2007's top students in private schools
By JANE MADDEN WELCH
Published May 15, 2007
We continue our tribute to the best and the brightest of the Class of 2007 with a look at the valedictorians and salutatorians from two area private high schools.
Clearwater Academy International
Valedictorian: Jeremy Haug, 16.
Parents: Ralf and Natascha Haug of Largo.
Activities: Student Council, tutoring fellow students, church volunteer.
Plans: I am currently not pursuing a college education as I have found the most satisfaction in working as a volunteer with my church. When I do continue my education, it will be in philosophy.
Hero or role model: L. Ron Hubbard because he was a great humanitarian.
Reason for my success: Study technology of L. Ron Hubbard. Due to the application of this exact science, I was able to graduate early at the top of my class and be fully prepared for any path I take in life.
Before 30, I hope: My passion and purpose in life is to create a better society. I truly believe that this is a reachable goal and that the more people that believe this and do something about it, the sooner we will have a better and safer society.
Difficulties overcome: I moved to this country in 2004 with my family and it was a challenge to overcome the language barrier and also the change in the culture.
Salutatorian: Katrina Marie Crocker, 19.
Parents: Victoria Crocker of Clearwater and David Crocker of Brewster, Ma.
Activities: Families for a Better Community mural project, set painting for Christmas play, yearbook.
Plans: Ringling School of Art and Design, Sarasota, majoring in illustration.
Person who affected my life: My mom has made a major impact on my life because she is always doing good deeds for other people and has very high integrity. She is always there for me and is a great role model.
Advice to freshmen: Always have integrity and don't do things you feel pressured into. Figure out for yourself what you feel is right and wrong and stick by that always.
On the future: I feel hopeful because I have a great education and a good understanding of what is right and wrong. I know those will carry me through and also give me the ability to keep learning and growing so I can always become a better person.
Favorite book: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. It is my favorite because it tells a great story of heroism and courage. It shows that you can stand up for what you believe in and make a difference, even if a small one.
Oldsmar Christian School
Valedictorian: Matthew Mangru, 17.
Parents: Daniel and Roma Mangru of Tampa.
Activities: Varsity golf, varsity baseball, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Lowry Park Zoo camp counselor, Hands On Tampa Bay volunteer, Special Olympics volunteer.
Plans: West Point Military Academy, West Point, N.Y., majoring in Middle Eastern studies.
Hero or role model: It is a bit cliche, but my mother and father are my heroes. My father is a former Marine Corps drill instructor and earned his degree while he was on the drill field; a man's man whose steadfast courage through adversity has always inspired me. My mother is always there to help, listen and encourage me to always reach for the stars.
Difficulties overcome: Life is full of road blocks and chemistry was definitely one of those. If it were not for Mr. Blackwell and a ton of caffeine, I may not have made it.
Before 30, I hope: To serve my God and country as long as I live. By the time I am 30, I hope to be married, have kids and be a successful Army officer.
Reflections: Overall, high school was a blast. I know the experiences I have accumulated in my life so far have prepared me for whatever comes next. I report to West Point on July 2 and the person I will miss most is Mom.
Salutatorian: Kathryn T. Stairs, 18.
Parents: Melissa and Vernon Stairs of Tampa.
Activities: Varsity basketball team captain, yearbook editor, insurance processor.
Plans: Florida College, Temple Terrace, majoring in criminal justice.
Change I would like to see: If I could change one thing about this world, it would be the unfortunate fact the not everyone can have the freedom provided as in America. Also, that none of its citizens would take for granted this freedom, nor would any opportunities be wasted.
Advice to freshmen: Make wise decisions about whom you choose as friends because they affect you more than any other outside source. Also, do not just live for the present, but focus on the future.
On the future: The reason I feel extremely hopeful about my future is God has taken care of me thus far. I believe he will never put any challenge in front of me that I cannot handle.
Favorite book: Unmistakably the Bible. The reason is that no other book has made such a deep impression upon my childhood, home life and who I have become.
Note: Clearwater Central Catholic High School will announce its valedictorian and salutatorian at a formal school ceremony May 23.