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Land O'Lakes High School valedictorians and salutatorians

International Baccalaureate valedictorian: Laura Wang

Parents: Ye Coval and David Coval

GPA: 4.76

Future school: Duke University

Ideal career: General surgeon or anesthesiologist

Most influential/best teacher: Ms. Terry Stanley, biology

Favorite book: The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

Favorite quote: "Take advantage of every moment you have." - My mother

Clubs/extracurricular: National Honor Society (president), National Spanish Honor Society (treasurer), Interact Club, piano.

How has the state of the economy and budget cuts impacted your education and your choices for the future? It has increased my awareness of the importance of education funding so future students have the same opportunities I have.

Sage advice: Be yourself and enjoy every minute by making the best out of it. Realize the choices you make will greatly impact the rest of your life.

• • •

International Baccalaureate salutatorian: Natalie Meusling

Parents: Eila Alholinna-Meusling and Donald Meusling

GPA: 4.71

Future school: Undecided; between Cornell University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Ideal career: Meteorologist

Most influential/best teacher: Ms. Terry Stanley, biology.

Favorite book: Zorro by Isabel Allende

Favorite quote: "Life is like that — pure irony." From the book Zorro, by Isabel Allende

Clubs/extracurricular: Spanish Honor Society, Latin Club, I.B. Relay for Life Team, FTC Robotics Team, Team Duct Tape.

How has the state of the economy and budget cuts impacted your education and choices for the future? It has definitely made me wary of accruing too many student loans.

Sage advice: Find your passion and pursue it. It is easier to work hard at something if it is something you care about.

Name one thing you wish you had done in high school. Spent more time doing something I loved.

• • •

Valedictorian (traditional program): Alexandra Pierovich

Parents: David and Erica Pierovich

GPA: 4.488

Future school: University of Florida

Ideal career: Pediatric Endocrinologist

Most influential/best teacher: Advanced Placement literature teacher Mr. David Berger; he inspires me to be the best I can be.

Favorite quote: "Wherever you go, go with all your heart." - Confucius

Hardships overcome: Learning to balance academics, extracurricular activities, year-round elite-level swimming and volunteer work while having a social life.

Favorite reads: The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White and The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards

Clubs/extracurricular: Science National Honor Society (founder/president), National Honor Society, National English Honor Society, National Society of High School Scholars, Sea Turtle Preservation Society (nesting, survey student leader for seven years), varsity swimming, Tampa Bay Club swimming, lifeguard at New Port Richey Aquatics Center.

How has the state of the economy and budget cuts impacted your education? Recognizing the costs of the many future years of education that I am planning to pursue influenced my decision to complete my undergraduate education in Florida.

Sage advice for the up and coming: Respect your teachers, your friends, yourself. Find your passion and volunteer to fuel your passion.

Name one thing you wish you had done in high school: I wish I could have helped the sea turtles by doing volunteer work in Costa Rica.

• • •

Co-salutatorian (traditional program): Morgan Maloney

Parents: Ryan and Tricia Dedmon

GPA: 4.4

Future school: Florida College

Ideal career: Elementary school teacher

Most influential/best teacher: Mrs. Betty Skoglund, environmental science/anatomy.

Hardships overcome: As a perfectionist, I tend to take criticism to heart and I had to learn to satisfy myself; it is impossible to please everyone.

Favorite book: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Favorite quote: I cannot live without books. - Thomas Jefferson

Clubs/extracurricular: National Honor Society, National Science Honor Society (secretary), National English Honor Society, horseback riding, running to relieve stress, teaching Bible class at my church.

How has the state of the economy and budget cuts impacted your education and your choices for the future? I have always planned to attend Florida College, but since it is a private university, I had to work harder for scholarships and other financial assistance opportunities.

Sage advice: Do not aspire to be salutatorian, aspire to accomplish your goals to the best of your abilities.

Name one thing you wish you had done in high school. I wish I had participated in more activities outside of my comfort zone, such as joining a sport or founding a National History Honor Society at Land O'Lakes High.

• • •

Co-salutatorian (traditional program): David A. Roth

Parents: John and Lynn Roth

GPA: 4.4

Future school: Wilkes Honors College at Florida Atlantic University

Ideal career: Marine biologist

Most influential/best teacher: Ms. Shirley Gilbert, English.

Hardships overcome: Diagnosed with bone cancer at age 9. Seven surgeries and one year of chemotherapy.

Favorite book: Meg by Steve Alten.

Favorite quote: All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to you. J.R.R. Tolkien

Clubs/extracurricular: Four years volunteering daily in a middle school special education class, public speaker for American Cancer Society, volunteering at Florida Aquarium; volunteer at summer cancer camp, school newspaper, yearbook staff, Writers' Club, National Honor Society.

How has the state of the economy and budget cuts impacted your education and your choices for the future and/or the future of education in Florida? Significantly increased class size in Advanced Placement classes. Since the amount of the Bright Futures scholarships have decreased, I need to apply for more scholarships. Due to teacher cuts, education is less personal.

Sage advice: Dreaming is not enough. You need to work hard to make your dreams a reality.

Name one thing you wish you had done in high school. I wish I had taken Human Anatomy.

• • •

Land O'Lakes High commencement is at 4 p.m. June 1 at the Tampa Convention Center, 3333 South Franklin St., Tampa.

Land O'Lakes High School valedictorians and salutatorians 06/06/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 6, 2012 3:15pm]
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