Newton High School announced Stephanie Lightsey, right, as its 2012 valedictorian and Kelsey Upton as its salutatorian. They both plan to attend the University of Georgia in the fall to study animal science. Staff Photo: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith
COVINGTON -- The top graduates at Newton High School have a lot in common.
After meeting their freshman year in high school, valedictorian Stephanie Lightsey and salutatorian Kelsey Upton have taken classes in the Dual Enrollment program at Georgia Perimeter College while in high school and they both plan to attend the University of Georgia in the fall to study animal science.
But they knew one of them had to come out ahead of the other.
"I was just happy to be in the Top 10," Upton said.
"It comes out the way it comes out," Lightsey added.
Although 17-year-old Lightsey enjoys English and drama classes, she loves animals.
In the fall, she plans to attend UGA to study animal science and eventually go on to veterinary school.
"I love animals," said Lightsey, daughter of Jim and Renee Lightsey of Covington. "I'd love to work at a wildlife center or at a zoo."
She only had one dog at home because her dad is allergic to them, but she also volunteers at a veterinarian's office.
She's also been part of the Oxford Youth Singers and the Beta Club. She was honored as the school's STAR student for scoring the highest on her SAT earlier this year and also has received several scholarships.
While in high school she's taken 10 Dual Enrollment classes and one Advanced Placement class. She said her goal has always been just to do her best in every class.
"I tried to get the highest A that I could get," she said.
Eighteen-year-old Upton also will attend UGA in the fall.
She said it's always been a place she wanted to attend for no specific reason, and when she visited the school, she fell in love with it even more.
"I'm excited but nervous about getting lost," said Upton, daughter of Randy and Melissa Upton of Oxford.
Like Lightsey, she hopes to one day attend veterinary school.
"I've always loved animals," she said, adding that she's worked at a friend's grooming shop since she was 10 years old and has two dogs at home.
She has taken about a dozen Dual Enrollment classes through GPC while in high school.
"Ever since I was little, I worked really hard at school, which is something my parents have always instilled in me," she said.