COVINGTON — Although Eastside High School seniors Kim Waters and Melissa Greer have been competing for the top student spot since sixth grade, it's been a friendly competition.
"I'm glad it hasn't been ugly," said Waters, the school's 2011 valedictorian. "We think, ‘Whatever happens, happens.'"
In the end, less than a point separated the top two students, who said they owe part of their success in high school to getting an early start in Latin.
"If I had not taken that, I probably would have failed miserably (in high school)," Waters said. "Mr. (Eric) Adams is a great teacher — he stresses the importance about what learning is."
Although 17-year-old Waters enjoys Latin, she is planning to study business on the premed track at the University of Richmond in Virginia and eventually becoming a surgeon.
"My favorite class is human anatomy, and I'm really interested in the body," said Waters, who has worked in a pharmacy throughout high school and is interning at Newton Medical Center.
More importantly, she knows she will enjoy her new school.
"I love it," said Waters, the daughter of Mike and Priscilla Waters of Social Circle. "I feel at home. It's small enough to feel like a family, but it's big enough for me to meet many different people."
While in high school, she has been on the soccer team and cheerleading squad, and she also has been a member of the Beta Club, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Junior Classical League's Latin club. She's also won several academic awards.
"I'll miss the high school experience," she said. "But I'm ready to move on in my life. It's time for a new chapter."
Eighteen-year-old Greer, this year's salutatorian for Eastside, plans to stay a little closer to home in the fall.
Greer, the daughter of Deana and Eddie Greer of Covington, plans to attend the University of Georgia to study classics and Latin.
"It has the largest classics department in the nation, and it's a really good school," she said about her college choice. "I've always enjoyed mythology, and taking Latin just clicked. Their culture is so interesting."
While at Eastside, Greer has been in the Latin Club and Beta Club and has played the flute in the marching band; this year, she was the band's drum major.
She received the Presidential Leadership Scholarship from UGA and the Warlick-Mannion scholarship from UGA's classics department, which will help pay for her tuition. She was the only incoming freshman in UGA's classics department to receive the scholarship.
She's also won several other academic awards during high school.