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Graduation 2004

Secrets of their success

Published May 25, 2004

[Times photos: Kathleen Flynn]
Clearwater High School valedictorian Kari Anderson, 18, waits in line to march with her class.
East Lake High School co-valedictorian Brooke Irvine learned to surf last summer.
East Lake High School co-valedictorian Danielle Epstein has been playing the piano for about nine years.

EDITOR'S NOTE: They have the highest grade point averages, but it doesn't stop there. Community service, extra activities and ambitious goals make the 2004 valedictorians and salutatorians the Best of the Best. Next week we'll honor their private school counterparts.


VALEDICTORIAN: Kari Anderson PLANS: Majoring in business or journalism at the University of Central Florida

SENIOR ACTIVITIES: National Honor Society, swim team captain, ice skating and piano

SENIOR COMMUNITY SERVICE: Mease Continuing Care volunteer and youth group volunteer activities, including the Haven of RCS, a not-for-profit agency supporting domestic violence victims and their children

THE REASON FOR MY SUCCESS: Hard work, determination and luck.

DIFFICULTIES I'VE OVERCOME: Realizing that things happen for a reason and not to care what other people think.

MY GREATEST FEARS ABOUT THE FUTURE: That I will not make the most of my life.

ADVICE I WOULD GIVE A FRESHMAN: Make the most of your years in high school and make sure to have fun with all you do.

PARENTS: Penny and Paul Anderson of Clearwater

SALUTATORIAN: Matthew Burnam PLANS: Majoring in mechanical engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta

SENIOR ACTIVITIES: National Honor Society, Crest Club, Spanish Club SENIOR COMMUNITY SERVICE: Helping with campus blood drives for Florida Blood Services

THE REASON FOR MY SUCCESS: Keeping focused on my schoolwork before I have fun with my friends.

DIFFICULTIES I'VE OVERCOME: Not losing focus on what matters most to me, my future.

THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE FACING YOUNG PEOPLE TODAY: Kids are getting caught up in trying to grow up too fast instead of having fun in the present and being a kid.

ADVICE I WOULD GIVE A FRESHMAN: I would tell them not to get caught up in all of the drama in high school and to go to school for their future, because your college application doesn't ask how many friends you had or how many parties you went to.

PARENTS: Steven and Susan Burnam of Clearwater


CO-VALEDICTORIAN: Danielle Epstein PLANS: Majoring in biomedical engineering at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va.

SENIOR ACTIVITIES: Spanish National Honor Society, National Honor Society, director of recycling for Tribe Earth, Peer Connectors, Spanish Club, varsity swim team captain, soccer, diving and tennis

SENIOR COMMUNITY SERVICE: Volunteer at Lansbrook YMCA children's gym

THE REASON FOR MY SUCCESS: Hard work and dedication

DIFFICULTIES I'VE OVERCOME: Dealing with plateaus in sports

THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE FACING YOUNG PEOPLE TODAY: Being themselves. People change for others and aren't true to themselves.

ADVICE I WOULD GIVE A FRESHMAN: Be focused on your goals, and don't let anything get in the way of them. Also, start working hard from the beginning so it's not so difficult.

PARENTS: Dr. Joel and Diane Epstein of Oldsmar

CO-VALEDICTORIAN: Brooke Irvine PLANS: Majoring in biology on the pre-med track at the University of Florida

SENIOR ACTIVITIES: National Honor Society, Spanish National Honor Society, varsity cross country captain, varsity tennis, varsity track, Student Government Association historian, Peer Connectors and Surf Club co-founder

SENIOR COMMUNITY SERVICE: Volunteering at the Humane Society of Pinellas and tutoring at Carwise Middle School, East Lake Library and East Lake High

THE REASON FOR MY SUCCESS: Throughout high school I have accumulated a busy schedule. Much of my success has been attributed to my learning and utilizing time management skills along with prioritizing my activities.

THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE FACING YOUNG PEOPLE TODAY: Peer pressure is a test people have to confront every day. I have learned you have to live life how you want to live it, not through the eyes of others.

ADVICE I WOULD GIVE A FRESHMAN: Never give up on your goals. If you put your heart into it, anything is possible. High school is not as hard as it is made out to be, just keep on trying.

PARENTS: Brian and Priscilla Irvine of Oldsmar

SALUTATORIAN: Pamela Carty PLANS: Majoring in aerospace engineering and business at the University of Florida

SENIOR ACTIVITIES: Active in clubs and dancing

SENIOR COMMUNITY SERVICE: Habitat for Humanity, mission trips and tutoring

THE REASON FOR MY SUCCESS: Great teachers; lucky to be born in such a supportive family.

THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE FACING YOUNG PEOPLE TODAY: Lack of caring and an attitude of indifference toward world events.

MY GREATEST FEAR ABOUT THE FUTURE: A future society like that in George Orwell's 1984, a world without personal freedoms or rights.

PARENTS: David Carty and Jacqueline Farrell of Palm Harbor

[Last modified May 25, 2004, 12:42:52]

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