Lu Chen and Greg Hawk are the valedictorians of the Class of 2008 at Olentangy High School.

Lu Chen and Greg Hawk are the valedictorians of the Class of 2008 at Olentangy High School.

Lu Chen

Parents: Haitao Chen and Yue Cui

Grade point average: 4.2

Awards and honors: AP Scholar with honor award

College: University of California, Los Angeles

Major: Biochemistry

Extracurricular activities: Private violin lessons, Columbus Symphony Youth Orchestra, National Honor Society, Service Club, Ohio Reads, German Club and Braves Kick-Off mentor.

What does it mean to you to be at the top of your class academically as you approach graduation?

It is nice to know that my hard work has gotten me to where I am, but at this point, I'm just glad that I am graduating soon. I'm very excited to go off to college and be independent.

Did you set goals for yourself in high school? What were they? Did you achieve them?

I didn't make many goals for myself in high school, but I do remember B-KOM day my freshman year. At B-KOM, upperclassmen helped us transition into high school, and I remember them giving us a goal sheet to fill out. I remember one of my goals was to stop procrastinating. I don't think I ever achieved that goal, because I think that helps me get my work done. I work well under pressure, and I never had a problem with getting my work done. In college, however, I think that may change.

Who has had the most influence on your life? Why?

The first one is my best friend of 15 years, Kristine. Whenever I needed to talk, whenever I needed comfort, I could always go to her. She has supported me through everything, and has helped me become a stronger person. I am really grateful that I've known her for so long. My friend Jordan has also made a huge impact on my life. Whenever I had a question, I would go to him for help and guidance. He has helped me grown intellectually more than any class has. Finally, I have my little sister, Emily. She has always been there for me, and understood me despite her young age. She has helped me grow as a person, and has even helped me realize what I want to be when I grown up.

Is that same person your role model? If not, who is? Why?

I don't know if I can say that I have a role model, but the closest person to being my role model might be Itzhak Perlman. Perlman is a violinist who suffers from polio. Despite this disease, he can still be very successful in life. He truly represents perseverance, and is a huge inspiration to me.

What is one thing in your life you are most proud of?

I can't really say what about me I'm most proud of, but I can say that I am very proud of my little sister. She has gone through more than most people her age, and yet she still manages to be an incredibly sweet, smart and beautiful girl. She means so much to me, and I will be so sad next year without her.

If you could go back is there anything you would change in the way you prepared for life after high school?

I don't think that I would change anything I did in high school to prepare for college. I tried my best in classes, and I enjoyed my high school years. What else can I ask for?

What advice do you have for incoming freshmen that would help them make the most of their high school years?

I think the most important advice I would give to freshmen or even any student is that you must learn for the sake of learning. I believe that if your goal is to learn the material in class, then you will be rewarded with a good grade. However, if you try to obtain good grades, you won't necessarily learn all the material. Also, freshmen year of high school is critical. Every year, there are students who mess around their freshmen year thinking that their GPA will miraculously be better by the time they are seniors.

Sadly, it doesn't work that way. I know many seniors this year who wish they worked harder their freshman year because their GPAs aren't as high as they hoped, and sometimes their GPAs aren't high enough to get them into their dream college. Freshman year is just as important as senior year, so work hard all throughout high school.

Greg Hawk

Parents: Greg and Gina Hawk

Grade point average: 4.277

Awards and honors: National Merit finalist, AP Scholar with honor, OSI-Honda Math Medal, National Honorary Science Award, Delaware County Optimist Club Award.

College: Miami University

Major: Secondary math education with chemistry minor

Extracurricular activities: Varsity tennis, marching band, golf, musical accompanist, National Honor Society

What does it mean to you to be at the top of your class academically as you approach graduation?

It's an incredible honor and the result of four long years of hard work; it's very special.

Did you set goals for yourself in high school? What were they? Did you achieve them?

I wanted to get straight A's and I have achieved that.

Who has had the most influence on your life? Why?

Mrs. Elaine Humes, my math teacher ... over the last four years has really made me rethink what the purpose of education is and why I want to teach.

Is that same person your role model? If not, who is? Why?

Yes, she definitely is my role model as a teacher who really cares about her kids and their learning.

What is one thing in your life you are most proud of?

My academic record and our marching and concert band accomplishments these past four years.

If you could go back is there anything you would change in the way you prepared for life after high school?

I would have applied to college earlier.

What advice do you have for incoming freshmen that would help them make the most of their high school years?

Focus on the learning rather than on the grades. It might sound unrealistic and idealistic, but my greatest academic success -- and intrinsic self-satisfaction -- has come over the last two years, when I stopped worrying about the grades. Also ... have fun.