Seminole Ridge High School’s graduation ceremony will lead off local commencement exercises. The Class of 2016 will bid farewell to SRHS on Thursday, May 19 at 8 a.m. at the South Florida Fairgrounds.
Leading the class and offering words of wisdom will be valedictorian Shane Artiles and salutatorian Madeline Harding.
“It’s a good feeling to have put all this work into my academics and my school and to have this reward,” Artiles said.
As he signed up for his final dual-enrollment class, Artiles had to get a copy of his transcript. On the document, he saw that he was ranked first out of the class of more than 600 students.
He confirmed the information with his guidance counselor and told his parents, who, along with his brothers, were proud and excited for him. “I’m the first one in my family to get this accomplishment, so they were very proud of me,” Artiles said.
With a 5.22 HPA and 3.92 GPA, Artiles is excited about graduation and presenting his speech. “I think it’s going to go well. It’s going to be exciting, and a good experience for me, too,” he said.
One of his biggest accomplishments is running the math honor society (Mu Alpha Theta) tutoring club, with approximately 50 students helping three classrooms full of students.
Attending senior prom with his friends, seeing everyone dressed up and observing how much his classmates have grown since they were freshman, Artiles said, was one of his fondest high school memories.
After graduation, he will be double-majoring at the University of Florida in chemistry and calculus, then attending the UF College of Pharmacy to become a pharmaceutical engineer.
“I really love math, and last year I took chemistry, and I figured out that this is what I wanted to do,” he said. “I want to be a chemist. My love for the field drove me to want to become that.”
In his free time, Artiles enjoys watching sports and spending quality time with his family, as well as working at Subway, where he has worked for more than a year.
In 10 years, he hopes to have a doctoral degree and be working in a residency program.
For those looking to be in the top of their class, Artiles suggests taking as many AP and AICE classes, as well as dual-enrollment classes, as possible.
“What I think got me to being ranked first was taking a lot of dual-enrollment classes,” he said. “I’ve taken 12 dual-enrollment classes over the last three years. You have to be able to portion your time.”
Artiles was taking five dual-enrollment and AP classes, as well as playing on the varsity wrestling team and the football team, his sophomore year. He chose higher-level classes over sports, leaving the teams behind to take more advanced classes and join other clubs and organizations throughout his tenure in high school. “It takes a lot of dedication to your scholastic endeavors,” he said.
Harding secured the salutatorian spot in the class rankings with a 5.06 HPA and a 3.98 GPA.
“It’s amazing. I feel so accomplished. I worked so hard for this for four years, and it’s really fulfilling to finally get rewarded for it,” she said.
Harding learned earlier this year that she was second in the class when Principal James Campbell called her into his office, called her mother and shared the information.
“She was so excited, and I was so excited. It was so amazing to find out,” Harding said.
Graduation can’t come soon enough for Harding, who is excited to graduate and present her speech at the ceremony.
Harding is on the flag football, volleyball and soccer teams, already winning two state championship titles with flag football. She was captain of the 2016 Dance Marathon, helping to raise more than $30,000 for the Children’s Miracle Network.
“Last year we raised $18,000,” she said. “It was amazing to see how much our hard work and fundraising did, and how that’s going to go to kids who need it the most.”
Harding will be attending Florida State University and will major in actuarial science, with the long-term goal of becoming an actuary.
“I’m very good at math. I’m in one of the highest math classes at my school,” she said.
Originally looking into accounting, Harding’s math teacher suggested actuarial science, and she discovered it would be a good fit.
Sports and family are two of Harding’s passions. She’s the second-oldest of five children.
“They’re one of the main reasons why I’ve done so well in school,” she said.
In 10 years, Harding looks forward to having a family of her own and working in the actuarial science field.
For other students looking to be in the top of their class, Harding suggested working as hard as possible and never giving up.
“Never give up; keep pushing yourself, even until the end of senior year. It’ll definitely be rewarded, one day or another,” she said.