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Top graduates in Pinellas County's private high schools

Class of 2011: Pinellas County's private school valedictorians and salutatorians

Admiral Farragut Academy

. Valedictorian

Kamila Widulinski, 17

GPa: 4.37

College: Northeastern University, Boston

Parents: Piotr Widulinski and Agi Zwierz

Influence: One person who has influenced me is my sister, Natalia, because she has already experienced everything I am going through. She always has great advice when I need it.

Shout-Out: I would like to give my junior year AP English teacher, Mr. Matthew Lameyer, a shout-out. Mr. Lameyer is one of the most dedicated teachers I have had and constantly taught me new things about myself and the world around me.

LOOKING BACK: Breaking my high school's 5K record during junior year.

MADE IT THROUGH: My toughest high school moment has been accepting my first serious rejection in life — not getting in to my top college choice.

Advice: The best advice I would give the classmates I leave behind is to always follow your own dreams, not anyone else's.

WHOm WOULD YOU FRIEND? Donald Trump.

. Salutatorian

Michael Recca, 18

GPA: 4.21

College: University of Miami, Coral Gables

Parents: Dennis and Janet Recca

Influence: Both my parents have, but my dad sticks out in terms of schooling. He has always told me to do the best that I can rather than worrying about what others can do/have done and I think it has worked.

SHOUT-OUT: My running coaches. My progress in running really parallels my progress in life. Without Coach Nick, I probably would never have continued running after sixth grade. He supplied me with the confidence and determination to press on. Coach Barnhill has motivated me with school spirit, healthy competitiveness, team unity and self-drive to reach new heights in high school running.

LOOKING BACK: It has yet to come. The day of my graduation during which I will be giving the salutatorian address. This day will, over all of my high school experiences, stick in my mind forever.

MADE IT THROUGH: Honestly, it would have to be right now. It's hard to break away from all my friends and close faculty members.

Advice: In the words of Joe Dirt, "Life's a garden; dig it." In other words, make the best of life, no matter what. Keep going, even when times get tough.

WHOm WOULD YOU FRIEND? James Hetfield, the singer/rhythm guitarist from Metallica.

Calvary Christian High School

. Valedictorian

Paul Andrew Fack, 18

GPA: 4.59

College: University of Florida, Gainesville

Parents: Lisa and William Fack

Influence: My Uncle Mark has greatly influenced me because he has shown me what it's like to work hard and smart and how to develop an entrepreneurial mind-set.

SHOUT-OUT: Mr. Pinder because he has impacted my life so much. He has helped me become the best student I could possibly be and has been a great example of what a godly man should be.

LOOKING BACK: It's hard to narrow it down to just one memory, but I would say my senior trip to San Francisco.

MADE IT THROUGH: My toughest high school moment was probably the entire time I took AP United States History. I enjoyed the class, but it was very rigorous.

Advice: Stay focused during your senior year and don't let "senioritis" set in too early.

WHOM WOULD YOU FRIEND? Robert Herjavec, from the TV show Shark Tank.

. Salutatorian

Cassandra Szarejko, 17

GPA: 4.54

College: University of South Florida, Tampa

Parents: Donna and Mark Szarejko

Influence: One person that has had a profound impact in my high school experience is my track and cross country coach, Greg Thiel. He has been a godly witness to my life and helped me become a better, stronger person.

SHOUT-OUT: I would love to give a shout-out to my mentor, Miss Ewbank. Her loving and guiding spirit has shaped me during my years at Calvary.

LOOKING BACK: My best high school memory was this year at the regional track meet. We learned that we had made it to states in both of our relay events, so to know that I finally accomplished a goal I had set out for myself my freshman year was incredible.

MADE IT THROUGH: Learning how to juggle a part-time job, sports, and a full load of classes.

Advice: My best advice that I can leave to my classmates is to cherish the high school years because they truly do fly.

WHOM WOULD YOU FRIEND? Adele Adkins.

Canterbury School of Florida

. Valedictorian

Emma Brody, 18

GPA: 4.74

College: Brown University, Providence, R.I.

Parents: Mark and Sue Brody

INFLUENCE: My sister, Nora, has inspired me to always be the best student, athlete, and, most importantly, person I can be.

SHOUT-OUT: I had five classes with Mr. Murphy over three years. He taught me lessons not only about science and math, but also about how to not take life too seriously.

LOOKING BACK: One of my friends was singing a cappella in the talent show and forgot the words to her song. The entire school sang the rest of the song with her. The sense of community made me proud to be a Crusader.

MADE IT THROUGH: Two words: corn genetics.

Advice: I'd just tell them to find something to enjoy every day and to bring sunscreen on the senior trip.

WHOM WOULD YOU FRIEND? Edward Norton, because I love the movie Fight Club.

. Co-salutatorian

Jacqueline Jacob Schiller, 17

GPA: 4.58

College: Loyola University New Orleans

Parents: Georgina G. and Ronald L. Schiller

Influence: Mrs. Yeager, who taught me to think about the "why" and not just the "how."

LOOKING BACK: Latin State Forum my junior year. Latin nerds have the most fun!

MADE IT THROUGH: Realizing that I'd have to try harder in AP chemistry than I ever had for another class.

Advice: Do your best at everything you do; don't start something unless you're willing to give it your all. If you do that, you'll never have any regrets.

WHOM WOULD YOU FRIEND? Barack Obama.

. Co-salutatorian

Emory Elizabeth Wolf, 18

GPA: 4.58

College: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Parents: Chris and Kari Wolf

Influence: My mom has influenced me so much because she has shown me how important it is to be determined to succeed. Her dedication has helped me to set my own goals and has shown me how to work through things even when times are tough.

Shout-Out: Mr. Murphy. He taught to have a strong work ethic and helped me discover my passion for biology.

LOOKING BACK: The junior class trip.

MADE IT THROUGH: The nights before an AP chemistry lab was due.

Advice: Don't take things too seriously; find a balance between work and having fun.

WHOM WOULD YOU FRIEND? Creed Bratton.

Clearwater Central Catholic

. Co-valedictorian

Aubrey Ann Danielson, 18

GPA: 4.6

College: Florida State University, Tallahassee

Parents: Bruce and Penny Danielson

Influence: My whole family has definitely influenced me, but especially my father. He has taught me that the only failure is giving up and that I dictate what my life becomes.

SHOUT-OUT: Miss Gabrielle Noyes. She was my cheerleader before I even set foot onto the campus of CCC. She was my guardian angel when I needed help, and she was there when I simply needed someone to talk to. She is perhaps one of the most remarkable women I have ever had the privilege of meeting, as she gave her time freely to anyone who needed it, her care to all as if we were her own family and her endless wisdom to anyone who asked.

LOOKING BACK: I honestly don't have a single favorite memory, but being able to address the entire student body during our farewell assembly for one last time and feeling like I could possibly have an impact on at least one person's high school experience was one I will never forget.

MADE IT THROUGH: Leaving the only school I had ever known, with five people (including me) in the eighth grade class of Country Day to be thrown into the slightly larger, 175 member, freshman class of CCC, knowing no one. It forced me to get out of my shell, and as cliché as it sounds, truly was a force in making me what I am today.

Advice: Reach for things they say you can't achieve, laugh at things that are stupid, run for things they say you can't catch, because even if you prove them right (in that moment in time), you can never live life saying "what if?" Don't let anyone tell you that you can't, because only you can truly determine that.

WHOM WOULD YOU FRIEND? Warren Buffett.

. Co-valedictorian

Christina Ashley Ford, 18

GPa: 4.6

College: University of Florida, Gainesville

Parents: Kyle and Terri Ford

Influence: My AP calculus teacher, Ms. Noyes, has been absolutely incredible throughout high school. She has always been supportive no matter what, and I will miss her very much.

LOOKING BACK: Winning the class homecoming competition for the third time with my senior class!

MADE IT THROUGH: I have had an amazing high school experience, so my toughest moment is happening right now — saying goodbye to all the friends I've made.

Advice: Don't take "no" for an answer. If you truly believe in something, it is worth pursuing.

WHOM WOULD YOU FRIEND? Ellen DeGeneres.

. Salutatorian

Karina Maria Bach, 18

GPA: 4.56

College: None; will focus on training in judo with the goal of competing on the U.S. Olympic Judo Team

Parents: Elizabeth and Henry Bach

Karina was not available to answer the questionnaire because she is in Spain competing in the Judo World Championship. She left for Spain immediately following final exams and before her selection as salutatorian.

Clearwater Central Catholic International Baccalaureate Program

. Valedictorian

Sophie Newman, 18

GPa: 4.69

College: University of Florida, Gainesville

Parents: Harlan and Melissa Newman

Influence: One person who has influenced me is my mom, who has always encouraged me to be myself and to always strive for self-improvement.

SHOUT-OUT: I would give a shout-out to Miss Noyes for being such an amazing teacher and going above and beyond the call of duty whenever any student needs help.

LOOKING BACK: One of my best high school memories was in 10th grade English when the whole class sang me Happy Birthday.

MADE IT THROUGH: My toughest high school moment was the first day freshman year — being overwhelmed with a new school and new people to meet.

Advice: To classmates I leave behind, I say never apologize for being yourself; don't sacrifice your individuality for acceptance. Dare to be different.

WHOM WOULD YOU FRIEND? Stephen King.

. Salutatorian

Christopher Adan, 18

GPA: 4.64

College: Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.

Parents: Dr. Alice Morales Adan and Dr. Joseph Adan

Influence: My grandmother has taught me to be iron-willed and never give up on something.

SHOUT-OUT: I would give a shout-out to Miss Noyes for being such a kind and upbeat teacher. She always seems to be happy and energetic.

LOOKING BACK: My best high school memory is catching a shark while fishing with my friends.

MADE IT THROUGH: My toughest high school moment was completing the IB extended essay. It took what seemed like an eternity to finish.

Advice: I would say to bring your talents forward rather than remain in the background.

WHOM WOULD YOU FRIEND? Jennifer Nettles, the lead singer of Sugarland.

Clearwater Academy International

. Valedictorian

Raphael Schwyter, 19

GPA: 4.1

College: Business School, London, England

Parents: Judith Schwyter and Steven Muller

Influence: My brother. He was the valedictorian two years ago at Clearwater Academy International.

Shout-Out: Fred Houck, my high school teacher, who has been fun, helpful and inspiring.

LOOKING BACK: Winning the state football championship.

MADE IT THROUGH: Losing in overtime in the semifinals the year after.

Advice: Keep persisting, it pays off!

WHOM WOULD YOU FRIEND? Tom from MySpace.

. Salutatorian

Cameron Miller, 17

GPA: 3.95

College: Ringling College of Art and Design, Sarasota

Parents: Chris and Laurie Miller

Influence: I would like to acknowledge my parents for their encouragement and support and especially for providing an incredible school, Clearwater Academy, for me to attend.

SHOUT-OUT: Cara Dunning, my art teacher, she showed me Ringling and actively supported my goals of going there.

LOOKING BACK: Expeditions to Tennessee, white-water rafting.

MADE IT THROUGH: Toughest high school moment has yet to come.

Advice: The best advice I can give to anyone is to decide on your goals and work to achieve them.

WHOM WOULD YOU FRIEND? LIGHTS (musician).

Indian Rocks Christian School

. Valedictorian

Ryan Kaufman, 18

GPA: 4.35

College: University of Florida, Gainesville

Parents: Charles and Maureen Kaufman

Influence: The person who has been influential in my life would be Gary Hunt, my middle school youth pastor. Without him, I would not be on the right path in my life.

SHOUT-OUT: I would like to give a shout-out to Mrs. Renshaw for always believing in me and for pushing me to be my best. Also, I would like to thank her for putting up with me on the mission trips to New York City, Russia and Romania.

LOOKING BACK: My whole senior year would be my best memory. It was the happiest time of my life.

MADE IT THROUGH: The toughest high school memory would be at the end of each high school year. It is very tough to finish all my classes strong and to keep the hard work to the end.

Advice: Do not cut corners or take shortcuts in life. The hard work you do pays off.

WHOM WOULD FRIEND? Either Emma Watson or JJ Reddick.

. Salutatorian

Elizabeth Rose Sullivan, 18

GPA: 4.34

College: Stetson University, DeLand

Parent: Laura Sullivan

Influence: My mom has influenced me the most because she pushed me to always do my best.

SHOUT-OUT: Mrs. Stevens, our school librarian, has helped me to keep my sanity for the past four years. Thanks!

LOOKING BACK: My best high school memory was winning the Fellowship of Christian Cheerleaders National Scholar Cheerleader Award, as well as winning the National Cheerleading competition the same year.

MADE IT THROUGH: My toughest high school moment was when I thought there was something wrong with my voice, and I thought I didn't have a future.

Advice: Study hard, work hard, and have fun. Most of all, go after your dreams with all you've got.

Keswick Christian School

. Valedictorian

Christine Fricke, 18

GPA: 4.93

College: John Brown University, Siloam Springs, Ark.

Parents: Bob and Cathy Fricke

Influence: My parents have instilled in me both a hard work ethic and Christian faith, and I greatly appreciate them for that.

SHOUT-OUT: To my junior high English teacher Mrs. Niven: never let the golden calf die.

LOOKING BACK: Our senior tip to the Bahamas.

MADE IT THROUGH: AP calculus.

Advice: Don't plan your own senior skip day, and stay off campus when you do the senior prank.

WHOM WOULD YOU FRIEND? Upton Sinclair.

. Salutatorian

Sarah Trill, 18

GPA: 4.5

College: Clearwater Christian College, Clearwater

Parents: Matthew and Maribeth Trill

Influence: My mom has inspired me to become a music teacher through her dedication and encouragement.

SHOUT-OUT: Thank you, Mrs. Yale, for your dedication to seeing your students succeed.

LOOKING BACK: Being a part of the band and choir trip to Germany and Austria is my favorite high school memory.

MADE IT THROUGH: Taking the AP U.S. history exam was my toughest high school moment.

Advice: Always do your best, but remember to take time to enjoy your high school career.

Lakeside Christian School

. Valedictorian

Hannah Grace Ray, 18

GPA: 4.4

College: Eckerd College, St. Petersburg

Parents: Jim and April Ray

Influence: My mom has taught me so much and she does it by example. She is the most selfless and kind person I know.

SHOUT-OUT: A thanks to Jason Sanborn, who helped me every morning while I was in my wheelchair. He was so selfless and caring. It really showed me how much the teachers at Lakeside care about their students.

LOOKING BACK: Defeating the St. Pete Catholic volleyball team senior year.

MADE IT THROUGH: When I tore my ACL during a volleyball game.

Advice: Stay focused and work hard. At the end of high school it will pay off and you'll definitely appreciate it.

WHOM WOULD YOU FRIEND? Gandalf.

. Co-salutatorian

Max Dwight Collins, 18

GPA: 4.35

College: University of South Florida, Tampa

Parents: Morris and Diana Collins

Influence: My mom has certainly influenced me because she is the one who encouraged me to do my homework instead of letting me slack off on my work and play video games 24/7.

SHOUT-OUT: I'd like to give a shout-out to my AP language/writing teacher, Mrs. Coffman, because about halfway through taking this class I wanted to be a quitter and drop out of the class; but, I now really appreciate the fact that she wouldn't let me. Because of this, I learned so much about writing and greatly improved my essay writing skills and, as a result, I am very thankful for having her as my teacher.

MADE IT THROUGH: My toughest high school moment was the first half of my junior year. It was tough because I played football and by the time I got home from practice I was extremely exhausted and didn't feel like doing my homework for the three or four honors classes that I was taking.

Advice: It's simple, don't ever procrastinate on your homework. It'll end up biting you in the butt like a psychotic chihuahua.

WHOM WOULD YOU FRIEND? Steve Carell.

. Co-salutatorian

Alexander Nguyen, 18

GPA: 4.35

College: Florida State University, Tallahassee

Parents: Le Anh and Manh Nguyen

Influence: My mother because she came to the United States from Vietnam knowing no English, and still achieved a master's degree. It is a feat that not many people can accomplish.

SHOUT-OUT: My math teacher Kathy Dempsey. She taught me many different ways about approaching a problem.

LOOKING BACK: My best memory was going on a physics trip to Busch Gardens.

MADE IT THROUGH: My toughest high school moment was studying for the calculus exam.

Advice: I would tell them to not procrastinate. It has a negative effect on yourself and your grade.

WHOM WOULD YOU FRIEND? Evan Longoria.

Northside Christian School

. Valedictorian

Jeremy Smith, 18

GPA: 4.74

College: University of Mississippi, Oxford

Parents: Dr. Alan and Johnell Smith

Influence: My sister, Jenna, is only a couple years older than me and we have been able to stay really close. She has shown me some great footsteps to follow.

SHOUT-OUT: Without a doubt, Mrs. Keller, my math teacher. I have had her three out of my four years at Northside and she is always quiet and calm, yet consistently has a way of engaging the class and teaching us thoroughly during her lessons.

LOOKING BACK: "Jimmy Buffett Prom 2011"

MADE IT THROUGH: Juggling my school work with football and soccer.

Advice: Take as many extracurriculars as you can, it will help out a lot when filling out college applications.

WHOM WOULD YOU FRIEND? Peyton Manning.

. Salutatorian

Marisa Blaire Brizzi, 18

GPA: 4.72

College: University of Florida, Gainesville

Parents: Saira and Tom Brizzi

Influence: My dad has always influenced me to do well in school. His organization and work ethic has inspired me to accomplish my life goals.

SHOUT-OUT: I would give a shout-out to my math teacher Mrs. Keller. She has taught me math for three of my four high school years and she has really made the subject understandable for me. She always makes us think so hard that it is uncomfortable, and rewards our bad grades with chocolate. She has definitely taught me how to challenge myself and proved to me that if you work hard at something you can accomplish it, like AP calculus.

LOOKING BACK: My best high school memory was my senior year homecoming week when my friends and I coached the boys in the powder puff cheerleading competition and won against the juniors.

MADE IT THROUGH: My toughest high school moment was during my junior year when I had to have corrective back surgery due to scoliosis. Keeping up with the course work at school and the physical aspects of the recovery was definitely a challenge.

Advice: Focus on the goal you're trying to achieve, don't give all your attention to the details along the way.

WHOM WOULD YOU FRIEND? Katy Perry.

Oldsmar Christian School

. Valedictorian

Anita Kay Goodfellow, 18

GPA: 4.0

College: Southeastern University, Lakeland

Parents: Robert and Traci Goodfellow

Influence: Mrs. Kerce has influenced me by her radical faith no matter the opposition she faced, her obedience to God's correction, and her steadfast love for Jesus.

SHOUT-OUT: I would give a shout-out to Mrs. Smith because she has been a strong guide in my life through her humility and dedication to prayer. She is someone I will always look up to and admire.

LOOKING BACK: My best high school memory would be when I, along with almost the entire high school, wept in repentance and worshiped God during a chapel service.

MADE IT THROUGH: Performing a skit in which I was a pirate in front of my whole school.

Advice: Always remember what Christ has given you and rely on his strength!

WHOM WOULD YOU FRIEND? Michael Gungor!!

. Salutatorian

Megan Samantha Plante, 17

GPA: 3.8

College: St. Petersburg College

Parents: David and June Plante

Influence: My dad influenced me to strive to be the best that I can be in whatever I want to pursue.

SHOUT-OUT: Mr. Wicker and Mrs. Macario have helped me so much through high school and always pushed me to my highest potential.

LOOKING BACK: My best high school memory was our senior trip to North Carolina and Tennessee.

MADE IT THROUGH: Toughest part was dual enrolling at SPC.

Advice: To my classmates that I leave behind, God has everything planned out for you. Remember everything happens for a reason.

WHOM WOULD YOU FRIEND? John Mayer.

Shorecrest Preparatory School

. Valedictorian

Rebecca Kass, 17

GPA: 4.72

College: University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

Parents: Dr. Lawrence and Lena Kass

Influence: Always optimistic, honest, and with my best interests at heart, my sister, Kathryn, is my best friend. I constantly wish that I inherited those genes that make her so genuine and supportive.

SHOUT-OUT: I'm not sure where Mr. Hart, my AP world history teacher, is living now (probably Cambodia or something), but wherever he is, I sincerely hope he reads this so he knows what an impact he made on me. He instilled in me a passion for knowledge and an intellectual confidence that I believe is rare to experience, and I couldn't appreciate it more.

LOOKING BACK: My cross country team grew very close over the seasons, and I'll never forget our annual trips to the state meet. Despite the pressure of the next day's race, the bus rides and miniadventures were probably the funniest, most memorable experiences of my high school career.

MADE IT THROUGH: Since I had the same very challenging math teacher three out of my four years of high school, my toughest moments were probably studying for his tests and finals. As he always said, "math is cumulative" — in other words, there was always a lot to study.

Advice: When you are having a hard time, you're not alone. Everyone struggles sometimes, but it's the ones who can bounce back from a setback that will be the most successful.

WHOM WOULD YOU FRIEND? Rick Ross.

. Salutatorian

Stephen J. Page II, 18

GPA: 4.6

College: Rollins College, Winter Park

Parents: Steve and Linda Page

Influence: I can't say there is one individual who has had a strong influence on me, it's the combination of all the people I have known that has shaped me into who I am.

SHOUT-OUT: Sra. Andrés for pushing me to stay in my AP Spanish course.

MADE IT THROUGH: My AP Spanish course.

Advice: Figure out your own way of learning and focus on developing a method that suits it.

St. Petersburg Catholic High School

. Valedictorian

Sara Natalie Kesneck, 18

GPA: 4.428

College: University of Florida, Gainesville

Parents: Brian and Colleen Kesneck

Influence: My Pop-pop, Harold Trievel, had a huge influence on my choice to attend St. Pete Catholic, inspired my faith in God, and always believed that I would achieve great things.

SHOUT-OUT: I've learned so much from Mr. Trevor Owen, the Student Government adviser this year. He's intelligent, hard working and hilarious!

LOOKING BACK: My best high school memories are going to concerts, to the beach and doing completely random things with my best friends.

MADE IT THROUGH: My toughest high school moment was moving on after the passing of my Pop-pop a few months ago.

Advice: I would tell them to enjoy where they are right now, and don't let little things make you unhappy.

WHOM WOULD YOU FRIEND? Kanye West.

. Salutatorian

Angelica Vallario, 18

GPA: 4.425

College: Florida State University, Tallahassee

Parents: Lorraine and Ronald Vallario

Influence: One person who has influenced me is my mother because from a young age she was very independent and accomplished everything on her own.

SHOUT-OUT: The teacher that has influenced me the most was my fifth-grade teacher, Ms. Francis. Her unconventional teaching led me to love school and she influenced my love of history.

LOOKING BACK: My best high school memory was the senior retreat because our whole class truly bonded and came together.

MADE IT THROUGH: My toughest high school moment was taking AP exams because they are one of the most mentally taxing endeavors of all time.

Advice: The best advice I could give the classmates I am leaving behind, is to always believe in yourself, because you have to believe in yourself before others can believe in you.

WHOM WOULD YOU FRIEND? Angelina Jolie.

PARTING THOUGHTS

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

INFLUENCE: Name one person who has influenced you and why.

SHOUT-OUT: Is there is a teacher you want to thank and why?

LOOKING BACK: What is your best high school memory?

MADE IT THROUGH: What was your toughest high school moment?

ADVICE: What helpful hints would you give returning students?

WHOM WOULD YOU FRIEND? Name one famous person you wish was part of your Facebook collection.

Class of 2011: Pinellas County's private school valedictorians and salutatorians 05/28/11 [Last modified: Thursday, June 2, 2011 6:16pm]

    

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