CHS academics reach new heights

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Bason and Smith named co-valedictorians, Toler salutatorian

By Mark Scohier, Staff writer

2013 is turning out to be a year of firsts for students at Chiefland High School.
With 17 students earning at least a 4.0 grade point average, more of Chiefland's brightest than ever before are climbing higher on the academic ladder of success.
A GPA of 4.36, the highest ever achieved at the school, was also realized this year by two students at the same time, resulting in yet another first: two valedictorians.
Soon-to- be college students Hailey Bason and Logan Smith have been competing for the honor of being named valedictorian for a long time, and now they get to share that glory.
"It's so exciting. We've been competing for years," Bason said Friday morning, just minutes after hearing the news. "We always knew it would be between the two of us."
The two have been friends since kindergarten, when they met at Chiefland Elementary School.
Smith said, despite the friendship, "competition has been intense."
"We both took a lot of weighted classes," he said, referring to the advanced placement (AP) classes and credits earned through the dual enrollment program at the College of Central Florida.
Both are involved in clubs, as well. Bason, who plans on majoring in broadcast journalism, is president of her FFA chapter, captain of the varsity cheerleaders and involved with BETA club and SGA. She's been accepted at the University of Florida, though she said she's still undecided about which college to attend.
"I'm so, so excited," Christi Bason, Hailey's mother, said that morning, adding that she would have been happy even if her daughter had only been in the top 10 graduates.
Smith, set on studying electrical engineering when he attends UF this fall, is active in the BETA club, FCA and SGA, which he happens to be vice president of. He also played golf and basketball in the last year.
Smith was also accepted at the University of South Florida and the University of North Florida, but he's "always been a gator fan."
"He's been a joy and a blessing to parent," Stoney Smith, Logan's father, said Friday morning, adding that his son has always studied hard and stayed out of trouble.
Paige Brookins, Smith's aunt, also at the high school Friday morning, said she's excited for and proud of all the students who have accomplished so much in the last year.
"The whole class is high-achieving," she said, adding that parent involvement has also been high. "It's outstanding, and it's noticeable."
Summer Toler is another example of outstanding achievement at CHS. Toler, with a 4.29 GPA, is this year's salutatorian.
"I'm excited. I definitely wasn't expecting it," the 17-year-old Toler said from the lobby of the high school. She said she'd assumed Smith and Bason would have taken the valedictorian and salutatorian spots, leaving her ranked third.
Toler, who is SGA president and involved with FFA and the BETA club, has been accepted to UF, the University of Central Florida and the University of South Carolina, but her mind is not made up. She said she's leaning toward UCF, especially considering that she has a scholarship there.
She's still undecided about her course of study, too, though, she said, "I know I want to do something service related."
Toler's mother, Beth, said she's happy for her daughter. "It's awesome. It was a surprise ... we're always very proud of her."
All three students credit themselves with working hard, but admit that the small-town atmosphere of Chiefland has played a part in their success, as well.
Knowing everyone so well, according to Smith, acts as a support system where students are able to concentrate on what matters most: learning.
"It's nice to know everyone in your class. ... Our class is pretty tight. Everyone gets along."
The other high achievers, 7 of the top 10 by rank, are as follows:
3-Tim Reidy, 4-Ansley Pentz, 5-Adam Edwards, 6-Sarah Ivey, 7-Danielle Drummond, 8-Hayley Pate, 9-Austin Sheffield.
Note : See more photos in the Feb. 21 edition of the Chiefland Citizen.