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Dunedin Academy

VALEDICTORIAN: GREGORY CULMONE

PLANS: University of Central Florida

MAJOR: Art

SENIOR HONORS: Daughters of the American Revolution American history essay contest winner and Junior American Citizen award.

ACTIVITIES: Dunedin Fine Arts Center, altar server, volunteer tutor and student ambassador.

PARENTS: Linda and Joseph Culmone of Palm Harbor

Gregory Culmone, 18, aces his tests, but he'd rather be "chilling" with his friends than sitting in trigonometry class.

"I'm a kid. I have other priorities," he said, justifying his preference.

In fact most of his motivation comes from his mother.

"She says that I can excel, so she won't accept anything less," he said.

And because he did well in school, Culmone thought it was important to share his talents and volunteer as a tutor for some of the younger children at Dunedin Academy.

"I like dealing with little kids because they're cool and funny to deal with," he said.

One class Culmone doesn't mind attending is art class at Dunedin Fine Arts Center.

He's known since first grade that he wanted to be an artist. That's when his parents and teachers got a glimpse of some of his advanced drawings.

"Everyone said, "You're good' and I said, "Okay. I've found something I'm good at,"' he said.

Today, Culmone commends his teacher at the Dunedin Fine Arts Center for putting him on the right track as an artist. For years, Culmone's artwork was practical and realistic. Now he dabbles with paints and colored pencils to create abstract designs.

"I started doing crazy abstract stuff. I was afraid to do that before she told me to get creative and do things differently," he said. "She's really helped me to develop and do really well for college."

VALEDICTORIAN: KARI LAMBERT

PLANS: St. Petersburg Junior College

MAJOR: Early childhood education or law (as a children's advocate)

ACTIVITIES: Volunteer campus aide student ambassador

PARENTS: Bernadette and J. Allen Lambert, Clearwater

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