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Head of the class: Dunwoody High duo going out on top
by Bobby Tedder
May 07, 2012 10:57 AM | 1535 views | 0 0 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Throughout the past four years Dunwoody High School seniors Luke Jason Olney and Jessica Morgan Andersen have gone from being faces in the crowd to becoming the faces of the Class of 2012.

The well-rounded pair is going out in style, having distinguished themselves — Olney named valedictorian; Andersen, salutatorian — for the final time among a graduating class of nearly 400.

“Both students are just fantastic kids and they represent Dunwoody High School very well here at school and also in the community,” said Dunwoody Principal Rodney Swanson.

New challenges at venerable post-secondary institutions await the dynamic duo. Between now and then, they will have time and opportunity to reflect on their Dunwoody High days — starting with their graduation speeches.

For Olney, a self-described quiet guy with a penchant for fly fishing, it will mark his first public speaking gig before a crowd so large.

“I don’t know what to expect,” said Olney, whose 4.34 GPA earned him top student honors. “I’ve never done anything on this scale before. In the speech, one of the things I know I’ll have to do is craft a message that other people in my class can relate to … including the experiences we’ve shared [dating back] to middle and elementary school.”

When he was not hitting the books, Olney was rounding out his high school days with other pursuits, including participation in track and cross country, Beta Club, mock trial and German Honor Society.

The next stage of the 18-year-old’s academic career will take place at his father Richard’s alma mater, Northwestern University, where the younger is considering majoring in pre-med.

Andersen, with a 4.305 GPA, will continue her studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or M.I.T., where she will major in computer science.

Like Olney, Andersen had a full slate of extracurricular activities at Dunwoody High, including the math club, cross country, German Club and swim team among others.

The “pretty friendly yet independent and driven” 17-year-old called the impending end to her high school run bittersweet.

“I want to be done [with high school], but now that it’s coming down to these last days it makes me sad to leave my friends behind,” Andersen said. “I’m really excited about college … and beginning the next chapter.”

For Swanson, the ebb and flow of turnover — watching standouts like Olney and Andersen come and go — is one of the major perks of his job.

“You get to see students grow up … and it’s a beautiful thing to see,” Swanson said.

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