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Meet Land O'Lakes High School's valedictorians, salutatorians

Sebastian Garcia, 17, left, and John Diaz, 18, right, are valedictorians for the International Baccalaureate program at Land O’ Lakes High School. Shelby Ronk, 18, center, is the school’s traditional program valedictorian.

KERI WIGINTON | Times

Sebastian Garcia, 17, left, and John Diaz, 18, right, are valedictorians for the International Baccalaureate program at Land O’ Lakes High School. Shelby Ronk, 18, center, is the school’s traditional program valedictorian.

Co-valedictorian IB program: John Diaz

GPA: 4.7142 (weighted)

Clubs/extracurricular activities: Teen Trendsetters, Junior Statesmen of America, National Honor Society, National English Honor Society, National Spanish Honor Society, job at Marco's Pizza in New Tampa.

Favorite place on campus: The cafeteria. It is a place where I engage in one of my favorite activities, eating, while thinking how my day has gone and how the rest of it may go.

Favorite book: The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Favorite musician or group: Jay-Z.

Future school: The University of Pennsylvania.

Major: Undecided.

Ideal career: General practitioner.

Most inspirational person: My mother. Through her example she has instilled within me the value of hard work. She has guided me throughout my own life while facing adversity herself — a testament to her strength, which I seek to mirror in my own character.

If you could, what would you change about the Pasco County or Florida education system? I would widen and establish a more challenging curriculum for Florida students, including more diverse, yet challenging, course work to prepare students for the post-high school world.

Best advice/favorite quote:

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world."

Mahatma Gandhi

Co-valedictorian IB program: Sebastian Garcia

GPA: 4.7142 (weighted)

Clubs/extracurricular activities: Soccer team (captain), Key Club (vice president), Teen Trendsetters (vice president), Junior Statesmen of America (treasurer), National Honor Society, English Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, reading mentor, youth soccer coach, volunteer at Pasco Medical Regional Center.

Favorite place on campus: The soccer field, because I've had timeless memories there that I would not trade for anything.

Favorite book: Diplomacy, by Henry Kissinger.

Favorite musician or group: Lil' Wayne.

Future school: Harvard College.

Major: International relations.

Ideal career: Political diplomat.

Most inspirational person: My father because without his hard work and perseverance, I would not have all the opportunities that I cherish to this day.

If you could, what would you change about the Pasco County or Florida education system? The Florida education system should not require its students to take the FCAT.

Best advice/favorite quote: "The sky is the limit."

Valedictorian: Shelby Ronk

GPA: 4.4166 (weighted)

Clubs/extracurricular activities: Key Club, National Honor Society, National English Honor Society, French Honor Society, softball league, pre-school teacher at Discovery Point Day Care.

Favorite place on campus: The library. It is quiet most of the time, so you can be productive and try to relax.

Favorite book: Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell.

Favorite musician or group: The Format, the Shins, Death Cab for Cutie.

Future school: The University of Central Florida.

Major: Psychology.

Ideal career: Psychologist.

Most inspirational person: My mom. She is able to excel in whatever she puts her mind to, she sticks to her morals and she loves people unconditionally.

If you could, what would you change about the Pasco County or Florida education system? I would like to see more opportunities to take Advanced Placement classes in freshman and sophomore years. Also, I would more strictly regulate Advanced Placement teachers, allow students to leave (campus) at lunch time (at least seniors) and eliminate Learning Focused Strategies for honors and Advanced Placement students.

Best advice/favorite quote:

Ever since elementary school my dad has rolled the car window down and shouted,

"Make good choices!"

across the school parking lot. As simple as it is, I so have tried to live by this quote my entire life.

Salutatorian IB program: Carolyn Hanna

GPA: 4.6428 (weighted)

Clubs/extracurricular activities: Teen Court, National Honor Society, English Honor Society, volunteer at Regional Medical Center at Bayonet Point and MOSI, active at St. George Coptic Orthodox Church.

Favorite place on campus: The parking lot because that means the school day is over.

Favorite book: Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card.

Favorite musician or group: Christina Aguilera.

Future school: The University of South Florida.

Major: Biomedical science.

Ideal career: Physician and entrepreneur.

Most inspirational person: My parents, because they took the risks of turning their lives and their careers upside down to immigrate to the United States and step down the socio-economic ladder, only to struggle back up in order to give my brother and me an opportunity for a better life.

Best advice/favorite quote: "One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it's worth watching."

If you could, what would you change about the Pasco County or Florida education system? I would get rid of the FCAT, increase standards to a national level, expand the International Baccalaureate program, and build a stronger and wider art and music program in all schools.

Salutatorian: Kirstan Lane

GPA: 4.3690 (weighted)

Clubs/extracurricular activities: Varsity cheerleading, varsity track and field, Key Club, National Honor Society, National English Honor Society, Council for Exceptional Children (historian), Student Council representative, work at Rapscallion's Restaurant.

Favorite place on campus: The library, because I seem to be able to collect my thoughts, organize myself and simply relax.

Favorite book: Twilight series, by Stephenie Meyer.

Favorite musician or group: Secondhand Serenade and the Used.

Future school: The University of Central Florida.

Major: Mathematics.

Ideal career: Teach math, either secondary education or post-secondary education.

Most inspirational person: My mother, because she struggled so much through high school and went back to graduate. Her struggle has pushed me greatly to make her proud.

Best advice/favorite quote: "Little by little we human beings are confronted with situations that give us more and more clues that we aren't perfect." — Fred Rogers

If you could, what would you change about the Pasco County or Florida education system? Even though I feel I was adequately prepared in education, I would change the requirements for Bright Futures and to graduate. Some of the electives needed seem unimportant, where you could focus more of your talents on more challenging courses.

The Land O'Lakes High 2009 graduation ceremony is 11 a.m. May 30 at the University of South Florida Sun Dome in Tampa.

Meet Land O'Lakes High School's valedictorians, salutatorians 05/05/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 5, 2009 3:32pm]
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