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Meet Eastside High School's top 2008 seniors
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Newton County high school commencement ceremonies are less than a week away. For two extraordinary Eastside High School students, the journey is just beginning.

As this year's valedictorian and salutatorian respectively, Marley Cain and Brittany Mayo have finished their high school careers on top. Neither earned less than an A in any class and both are ready to take the next step.

Marley Cain

Cain has been through more than any teenager should have to endure. Four years ago her brother died in a car accident shortly after he graduated from EHS. Since Feb. 2007, she has lived away from her parents and has worked nearly fulltime to support herself.

"I live with another family and they're very supportive," Cain said. "They are a great family and they have completely taken me in."

Cain works Monday through Friday at a chiropractor's office to support herself. And while that sounds tough, she takes the extra burden in stride.

"It's been tough, but also easier in a sense because I wasn't in a supportive environment before," Cain said. "It's been hard having to work, but I chose to do that because I want to be independent."

Cain said she turned down the opportunity to attend Oxford College of Emory University due to financial strains. She plans to attend Georgia Perimeter College in the fall and wants to peruse nursing with aspirations of becoming a midwife.

"I don't mind not being able to attend Oxford," she said. "What matters is my graduate education, not my undergraduate course work. I also plan on getting ASL (American Sign Language) certified."

Throughout high school, Cain excelled in every subject. She said human anatomy topped the list as her favorite.

"It's all about Ms. Harwell," she said referring to science teacher Louise Harwell. "I just liked to study the human body and how it works. One of my favorite units was everyone's least favorite, was when we learned how muscles worked. She (Ms. Harwell) makes you write this awful essay, but it was my favorite thing because you're learning about things you already know, but you learned why it happens."

For someone aspiring to study medicine, math played a vital role in Cain's education, and she credits calculus teacher Michael Poor with preparing her for math at the next level.

 "I'm very math and science oriented. Coach Poor was great," Cain said. "He truly believed in us, but he was also a friend and would be there if you needed him."

Cain said she doesn't know where she will attend graduate school, and wants to keep her options open.

"It all depends what state I'm in," she said. "If I'm still in Georgia, I'd like to go to Emory."

Before any more schooling, Cain said she will continue working and plans to visit the beach.

Through the tragedy of her brother's death, Cain persevered. She said that year took a toll on her emotionally, but she will forever be grateful for her friends and classmates.

"The way our class came together was awesome and everyone realized we aren't invincible," Cain said. "Everyone learned that something bad can happen to even those who are outgoing. But everyone came together and I'll always remember that."

Brittany Mayo

As salutatorian, Mayo finished just behind Cain in overall cumulative average of 97.98 (versus 98.3 for Cain). She plans to stay local for her first two years of college, attending Oxford, and plans to transfer to Emory where she hopes to prepare herself for a life in international affairs or business.

A Covington native, Mayo said she dreams of one day leaving the small town and becoming a CIA agent or maybe a liaison officer for the National Security Agency.

"My favorite subject was Latin and I took it for four years," Mayo said. "I would like to continue to study Latin in college. But my dream job would to work for the CIA."

 While Cain and Mayo have different career aspirations, both agree on one thing, they had good teachers.

 "Definitely Ms. Harwell," Mayo said. "She is very outgoing and hands on. I've learned more from her than most all of my teachers. I'll never forget my Latin teacher, Mr. Adams and Ms. Dozier who isn't here anymore. She was the best math teacher I ever had."

 Not only did Mayo excel in the classroom, she garnered the attention of many schools. In total, schools offered her $240,000 including a full ride to Emory. She turned down partial scholarships from universities of North Carolina and Georgia.

 Before she reports for her freshman year at Emory, Mayo said she has a summer packed with activities.

 "I'm going on a cruise in June to Mexico and the Cayman Islands," Mayo said. "In late July I'm going to the National Latin Convention in Ohio."

 Ultimately, Mayo hopes to venture off to a foreign land and looks forward to her independence.

 "I'm hoping I'm working for the CIA or NSA, and I really hope I'm in another country doing something for the government," Mayo said. "I really want to be involved overseas.

 "I would like to have a family then, but there has to be a separation between that and work for me."