More than 1,600 will graduate Friday in Fayette

The 2013 Fayette County valedictorians and salutatorians include: (front row L-R) Whitewater Salutatorian Amy Melton and Whitewater Valedictorian Haley Brown; (middle row L-R) FCHS Salutatorian Tanaz Meghjani, FCHS Valedictorian Danish Dhanani, McIntosh Valedictorian Hannah Mason and McIntosh Salutatorian Tori Kinamon; and (third row L-R) SMHS Salutatorian Christopher Pham, SMHS Valedictorian Shane Mudrinich, SCHS Salutatorian Tyler Hall and SCHS Valedictorian Daniel Schoon. Photo/Ben Nelms.

Graduation for the Class of 2013 is here. Graduation ceremonies for the 1,663 seniors across the Fayette County School System are scheduled for Friday at the respective high schools.

The five high schools will hold graduation ceremonies at their respective stadiums at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 24.

Inclement weather plans call for each school to hold the ceremonies in the same locations on Saturday, May 25.

If held Saturday, ceremonies will begin at 9 a.m. at Sandy Creek and at 10 a.m. at the other schools.

In all, Fayette County schools will see 1,663 graduates walk to the podium to receive their diplomas.

A breakdown by school showed 291 graduates at Sandy Creek High School, 359 at McIntosh High School, 341 at Starr’s Mill High School, 367 at Whitewater High School and 305 graduating seniors at Fayette County High School.

As the 2012-2013 school year in Fayette County has come to a close, it is time to take a look at the valedictorians and salutatorians at each of Fayette’s five high schools.

FAYETTE COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL

Valedictorian — The Fayette County High School Valedictorian for 2013 is Danish Dhanani, son of Taherali and Nasim Dhanani.

Danish will be graduating with a 4.0-4.286 grade point average and will be attending Georgia Tech with an undeclared major in engineering.

Danish will receive the HOPE and Zell Miller scholarships.

Commenting on his extra-curricular activities, Danish said, “Throughout my high school career I have taken part in several clubs and organizations including the Student Government Association, Spanish Honor Society, National Honor Society, PALs Volunteering for Special Needs Students and I have also been the Beta Club President. Besides just clubs, I have taken part in the fine arts and athletics programs by being a principal percussionist in the Fayette County High School Wind Ensemble, a member of the FCHS Varsity Wrestling Team and a member of the Varsity Tennis Team.”    

Danish in noting the key messages in his commencement speech said, ”I wish to emphasize the key message of harnessing one’s potential. High school teaches students more than just math equations and how to read poems; it teaches them key life lessons that make them who they are. After high school, it is these lessons that will make them successful in whatever it is they wish to achieve.”

Asked about the best advice he received in high school, Danish said his chemistry teacher, Mr. Kuykendall, once told his class that most of them would never use any of the science that he taught them the whole year, or any of the material that they ever learned in high school.  

“But he told us that the point of learning in high school was to be able to think critically and to ‘learn how to learn’ because that skill would get us anywhere we wanted to go. This helped me get through all of my classes since then because I realized the importance of being able to learn, instead of having the typical high school student’s attitude that school was pointless.”

Danish also commented on what the honor of being named valedictorian meant to him.

“Being the valedictorian is a great honor for me, but it comes with a lot of responsibility as well. The recognition that comes with the title of being a valedictorian speaks to the amount of work and perseverance that I have accomplished my four years in high school,” Danish said. “But this honor also means that I am the representative of my high school class. I must lead by example in making good decisions for my future, and along with helping my classmates make the right decisions for their future in order to help the entire class of 2013 become successful in their endeavors as a whole.”

And noting his favorite high school memory, Danish said it was of the FCHS football team winning the High 5 Team of the Week in his senior year.

“From all my years of high school, that week was the most energetic and enthusiastic that I saw at Fayette County High School,” he said.

Salutatorian  — The Fayette County High School Salutatorian for 2013 is Tanaz Meghjana. Tanaz is the daughter of Amin and Dilshad Meghjani.

Tanaz will graduate with a 4.3 grade point average and will be attending Yale University with a major in global affairs.

Tanaz to date has received the Georgia State and EFAS scholarships.

Noting her extra-curricular activities, Tanaz said those include National Honor Society, Beta Club, Multicultural Club, Interact Club, Key Club, Academic Team, Cross Country, Executive Board, Student Government Association and Pals.

In her commencement speech, Tanaz said she will “tell my fellow classmates to be the best that they can be and to exceed every standard that is set for them. I will tell them to believe in themselves and remember that they will never have as much potential as they do today.”    

Commenting on the best advice she received in high school, Tanaz said, “The best piece of advice I received in high school came from Mr. Bain, my 11th grade English teacher. He told me to be confident about my opinion and to take a stance. He also told me to be more decisive and learn how to defend my opinions. I am still working on trying to follow his advice but I imagine that it will help me be a better debater and increase my self-confidence.”

Pertaining to the honor of being salutatorian, she said the real honor goes to her parents.

“It means a lot. The greatest part about it is being able to tell my parents that they are the reason it happened. They supported me all the way and made sure that my education was a priority. Being named this year’s salutatorian is more a tribute to them than it is to me,” Tanaz explained.     

As for her favorite memory from high school Tanaz said, ”There is no big moment that sticks out in my mind. High school was great for me because of all the little moments. I loved all the potlucks that I had with my lunch table, the days we spent after school studying for an AP test, the times we laughed over things that weren’t really funny, and the fact that we bought our lockers together to make sure they were right next to each other. When I look back on my high school experience, these are the things I will remember.”

MCINTOSH HIGH SCHOOL

Valedictorian —
The McIntosh High School Valedictorian is Hannah Mason, daughter of Linda and Fritz Mason.

Hannah will graduate with a 4.238 weighted grade point average and will be attending the University of Georgia with majors in genetics and Spanish.

She will receive scholarships that include the Georgia-Pacific LLC Scholarship, UGA Charter Scholarship, Emory University Liberal Arts Scholarship, University of Southern California University Scholarship and the Santa Clara University Dean’s Scholarship.

Hannah’s extra-curricular activities included marching band, swimming, varsity lacrosse, Interact Club, Beta Club, National Honor Society, National English Honor Society, National Spanish Honor Society, Parent Teacher Student Organization (PTSO Club) and the MHS Math Team.

In her commencement speech, Hannah said the key messages have not been decided, though its conclusion will focus on Oscar Wilde’s famous words “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”

Noting the best advice she received in high school, Hannah said, “I am an avid reader, and Margaret Mitchell’s ‘Gone with the Wind’ is my favorite text. So I must admit that Scarlett O’Hara’s famous axiom ‘Tomorrow is another day’ was and is the only way I could get through strenuous days. It was this promised light of tomorrow that allowed me to overcome all obstacles to the next great success.”

And expressing what the honor of being valedictorian means to her, Hannah said, “Being valedictorian signifies four years of adherence to my idol Mad Eye Moody’s doctrine, ‘Constant Vigilance.’”

Hannah also commented on her favorite memory from high school.

“Being part of the varsity lacrosse team all four years - the lacrosse team has been my family for four years. I love my coaches and my teammates. Whether it be teasing me about breaking a CNN camera with a shot in a game or listening to one of our coaches tell a story about being called Eddie Haskell as a kid, they never ceased to brighten my day,” Hannah said. “Playing in the state game last year was a milestone even though we did not clinch the title.”

Salutatorian — The McIntosh High School Salutatorian is Tori Kinamon, daughter of Chuck and Kari Kinamon.

Tori will be attending Brown University with a major in chemistry or human health and biology.

Her list of extra-curricular activities at McIntosh includes Beta Club co-president, Students Against Destructive Decisions founder and president, National Honor Society Community Service Chair, Latin Club, yearbook staff member.     

Referencing the key messages of her commencement speech, Tori said, “My commencement speech will be about how the work we have all put in throughout high school has helped each of us develop into the people we are today. No matter what it was that a classmate dedicated himself to (academics, sports, service, arts, etc.), that commitment and enthusiasm allowed him to mature from the freshman that entered the doors of MHS four years ago to the senior that is prepared to step out into the world. I hope to address the accomplishments of the class and emphasize not only the uniqueness of every journey through high school, but also the common bond we share as a class.”

Noting the best advice she received, Tori said it came from her AP language teacher.

“Mrs. Shery Kearney gave me the best piece of advice that I received in high school. She told me, ‘You are more than a number.’ Mrs. Kearney helped me keep the craziness of high school in perspective and realize that a number cannot define a person. In the form of grades, class rank, sports scores, or standardized test scores, numbers seemingly measure a person’s worth. Yet, character, personality, and aspirations surpass any numerical value. Mrs. Kearney taught me that there is nothing, not even a number, that can limit what you can become, who you can be, or what you are worth,” Tori said.

In giving her perspective on being named salutatorian, Tori said, “Being named salutatorian is a great honor. To me, it is confirmation that my hard work paid off and is a reminder of the commendable teachers and experiences that have helped me achieve this honor. MHS’s graduating class is incredibly bright and talented, and I think we all helped one another strive to meet our full potentials.”

As for her favorite high school memory, Tori said identifying only one was difficult.

“I can’t narrow it down to just one favorite memory, so a few of my favorite memories include: being in the crowd during rivalry games, making Fluffer Nutters in Hansen’s class, participating in the ‘Latin Olympics,’being on homecoming/prom court, laughing at the inside jokes, doing Beta service projects with my best friends, qualifying to National Invitational Tournament for gymnastics, being a Junior Marshal, making lasting friendships and so many more,” said Tori.    

SANDY CREEK HIGH SCHOOL

Valedictorian —
The Sandy Creek High School Valedictorian is Daniel Jacob Schoon, son of David and Louise Schoon.

Daniel will graduate with a 4.256 grade point average and will be attending the University of Georgia with a major in business marketing.

Daniel will receive the Zell Miller and Jesse Mercer scholarships.

Daniel’s extra-curricular activities included baseball, swimming, Academic Team, Ping Pong Club, Key Club, Beta Club, Math Team, Mu Alpha Theta, Teens for Christ Bible Club and tutoring.

Describing the key message in his commencement speech, Daniel said it will involve success and character, “And how we’ve got our whole lives ahead of us to do something amazing.”    

When it came to the best advice he received, Daniel said it came from his sister.

“’Get on your teachers’ good side.’ My sister told me this, because teachers want their students to succeed, and if the student and teacher relationship is positive, then we’re in a better position to be successful,” Daniel explained.

Commenting on the honor of being named valedictorian, “I’m very honored. Both my parents graduated at the top of their classes, and I wanted to do the same,” Daniel said.

And as for his favorite high school memory Daniel said it involved baseball.

“My favorite memory is pitching a complete game against Locust Grove on my birthday during junior year. It was an important region win, and I played well. My second favorite would be cheering on the football team in three state championship games, and winning all three,” he said.

Salutatorian — The Sandy Creek High School Salutatorian is Tyler Scott Hall, son of Brian and Leann Hall.

Tyler will graduate with a 4.256 grade point average and will be attending Georgia Tech with a major in industrial engineering.

Tyler will receive the Zell Miller Scholarship.

Noting his extra-curricular activities, Tyler said those included the SCHS Robotics Team, Math Team, National Honor Society, National Technical Honor Society, BETA Club and Skills USA.

Tyler said the key messages in this commencement speech will include inspiration and encouragement.

“I want my peers to see how important we all are to our future,” Tyler said.

Tyler in explaining the best advice he received in high school said it came from his mother.

“’Don’t worry about what you can’t control,’ my mother said. This advice has helped me stay focused on what is important and to let go of the things that aren’t important,” Tyler explained.

On the honor of being named salutatorian, Tyler said, “Being named salutatorian means so much to me. All of the hard work that I have put into my studies over the last twelve years has finally paid off and I am extremely proud of myself for accomplishing this. This is just one of the several life goals that I have set for myself, and this gives me confidence that I can complete the others that still lie ahead of me.”    

As for his favorite high school memory, Tyler said it involves football.

“My favorite high school memory would be experiencing the state championship run by the football team for the first time during my freshman year,” he said. “I have never seen so much excitement and school pride within one group of people. Winning state that year was amazing and many of the games that year were extremely close and exciting.”      

STARR’S MILLS HIGH SCHOOL

Valedictorian —
The Starr’s Mills High School Valedictorian is Shane Mudrinich, son of Bob and Vicki Mudrinich.

Shane will graduate with a 4.256 grade pint average and will attend Ga. Tech with majors in biochemistry and Spanish.

Shane will receive the National Merit Scholarship and PAGE STAR Student Scholarship.

Shane’s extra-curricular activities included chorus (Chanticleer, Camerata, and Men of the Mill), cross country, Class of 2013 Executive Board, Academic Team, Beta Club, National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society and the 2013 musical “Urinetown.”

Commenting on the key messages in his commencement speech, those include, “Accepting both the positives and negatives of your life and using that to become a stronger, better person. Collaborating with others who are different from you to work towards a better future that benefits us all. Loving yourself and loving others,” Shane said.

Noting the best advice he received in high school, Shane said it came from Emerson by way of his sister.

“’To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived - that is to have succeeded’ - Ralph Waldo Emerson. My older sister shared this gem with me, and it really gives me purpose for my personal life and career. In ways both big and small, lend your hand to other people. It’s beautiful and simple,” Shane said.

Shane in explaining what the honor of being named valedictorian meant to him said, “It’s a really nice distinction that for me means that I did well in school while still involving myself in activities that genuinely interested me and hanging out with the people I like.”

In commenting on his favorite memory, Shane said there were several that came to mind.
“I can hardly choose because as I think of things like cross country, doing the homecoming hallways, Harry Potter Day, Governor’s Honors Program, being Shrek in the foreign language plays, all our chorus trips, etc. I am amazed by just how many good times I’ve had here,” he said.

Salutatorian — The Starr’s Mill High School Salutatorian is Christopher Pham, son of Maeval and Christopher Pham.

Christopher will graduate with a 99.186 average and will attend Ga. Tech with a major in biomedical engineering.

Christopher will receive scholarships from the University of Georgia and Mercer University.

Christopher’s extra-curricular activities included the SMHS Academic Team, Math Team, Science Olympiad, Economics Challenge Team, Beta Club, Health Care Occupations Students of America, National Honor Society, National Spanish Honor Society, Spanish Club and Student Government Association.

Noting the key messages in his commencement speech, Christopher said, “Life for us thus far has only been the beginning of a long and bright future. Also, I will be discussing how we should never pass up opportunities, for those who regret the most are those who regret missed opportunities.”

As for the best advice he received in high school, “My teachers Dr. Stephen Clark and Mr. J.B. Campbell taught me (whether they know it or not) to always ask ‘why?’ and to never take things at face value. Constantly asking ‘why? has helped me to make better and more informed decisions and is also the basis of the key messages of my commencement speech,” Christopher explained.

Asked what the honor of being named salutatorian meant to him, Christopher said, “To me, being named salutatorian of such a brilliant and talented class means quite a lot, but at the same time, I know that it could have been so many others in the class. Collectively, I believe that we are a remarkably bright class. Fractions of points are all that separate each of us in the ranks.”

And in noting his favorite memory from high school, Christopher said it came during 2011.

“My favorite high school memory happened over the summer of 2011. I attended the Governor’s Honors Program for a month to study Spanish at Valdosta State University. I met Georgia’s best and brightest students there, and made some invaluable life-long friends. Now whenever I am out traveling through Georgia, I never feel disconnected from my friends. I am always nearby to somebody that I can call friend as a result of GHP,” he said.

WHITEWATER HIGH SCHOOL

Valedictorian —
The Whitewater High School Valedictorian is Haley Brown, daughter of Sharon and Bradely Brown.

Haley will graduate with a 4.2 grade point average and will attend Vanderbilt University with a major in neuroscience/medicine, health and society.

Haley’s extra-curricular activities included Beta Club, National Honor Society (president), Spanish Honor Society, Executive Board, orchestra (concert mistress, violin), Strings Attached (small audition-only group that performs in/out of school).

Commenting on the key messages in her commencement speech, Haley said, “I will be highlighting advice that I have received from friends, family, and teachers throughout my life and how these pieces of advice apply not only to my future, but to my fellow classmates’ futures. I plan on leaving the students with a positive outlook on their future endeavors and opportunities, emphasizing the special talents we share and our potential to change the world for the better.”

Pertaining to the best advice she received, Haley said it came from her mother.

“The best piece of advice I have gotten was from my mother. She has always enforced the idea that my life is in my control. I have what it takes to guide myself where I want and need to go and I should never let anyone take that away from me. Her words have inspired me every day to learn for the sake of learning, not for the grades, love for the sake of love, and always keep my head up and pointed toward my goals,” Haley said.

When it came to being named valedictorian, Haley said it was a special recognition that capped off much hard work.

“The honor of valedictorian is extremely special to me. It is a testament to my hard work and just adds to the satisfaction of my good grades and knowledge gained at Whitewater. It is proof that dedication, hard work, and a desire to learn pays off,” said Haley. “I do realize, of course, that these qualities must remain constant as I move on to college, but being named valedictorian offers time for me to enjoy the fruits of my labor and to reflect back on my high school experience.”

And for her favorite high school memory, “I could never pick out one great memory, but to name them all would take entirely too long. Most of them include great times with friends at prom, football games or study sessions. Many of them are fresh in my mind as senior year comes to a close. I remember my first homecoming dance and my first football game to my last football game and prom with all of my closest friends,” Haley said.

Salutatorian — The Whitewater High School Salutatorian is Amy Melton, daughter of Bill and Tammy Melton.

Amy will graduate with a 4.0 grade point average and will attend Columbus State University with a music education major and a creative writing minor.

Amy will receive academic and music scholarships.

In her commencement speech, Amy will use a philosophical approach to address future fulfillment.

“I will speak on the proverbial glass as a question of half full or half empty. In education and in life, we must not focus on only our strengths or only our weakness. Rather, we must realize both so that we may continue to grow,” she said.  

Commenting on the best advice she has received, Amy said, “Sra. Newman continually reminded me, ‘You are not in control.’ Sometimes life presents situations we cannot change. Instead of stressing or worrying (which does no good), we can give our lives to God and trust that He will work everything out. This is not to say that we don’t put our own effort in, but sometimes our efforts cannot change the situation,“ Amy explained.

Amy in her thoughts on being named salutatorian reflected specifically on her faith.

“The title itself is just an award. However, it represents much more: The success which I have experienced is a culmination of God’s blessings on my life in many forms: my parents and upbringing, my work ethic, and my drive to represent my Savior in the best way possible. For that reason, being salutatorian means a lot because I am able to show that I am not the sole reason that I am salutatorian,” Amy said.

Joe Kawfi
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Joined: 07/20/2009
Congratulations Valedictorians & Salutatorians

Great work, guys and gals. You do Fayette County proud.

meanoldconservatives
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Hey Hutch!

Give me a call please. Try the cell number.