Courtney Flor valedictorian, traditional
Parent: Anne Flor
GPA: 3.86; Weighted: 4.54
Future school: University of Florida
Ideal career: Physician or surgeon
Most influential/best teacher: Ann Donlon and Erika Pugh
Hardships overcome: My dad died when I was in eighth grade. It's a little annoying because I'm trying to work hard and accomplish all of these things and he's not even here to see it. His death has somewhat shaped my career goal of working in the medical field and being an author, though.
Favorite quote/best advice:
"In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life; it goes on."
Favorite book: Go Ask Alice, by anonymous.
Clubs/extracurriculars: Career Education Clubs of Florida, Business Professionals of America, Dixie Softball, BSE (business cooperation education) student at Anclote Elementary School.
If you could increase spending on education, what areas do you think deserve the most attention? Dual enrollment! I was very successful in that program. It gave me a lot of experience and insight into what college is like and it allowed me to graduate with my associate of arts degree before graduating high school. I have heard that dual enrollment policies are changing and it may be more difficult to take the required classes. My sister is only in sixth grade this year, but when she is in high school, I want her to have the same or better opportunities than I had.
Sage advice for the up and coming: Take advantage of every opportunity given to you and don't let anyone tell you, "No, you can't do it," because there's always a way.
Name something you wish you had done during high school. I wish I played sports in high school. I was unable to because of my work schedule. Of course, my work experience was well worth missing out on high school tennis. (I hope.)
Brittney Gervasi co-valedictorian, International Baccalaureate
Parents: Ronald Gervasi (father), Aimee Gervasi (step-mother), Deborah Gervasi (mother)
GPA: 3.98. Weighted: 4.76
Future school: University of Florida with a major in premedicine and a minor in Spanish
Ideal career: Anesthesiologist
Most influential/best teachers: De Etta Winslow and Stephen Donaldson
I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.
Favorite book: Beloved, by Toni Morrison
Clubs/extracurriculars: Leo Club (president), Astronomy Club (vice president), Environmental Club (treasurer), Assistant Student Youth Minister at First United Methodist Church of New Port Richey, National Honor Society, National Spanish Honor Society, Science National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, National English Honor Society, Campfire Scouts (Shooting Sports), Teen Court.
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If you could increase spending on education, what areas deserve the most attention and why? I would focus on the sciences and the fine arts. Not only do the fine arts allow students to express themselves, but they help . . . the school as a collective body. Students have so much to offer to the schools, but the schools do not provide enough outlets that appeal to a wide breadth of students. The science department has so much equipment that needs to be updated, funding needs to be increased to allow the students to excel with the modern technology available rather than older, less efficient methods of collecting data and executing experiments.
Advice for the up and coming: The only part of the "easy road" that's easy is the choice.
Name something you wish you had done during high school: I wish I would have kept up with soccer through high school. Sports build so much more than muscle. They sculpt you mentally, physically, and spiritually into a stronger person than you were at the beginning of the game.
Christina Engler co-valedictorian, International Baccalaureate
Parents: Daniel and Domenica Engler
GPA: 4.0. Weighted: 4.76
Future school: University of Rochester
Ideal career: Chemical engineer
Most influential/best teacher: Charles Griffith
"Wit beyond measure is a man's greatest treasure."
J.K. Rowling, from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Favorite book: Either The General in His Labyrinth by Gabriel García Márquez or The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
Extracurricular Activities: National English Honor Society (president), varsity volleyball, Environmental Club (president), Art Honor Society, Science National Honor Society (historian), Spanish Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, National Honor Society, Leo Club (treasurer), Interact Club, Astronomy Club and Odyssey of the Mind. Community Service: Youth volleyball coach at the Holiday Recreation Center, elementary school Spanish tutor, math tutor, summer school tutor at Paul R. Smith Middle School, Relay for Life and the Great American Cleanup.
If you could increase spending on education, what areas do you think deserve the most attention and why? Science courses and electives need to be addressed because they are continually being diminished in the scope of other school activities.
Sage advice for the up and coming: Never give up! The work may seem infinite, but working hard, persevering toward your goals, enjoying every moment possible, and tackling hardships on a day-to-day basis make the journey much more bearable. Time management, I've learned, eases things, too!
Name something you wish you had done during high school: I wish I had traveled more!
Zeba Alvi salutatorian, International Baccalaureate
Parents: Munawar Kazi and Ashfak Alvi
GPA weighted: 4.67
Future school: University of Florida
Ideal career: Diplomat
Favorite quote: "I live from one tentative conclusion to the next, thinking each one is final. The only thing I know for sure is that I am confused." Hugh Prather.
Hardships overcome: I think everyone has experienced some degree of hardships but it's important to not put too much weight or significance on them and to maintain the qualities you had to overcome them.
Favorite book: Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse
Extracurriculars: English Honor Society, Art Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, Student Council (treasurer, secretary, vice president), co-founder of Pay It Forward campaign, Interact Club, Leo Club, camp counselor.
If you could increase spending on education, what areas deserve the most attention and why? Nutrition. Increasing spending on nutrition may or may not increase academic performance just as the same can be said about increased spending on classroom resources. Nutrition, however, is a basic necessity for all students and I think the present condition of school lunches demands a complete overhaul.
Sage advice: Don't dwell so much on the future that you begin to neglect the present. How you perform now will have far-reaching consequences on how things pan out later.
Name something you wish you had done during your tenure in high school: I kind of wish I attended at least one high school football game.
Nicholas Buliga salutatorian, traditional
Parents: Christopher and Sandra Buliga
GPA: 3.98 Weighted: 4.33
Future school: Florida Gulf Coast University
Ideal career: Engineering
Most influential/best teacher: Barry Zions
Hardships overcome: Trying to train for cross country/track and trying to maintain perfect grades at the same time as trying to have a social life.
Favorite quote/best advice: "To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift." Steve Prefontaine
Favorite book: Stormy Weather by Carl Hiaasen.
Clubs/extracurriculars: Varsity cross country and track, National Honor Society, Math National Honor Society, Science National Honor Society, Life Teen.
If you could increase spending on education, what areas do you think deserve the most attention? The science department because they are limited on the number of labs/activities they can do. These labs help (students) learn more hands-on experience and without them you lose that experience.
Sage advice for the up and coming: Do the very best in everything you do and no matter what the outcome is, you should be proud of it.
Name something you wish you had done during your tenure in high school: I wish I had more time to hang out with my friends.