Carl Chapman has it all figured out. As graduation was approaching, Carl began to realize his life was about to change. So, the Class of 2008 valedictorian at Briarwood Academy came up with a plan that would encompass those changes and be compatible with his future. Carl is going to spend his summer as a Legends race car driver at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.
"I played baseball in high school, but I'm done with that now," he said. "That's why I got into racing, because I knew all that was going to be over with. ... And when I go to Georgia Southern in the fall, I'm majoring in mechanical engineering, which will combine with my racing."
But first, he's got to get through his speech during the commencement exercise. Carl said he was given the topic of "memories," and the requirement to write three typed pages.
"I've got plenty of memories, I just don't know how to make it flow," Carl said in a recent telephone interview. "It's tough going from one random memory to another one and have it make sense."
And although she's supposed to focus her commencement speech on the future, Briarwood salutatorian Blaire Moyer said the day she learned she was the salutatorian will always be a happy memory for her. Blaire said she attended Briarwood in ninth grade, then moved away to live with her father during her sophomore year. She returned to Briarwood for her junior and senior years.
"So I thought I wouldn't be eligible because I left, but the rule was actually two consecutive years," she said. "So when Mr. Hammond (the headmaster) called us into his office. ... it was actually a very big surprise."
Both Carl and Blaire have a 4.0 average, and he favors mathematics and sciences while she favors literature and essay writing. Blaire, who is the daughter of Tony Moyer and Lacey Strait, also was a cheerleader, played basketball and had a principal role in the school musical Fiddler on the Roof. She will attend the University of Georgia this fall and major in journalism. Her little brother, Collin, is a third grader at Briarwood.
"He's great," she said. "We're always on the go with him."
Carl, who is the son of Tommy and Barbara Chapman, is the last one to leave the nest. His sister, Erin, graduated from Briarwood nine years ago.
"The time has gone by so quickly," Mrs. Chapman said. "And we are just so very proud of him. ... (Erin) graduated as an honor graduate, and now him being valedictorian is just so special. ... Academics was always his thing. ... I didn't have to push him or beg him to do his homework."
Carl was also the school's STAR student this year, scoring a 1950 on his SAT exam. He said he chose his second grade teacher Gail Hammond to be his STAR teacher.
"Briarwood has a lot of summer field trips, and she's gone on every one," he said. "And she was just my favorite teacher all these years. I loved her."
GRADUATION: Commencement exercises for the Briarwood Academy Class of 2008 will be held at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 16, at the Clinton H. Grant Field House at Briarwood.