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Land O'Lakes High Valedictorians and Salutatorians of 2013

Brooke Gonzalez | valedictorian (traditional)

Parents: Lori and Mike Gonzalez

GPA: 3.8 Weighted: 4.6086

Future School: University of South Florida or the University of Miami

Ideal Career: Research in biomedical engineering

Most influential/best teacher: Jasalyn Gerazounis and Dr. Frank Pfost from Pasco-Hernando Community College

Hardships overcome: Jet Ski accident: three broken ribs, four lacerations of the liver, collapsed right lung and concussion = no sports after freshman year.

Favorite quote/best advice:

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bow lines — sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."

Mark Twain

Favorite book: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Clubs/extracurriculars: Council for Exceptional Children and Special Olympics volunteer. Key Club, National Honor Society, National English Honor Society, varsity soccer, varsity cross country, varsity track. I enjoy modeling, hunting and fishing as my hobbies. I have been employed as a bookkeeper for my mom's business for the past four years. Church at Idlewild Baptist.

If you could increase spending on education, what areas do you think deserve the most attention? Dual enrollment. Unfortunately, I have been held back from advancing my education during my senior year. Instead I have gone backwards and had to take unneeded high school classes. There should be more money available for the ones that are a fit with dual enrollment and that want to take higher level classes, not classes that will be a waste of time.

Sage advice for the up and coming: Know where you come from and figure out where you're going. Stay focused. Love others and praise the man above.

Name something you wish you had done during your tenure in high school. Stayed at high school for more than one period during my junior and senior year.

Grace Chow | valedictorian (International Baccalaureate)

Parents: Tak and Due Pin Chow

GPA: 4.0 Weighted: 4.8095

Future School: Wellesley College

Ideal Career: Local business owner

Most influential/best teacher: Dr. Susan O'Donnell, who served as a model for dedication to education and students regardless of inconvenience

Hardships overcome: My mother's diagnosis with Type I diabetes in sophomore year

Favorite quote/best advice:

"If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world."

C.S. Lewis

Favorite book: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Clubs/extracurriculars: National Honor Society (president), Spanish Honor Society, piano, church pianist, worship leader for the English congregation at Chinese Christian Church of Tampa Bay, Vacation Bible School volunteer coordinator, peer volunteer at Oakstead Elementary School, summer intern at Worth by New York in the garment district.

If you could increase spending on education, what areas do you think deserve the most attention? Teacher salaries deserve the most attention as they drive the education system and commit much under-appreciated effort and time beyond the classroom.

Sage advice for the up and coming: Pursue what you love, not what is expected or convenient. Enjoy the freedom to explore and take risks without seeking materialistic goals, which limit the ultimate reward: the learning experience.

Madison Parks salutatorian (traditional)

Parents: Jeffrey and Sonya Parks

GPA: 4.5348 weighted

Future School: University of Florida

Ideal Career: Forensic accountant

Most influential/best teacher: Shirley Gilbert

Favorite quote/best advice: "All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them." Walt Disney

Favorite book: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Clubs/extracurriculars: Interact Club, Class of 2013 Club, National Honor Society. I also ride and compete with horses and work for WTS International.

Sage advice for the up and coming: Do not be afraid to challenge yourself! It can only prepare you for college.

Name something you wish you had done during your tenure in high school: I wish I would have tried more sports in high school.

Priyanshi Patel co-salutatorian (IB)

Parents: Jitendra and Harsha Patel

GPA: 4.0 Weighted: 4.7619

Future School: University of South Florida

Ideal Career: Pediatrician

Most influential/best teacher: Terry Stanley

Favorite quote/best advice: "The true miracle is not to soar in thin air or to stride on water, but to walk on earth and remain grounded, to receive all with simplicity." French proverb

Favorite book: Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Clubs/extracurriculars: National Honor Society, National English Honor Society, National Spanish Honor Society, National Mathematics Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, Key Club, Unity Club, Junior State of America. Volunteer at a local hospital, food bank and library.

If you could increase spending on education, what areas do you think deserve the most attention? The sciences and mathematics because a solid foundation in these subjects will help us better cope with upcoming global crises.

Sage advice for the up and coming: Challenge yourself, but don't overextend yourself. Be interested in peeling back the veneer. Stay true to your ethical values.

Name something you wish you had done during your tenure in high school. I wish I would have taken risks and been more receptive to change.

Konrad Thorner co-salutatorian (IB)

Parents: Jim and Beata Thorner

GPA Weighted: 4.76

Future School: Cornell University, College of Arts and Sciences

Ideal Career: Biological researcher

Most influential/best teacher: Terry Stanley

Hardships overcome: My mother had kidney cancer just as I entered high school; she survived and it served as an inspiration.

Favorite quote/best advice: "The unexamined life is not worth living." Socrates

Favorite book: 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke

Clubs/extracurriculars: Model U.N., Latin Club, golf, cooking, piano. I also design T-shirts online.

If you could increase spending on education, what areas do you think deserve the most attention? Science classes are the most expensive but also some of the most important. Compared to the rest of the world the United States is lagging behind, so greater variety and difficulty in classes can help prepare more people for STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) majors.

Sage advice for the up and coming: Despite what teachers say, the first step toward greater understanding is the ability to memorize well.

Name something you wish you had done during your tenure in high school. Participated more in sports.

Land O'Lakes High Valedictorians and Salutatorians of 2013 05/31/13 [Last modified: Friday, May 31, 2013 4:51pm]
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