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This year's valedictorians for the James A. Garfield school district are headed off to prepare for the future, wherever it takes them after graduation June 2.
Timothy Schwan, son of Bob and Lisa Schwan of Garrettsville, is going to the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. His goal is to become a youth minister.
"I love working with kids, and working for the glory of my God," Schwan said.
Emily Rybak , daughter of James and Ellen Rybak of Garrettsville, is going to Case Western Reserve University to major in biochemistry. She's thinking of medical school after that. Rybak has been taking post-secondary classes at Kent State University this year.
And Tyler Covey, son of Tracy Covey of Garrettsville and Patrick Covey of Hiram, is going to Miami of Ohio University to study biology. He wants to be an orthodontist.
"I figured (biology) would be a good path. I've always been interested in (orthodontics) and interested in being interactive with people," Covey said.
Rybak spent her senior year of high school taking post secondary classes at Kent State University and thinking of medical school. She said she wants to do research on heart disease. She has a very personal interest -- her dad has heart disease, she said. She volunteers at Robinson Memorial Hospital in Ravenna.
Asked where they see themselves in a decade, the three young leaders of their class said they weren't sure. Rybak said she wants to be working in a hospital, but hasn't planned where that might be.
Covey said he hopes to have his own orthodontics practice by then. He said he realizes that he will have years of schooling ahead before he achieves that goal.
Schwan said "I don't know where I'll be" but he was open for any opportunity. "Location or job don't really matter too much to me," he said.
Schwan said the biggest influence on his life was his youth pastor Mike Major at Friendship Alliance Church.
Rybak said her mother, who teaches at Garfield Elementary, has had the most impact on her life's direction. "She's the one who really pushed me to just do it (go to Case Western)." Especially because of the high cost, she said.
Covey said both his parents "have always been really supportive of and behind my dreams, and available with advice."
All three said they were self-motivated to succeed at school. And, while all three said they realize in middle school that being valedictorian was a possibility, it wasn't a particular goal.
"It wasn't something I was making sure I got," Schwan said.
"Mostly I was just trying the hardest I could in each class," Rybak said.
All agreed when they realized they could be first in their class, "Then you might as well go for it," Rybak said.
Covey was involved in football, basketball, track and the National Honor Society. He received the Ben Stuffron Akron Alum Scholarship, the Red Hawk Excellence Scholarship and the George Lee Alford Scholarship.
Rybak was National Honor Society chapter president and class secretary. She was active in the interact club and played varsity softball.
She won a scholarship from Case Western Reserve and the Georgia Lee Alford Scholarship.
Schwan played soccer and baseball and was a member of the National Honor Society. He also won the Georgia Lee Alford Scholarship.
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