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Thankful thoughts

Sitting in a conference room at Alcovy High School, joking about cereal and favorite actors, two students graduating with the school’s top honors seem to have the perfect combination of youthfulness and maturity.

Alcovy announced its 2014 valedictorian as Lesley Ochei and its salutatorian as Victoria Wardlow.

Ochei is graduating with a 4.0 GPA and participates in National Honor Society and Spanish club. She also volunteers at Newton Medical and is a minister of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Both of Ochei’s parents are Nigerian and met after moving to the United States. They moved to Newton County from Ohio the day before Ochei begin ninth grade.

“They came from Nigeria with nothing, and now they’re here,” Ochei said. “Without them, I wouldn’t care about school at all.”

She said she enjoyed and appreciated the experiments Alcovy was willing to do with students and teachers to make improvements and changes to the school. She spent her senior year dual-enrolled at Georgia Perimeter College.
This summer, Ochei plans to make the commute to Georgia State University to pursue pre-nursing, eventually becoming a nurse practitioner.

“I’ve always wanted to help people, and I’ve always been fascinated by books and shows about the body. I want to advance medicine,” Ochei said.

Looking forward to college, Ochei is ready to be given the chance to be more independent.

“I’m interested to see how things will turn out,” Ochei said.

In her time not centered around school, Ochei said she enjoys watching cancelled TV shows and going to the movies.

Ochei said she especially appreciates her parents and three teachers: Margaret Wimberly, Charles Ardis and Charles Gamble.

Victoria Wardlow is also graduating with a 4.0 GPA. She has participated in Alcovy’s marching and concert band, where she played the flute, Latin for four years and math for two years. She also coached elementary grades soccer and basketball.

The Salt Lake City, Utah, native said she most fondly remembers going to convention with the Latin club and “doing anything with languages.”

Wardlow will attend the University of Georgia this fall to major in linguistics and acting.

“Acting because I always liked watching actors and how they portray characters,” Wardlow said. “Linguistics because I was immediately taken by Latin, and I have an affinity for it. I want to be able to look at stuff in a different perspective while still in the same person.”

On starting college, she is looking forward to “finally getting to learn at my own pace and meeting people who are generally as crazy about academics as me.”

When not in school, Wardlow said she likes reading, researching and watching movies and TV.

“To the people still in school,” Wardlow said and Ochei seconded, “your teachers, even though you may not remember them, they have the biggest impact on your life. Respect them and give them thanks.”