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EDITOR’S NOTE:This is an updated version of the story to correct an error. Bingling Dong and Jacob Edison are co-valedictorians and Bailey Beauchamp is salutatorian.
Bingling Dong and Jacob Edison emerged as co-valedictorians in the 2017 graduating class at Chiefland High School. Both students finished their high school careers with 4.38 grade-point averages. Salutatorian Bailey Beauchamp finished her high school career with a 4.32 grade-point average.
The top 10 students in the graduating class of 100 young men and women are Andrea Tolentino, Emily Hallman, Caleigh Robinson, Caleb Hardee, Elena Richardson, Jessica Ivey, Patrick Telgen, Edison, Dong and Beauchamp.
Graduation Coach Katie Corbin said, “I love this particular mix of students. They are quite diversified in their interests and plans for their futures. What they do have in common is work ethic, motivation and determination to finish at the top of their class. This was evident very early on, before they even entered the high school.
Principal Matthew McLelland said, “This is a great group of students. They were very competitive in middle school and we saw that continue as they rolled into high school. They strategically utilized opportunities to accelerate their coursework and build their transcripts so they could get into the colleges of their dreams.
“Being recognized in this manner is the fruits of their labor and we hope it inspires underclassman to set high goals for themselves.
“We recognize an accomplishment such as this involves a strong foundation that was started many years ago, and it included a lot of competent teachers and good parenting. These are the types of accomplishments we all take a little pride in, but the bulk of the work and admiration really goes to these 10 individuals.”
Dong is the daughter of Mei Chen and Cun Guan Dong. As part of her extracurricular activities, she is currently serving as president of the Future Business Leaders of America; vice president, Beta Club; High Q Team; Student Government Association. She also volunteers at Hospice of Nature Coast.
Dong plans to attend college with the goal of graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Business Management, then earning a master’s degree in Computer Science and Engineering.
Edison is the son of Jeff and Teri Edison. His extracurricular activities include football, FFA, track and field, SWAT, Drama, Student Government Association, Beta Club, Interact Club and weightlifting.
Edison said he plans to study aerospace engineering. Although he has been accepted by a university, he is still waiting on admission decisions from other school.
Beauchamp is the daughter of Jeff and Kelly Beauchamp. She is involved in several extracurricular activities. She is president of the Student Government Association, varsity cheerleader, member of Beta Club, FFA and Future Business Leaders of America. She served twice as yearbook editor in journalism class.
Beauchamp said she has been accepted by Florida State University and will begin classes in the fall.
“I plan on obtaining a bachelor’s degree in Economics and a master’s degree in Applied American Policy and Politics. I then plan to pursue a career in politics,” she said.
Corbin said she answered many questions regarding the weighting of courses and listened to many justify their rigorous schedules and plans to make their dreams a reality.
“What I especially like is that not only have they excelled in classrooms, these students shined outside as well,” she said. “They are leaders in our school clubs, our athletics and work tirelessly in events outside the school that improve our community. In fact, this group of 10 students has collectively volunteered over 2,000 hours of their time. Three of the 10 have over 300 hours individually. Several of them hold part-time jobs in addition to the workload they have at school and Patrick Telgen actually owns his own clamming business in Cedar Key.”
Corbin said all 10 students began taking high school classes in the eighth grade. “Every one of them was a successful dual enrollment student, utilizing either the College of Central Florida or Santa Fe College to gain access to college courses. Collectively, they took 67 college classes and 32 Advanced Placement courses. Nine of the 10 students have grade-point averages above 4.0.
“These students set the bar high for themselves and we are very happy for and proud of them. Future success is most often based on the success of our past endeavors. I have no doubts these students will continue to be successful college students and go on to have rewarding careers and give back to society. As a school, that is our hope for every student.”