Vals & Sals

The Covington News - - NEWS - BY MARTIN RAND III news@cov­

Al­covy High School se­nior Alex Yang was ex­tremely proud of him­self when he was named vale­dic­to­rian of the school’s 2015 grad­u­a­tion class. It was a goal of his since the start of his se­nior year.

But, be­fore his se­nior year, he didn’t pay too much at­ten­tion to the class rank­ings. In­stead he kind of just fell into the top spot.

“(it was) not re­ally planned. It kind of just hap­pened,” Yang said. “Ear­lier this year when I did find out my rank, then I just said, ‘OK, well let’s just do it be­cause I’m al­ready num­ber one.’”

Although, it wasn’t a sur­prise the 17 year old found him­self in the top spot. Yang, an ath­letic stu­dent and mem­ber of sev­eral high school clubs, al­ways strives to be the best at what he does.

He ap­proaches his aca­demic stud­ies in the same way.

“I think (it’s) just my per­son­al­ity,” he said. “I al­ways like to go above and chal­lenge my­self. Like last year, I took AP classes, to get those grades for col­lege.”

Tak­ing ac­cel­er­ated cour­ses and par­tic­i­pat­ing in af­ter school ac­tiv­i­ties was a true bal­anc­ing act for Yang.

“A lot of times I do find it chal­leng­ing, be­cause some­times it’s hard to stay af­ter school when you have a test the next day,” he said. “Some­how, I find a way to bal­ance ev­ery­thing and do it.”

The bal­anc­ing act will have to con­tinue for Yang, who plans to con­tinue do ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties on a col­lege cam­pus next school year.

He’s nar­rowed his choices down to two schools but hasn’t made a fi­nal de­ci­sion yet. Whichever one he picks, he’s go­ing to ma­jor in com­puter science with the idea to pro­gram com­puter soft­ware that im­proves tech­nol­ogy on a global scale.

“Tech­nol­ogy is glob­al­iz­ing. It’s go­ing all around the world, so if I can con­trib­ute to that, then I can help peo­ple,” he said.

Help­ing oth­ers, es­pe­cially those less for­tu­nate is some­thing that Yang, the third old­est of six sib­lings, does quite of­ten even now. Around the hol­i­days, the New­ton County na­tive would go to home­less shel­ters and helped the less for­tu­nate.

“I al­ways feel like you have to give to those that are less for­tu­nate than you,” he said. “You got to give to them so it will in­spire them to be­come some­thing of them­selves.”

The peo­ple that in­spire Yang are his par­ents, teach­ers and all his friends that push him to be bet­ter.

Al­covy’s salu­ta­to­rian, Elise McDon­ald, feels very ac­com­plished about her class rank­ing be­cause she works re­ally hard to suc­ceed.

McDon­ald wasn’t pay­ing at­ten­tion to the class rank­ings un­til her ju­nior year of school, when she found out how close to first place she ac­tu­ally was.

“I found out that I was num­ber four,” she said. “I thought, ‘If I re­ally tried, I might be able to make it higher.’”

Try­ing harder wasn’t easy. McDon­ald was al­ready a drum ma­jor in band and part of sev­eral clubs and pro­grams. “Yes, it was very chal­leng­ing,” she said. But she pre­served and pow­ered through the school years and now has earned the ti­tle of salu­ta­to­rian.

Her mother, who’s very proud of McDon­ald, wasn’t at all sur­prised by her ac­com­plish­ment. It’s un­der­stand­able be­cause McDon­ald claims her de­ter­mi­na­tion and pas­sion for learn­ing comes from her mother, who’s an art teacher at East­side High School.

“I’ve al­ways been a self-mo­ti­vated per­son, but I think it’s my mom who in­stalled the need for ed­u­ca­tion in me,” she said. “If I wanted to get to col­lege I needed to get schol­ar­ships,”

Now, McDon­ald, who’s spent all her teenage years living in New­ton County, is on her way to the Uni­ver­sity of Ge­or­gia, where she plans to get her bach­e­lors and masters de­grees in wildlife bi­ol­ogy. Af­ter school, she plans to work for Fish and Wildlife, an or­ga­ni­za­tion that fo­cuses on preser­va­tion marine an­i­mals.

McDon­ald has been in love with aquatic an­i­mals since the days when her grand­fa­ther use to work at Fish and Wildlife.

“He taught me ev­ery­thing about fish and wildlife, and he grew that pas­sion in me,” she said. “It’s the only thing I ever wanted to be.”

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