Eastside High School selected Seth Kimbrell, right, as its 2012 valedictorian and Carli Barbo as its salutatorian. Kimbrell plans to attend the Georgia Institute of Technology, while Barbo will enroll at the University of Georgia in the fall. Staff Photo: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith
COVINGTON -- The top graduating students at Eastside High School have each made it to the prime spots along two different pathways.
Although they have each found their way to the top -- studying hard and taking Advanced Placement and Dual Enrollment classes -- this year was the first time they've had a class together.
"It just kind of happened," said Carli Barbo, the school's 2012 salutatorian, about how she made it to the top.
Both said they didn't really do anything special to try to make it to the top spot.
"I just did my thing," added valedictorian Seth Kimbrell.
School choice was all about location for 17-year-old Kimbrell. He was choosing between Dartmouth College in New Hampshire or Georgia Tech.
Recently, Kimbrell decided to stay close to home and in state by choosing Georgia Tech, where he hopes he will know more people.
Kimbrell, son of James and Adrianne Kimbrell of Covington, plans to double major in physics and economics in college.
He's taken four AP classes and eight dual enrollment classes at Georgia Perimeter College during high school, which will allow him to earn nearly two years worth of college credit when he begins school in the fall.
He was honored as the school's STAR student for scoring the highest on his SAT -- 2,300 out of 2,400 -- earlier this year. For the score, he also won the spot as the county's STAR student for having the top score out of all three high schools. He also was named a National Merit Finalist for his SAT score.
Even with all of the awards for his SAT score, he was surprised about being named the top student at Eastside.
"My philosophy is that whatever happens, happens," he said. "Any spot in the Top 10 is something to be happy about."
After high school, he said he will miss his friends, most of whom are going to different colleges, and also his teachers with whom he's developed bonds.
"While I am eager, I will miss high school," he said. "The freedom will be nice ... but it's been a fun four years at Eastside."
Eighteen-year-old Barbo also wanted to stay close at home during college, so she will enroll at the University of Georgia this fall.
"It's one of the top schools in the state," said Barbo, daughter of Michael and Danielle Barbo of Covington.
She plans to study nutrition and wellness, eventually becoming a dietician.
Barbo said she likes to study biology and also has enjoyed AP calculus and AP U.S. history, which are classes in which she felt like she learned the most and wouldn't forget as soon as she leaves them.
Throughout high school, she has taken seven AP classes. She also played tennis and was in the National Honor Society and the Junior Service Guild.
When she goes to college, she said she will miss the "safeness and comfort" of being somewhere that she knows, as well as the close relationships she had with teachers.
"Oddly, I am looking forward to being by myself," she said. "I'm sad but really excited."