Ridgewood High | Valedictorian: Anh-My Nguyen
Future school: University of South Florida
Ideal career: family physician
Most inspirational person: My parents are the most inspirational people because they are the primary support in my life. Both of my parents provide discipline and help mold me into the person I am today — disciplined and respectful.
Favorite quote: "And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country." — John F. Kennedy
Hardships you've overcome: The most difficult challenge I have faced is the inability to read, write and speak English when I first moved to the USA in 2001. I used to feel inferior to my classmates because I started learning English four years later than them and I had missed the rudiments of elementary years.
Favorite place on campus: I often view the school's media center as my second home. Every single day for the first half of my lunch period, one can always find my presence in the media center, completing schoolwork on the computer or borrowing books.
Favorite book: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Clubs, extracurricular activities: Spanish Club (president), Chess Club (president), Quill & Scroll (vice president), literary magazine (editor), Brain Bowl (co-captain), Interact Club (treasurer), Mu Alpha Theta, Peer Mentoring, National Honor Society, Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Volunteer at Bayonet Point Hospital, writing poetry and stories, reading, crocheting and playing tennis
What is your impression of the Pasco County School District's attempt to better prepare students for the workforce through career academies? Career academies are good for students who have a clear vision of the type of jobs they hope to pursue after high school and college. Students have the opportunity to graduate high school with industry certification. I found choosing advanced placement courses offered on campus to be the best path for my goals.
How would you improve your school or education in general? If I could improve education, I would get rid of the FCAT because it is a poor way for the state to measure education. Education cannot be measured simply through a test. Every student learns at a different pace and understands subjects through various techniques. Thus, to make students take tests and then punish them and the rest of the school based on their poor testing skills is an ineffective way to promote education.
Sage advice: Being proactive is better than being reactive.
Salutatorian: Kaliopi Amorgianos
Future school: University of Florida
Major: international relations
Ideal career: working for the United Nations or European Union
Most inspirational person/people: My parents. They are always supportive of me and encourage me to be happy and do what I believe is right.
Favorite quote: "Sleep is a poor substitute for caffeine."
Hardships you've experienced: Moving to America in sixth grade from Greece may have been a difficult transition due to cultural differences, but in the end I believe it was a truly amazing experience.
Favorite place on campus: Room 204, the yearbook room, even though it brings back memories of stressful deadlines. It is where I can always run into my friends and catch up on daily gossip and get a much-needed hug.
Favorite book: What Is the What by Dave Eggers and Dear John by Nicholas Sparks
Clubs, extracurricular activities: National Honor Society (president), Quill and Scroll (president), yearbook (editor-in-chief), Mu Alpha Theta (president), class officer, Interact (secretary)
What is your impression of the Pasco County School District's attempt to better prepare students for the workforce through career academies? The academies are great at serving those not college bound or who are interested in getting a jump start on their career.
How would you improve your school or education in general? I would create a more consistent curriculum so that every student learns the same material and teachers would not have to play "catchup" at the beginning of each school year.
Sage advice for the up and coming: It is important to find something you enjoy and are interested in that motivates you to remain academically and socially involved.