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Rockdale's top seniors
Rockdale's Valedictorian Ashley Edwards and Salutatorian Elizabeth Fox - photo by Bryan Fazio

Two Rockdale High School students are finishing up their high school years in a big way on Friday.

The county's namesake high school will host its graduation on Friday night at 6:30 and leading the way to the podium will be Valedictorian Ashley Edwards and Salutatorian Elizabeth Fox.

Both found out their graduation status as valedictorian and salutatorian a week ago but have been working to be top of the class throughout the 2010-11 school year.

Fox knew she was among the very top students in her class at the end of last year, but fell to about No. 6 throughout her senior year. Then last week she received a phone call from her parents saying, "You did it."

"I was like, ‘What are you kidding?'" Fox said. "I was shocked."

Edwards had people telling her she was in the running for valedictorian since the beginning of the school year, but wouldn't let herself focus on it actually happening.

"They said I was in contention to be (valedictorian), but I didn't really want to speak it until I knew for sure," Edwards said. "Last week is when I found out officially."

Throughout the year the two didn't really have a chance to dwell on whether or not they would be giving speeches in front of their classmates on May 27. Instead the two focused on their studies their social lives and their busy and unique lives outside school.

Edwards, who will attend Auburn University to study cell and molecular biology, was involved in the Equity Council, discussing discrimination, the National Honor Society and the National Art Society.

However, her most interesting hobby came outside of school grounds. It was one she discovered while getting her hair done.

"Last year my hair dresser asked me if I wanted to face paint," Edwards said. "They were doing it at the (Conyers Fall Festival), I did it and really enjoyed it."

Using her art background, Edwards free hands paintings of whatever the children want, with unicorn face paintings leading the way, at various events around town. She has painted the faces of Conyers' youths at the Fall Festival, Dairy Queen's Christmas festival, Dairy Queen's Customer Appreciation Day and will be doing it again at her salon's customer appreciation day.

Though she considers herself a freelance face painter it won't be a career as she is hoping to enter medical school after Auburn and then go on to enter the field of Bio Psychiatry, which is studying how certain medicines influence the brain.

Edwards also worked with children outside of school, but in a more traditional way. She volunteers a lot at her church, Bethel Christian, where she teaches Sunday school once a month and fills in for other teachers throughout the year.

At Rockdale, Edwards is involved in the Interact Club, National Honor Society and has been on the Bulldogs' volleyball team for the past two years after transferring to Rockdale from Loganville Christian Academy in her junior year.

In the fall Edwards will attend Georgia State, where she will study Business Administration focusing on computers to one day work in computer programming.