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The Graduates, 1997

June 13, 1997

The roller coaster is braking to a halt for the Class of '97. Anxiety over final exams and college admissions letters gives way to the prospect of the rewards that come with independence and adulthood. Many of the county's high school students have already had a good taste of those rewards.

At The Times' request, Orange County high school administrators nominated seniors who excelled in the areas of academics, leadership and the arts.

From these nominees, The Times chose one student from each school for our sixth annual Salute to High School Seniors. Those honored were not necessarily the valedictorian or student body president--though some were. All, however, through their involvement and accomplishments, represent high hopes for their communities.

These students are well on their way to discovering where their talents lie. On campus, they stood out as entrepreneurs, actors, artists, scientists, athletes and even a budding politician or two.

The names of these seniors can be found in the membership rosters of the most distinguished academic programs--National Honor Society, International Baccalaureate Program, Merit Scholarship Program, to name a few. Some earned perfect Scholastic Aptitude Test scores.

But they have reached well beyond desk-bound achievements. Some have moved their teachers and classmates with virtuoso performances on athletic fields, in the orchestra or on stage--from vaudeville shows to civic light operas. Many have traveled the world to build bridges or serve as student ambassadors. They volunteered to aid groups and causes they believe in, from coordinating Safe Ride programs and Red Cross efforts at their schools to organizing a human-relations convention.

They designed their school's home page, organized art exhibits, directed animation films and signed a recording contract. One senior was a member of a university research team and wrote the published results.

These feats have been wedged in between part-time jobs and family and religious obligations.

Some of these stellar seniors came to this country a few years ago and joined the most ambitious social and academic endeavors. Some are the first in their families to graduate from high school or attend college. Some are bound for Harvard, Yale, Berkeley or other colleges near and far.

The Times Orange County salutes these students from the Class of 1997.

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