SWHS 2019 valedictorian Michael Maddux (Photos by Patricia Guthrie/South Whidbey Record)

SWHS 2019 valedictorian Michael Maddux (Photos by Patricia Guthrie/South Whidbey Record)

Looking back, moving forward

Two top graduates at South Whidbey High School, Class of 2019

Two valedictorians, Michael Maddux and Carli Newman, will address the South Whidbey High School class of 2019 during Saturday’s graduation ceremony.

Both are straight-up A students with 4.0 grade point averages (unweighted).

Not surprising, both said maintaining a perfect report card all through high school wasn’t easy. Here’s how they did it and what’s ahead for them.

Michael Maddux

Michael Maddux had his own system for acing all his subjects.

“I work hard, yes, but mainly I get to know my teachers to find my own success,” he said. “I just learn how to be successful in each class.”

Science was his favorite class but he also just completed one he never thought he’d like.

“I absolutely loved shop,” said the 18-year-old from Clinton. “We worked with metal and wood. I made a shelf with wheels.”

He’s headed to the Honors College of Washington State University to study computer science.

Maddox said his father is a computer programmer, but he’s pursuing the degree as more of a secondary career option.

His first choice?

Law enforcement.

“My end goal is to be a law enforcement officer back here on the island,” Maddux said. “I’m planning on applying to Oak Harbor and Langley. I have a desire to serve my community.”

As part of the Oak Harbor Explorer program for youth, Maddux rode with officers and experienced a range of calls and situations.

He’s also learned many skills while pursuing the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest status of the Boy Scouts.

Setting personal goals will be one piece of advice Maddux plans to give during his valedictorian speech.

“Challenge yourself and then push through the challenge,” he said. “It teaches you new life lessons.”

Carli Newman

At age 3, Carli Newman beat one of the biggest challenges of all — cancer.

“I am swayed toward cancer research due to my past in the hospital with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma,” she said of her career path. “I was diagnosed at 3 and in treatment for about a year and a half.”

Newman is headed to Reed College to study biochemistry and molecular biology.

“I am interested in both medical research and environmental research. I guess I am waiting to explore more of each field and discover where my passions lie,” she said. “I am hoping to find a way to do both.”

Growing up on Whidbey led her to an interest in conservation and the environment.

“I think that climate change and other environmental-related issues are the biggest problems facing our world as a whole right now, and everyone should get involved to find solutions,” Newman said.

Throughout high school, education remained Newman’s top priority over other interests, such as the math team (called the Nerdy Birdies), Knowledge Bowl, tennis, soccer and music.

“But even with that I had to be organized and do the most important assignments first,” she said.

In her valedictorian address, Newman says she plans to talk about social support using science.

“My speech is about community and how everyone of us relies on others to get success,” she said. “At the same time we support others as well. I explain all of this with fungus.”

SWHS 2019 valedictorian Carli Newman

SWHS 2019 valedictorian Carli Newman

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