No doubt about it, Drew Taylor and Brent Lowman are big men on campus at Hernando High School. Not just because of their over 6-foot height, but because of what they do for the school as members of the class of 2004.
Drew is president of the school's student government association, and Brent ranks as head officer of the senior class.
However, the similarities between the two teens don't end there. Their lives have pretty much paralleled one another since birth. As first cousins whose mothers are siblings, they have been next door neighbors for much of their lives. Both are among the school's highest academic achievers. Brent has a 4.44 grade-point average; Drew holds a 4.36 GPA. Both are veteran members of the school's tennis team. In addition between them they hold membership in a half-dozen campus clubs and organizations.
"We've always been pretty close, but we're really very different," says Drew, 18. "We do a lot of things together, but Brent tends to be a bit more of a party guy than me. When we got elected to our offices last year, we kind of joked how weird it was that we'd both be running things this year."
All joking aside, Brent and Drew have a lot to show for their efforts in organizing student activities on campus. For Drew, much of the early part of the school year was spent working on Hernando High's homecoming plans, including the annual pep rally, community blood drive and postgame activities. Meanwhile, Brent has become engrossed in the upcoming spring graduation ceremonies.
"It seems like we're always busy doing something," said Brent, 17. "But for us, part of the fun of being in student government is that you get to have a say-so in how you want to see things done."
Leadership roles in school are nothing new to either teen. Brent has been class president every year since he was a freshman. Drew has held leadership roles in several clubs, including Student Alliance, National Honor Society, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Key Club, in which he currently serves as secretary.
"Being involved in your school makes it much more fun," says Drew. "You can choose to just watch on the sidelines, but I honestly feel that you get more out of being at school if you are an active participant."
One of the cousins' goals is to encourage more students to become active at school. Throughout the year, they've been talking with peers whom they feel would make future leaders on campus.
"A lot of times it's all a matter of just getting invited," said Brent. "If you're a freshman or sophomore you don't get noticed a lot, and that's kind of sad. I think it's our class' responsibility to welcome those leaders and to set an example for them."
As they enter the last half of their senior year, both boys have set their sights on the future. Both plan to attend the University of Florida. Brent, who is scheduled to graduate with an associate's degree from Pasco-Hernando Community College even before he finishes high school, plans to pursue business administration. Drew plans to study history and education.
After university their paths may diverge. Brent would be happy returning to his hometown, Brooksville. Drew, however, seems less committed to the idea.
"I consider my future to be God's plan," Drew said. "Whatever that entails is for me to follow."