For Heritage's valedictorian and salutatorian, the announcement did not come as a big surprise. Both Kaylee Humphries, valedictorian, and Lauren Golden, salutatorian, were given a hint about the outcome back in junior year when they saw their class ranks on their transcripts.
Nonetheless, the girls have been humbled by the recognition and attribute their academic achievement to some good old fashioned hard work.
Kaylee Humphries, Valedictorian
For such a small package, Kaylee Humphries packs a lot of academic punch. The spunky 18-year-old cites time management and dedication to her school work as the reasons why she has had such a successful high school career.
"I don't have time to waste," she said. "I try not to procrastinate."
Humphries is no stranger to a heavy course load either. On top of taking four AP classes at Heritage High, Humphries managed to knock out a whopping 14 dual enrollment courses at Georgia Perimeter College since her junior year. Some of those classes include English, psychology, public speaking, economics and political science.
By the time she starts school at Georgia Institute of Technology, Humphries will be an academic sophomore. She plans to study biomedical engineering, the application of engineering to the medical sciences. It's a natural choice for her as she has excelled in science classes since middle school.
"I've always wanted to help people," Humphries said. "And I've been strong in math and sciences."
In addition to academics, Humphries participated in several extracurricular activities including BETA club, National Honor Society and senior class treasurer of the student council. And since 10th grade, she has been awarded as a Board Scholar.
She also played varsity tennis for all four years of high school after being able to condition with the high school team in eighth grade.
Humphries will start college this fall with several scholarships including HOPE, the American-Legion scholarship and the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter Scholarship, among others.
Lauren Golden, Salutatorian
Lauren Golden could be called a Renaissance woman of sorts. On top of taking 12 AP classes and two online courses, she has played softball for four years, swimming for three and track in her freshman and sophomore years before dedicating more time to academics.
She was also an officer in Beta club and National Honor Society, a co-captain for the girls swim team and student council class officer in her sophomore and junior years.
It's part of the reason why Golden wasn't as surprised about her class rank.
"I've been challenging myself so much throughout high school. It's been a lifelong journey."
Out of all of her classes, she says that the two most challenging have been BC calculus, an accelerated course combing calculus I and II, as well as AP art history.
"There is so much to memorize," Golden said. "It's not just knowing who the artists are, but what do the artists mean."
Golden loves the passion and energy her art teacher Jim Hauck has for the subject. Surprisingly, Hauck has crossed paths with Golden's family before. Years ago, Golden's aunt was taught by Hauck at Heritage High School. She said her aunt was happy to hear Golden would have the chance to learn from one of her former teachers.
"She has awesome memories of him," Golden said.
In the fall, Golden plans to attend Notre Dame. As a Catholic, it had been her lifelong dream to attend the prestigious university.
Throughout her high school years, faith has played a major role in pushing her to excel in her studies when things got challenging.
"With all the things going on in my life, it has been a constant to rely on."
"You wouldn't think it would be useful, but it has a lot of uses you wouldn't normally think of," she says.
Golden will leave Heritage with memories of late night study sessions, winning county championship by 10 points with her swim team and being a leader in the school.