Salem High School's top two seniors won't only be leaving the family nest when they graduate, but also the classmates they have considered family for four years.
Valedictorian Billy Nguyen and salutatorian Stephanie Brassard are excited about the next step in their stellar academic careers, but both say the end of high school is bittersweet. Not only have the two been close friends throughout their four-year journey at Salem, but they feel the entire student body is essentially one big family.
"I will miss the people and my friends," Nguyen said Wednesday after being named valedictorian.
Brassard concurred and added, "I will miss the environment. I believe Salem is a huge family."
They count their Advanced Placement (AP) teachers as members of the family as well. Both credit teachers David Collart, Lisa Boyd, Dean Goldgar and Christopher Mays as mentors who inspired them throughout high school and helped them achieve the top two spots in the class of 2012.
Billy Nguyen, Valedictorian
Billy Nguyen, son of Tiet Nguyen and Diep Do, will be headed to University of Georgia this fall to study biochemistry and molecular biology in preparation for becoming a doctor. The busy senior found time to complete an apprenticeship at Rockdale Medical Center this year while also juggling soccer, cross-country track, science club, math team, National Honor Society and the academic team.
"I've always had a passion of the medical field," Nguyen said of his decision to study medicine. "I've always loved science and math, and I love working with people." He also said he is looking forward to being independent and having new life experiences when he heads to Athens for college.
Nguyen is thankful to his mentor and AP biology teacher David Collart, who he says "always connected with me on academics and on real-life issues." Collart was also Nguyen's soccer coach.
He will also fondly remember AP literature teacher Lisa Boyd, who Nguyen described as a wonderful person who he "can talk to about anything."
Stephanie Brassard, Salutatorian
Stephanie Brassard, daughter of Kim Brassard, will attend Kennesaw State University and plans to become a psychiatrist. She has spent her high school days participating in soccer, basketball, softball, National Honor Society and Student Government Association.
"I enjoy getting inside people's heads and I decided I wanted to work in the medical field since I was a freshman," Brassard said.
While Brassard said she is excited that the future is "finally here," she was sentimental about her mentors at Salem High School, where her mother also teaches.
"AP calculus teacher Dean Goldgar is the best math teacher anyone will ever have," Brassard said. "He has always been there for us. And AP English teacher Christopher Mays is very funny, very smart and very inspiring."