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Top Eastside students ready for college

Eastside High School's 2013 valedictorian is Joey Ellwanger, front, and the salutatorian is Conner Bryan, pictured in Judy Smith's AP Chemistry class. Ellwanger will attend Berry College in the fall, and Bryan will go to the University of Georgia. Staff Photo: Michelle Floyd

Eastside High School's 2013 valedictorian is Joey Ellwanger, front, and the salutatorian is Conner Bryan, pictured in Judy Smith's AP Chemistry class. Ellwanger will attend Berry College in the fall, and Bryan will go to the University of Georgia. Staff Photo: Michelle Floyd

COVINGTON -- To make it as the top students at Eastside High School, apparently it takes several Advanced Placement classes, a love of Latin and science and even some cramming.

The valedictorian for the class of 2013, Joey Ellwanger, admitted that although he does pay attention in class and studies a lot, he has had to cram before some big tests.

Joey Ellwanger

Eighteen-year-old Ellwanger will have some more studying to do in the coming years.

In the fall, he plans to attend Berry College in Rome to major in biology. He received an academic scholarship to the college and also will be on the school's swim team, as he was at Eastside.

He eventually might attend medical school.

"I have always liked science. It clicks," said Ellwanger, son of Greg and Denise Ellwanger of Newborn.

He's enjoyed classes like AP chemistry and teacher Judy Smith; he's taken seven AP classes over the last two years.

Even so, he said he was surprised by being named valedictorian.

"The Top 3 were extremely close this year," he said. "I just wanted to be in the Top 10."

This summer, Ellwanger plans to take a family trip to Arizona and also work as a life guard at the Covington YMCA. In addition to the school swim team, he also was part of the year-round swim team.

Ellwanger, who also was on the school cross-country team, is looking forward to attending Berry in the fall.

"I like a small class size and they have a strong biology program," he said about why he picked the school.

Conner Bryan

Eighteen-year-old Conner Bryan, the school's 2013 salutatorian, also has a busy college life ahead of him.

When he begins school at the University of Georgia in the fall, he might triple major in Latin, English and comparative literature.

"I've taken Latin (at Eastside), and I've really enjoyed it," said Bryan, son of Carey and Susan Bryan of Covington. "I also like reading and analyzing literature."

Eventually, he might like to become a writer or college professor.

He said he wasn't too surprised when he found out he was one of the top graduates, since it's something he's aimed for since the 10th grade.

"My parents were really encouraging for me to be involved in academics and got me interested in anything school-related," said Bryan, who's taken 10 AP classes during high school.

While at Eastside, he was on the Academic Team, in the Junior Classical League, in the Creative Writing Club and the National Arts Society.

He was named the school's STAR student for earning the highest SAT score, and he also received an academic charter scholarship to UGA.

This summer, he plans to look for a job before he heads off to school.