PARENTS: John and Margaret Jewett

IN CHARGE: I would return our nation to the principles it was founded upon by our founding fathers and as written in the Constitution. I would restrict government outreach to leave the power in the people's hands.

SECRET INGREDIENT: The secret to my success is my incredible support system and the love of those who surround me on a daily basis. My parents instilled in me the values I hope to carry throughout the rest of my education and my life.

INSPIRING PEOPLE: Personally, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has been an extreme influence in my life. In him I have all my hopes and aspirations, and the support and strength to carry them out.

MEMORABLE: There is no singular memory to point to and say it was the best, rather every friendship I have developed and every ounce of love and support given to me by those I care most about. I have truly been quite blessed.

GIVING BACK: I volunteer at the Religious Community Services Food Bank in the warehouse, making bags of food for those in need and filling up the shopping carts they received.

NORTHEAST HIGH SCHOOL

. VALEDICTORIAN

Kelly Mary Marton, 18

GPA: 4.66

COLLEGE: University of Florida, Gainesville

PARENTS: Brian and Maureen Marton

IN CHARGE: I'd probably paint the White House black if it was my residence.

SECRET INGREDIENT: The secrets to my success are hard work, a supportive family and jelly beans.

INSPIRING PEOPLE: My parents had the most influence on my life by raising me to love learning and always do my best. They have been there for me every step of the way.

MEMORABLE: My favorite high school memories were senior homecoming court with my boyfriend, Phillip, and fun times on my swimming and softball teams.

GIVING BACK: As a senior, I served on the Diocesan Youth Council (Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg) and painted a few walls for the Florida Holocaust Museum. I also served as the Florida Blood Drive chairperson for Northeast's Hi-Y club for three years.

. SALUTATORIAN

Daniel R. Kroepsch, 17

GPA: 4.623

COLLEGE: Florida State University, Tallahassee

PARENTS: Steven and Diane Kroepsch

IN CHARGE: Following the conclusion of a 13-year case study, Daniel has determined that the current public education system lacks the effectiveness and discipline needed to give America a competitive edge in a struggling global economy. In a position of leadership, Mr. Kroepsch would urge the implementation of a decentralized, streamlined and ultramodern approach to education.

SECRET INGREDIENT: Intensive integrity, tremendous tenacity, distinct dedication, passionate perseverance, persevering passion, extraordinary effort and humble humility are among the many multitudes of Mr. Kroepsch's secrets to success.

INSPIRING PEOPLE: Mr. McCauley, director of the Todd Center, provided the encouragement, understanding, and wisdom integral to Daniel's present and future accomplishments.

MEMORABLE: Finally realizing the goal of receiving a ride from every individual who routinely drives a golf cart on campus, and winning both Best Attorney and Best Brief at Youth in Government.

GIVING BACK: Volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House was fulfilling and enriching.

OSCEOLA HIGH SCHOOL

. VALEDICTORIAN

Patrick Ryan, 18

GPA: 4.72

COLLEGE: University of South Florida, Tampa

PARENTS: Linda and James Ryan

IN CHARGE: I would completely change the way government welfare is handed out. Working in a grocery store for two years, I have seen the ways people abuse the system, taking from those who could really use help.

SECRET INGREDIENT: My secret to success is staying busy. I can't stand downtime, and whether it be working, studying, or hanging out with friends, staying busy makes me feel like I've used my time successfully.

INSPIRING PEOPLE: My family and closest friends — Jonathan Poisson, Kristen Roles and Brenda Morales — have had the biggest impact on my life. They've always been there pushing me, helping me, relaxing me, and forming me into who I am today.

MEMORABLE: My best high school memories definitely come from the marching band. Four years of a close-knit school family have left me with infinite unforgettable memories.

GIVING BACK: Senior year I tutored AP calculus AB after school, and worked part time at both Albertsons and CVS.

. SALUTATORIAN

Ross Kristof, 17

GPA: 4.672

COLLEGE: University of South Florida, Tampa

PARENTS: Jim and Sherri Kristof

IN CHARGE: One thing that I would change if I were president would be to increase the amount of money allocated to the public school system.

SECRET INGREDIENT: My secret to success is doing assigned work and taking tests well.

INSPIRING PEOPLE: My greatest influence is my mother because she is the strongest person I know and very devoted to everything she does.

MEMORABLE: My best high school memories are the wild antics that have happened in my AP psychology class.

GIVING BACK: Tutoring math at Osceola Middle School and volunteering at Palm Garden of Largo Rehabilitation Center.

PALM HARBOR UNIVERSITY HIGH SCHOOL

International Baccalaureate Program

. VALEDICTORIAN

Sankar Kannusamy, 18

GPA: 4.900

COLLEGE: Duke University, Durham, N.C.

PARENTS: Sekar and Umarani Kannusamy

IN CHARGE: Help provide aid to foreign countries to reduce hunger and malnutrition.

SECRET INGREDIENT: Always aiming above and beyond what I hope to achieve so that I never fall short of my goals.

INSPIRING PEOPLE: My brother, Manoj, who has served as a role model and always set the bar high for me.

MEMORABLE: Making the varsity tennis team freshman year.

GIVING BACK: Helping to arrange fundraisers for hospice in Soweto, South Africa.

. SALUTATORIAN

Aakash Patel, 18

GPA: 4.89

COLLEGE: St. Bonaventure University, St. Bonaventure, N.Y., and George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, D.C.

PARENTS: Dilip and Jyotsna Patel

IN CHARGE: I would place further emphasis on obesity prevention. This would not only decrease health care costs, but also reduce many of the associated issues.

SECRET INGREDIENT: The support and guidance of my family has put it within arm's reach.

INSPIRING PEOPLE: My sister, Delaura, has always been there for me and guided me through everything. Her selfless nature and desire to give me the best possible opportunities have made a tremendous difference in my life.

MEMORABLE: My best high school memory was attending Ultra Music Festival 2010 with my friends Marco, Tim and Ravi. This two-day electronic music festival in Miami was a blast!

GIVING BACK: My top volunteer work was participating in the Sole 2 Soul Shoe Recycling Club at school. We collected shoes for recycling by Nike's Reuse a Shoe Program.

PALM HARBOR UNIVERSITY HIGH

. VALEDICTORIAN

Angelique Eleni Boutzoukas, 18

GPA: 4.891

COLLEGE: University of Florida, Gainesville

PARENTS: Michael and Christine Boutzoukas

IN CHARGE: I would work to improve bipartisan relations, so the diversity of society would be better represented.

SECRET INGREDIENT: My parents always stressed the importance of education. With their guidance, my God-given abilities, much determination, and some great teachers along the way, I was able to develop my recipe for success.

INSPIRING PEOPLE: My encouraging mother. Growing up, my mom set high standards for us. She pushed us to achieve incessantly. Through this, I have learned to set goals for myself, and I have come to appreciate the reward felt upon attaining my goals.

MEMORABLE: On " '80s Day" during homecoming week, the seniors, all dressed up, formed a conga line and raged through the cafeteria and front office, blasting '80s music. At this moment, we all felt the satisfaction of finally being seniors.

GIVING BACK: I volunteered through the pediatric section of Suncoast Hospice, making weekly visits with my best friend to our patient.

. SALUTATORIAN

Blake William Freeman, 18

GPA: 4.8723

COLLEGE: University of Kentucky, Lexington

PARENTS: Nanette and James "Chip" Freeman

IN CHARGE: If I were the president, I would work on solving the crises in our own country. I would send aid to those areas of the United States in need of assistance, ranging from destructive natural disasters to the rising unemployment population.

SECRET INGREDIENT: The secret to my success is effective time management. My studies always are my top priority, followed by athletics.

INSPIRING PEOPLE: I would be nowhere in life without the love and support of my mom. Through thick and thin, she will always look out for me, making her the most important person in my life. I love you, Mom!

MEMORABLE: The best memory would be the night the men's swim team won the Class 3A State Championship by one point. The bond that we as team members share will last for the rest of our lives, and we will always be able to look back and remember our strength and domination.

GIVING BACK: My best senior year activity is being a swim coach at the Palm Harbor YMCA. PINELLAS PARK HIGH SCHOOL

. VALEDICTORIAN

Anthony Bryan Castro, 18

GPA: 4.79

College: University of Florida, Gainesville

Parents: Ilene Castro and Roberto Sanz

IN CHARGE: With the current political atmosphere and its inherent distaste of anything leaning left, I'd be too preoccupied with my constituents slaughtering me because of my surname to effect any real change or shift in policy. However, if I were to miraculously dodge all rocks and bullets aimed at me with the skill at which some of our corporate business leaders avoid repercussions, I'd place political pressure on our world's newest fascist state, Arizona, to repeal SB1070 in favor of something less offensive to the United States — like kicking puppies off a cliff.

SECRET INGREDIENT: I take pride in what I'm capable of and what I accomplish, though cognizant of my own limitations. My pride is what keeps me from settling into complacency.

INSPIRING PEOPLE: Rebecca Daugherty remains as one of my greatest teachers, although she officially retired from the post two years ago. She acts as my guide in both personal and academic matters.

MEMORABLE: When in Orlando for a Future Educators of America State Conference, friends and I went to Downtown Disney to explore and relax. I'll never forget going to Legoland, building a car out of Legos and losing to a 5-year-old in a race.

GIVING BACK: The time I spent tutoring ESE kids at a middle school. Those kids were lively.

. SALUTATORIAN

Anh Nguyen, 18

GPA: 4.66

College: University of South Florida, Tampa

Parents: Loc Nguyen and Ngoc Nguyen

IN CHARGE: Honestly, I don't know that I could change anything as president. Does the president even possess that much power these days?

SECRET INGREDIENT: My family. All have doubted my academic integrity/ability at some point in time, and I'm determined to prove them wrong.

INSPIRING PEOPLE: My dad. Seeing how hard he has worked since he came to America has influenced me not to give up, especially since now I have the opportunities he never had.

MEMORABLE: I believe my best high school memory will be graduation. However, as every week goes by, there are always moments I'll remember … until I get diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

GIVING BACK: Volunteering at Largo Public Library, helping out in the children and teen areas with activities or tutoring.

ST. PETERSBURG COLLEGIATE

. VALEDICTORIAN

Sandra Antonia Ionescu, 17

GPA: 4.695

COLLEGE: University of Florida, Gainesville

PARENT: Ruxandra Cravcenco

IN CHARGE: I would fight for people to stop hurting the environment.

SECRET INGREDIENT: Positive attitude and hard work.

INSPIRING PEOPLE: My mom. Her perseverance and sacrifice showed me that everything is possible.

MEMORABLE: Every moment I spent in high school created a whole unforgettable experience.

GIVING BACK: Hospice volunteer work for 128 hours in Tarpon Springs-Pinellas County.

. SALUTATORIAN

Ankit Laxmina rayan Pandey, 18

GPA: 4.692

College: University of Florida, Gainesville

Parents: Anjani and Madhu Pandey

IN CHARGE: I would find ways to increase job opportunities in every working field there is. This will increase the chance of the unemployed people to get jobs and support their families.

SECRET INGREDIENT: Hard work and dedication to succeed in anything I do.

INSPIRING PEOPLE: My grandfather because he consistently reminded me to do my best and always strive for perfection.

MEMORABLE: Graduation, because after graduation I realized all my hard work throughout elementary, middle and high school has paid off. Now I have to repeat my success when I go to college.

GIVING BACK: Starting my own project at my community center teaching computer use to senior citizens who did not know how to use a computer.

ST. PETERSBURG HIGH SCHOOL

International Baccalaureate Program

. VALEDICTORIAN

Mijana Djurdjevic, 18

GPA: 4.93

COLLEGE: University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School of Business, Philadelphia, Pa.

PARENTS: Branislav and Zlata Djurdjevic

IN CHARGE: If I were president, I would make getting a college education mandatory. Higher education is so important and these days it is necessary to succeed.

SECRET INGREDIENT: I credit my success to hard work and perseverance. No matter what obstacle gets in the way, you have to stay determined and follow through with your responsibilities.

INSPIRING PEOPLE: My sister, Emilija, has been a positive role model for me my whole life. She has always supported me and encouraged me to follow my dreams and aim high.

MEMORABLE: My best high school memory is of the International Baccalaureate Senior Celebration. I loved that the whole IB class was united and I had a feeling of euphoria knowing that I was done with exams and could enjoy the rest of my senior year.

GIVING BACK: Key Club: making lunches for the homeless every Friday; Spanish Honor Society: collecting over 100 toys for underprivileged children in the St. Pete area for Christmas; Habitat for Humanity: building houses and working at the Re-Store

. SALUTATORIAN

Wendy Yin, 18

GPA: 4.9298

COLLEGE: Duke University, Durham, N.C.

PARENTS: Hoke and Grace Yin

IN CHARGE: Most of the things I think of would involve dictatorship, not presidency and trying to negotiate with the other branches of government. However, I'd try to end Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

SECRET INGREDIENT: Self-motivation … and pithiness.

INSPIRING PEOPLE: Everyone has influenced my life in some way. I'd like to think of all those influences as good ones.

MEMORABLE: Standing in a hot, gas-smelling classroom watching the Ruben's tube on the last day of physics class in junior year. (A Ruben's tube shows the standing waves formed by sounds, in the form of varying flame heights.)

GIVING BACK: Tutoring weekly at the SPC-Gibbs campus.

ST. PETERSBURG HIGH SCHOOL

. VALEDICTORIAN

AUTUMN ELIASON, 18

GPA: 4.81

COLLEGE: University of Florida, Gainesville

PARENTs: George and Laurie Eliason

IN CHARGE: I would attempt to improve the employment rates in our country.

SECRET INGREDIENT: Never procrastinate and never give up!

INSPIRING PEOPLE: My sister, Barbara, had guided me and shown me the brightness in difficult times. Thank you, big sister.

MEMORABLE: All the times spent with my seven best friends.

GIVING BACK: Raising money for the EachOne TeachOne organization and providing schooling for many underprivileged Panamanian children.

. SALUTATORIAN

Alfredo Pineda Kiernan, 18

GPA: 4.69

COLLEGE: University of Florida, Gainesville

PARENT: Elsa Kiernan

IN CHARGE: If I were president, I would outlaw weapon restrictions and bans on them. It would provide for a safer country and crime would fall.

SECRET INGREDIENT: The secret to my success was the support of my family who guided me through high school, and the competitive spirit of my girlfriend who remained valedictorian.

INSPIRING PEOPLE: Superman. He proved anything is possible if you put your back into it.

MEMORABLE: Running track until I threw up.

GIVING BACK: I volunteered at the YMCA during the winter holidays, helping make pancake breakfasts for the children.

SEMINOLE HIGH SCHOOL

. VALEDICTORIAN

Carley Pels, 18

GPA: 4.7

College: University of Florida, Gainesville

Parent: Simon Pels

IN CHARGE: If I were president, I would increase subsidies to the individual for environmentally friendly practices, such as investing in solar panels.

SECRET INGREDIENT: The secret to my success so far is diligence and ambition. I constantly keep myself motivated by the thought of what my future holds.

INSPIRING PEOPLE: One person who has influenced my life is my grandpa. He showed me how to find joy in the simple things in life and how far a kind heart can take you.

MEMORABLE: One of my best memories was having the opportunity to do the cat dissection in anatomy and physiology. It opened my eyes to the intricacies of the body.

GIVING BACK: My favorite volunteer project was the SANTA Drive. My friend Christine and I created and organized a very successful collection of hygiene items, food and letters to be sent to our Marines overseas.

. SALUTATORIAN

Danielle Frain, 18

GPA: 4.68

College: University of Florida, Gainesville

Parents: Daniel and Kathryn Frain

IN CHARGE: As president, I would reduce the amount of government subsidies given to oil companies. I would put that money into research for developing a viable renewable energy resource.

SECRET INGREDIENT: Hard work and time management. I would not have been able to excel in cross country-track, chorus, clubs and my rigorous classes without these two abilities.

INSPIRING PEOPLE: My mother has definitely influenced my life. She has emphasized high achievement, putting forth all your effort at all times, especially in school.

MEMORABLE: Singing with the Seminole High School chorus and orchestra at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City this past spring. It was one of the most beautiful and rewarding experiences of my life.

GIVING BACK: During Thanksgiving and Christmas of last year, I volunteered at Taking It to the Streets, an organization that partnered with Metropolitan Ministries to distribute meals and toys to families in need during the holidays.

TARPON SPRINGS HIGH SCHOOL

. VALEDICTORIAN

Joshua Slone, 18

GPA: 4.83

College: University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pa.

Parents: Sherman Slone and Eileen Jacobs

IN CHARGE: As president, I would revitalize and modernize America's infrastructure. Building new infrastructure, such as maglev trains, goes toward the sustainable, intellectually enriched progress we need in the United States.

SECRET INGREDIENT: It is the ability to both have an overarching vision and to focus on the significant details. Einstein says it best: "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler."

INSPIRING PEOPLE: As the president of Liberia, and as the first female, black head of state, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has admirably led the war-torn state back to peace. I have been inspired by the courage and insight Sirleaf has displayed.

MEMORABLE: My greatest memories are of the remarkable people I have met: the teachers, students, administrators, and administrator/teachers who have made my time at Tarpon High very productive and enjoyable.

GIVING BACK: Homework help at the Countryside Library, Mu Alpha Theta tutoring, Science National Honor Society tutoring, and SAT tutoring.

. SALUTATORIAN

Nicholas Stephen Karay, 18

GPA: 4.71

College: Florida State University, Tallahassee

Parents: Steve and Gloria Karay

IN CHARGE: If I were president, I would get rid of the current health care reform and would direct the country back to its constitutional roots.

SECRET INGREDIENT: The secret to my success so far is that I have put God first and let him guide me with my decisions.

INSPIRING PEOPLE: My parents raised me with good morals and strong life values. They have really influenced my life and made me the man I am today.

MEMORABLE: My best memory was enjoying my senior year with my freshman brother and sophomore sister at school.

GIVING BACK: My top senior volunteer work was mentoring kids at the Boys and Girls Club of Tarpon Springs. I had a lot of fun and it made a lasting impact on my life.

2010 valedictorians and salutatorians for Pinellas public high schools 06/05/10 [Last modified: Friday, June 4, 2010 7:12pm]

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