COVINGTON --The top two graduates at Alcovy High School have been involved in some friendly competition for the last few years.
The school's salutatorian Elizabeth Darazs said she and valedictorian Zachary Bowers have been neck and neck as far as academics go, but she thinks his dual enrollment courses helped push him past her.
Seventeen-year-old Zach Bowers hasn't been at Alcovy this year, but that doesn't mean he hasn't been working hard on his academics.
Bowers has been living at and taking courses at the University of West Georgia through an advanced dual enrollment program.
"I felt like it's helped me prepare academically (and) be more challenged than in classes in high school," he said. "It was a good experience and it will help me later in college."
Next year Bowers plans to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He is required to serve five years active duty in the Army, but he plans on making it his career and hopes to retire from the military.
He said he was glad he earned the top spot at Alcovy, although he hasn't been around most of the school year to spend time with his friends.
"I've always tried to maintain high grades," he said. "I'm surprised I was still able to maintain such high grades (because of dual enrollment courses at West Georgia). ...I always try to do my best in everything I strive for -- getting a 'B' is passing and fine, but I always hated getting things wrong, so I always studied hard."
While in high school, Bowers was involved in cross country and tennis; he also participated in high-powered rifle shooting, in which he won a junior state championship in 2009.
In late June, he will report for cadet basic training.
"I'm definitely nervous, but being at West Georgia has helped me," he said.
Eighteen-year-old Elizabeth "Nikki" Darazs is continuing her family tradition in the fall.
After graduating from Alcovy, she plans to attend the University of South Carolina, where her father attended college and where her grandfather previously taught.
"It's a family tradition, and I love the school," she said.
She plans to major in music performance as a vocalist.
Darazs has been performing since she was young, participating in talent shows and chorus -- she competed in Covington's Junior Idol contest earlier this year and also participated in the Colgate Country Showdown in Vermont when she was younger.
"I've always known I wanted to sing," she said. "I have a passion for it. When I'm on stage and singing, everybody is looking at you and cheering for you."
She likes to sing country and alternative music and hopes to eventually become a performer, but that will depend on the economy. She also will consider music education.
Her academics are much like her music -- she likes to get recognition.
"When I was in fifth grade and made all A's and got an award, I was like 'You can get an award for that?!" she said. "I don't accept failure. I strive for perfection, and I don't give up. If a class is hard, I study and get the grade I want."
In high school, she participated in soccer, show choir and drama. She has been awarded a music scholarship to USC.