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Hunt pins down ECHS top spot
echs trio 1
At the top of Effingham County High Schools class of 2014 are, left to right, valedictorian Cheyenne Hunt, salutatorian Harrison Cowart and honorarium Rajvi Dave. - photo by Photo by Paul Floeckher

As a varsity wrestler and football player, Effingham County High School senior Cheyenne Hunt is no stranger to athletic competition.

He came out on top of one in the classroom as well, as the valedictorian for ECHS’ class of 2014.

“It means a lot,” Hunt said. “Obviously it’s a huge honor, and everything that goes along with it, just putting in a lot of hard work to get it.”

Though Hunt’s grade-point average ranked him first in his class for the past couple years, he didn’t know with certainty he was valedictorian until Tuesday. He was applauded by his fellow seniors as the announcement was made prior to graduation practice.

Joining him at the top of the class are salutatorian Harrison Cowart and honorarium Rajvi Dave.

“I started off 32nd my freshman year, so it’s a nice little push,” Dave said with a laugh.

“It’s a great honor. I’m really proud to be here,” Cowart said of finishing second in his class. “I’m thankful for everyone who’s been there along the way.”

Hunt and Cowart both will attend Georgia Tech. Hunt plans to study mechanical engineering and walk on to the Yellow Jackets’ football team, while Cowart wants to earn a biochemistry degree and then attend medical school.

Hunt maintained the top academic average while excelling athletically, starting as a lineman on the football team and finishing third at state wrestling in the 285-pound weight class. However, he said academic rankings weren’t his motivation.

“It was more just trying to do the best that I could,” Hunt said. “After a while I just got higher up in the ranks, and then I was No. 1 and just stayed there.”

Earning salutatorian was the latest honor of Cowart’s senior year. He is Effingham County High’s STAR student as the senior with the highest SAT score, and is one of only 116 graduating seniors in the state to be named a 2014 Georgia Scholar.

Also competitive by nature, Cowart admitted to being a bit disappointed he didn’t finish first in the class. He first realized that would be a possibility when he was just a freshman, and he was ranked third.

“Ever since then, I just decided that I would be as high up as I could be,” Cowart said. “I was obviously shooting for valedictorian, but second-best isn’t bad out of 450.”

Dave gradually improved her class ranking while also being one of the most actively-involved students at ECHS. She joked about being “surprised (she) had enough time to study.”

Along with being the senior class president, Dave is involved in several clubs and organizations on campus. She is president of the ECHS chapters of FCCLA, Future Georgia Educators and the Health Occupations Students of America, and vice president of FBLA and National Honor Society.

“Effingham County High School is like my second home, with everything I do here,” Dave said. “So it feels amazing to know that’s how I’ll be remembered, is third in my class, and that my accomplishments will actually be recognized.”

Dave plans to major in biological sciences at the University of Georgia and become a radiation oncologist. Her inspiration to treat cancer patients is her eldest sister, who died from a brain tumor around the age Dave is now.

“I wasn’t even born yet, but from what I’ve been told, I look just like her and I’m just like her,” Dave said.

ECHS graduation
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Where: Rebel Field