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Meet the 2011 Land O'Lakes High International Baccalaureate valedictorians, salutatorian

The 2011 Land O’Lakes High International Baccalaureate valedictorians are, from left, Erin Chow, Victoria Padgett and Wenyi Gu.

STEPHEN J. CODDINGTON | Times

The 2011 Land O’Lakes High International Baccalaureate valedictorians are, from left, Erin Chow, Victoria Padgett and Wenyi Gu.

Valedictorian | Erin Chow

Parents: Tak Chow and Due Pin Chow

GPA: 4.738

Future school: Still undecided but accepted at Emory University, Wellesley College and the University of Florida.

Ideal career: Medical missions doctor.

Most inspirational teacher: Mr. Douglas O'Brien, who taught me how to discover, test and value one's personal beliefs and opinions.

Favorite quote: "Our greatest fear should not be failure, but succeeding at things in life that don't really matter."

Francis Chan

Hardships overcome: Mother's diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes in 2010, but otherwise, very blessed.

Favorite book: A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving.

Clubs/extracurricular activities: National Honor Society (co-president), Junior State of America (secretary), varsity tennis, peer volunteer at Pine View Elementary, worship leader for youth group and children at Chinese Christian Alliance Church, member of CORE.

How would you improve your school or education in general? Re-center the focus of an education as a means of enhancing an individual's understanding and appreciation for life rather than the road to "success."

How has the state of the economy impacted your education and/or your plans? Finances play an imperative role in my decisions to participate in school clubs. My ultimate choice of undergraduate school depends on the amount of financial aid I receive.

Sage advice for the up and coming: Do not limit yourself to your own aspirations and abilities because they will change as you learn more about yourself and life in general.

One thing you wish you did in high school: Go on a missions trip.

Valedictorian | Wenyi Gu

Parents: Qin Gu and Jing Ruan

GPA: 4.738

Future school: Princeton University. It has a great political science program and strong undergraduate focus.

Ideal career: Diplomat.

Most inspirational teacher: Mr. Douglas O'Brien; exciting lectures helped me realize my interest in history and international affairs.

Favorite quote: "If anyone else can do it, then you can do it." My father, Qin Gu

Hardships overcome: Maintaining a good GPA in the IB program while actively participating in extracurricular activities.

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

Clubs/extracurricular activities: Band (drum major and clarinet), Junior State of America, National Honor Society (co-president), Tri-M Music Honor Society (president), National English Honor Society, National Spanish Honor Society, tennis.

How would you improve your school or education in general? More emphasis on the fine arts that would stimulate students' intellectual development.

How has the state of the economy impacted your education and/or your plans? The school cannot purchase more textbooks for core classes (history) and lack of teachers for small classes such as my AP calculus class.

Sage advice for the up and coming: Seek each opportunity; if you have a passion for anything, stick to it; do not spend your days wishing for high school to end!

One thing you wish you did in high school: I have no regrets. I have done everything I wanted to!

Valedictorian | Victoria Padgett

Parents: Jennifer and Robert Cunningham

GPA: 4.738

Future school: Deciding among the University of Virginia, William and Mary, Vanderbilt University and the University of Florida — chosen for their education, location and opportunities for the future.

Ideal career: Neuroscience.

Most inspirational teacher: Biology teacher Ms. Stanley.

Clubs/extracurricular activities: Interact Club, Unity Club, National Honor Society, cross country, track, swimming, tennis, peer volunteer at Pine View Elementary, volunteer at Metropolitan Ministries, tutoring.

How has the state of the economy impacted your education and/or your plans? It has made choosing a college and remaining financially responsible very important.

Sage advice for the up and coming: Challenge yourself not only academically, but in all areas of your life; you will grow as a person and never have to regret standing on the sidelines.

Salutatorian | Rebecca Hamilton

Parents: George and Philomena Hamilton

GPA: 4.69

Future school: Undecided.

Ideal career: Marine biologist.

Most inspirational teacher: Science teacher Terry Stanley.

Favorite quote: In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life; it goes on. Robert Frost

Favorite book: The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling.

Hardships overcome: Leaving my friends and family in Scotland to move to the United States.

Clubs/extracurricular activities: Drama Club, Invisible Children, Civic Awareness Club, National Honor Society, Florida Math League, horseback riding, volunteer work.

How would you improve your school or education in general? I think the budget system has some major flaws and could be handled much better.

How has the state of the economy impacted your education and/or your future plans? The economy has affected my family greatly and has affected my choices for college, limiting my options.

Sage advice for the up and coming: It's not about being naturally smart; success in school depends on your motivation level.

One thing you wish you did in high school: I wish I had been bold enough to try out for drama earlier than my senior year.

Meet the 2011 Land O'Lakes High International Baccalaureate valedictorians, salutatorian 05/24/11 [Last modified: Thursday, June 2, 2011 5:17pm]
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