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Seniors get a taste of success

Picture the high school senior with the most promise for the future: athletic, personable, hardworking, ambitious. It's a perfect portrait of King High School's Harold Wright, an 18-year-old dynamo who was voted most likely to succeed by his classmates.

Wright was his school's senior prom and homecoming king, a football, track and basketball player with dreams of becoming an accountant. There are scholarships, too, from the Tampa Kiwanis Club and Florida State University. The successful senior said he accomplished it all while living on his own.

"I've received a lot of support, but it's my experiences that have built me as a person. I attribute it to the advice I've received from many different people," he said. "But as far as direction, I've basically had to direct myself."

When the graduates don their robes and celebrate the end of their senior year this week, schools will be sending hundreds of students like Harold Wright on with bright hopes for their futures.

The list of some top students, by no means complete, includes jocks, brains, and joiners who fueled their school's teams and clubs:

Helping others is important to her

At Berkeley Preparatory School, 17-year-old Nicole Vanderbilt is known to classmates as a straight-A student who is active in Mu Alpha Theta mathematics club, Students Against Drunk Driving, and the National and Spanish honor societies.

What many don't know is that Ms. Vanderbilt also volunteers in her spare time with the Cornerstone Kids Project, teaching ballet to inner-city children.

"Her volunteer work is something personal to her, and it's not something everybody knows," said Mike Kennedy, the school's director of college counseling. "She's not one to seek approval. She's one who sees a need and goes out to fill that need."

The Princeton-bound senior (who turned down Harvard and Columbia) wants to major in civil engineering, with plans to become an architect.

An early aptitude for business

If success is measured by the size of a bankroll, then Kerry VanVoorhis, 18, a Chamberlain High School senior, got an early start.

He started his own lawn mowing business when he was 12, and has saved $15,000 _ enough to finance his education in the University of Florida honors program. VanVoorhis, who will graduate third in a class of 627 students, also was president of the school's National Honor Society and worked at the school newspaper.

"I'd like to be established somehow in a solid corporation or maybe start my own business," he said. "I'd just like to be headed in the right direction."

Varied interests keep her busy

If the class of 1991 designated a renaissance woman, it clearly would be Tampa Preparatory School's Isabelle Hurtubise.

"She's brilliant, focused, she's curious, self-motivated, caring, confident, vivacious, bubbly," said her adviser, principal Susan Grady. "She is capable of studying any area. It's eerie."

Ms. Hurtubise, 18, a straight-A student bound for Harvard College, was on the school yearbook staff, played soccer, took advanced classes and ran track. In her spare time, she studied college French and volunteered at the Metropolitan Ministries soup kitchen, Grady said.

After seeing the H.B. Plant Museum at the University of Tampa, she decided to learn all she could about Tampa's history. She became a tour guide, and tailored her repertoire to appeal to younger museum visitors.

Her advisers said the competent senior could excel in any field, but has decided to wait before choosing a career.

For now, Ms. Hurtubise has a dream for her future: "The first thing I'd like to do is repay my parents for all the support they've given me," she said. "I'd like to be able to give them all the things they deserve."

He's more than numbers show

The statistics don't tell everything about Brian Coleman, 17, a Gaither High School senior.

Sure, he has a 4.98 grade average, he's a national Bausch and Lomb outstanding science scholar, a baseball, football and track team member, active in the student senate. He's also described by teachers as handsome, polite and articulate.

But his mother, Sandy Coleman, also describes him as humble and caring.

Brian designed his school's homecoming float, a huge papier mache terrier dog sculpted from chicken wire. He built a Gaither cowboy to sit atop the dog.

"He put in 60 hours and never took the first bit of credit for it. He never even asked to ride on it," Mrs. Coleman said. "One father said he knew it was going to turn out great when he saw Brian working on it."

Brian, who was voted most-likely to succeed by his classmates, will attend the Florida State honors program and eventually plans to become a surgeon.

"I want to make a difference," he said.

_ Staff Writer Amanda Griffin contributed to this report.