COVINGTON -- Newton High School's top graduating seniors are the rare breed this year. Valedictorian Brody Ingram and salutatorian Brian Carpenter are the only two top males in Newton County and are two of only a handful of male students in the top 30 graduating seniors in the county.
But they know what got them here -- hard work, dedication and, of course, God.
Both have taken Advanced Placement classes, studied hard and remained active in their church youth groups, which also has helped keep the race to the top low-key between the two of them.
"We don't have any competition," Ingram said.
"We have just tried to support each other," Carpenter added.
Seventeen-year-old Ingram plans to follow in his mother's footsteps after college.
While at the University of Georgia, he plans to study business or accounting, something that has interested him for several years.
"My mom is an accountant, and I've always been involved in business and interested in things like that," said Ingram, son of Brian and Sherrie Ingram of Covington.
He said he's really been dedicated to his studies in high school because he knows it's important.
"It sets up your future," he said. "If you're not serious about school, then you're not going to be serious about work later."
He said he "tried a little" to be a top student, so he wasn't really surprised when he was announced as the valedictorian, even though it hasn't been his main goal while in high school.
"I was more focused on getting a good education," he said. "I was a little shocked because there are a lot of smart people here, like Brian and the other students in the Top 10."
This year, he received scholarships from General Mills and the American Legion. He's active in his youth group at Newton Baptist Church and also is a Boy Scout.
Eighteen-year-old Carpenter isn't quite sure how he wants to spend his time in college.
"I have no idea" what to study, said Carpenter, son of Carrie and Fred Carpenter.
He said he is interested in music and theology and, after college at North Georgia College & State University, he might like to work in a church.
"I'm looking forward to freedom and a chance to be my own person," said Carpenter, who is active at St. Pius X Catholic Church in Conyers.
He is especially looking forward to attending the intimate north Georgia campus.
"I like the feel of a smaller school," he said. "It was very beautiful when I went to visit and it felt like home."
In addition to being named the school's STAR student for scoring a 1900 on his SAT, he's also been awarded the Robert C. Byrd scholarship and received other scholarship offers.