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River Ridge High School valedictorian and salutatorians

River Ridge High valedictorian Jacob Comiskey, 17, plans to attend the University of Florida to study microbiology and cell study.

JANEL SCHROEDER-NORTON | Times

River Ridge High valedictorian Jacob Comiskey, 17, plans to attend the University of Florida to study microbiology and cell study.

Believe it or not, we're here already. With exactly seven weeks left in the 2007-08 school year, it's once again time to trot out the valedictorians and salutatorians of Pasco's high schools. • Their class ranks put them at the top of the class, spots they no doubt worked hard to achieve. • Still, the kids from River Ridge High said that ranking No. 1 or No. 2 was never their main goal. • In fact, it only dawned on valedictorian Jacob Comiskey that he might be in the running at the end of his sophomore year. • "I just never thought of it like that," he said. • "It was never a long-term goal," said co-salutatorian Brian Schiffer. "My first year I got straight A's, then it was kind of expected. But I never really cared about it." • Still, these students were driven, each opting to take honors, advanced placement and dual-enrollment classes at Pasco-Hernando Community College throughout their high school years. In fact, co-salutatorian Tiffany Hull has spent her senior year at PHCC and will graduate with an associate of arts degree, as well as a high school diploma. • "I like the atmosphere a lot better there because I was around people who wanted to be there," she said. "They didn't have to be there. They wanted to learn." • That learning will certainly continue. • Like many of this year's valedictorians and salutatorians, Jacob and Tiffany are headed to the University of Florida in Gainesville. He plans to study microbiology. She's thinking pre-med. • "Bright Futures is definitely doing its job," said Brian, who is one of a handful opting to go out of state. He plans to attend Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., where he will continue his pursuit of a degree in electrical and computer engineering.

River Ridge High

Valedictorian: Jacob Comiskey

GPA: 4.5454 (weighted)

Future school: University of Florida

Major: microbiology and cell science

Minor: biomechanics

Ideal career: biomedical engineer

Most inspirational people: My parents, because they have always taught me to try my absolute best and that, with enough determination, I could achieve anything.

Favorite book: The 48 Laws of Power, by Robert Greene.

Clubs/extracurriculars: Varsity cross country, drag racing, Pasco County Math Bowl and Pasco County Brain Bowl.

If you could, what would you change about the Pasco County or Florida education system: I would provide incentives for schools to teach students by the intended curriculum instead of focusing a student's education merely on passing the dreaded FCAT. The FCAT is an assessment test, after all, so if the school has taught its students effectively, then it should have nothing to worry about.

Best advice/quote:

"Don't waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself."

From the "Wear Sunscreen" column by Mary Schmich, Chicago Tribune

Co-salutatorian: Tiffany Hull

GPA: 4.5 (weighted)

Future school: University of Florida

Major: pre-med

Ideal career: doctor/pediatric surgeon

Most inspirational people: My parents inspire me. They are always there to encourage me and support me in everything I do. It makes me want to be the best I can.

Best advice/quote:

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

Mahatma Gandhi

Favorite book: Twilight by Stephenie Meyer.

Favorite place on campus: The courtyards, because you're always running into one of your friends and you can chat between classes.

Clubs/extracurriculars: Key Club, National Honor Society, Phi Theta Kappa and PTSA. Works as a sales associate at Sears.

If you could, what would you change about the Pasco County or Florida education system: I would make it so that more people knew about the benefits of dual enrollment. The experience you gain from the atmosphere is amazing.

Co-salutatorian: Brian Schiffer

GPA: 4.5 (weighted)

Future school: Cornell University

Major: electrical and computer engineering

Ideal career: professor/researcher of electronics

Most inspirational person: Thomas Edison, because he showed how to persist at an idea and how hard work pays off.

Best advice/quote:

"I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it."

Thomas Jefferson

Favorite book: Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder.

Clubs/extracurriculars: Pasco County Math Bowl (four years), Duke University TIP program (two summers), and worked on electronics and robotics projects.

Special note: Check out some of Brian's electronic/robotic creations at geocities.com/raresttyle.

River Ridge High School valedictorian and salutatorians 04/15/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 16, 2008 2:30pm]

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