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Three top Shorecrest class

The faculty breaks with history to name three valedictorians at the private school, where 61 graduated Saturday.

By SHEILA MULLANE ESTRADA
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 2, 2002


ST. PETERSBURG -- For the first time in the history of Shorecrest Preparatory School, the faculty could not decide on a valedictorian this year.

So, they named three: Laurel Marie Chadwick, Sarasija Ravindra Nagella and Nicholas Brett Sivulka Wheeler. All three spoke at Saturday's commencement ceremonies.

"This decision was not taken lightly. Their overall achievement was virtually identical, and we thought it was the only way to go," said Shorecrest dean of students Richard A. Beaton.

Collectively, the three seniors completed 32 honors courses, 22 advanced placement classes, and earned 35 A-plus grades of 97 percent or higher by the end of their junior years.

"We've grown up. I don't know how it happened, but I have noticed a difference," Chadwick said.

"This is our chance to become a completely different person, a time to explore possibilities," said Nagella, urging her 60 fellow graduates to remember to laugh, have fun and embrace the future. "It's just amazing that we are here," said Wheeler, who gave an impassioned address and repeatedly urged his classmates to follow Shakespeare's advice: "To thine own self be true."

The major award of the evening, honoring the outstanding senior, went to Apisadaporn Thambundit, who is a member of five honor societies and won the University of Pennsylvania Book Award.

She was also among the 27 seniors who received "longevity awards" for attending the private school since kindergarten or the first grade.

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