On to the next challenge

Published May 23, 2007

Today's the official last day of school for Pasco County students, but some of them checked out of classes on Monday. Being seniors and all - well, that's a perk. So what's on the agenda for this round of valedictorians and salutatorians being featured in Top of the Class? Graduation practice, saying goodbye for more than just the summer and figuring out how to wrap it all up in a five-minute speech - or less. After that they're headed to places like West Point, University of Florida, University of South Florida and probably, so much more.

Land'OLakes High School / Commencement will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Sun Dome

Sara Ippolito


GPA: 3.9795/4.5106 weighted

Clubs/extracurriculars: Interact Club, Council for Exceptional Children (vice president), National Honor Society, full-time dual enrollment student, girls weightlifting, gymnastics coach at Millenium Gymnastics and Cheerleading.

Favorite place on campus: Coach King's office.

If you could, what would you change about your high school? The toilet paper. There is never enough toilet paper in the bathrooms.

Future school: University of South Florida. Major in the field of nursing.

Ideal Career: Registered nurse in labor and delivery.

Favorite book: The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks.

Most inspirational person: Lisa Savage is the most inspirational person I know. She has always motivated me to do my best in school and believed in me even when I didn't believe in myself.

Best advice or quote: Never give up because one day you just might surprise yourself.

Korey Lane


GPA: 4.0/4.45 weighted

Clubs/extracurriculars: German Club, German Honor Society (chapter president), band (drum major), youth soccer referee, cashier at Publix.

Favorite place on campus: The band room. It's a nice place to relax and hang out with friends.

If you could, what would you change about your high school? Nothing, I actually grew really attached to it. I can't imagine changing it.

Future school: Undecided. Major in mathematics education.

Ideal career: Professor of mathematics.

Favorite book: Anything by Dave Barry.

Most inspirational person: My mom, Maureen Lane. She somehow balanced earning money with being an incredible mother for my sister and me.

Best advice/quote: Just be yourself.

Paula Te

Valedictorian, IB program

GPA: 4.0/4.6904 weighted

Clubs/extracurriculars: National Arts Honor Society, Speech and Debate Club, varsity swim team, varsity tennis team, playing the violin in the Richey Community Orchestra.

What would you change about your high school? Add block scheduling. Create an orchestra program and get more funding for the arts.

Future school: Undecided. It's between Carnegie Mellon University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Major in engineering, maybe with a minor in industrial design.

Ideal career: A job in the industry relating to product development and design.

Favorite book: The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand; and the Bible.

Most inspirational person/people: My parents, for encouraging me never to give up; Pope John Paul II, for teaching compassion and unconditional love no matter what your religion is.

Best advice or quote: "Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." - Theodor Seuss Geisel.

Chirag Kulahalli

Salutatorian, IB program

GPA: 3.9782/4.6666 weighted

Clubs/extracurriculars: Junior State of America, National Honor Society, National Spanish Honor Society, National Merit Finalist, volunteer work at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center, tutoring high school students.

Favorite place on campus: The parking lot.

What would you change about your high school? I would like to allow easy access for students to the media center.

Future school: University of Florida. Major in biology.

Ideal career: Medicine.

Favorite book: To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

Most inspirational person: Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize winner and leader of the National League for Democracy in Burma.

Best advice or quote: "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." - Mahatma Gandhi.

Land O'Lakes High School commencement will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Sun Dome.

Zephyrhills High School / Commencement will be at 7 p.m. Friday in the school's activity center.

Kristen Beville


GPA: 4.4318 weighted

Clubs/extracurriculars: National Honor Society (president), Interact Club (secretary), Math Team, Brain Bowl, varsity basketball (captain); varsity golf (captain of second team All-Conference), work at Bright Beginnings Day Care, volunteer for the Zephyrhills Youth Basketball League.

Favorite place on campus: The basketball court.

Future school: Attending the University of Florida and majoring in biology. Maybe pre-med.

Ideal career: Research or teaching biology.

Favorite book: The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown.

Most inspirational people: My mother, father and grandmother because they have supported me every day of my life. They are the most important people to me.

Best advice/quote: The Serenity Prayer - "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

Josalynn Wireman


GPA: 4.0

Clubs/extracurriculars: National Honor Society, Big Brothers Big Sisters, work at least 30 hours a week at Quail Hollow Animal Hospital.

If you could, what would you change about your high school? Nothing! I love my school just the way it is.

Future school: I will be attending the University of South Florida majoring in veterinary sciences/biology.

Ideal career: Veterinarian.

Favorite book: "The Stephanie Plum" series by Janet Evanovich.

Most inspirational person: My mom. She always encouraged me to succeed.

Best advice/quote: "Life is a game and success lies within how you play that game. Once you know how to make the right moves, you can win in life." -Mr. Palmer, my world history teacher.

Ridgewood High School

Benjamin Koenigsfeld


GPA: 4.0/4.59 weighted

Clubs/extracurriculars: Baseball, swimming, basketball, National Honor Society, Interact Club.

Favorite place on campus: The baseball field because baseball is the only thing you have to think about when you're there.

If you could, what would you change about your high school? Classroom temperature. It's always too hot or too cold. It's rare that you get a room that's just right.

Future school/plans: West Point Military Academy. Major in law.

Ideal career: Military attorney.

Favorite book: Tears of a Tiger by Sharon M. Draper.

Most inspirational people: My mom and dad. They have always been there supporting me in whatever I've done, whether it was sports, school or anything. They've helped me with it all. I owe them big time.

Best advice/quote: "Those who stay will be champions." - University of Michigan Coach Bo Schembechler, often repeated by Ridgewood High School coach William Beets.

Dean Velasquez


GPA: 3.95/4.51 weighted

Clubs/extracurriculars: Interact Club, office clerk at Sweetbay.

Favorite place on campus: Room 115.

Future school: University of South Florida. Major in chemical engineering.

Favorite book: The Areas of My Expertise by John Hodgman.

Most inspirational person: Science teacher Mr. Bryan Hope, because he tells it like it is.

Best advice/quote: "Vote democratic and save democracy." - Mrs. Gail Schuck, a language arts teacher.

Jonathon Ward


GPA: 3.97/4.51 weighted

Clubs/extracurriculars: Varsity baseball, cashier at Sweetbay.

Favorite place on campus: Baseball field.

If you could, what would you change about your high school? I would change the time we start in the morning. I would have it start just 10 minutes later. That's 10 more minutes of sleep every day.

Future school: University of Florida. Major in business management.

Ideal career: CEO of some Fortune 500 company.

Most inspirational person: My mom because she is quick to lend a helping hand to others, both at home and at work.

Best advice/quote: My father told always told me to "Never settle for less" and "Never give up." He also told me that " 'I can't' never did anything, but 'I can' did it all."

Hudson High School / Commencement will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the school stadium.

Gregory J. Bopp


GPA: 4.52 weighted

Clubs/Extracurriculars: Future Business Leaders of America (vice president), National Honor Society, varsity soccer, varsity tennis, club soccer for Dunedin Stirling.

Favorite place on campus: The senior stage in the commons area with all my friends.

If you could, what would you change about your high school? I would eliminate the segregation of social classes that is created by the locations of types of classrooms.

Future school: University of Florida. Major: Civil engineering.

Ideal career: Civil engineer.

Favorite book: Message in a Bottle by Walker Percy.

Most inspirational person: Sara Gossett. She is just a normal, everyday girl trying to make it through high school, but she always tries her hardest at everything she does.

Best advice/quote: "It takes the best in each of us to bring out the best in all of us." - A quote displayed in the Hudson High School Commons.

Dayana Bermudez


GPA: 4.0/4.37 weighted

Clubs/Extracurriculars: Interact Club, National Honor Society, volunteer at Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point, dancing.

Favorite place on campus: The commons, because it is where most of your friends gather during passing periods and lunch to socialize and hang out.

If you could, what would you change about your school? I would improve the bathrooms - build some extra ones as well as raise the quality of the existing ones.

Future school: University of Florida. Major: Pre-med followed by medical school.

Ideal career: Radiologist or neurologist.

Most inspirational person: My father, because he has taught me to always fight for my dreams and never let obstacles bring me down.

Best advice/quote: "If you truly want something you have to look for it rather than wait for it to arrive." - My dad.