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Ridgewood High School valedictorian Scott Kujak, salutatorian Samantha Mossman

Ridgewood High School valedictorian Scott Kujak plans to attend college and study medicine.

MICHELE MILLER | Times

Ridgewood High School valedictorian Scott Kujak plans to attend college and study medicine.

The pink and purple phlox are popping up along Pasco's highways and byways. All is in bloom, it seems, and so now is the time to trot out the 2011 high school valedictorians and salutatorians. For the next few weeks we'll feature these nose-to-the-grindstone kinds of kids. Advanced placement, dual enrollment, all A's all the time — and then some — is the common theme.

They've got all sorts of dreams to better themselves, to one day enter the work force as doctors and nurses, engineers and CEOs and yes, even teachers. For now there are AP exams, senior projects, grad bash and prom to think about, along with that speech at graduation. But for a moment, let's celebrate and recognize those who have worked so hard to secure a spot at the top of their class.

Ridgewood High

Valedictorian: Scott Kujak

Parent: Teri Kujak

GPA: 4.57 weighted

Future school: Undecided. Accepted to University of Florida, University of Central Florida, Southern Methodist University, Texas Christian University. Waiting on Northwestern, Stanford and Harvard.

Ideal career: Medicine

Most influential or best teacher: Brian Cohen (Advanced Placement U.S. History)

Best advice or favorite quote: The greatest risk is not taking one at all."

Favorite book: Holes, by Louis Sachar

Clubs/extracurricular activities: Mu Alpha Theta, FCA, Interact Club, peer mentor, football, basketball, weight lifting, St. James the Apostle Catholic Youth Group.

How would you improve your school or education in general? I would have liked more freedom for seniors such as longer lunch periods and the ability to leave the campus early.

How has the state of the economy impacted your education and perhaps your choices about your future? As of now it has not affected me.

Sage advice for the up and coming? If you put effort into your academics, satisfying results will show.

One thing you wish you did in high school but didn't: I have no regrets.

Salutatorian: Samantha Mossman

Parent: Cliff Mossman

GPA: 4.48 weighted

Future school: University of Florida. Not only does UF have great academics, but I know I will be able to have fun there, and it isn't too far from home.

Ideal career: Clinical psychologist

Most influential or best teacher: Brian Cohen (Advanced Placement U.S. History)

Best advice or favorite quote: The reason people find it so hard to be happy is that they always see the past better than it was, the present worse than it is, and the future less resolved than it will be." Marcel Pagnol.

Hardships overcome: When I was 7, my parents divorced. Because I live in a single-parent household, I have to help take care of my brother and manage a busy schedule of my own at the same time.

Favorite book: Rx, by Tracy Lynn

Clubs/extracurricular activities: Mu Alpha Theta, National Honor Society, French Club, peer mentor, Interact Club, Quill and Scroll, dance team. Previous work as a preschool teacher at two locations during the summer months of 2009 and 2010.

How would you improve your school or education in general? I think offering a wider range of courses would better help students decide their career path.

How has the state of the economy impacted your education and perhaps your choices about your future? I have decided that I want to privately practice as a psychologist, not only because of the demand of the career, but because of the income as well.

Sage advice for the up and coming? Challenge yourself. Be sure to prioritize, but don't forget to have fun.

One thing you wish you did in high school but didn't: I wish I had been more athletic in high school.

Ridgewood High School valedictorian Scott Kujak, salutatorian Samantha Mossman 03/29/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 29, 2011 9:12pm]
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