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Gulf High School valedictorians, salutatorians

Valedictorian (I.B.): Lauren Kanapka

Parents: Kerry Gains, Simon Kanpaka

GPA: 4.7261

Future school and why: I will most likely attend the University of Sussex in England. I picked it for its great location and reputation.

Most influential or best teacher: Mathematics teacher Charles Griffith.

Best advice or favorite quote: If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door. Milton Berle

Clubs, extracurricular activities: Spanish Honor Society, Interact, Math Honor Society, National Honor Society, Relay for Life. Work for an in-home day care.

How would you improve your school or education in general? I would provide more assistance to seniors as they are applying for college. As an example, I would show the seniors how to use the common application.

How has the state of the economy impacted your education and perhaps choices about your future? The state of the economy has not affected me. I won't let money problems change my goals.

Sage advice for the up-and-coming? Take as many rigorous courses as you can because this will prepare you for college and make you a competitive candidate for a top-rated university.

One thing you wish you did in high school but didn't: I wish I had become president of a club.

Valedictorian (I.B.): Brandi Taylor

Parents: Maureen and Richard Taylor

GPA: 4.7261

Future school and why: University of Florida. I love the campus atmosphere as well as the outstanding academics and the variety of majors.

Ideal career: Zoologist

Most influential or best teacher: Social studies teacher Stephen Donaldson

Best advice or favorite quote: Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened. Dr. Seuss

Favorite book: Breakfast at Tiffany's by James Patterson

Clubs, extracurricular activities: Interact Club, National Honor Society, Math Honor Society, Art Honor Society, competitive gymnastics, Relay for Life.

How would you improve your school or education in general? I would put more funding into the arts and music programs so students have a greater variety of opportunities.

How has the state of the economy impacted your education and perhaps choices about your future? I don't feel that the economy impacted my education, but I have become more inclined to stay in-state for college.

Sage advice for the up-and-coming? Establish study habits and time management skills early on so that high school can be more enjoyable.

One thing you wish you did in high school but didn't: Been involved in a school sport.

Valedictorian (non-I.B.): Zach Ivanac

Parents: Jill Ivanac, Mike Ivanac

GPA: 4.4 weighted

Future school: Florida State University

Ideal career: Computer programer

Best or most influential teacher: Language arts teacher Janis Ledman

Best advice/Favorite quote: Don't compare yourself to others or you will constantly be let down. My sister, Stephanie Trzesniowski.

Hardships overcome: Pectus excavatum surgery.

Favorite book: Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs.

Clubs, extracurricular activities: Math Honor Society.

How would you improve your school or education in general? Ensure that all faculty members clearly care about their students' future.

How has the state of the economy impacted your education and perhaps, choices about your future? It may be harder to find a future job because job opportunities have become more competitive.

Sage advice for the up-and-coming? Get involved and enjoy it while you can.

One thing you wish you did in high school but didn't: Join more clubs.

Salutatorian (I.B.): Nicholas Robert Baker

Parents: Robert Baker and Suzanne Baker

GPA: 4.7062

Future school: Dartmouth College. I chose Dartmouth for its tradition, its idyllic location and because it has a prestigious economics program.

Ideal career: Diplomat/ambassador

Most influential or best teacher: Janis Ledman

Best advice or favorite quote: Don't waste a single moment, because when you blink your eye, you will be 18. Phyllis Baker

Favorite book: The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Clubs, extracurricular activities: National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, Math Honor Society, Teen Court, Interact, varsity soccer, Literary Magazine Committee, Republican Club, Christian Club, Student Advisory Council, pharmacy technician at CVS.

How would you improve your school or education in general? I would increase the availability of Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate classes and encourage teachers to do more educational trips. Also, we should have a lacrosse team.

Sage advice for the up-and-coming? Challenge yourself in every way possible, but remember to enjoy the journey because you only get one shot.

One thing you wish you did in high school but didn't: I wish I had traveled more because I feel like I have seen so little of what the world has to offer.

Salutatorian (non-I.B.) Mari Mercado

Parents: Rafael Mercado, Mindi Mercado

GPA: 4.3

Future school: Carnegie Mellon because it's No. 1 in the nation for computer science and it has an interesting master's program.

Ideal career: Owning my own online gaming company

Most influential or best teacher: It is hard to choose — so many have helped along the way.

Best advice or favorite quote: Don't fit the mold; break it. Be yourself. Mindi Mercado

Hardships overcome: I have changed schools many times over the years and have had other severe family hardships.

Favorite book: Light of Eidon by Karen Hancock

Clubs, extracurricular activities: Christian Club, swim team, Japanese Culture Club, New Port Richey Library Teen Council.

How would you improve your school or education in general? Gear school to teach you more about what you, as an individual, will use in the future.

How has the state of the economy impacted your education and perhaps choices about your future? For a while my mom was a single mom without a job and we were worried about finances.

Sage advice for the up-and-coming? Do everything you can, but realize that you can't do everything.

One thing you wish you did in high school but didn't: Joined more clubs in my early years of high school and go on a class summer trip.

Gulf High School valedictorians, salutatorians 05/31/11 [Last modified: Thursday, June 2, 2011 6:08pm]
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