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They hold the future in their hands

In the third of a three-part series, meet the teens with the goals, ambition and intelligence to shape the world of tomorrow.

Published May 16, 2007


Shorecrest Preparatory School 

Valedictorian / Anna Mosby, 18

Parents: Glenn and Dav Mosby of St. Petersburg.

Plans: Duke University, Durham, N.C.; biomedical engineering.

Activities: Vice president of Mu Alpha Theta, treasurer for Junior Exchange Club, tutor for National Honor Society, member of Spanish Club and acolyte at St. Thomas Episcopal Church.

One thing I would change about the world ... I wish that people would be less judgmental. People often see others as they appear on the surface, but I have learned that it is worth taking the time to get to know someone. Some of the most interesting people I know are people I wouldn't immediately pick out of a crowd as my future friends.

I attribute my success to ... My parents have always stressed taking responsibility for my actions. They taught me that I must follow through on any promises I make. School always came first, but they also encouraged me to participate in sports and other activities in school and throughout the community.Parents: Frank and Mary Gardner of St. Petersburg.

Co-Salutatorian / Jamie Curran, 18

Parents: Timothy and Nancy Curran of St. Petersburg.

Plans: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass.; biomedical engineering.

Activities: Team captain for Relay for Life, Junior Exchange Club, National Merit Scholarship Award winner, AP Scholar with Distinction, Cum Laude Society, co-president of student council, president of Mu Alpha Theta Society and captain of varsity sailing team.

One thing I would change about the world ... I would like people to be more tolerant of those who are different and to be more respectful of other cultures and religions.

About my high school experience ... The most important thing that I have learned from my high school experience is how to juggle my work and my passions, while still making time for friends and family.

Co-salutatorian / Taylor Evora Tremain, 17

Parents: Thomas and Leyla Tremaine of St. Petersburg

Plans: Duke University; Durham NC; major undecided.

Activities: Counselor at Adventure Camp, helped Spanish club and the Children's Dream Fund sponsor a child's dream, middle school tutoring for National Honor Society.

One person who had a major impact on my life ... My grandparents have had a major impact on my life because they are always there for me and have instilled in me a strong sense of family.

My favorite teacher ... Mr. Moore, my history and political science teacher, is one of my favorite teachers. Not only might I major in political science because of his class, but he also comes and supports our athletic teams, which means a lot.

Admiral Farragut Academy

Valedictorian / Jonathan James Gardner, 18 

Parents: Frank and Mary Gardner of St. Petersburg

Plans: United States Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Point, N.Y.; logistics and intermodal transportation.

Activities: Work as an assistant to the director of properties at Our Savior Lutheran Church, perform with color guards for community functions and serve with the church's youth group on various events.

One thing I would change about the world ... Prevent society's morals from falling further and emphasizing respect, honor, truth, manners and learning.

I attribute my success to ... My faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as my savior.

By the time I'm 30 ... I would like to get married and have a family. I would also like to be a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy submarine fleet.

One thing my classmates may not know about me ... I have a passion for ocean liners (1906-early 1960s) and passenger jets (Boeing 707 on to modern jets of today).

Salutatorian / Joseph Zachary, 18

Parents: Joe Allen and Pamela Allen, both of Gainesville.

Plans: Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pa.; mechanical engineering.

Activities: Ronald McDonald House, Leo Club, Key Club, school projects.

One thing I would change about the world ... The resistance to change and complete disregard for those who propose better ways to do things. When there is a better way to accomplish something it should not be pushed aside because it will inconvenience or go against the interests of only a select few.

My favorite book ... Angels & Demons by Dan Brown, because it is a thrilling read that brings into play many mysteries and myths from old times. It may be very loosely based on history, but it keeps you entertained for the duration.

The Canterbury School of Florida

Valedictorian / Madison Elissa Marie Kebler, 17

Parents: William and Sally Kebler, St. Petersburg.

Plans: Randolph College, Lynchburg, Va.; communications.

Activities: Interact, American Cancer Society's Relay for Life, writing camp volunteer, American Stage theater camp volunteer, Habitat for Humanity, tutoring and mentoring, creating care packages for the troops in Iraq, student ambassador, fundraising for SPCA.

One thing I would change about the world ... So many problems today stem from a lack of tolerance and acceptance. The attainment of true world peace may not ever be feasible, but I wish for increased respect among individuals for personal differences in culture, religion and other views. I hope for a better acknowledgment of the problems in our world and a growing desire for cooperation to work toward improvements.

The person who had a major impact on my life ... My mother has been one of the strongest, positive governing forces in my life. She has always been more than a parent; she is my adviser, my friend, my confidante and my personal cheerleader. She has literally always been there for me, showing her support in everything that I undertake, from cheerleading games to theater productions.

About my high school experience ... I am so thankful for the support of the extremely small high school environment at Canterbury. In four years of high school, I have been encouraged to enjoy my interests, while simultaneously being challenged to step beyond my comfort zone. I have met amazing people who will be my lifelong friends, and have been given seemingly unlimited opportunities for success.

One thing my classmates might not know about me ... I love escaping temporarily from the responsibilities in my life by occasionally spending an entire day holed up at home reading books.

Salutatorian / Matthew Lawrence Ritch, 17

Parents: Mark and Marlaine Ritch of St. Petersburg.

Plans: University of Florida, Gainesville; chemistry.

Activities: Habitat for Humanity and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

One thing I would change about the world ... I would like to wake up in the morning and read nothing but good news from the newspaper.

My favorite book ... I would have to say the Harry Potter series is my favorite, because except for having magic, Harry seems like a very real person, and the stories are phenomenal.

Keswick Christian School

Valedictorian / Abigail Dunn, 17 

Parents: Chris and Gisele Dunn of St. Petersburg.

Plans: New York University, New York City; American literature or creative writing.

Activities: Volunteer at West Branch Library and Florida Sheriff's Youth Ranch.

One thing I would change about the world ... More people would ride their bikes (minimal environmental consequences, of course) and partisan politics in America would be based more on fact than emotional speculation.

I attribute my success to ... A lovely family and the grace of God.

By the time I'm 30 ... Become a better writer and find a career that I love in this area! And travel to at least three continents!

One thing my classmates may not know about me ... I have a habit of climbing trees ... wherever I go.

Salutatorian / Stacie Michelle Wells, 18

Parents: Harold and Babs Wells of St. Petersburg.

Plans: Augusta State University, Augusta, Ga.; communications-broadcast journalism.

Activities: Mission trip to Jamaica this spring break.

By the time I'm 30 ... Some dreams are to live in England for a short time, work in an orphanage in Romania and work on a movie.

About my high school experience ... My greatest challenge was switching from a Georgia high school to a Florida high school in my sophomore year. It was quite an adjustment at first, but God placed some great friends in my life to make the transition easier.

Northside Christian School 

Valedictorian / Robin L. Watson, 17

Parents: John and Donna Watson of St. Petersburg.

Plans: Florida State University, Tallahassee; classical archaeology.

Activities: Tutoring after school four days a week, helping with Operation Christmas Child for National Honor Society; missions trip to New York.

By the time I'm 30 ... I would like to have been to several archaeological digs in Italy, Greece and Turkey. I would like to have attained my doctorate in classical archaeology, become fluent in ancient Latin, Greek and in Italian. I would like to be happily married, settled in an archaeological career and have time to do some writing on the side.

A person who had a major impact on my life ... Learning about the life of Harry Truman has made him a hero of mine. I admire his decisiveness (perhaps because of my lack thereof) and his willingness to take personal responsibility for his actions. He understood that accountability and honesty are necessities of leadership.

About my high school experience ... High school has been a period of extraordinary personal and intellectual growth. By no means has it been easy, but I think working through difficult situations has taught me determination and perseverance.

My favorite book ... An Ideal Husband, by Oscar Wilde. The play is hilarious, but also is an effective satire on political corruption and the folly of placing people on a pedestal.

Salutatorian / Sean Thomas McAlpin,18

Parents: Brian and Joni McAlpin of St. Petersburg.

Plans: University of Florida, Gainesville; exploratory: science and engineering.

Activities: Tutoring in algebra I, algebra II, geometry and calculus.

I attribute my success to ... Tenacious perseverance in schoolwork balanced with enthusiasm and participation in sports. Both have been encouraged and supported by my parents, who model hard work and cheer at every sporting event. Northside teachers have always cared about my achievements and accomplishments; they support us as students, allow us to grow and inquire, yet push us to where they know we can go.

About my high school experience ... There are two things that I am most proud of: one would be that I tried out for and was selected as a starting shooting guard for the USA Junior Nationals All-State High School basketball team for Team Florida and the other was when I found out that I was going to be salutatorian for my graduating class.

St. Petersburg Catholic High School

Valedictorian / Isabel Maria Gutierrez

Parents: Edward and Gladys Gutierrez of Clearwater.

Plans: University of Florida, Gainesville; possible major in architecture or pharmacy.

Activities: Teen Library Council and volunteer puppeteer at East Lake Library, youth group and associated volunteer projects, altar server, Eucharistic minister at Espiritu Santo Catholic Church, Diocesan Youth Council lobby effort in Tallahassee, National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, Science Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta and Academic Bowl.

One thing I would change about the world ... I would improve communication and awareness of cultural diversity. Many people are afraid of what they don't know. If communication improved, people would be more knowledgeable of each other, so they would be less likely to act out of ignorance.

I attribute my success to ... My family. They encourage and support me. They have always stressed the importance of a good education and a strong faith, helping me to develop and grow.

One person who had a major impact on my life ... My younger sister, Ana ... Once she was born, I had a sibling looking up to me. I felt a need to be a good role model, and now she is also one of my best friends.

About my high school experience ... The most important highlight of my high school experience is my friends. They stick by me no matter what and are always honest. I also loved being a part of the basketball team these four years. We were like family, and that was how we showed ourselves on the court. Another family I enjoyed being a part of was the Drama Club.

Salutatorian / Megan Thuy Vu, 17

Parents: Dien and Phuong Vu of Gulfport.

Plans: University of Florida, Gainesville, or Notre Dame, South Bend, Ind.; English/pre-med.

Activities: Karate instructor, play piano and guitar, volunteer in music ministry at Pinellas Vietnamese Church of the Nazarene, vice president of National Honor Society, treasurer for Mu Alpha Theta, Science National Honor Society, Italian Honor Society, medical Explorer and shadow at All Children's Hospital and member of University of South Florida-St. Petersburg College joint research team.

One thing I would change about the world ... Everyone should have an opportunity to build a fulfilling life. No one should be forced to live a life torn by violence and war, burdened by poverty, unawareness and lack of education.

One person who had a major impact on my life ... My mom is my hero, and I will always look up to her. She is amazing at all that she does - successful dentist, loving mom and beautiful pianist. Her love and smile help me get through all the rough waters of life.

[Last modified May 16, 2007, 01:11:44]

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