By Sherri EllingtonIkia Richardson is the salutatorian for the high school class of 2014. Jesse Waters, who was also named STAR Student, is the valedictorian.Both students want to thank their Advanced Placement teachers and other special educators. Their lists are large and cover most of the teachers in whose classes they found themselves over the past four years.’They made the biggest impact on my school success,’ said Waters. ‘I have a better view of life. I was taught to take a longer look at things and learn from them.’’They’re so passionate, willing and helpful,’ said Richardson. ‘They incorporate life into their lessons and classes. I’ve learned so much ‘“ professionalism, courage, ways of doing things. They’ve been a huge help.’ Jesse Waters Waters is the son of Stacy Waters, a paralegal at Smith, Welch, Webb and White; and Stephen W. Waters, a mechanic at Pep Boys in Jonesboro. The family has lived in Lamar County since 2007, when he was in sixth grade. His favorite subjects are math and history.’My grandmother Doreen Palmer has been a part of my life since I was knee high to a grasshopper,’ said Waters. ‘She always supported me in what I did and continue to do. She’s always screaming when I win an award. She’s the best grandmother a guy like me could have.’He promises to return home from the Georgia Institute of Technology often to see his little brother Landon Alexander Waters, a first grader at the primary school.’He’s a little bundle of joy,’ said Waters. ‘I hope he does well in school. I’m going to miss him.’As valedictorian, Waters will talk about the past. As STAR Student he will also have a speaking role in graduation, so he is in effect making two speeches. He is busy compiling thoughts for the big day. He is also worrying he might forget a detail and how to slip in a favorite quote from Salvador Dali: ‘Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings.’’I’ll base what I talk about on reflecting, pretty much on my high school career ‘“ how my friends and I have changed and matured and will go our separate ways,’ he said. ‘Graduation will be the last time we’ll be together. I’ll miss them, really and truly. I hope everyone does well.’ Waters likes to bowl, play online games on an international scale and hang out with friends.He spends every Tuesday in Eagle’s Landing with his grandparents, helping out at the Helping In His Name Ministries food bank.He is a co-captain of the varsity academic team and captained the junior varsity team. He also was enrolled in the Accel program and studied at Gordon State.’I don’t feel like I’d have made it to where I am today if the class of 2014 hadn’t inspired me to push the very margins of who I am,’ he said. ‘It’s why I’m going to miss my friends.’ Waters games online with people from all over the world, learning Spanish ‘“ not just by the textbook ‘“ and German in the process. He plans to earn a doctorate in computational media, an ever-changing field that will challenge him to keep up.’I’m going to talk about my dreams and aspirations,’ he said. ‘Don’t ever think not doing well on a test or making a C average will stop you from seeing your dreams come true. All it takes is determination. If you don’t have the spine to fight for your dreams no one else will do it for you.’Ikia Richardson Richardson is the only child of Jeannie R. Brantley of Barnesville and Alvin and Wanda Richardson of McDonough. Her grandparents are Mable Brantley of Barnesville, Morris Smith of Forsyth, Alvin Richardson Sr. of Newport News, Va., and the late Gloria Hughes of Barnesville.As salutatorian, her job is to look to the future.’I want to encourage my classmates to expand their horizons and leave their comfort zones,’ said Richardson. ‘I want to tell people to travel, see more of the world than Lamar County. Barnesville is a wonderful place to live but we don’t need to sit around the house and do nothing. Before you settle down and have children, go explore the world and experience new viewpoints.You have to do that to grow intellectually, physically and emotionally. It also gives your children and their children a better opportunity to be successful.’Her extra-curricular activities include being the logistics and executive officer for the high school JROTC. Richardson was on the school academic team, serving as its junior varsity captain, and did double duty on the JROTC JLAB academic team as the varsity co-captain. She was in JROTC three years.She was a member of Youth Leadership Lamar, sponsored by the Family Connection Collaborative. Also for the FCC, she was the Lamar County Youth Advisory Council coordinator for the group that took on a project tackling tobacco on school campuses.She is a lifelong member of Sardis Missionary Baptist Church, where she has been the public relations assistant since age 10.’My mother started me young, having me memorize things at 5 or 6,’ she said. ‘With her encouraging me I became someone who works hard. My mother and grandmother are the reasons I am who I am today.’Other community service projects include Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership ‘“ she holds a HOBY Leadership Alumni recognition ‘“ volunteering as a front desk clerk for the Lamar County Department of Family and Children Services and a volunteer tutor for her peers.’I like to see my friends succeed and I have an opportunity to help them,’ she said. ‘Going to Gordon and getting a good math background I have a better chance to give them new ways to look at math problems.’She babysits a cousin and spends mornings with an aunt who has Alzheimer’s. When she can she also reads about a favorite subject, history.Her awards and recognitions are numerous, including five awards this year alone as a Top Trojan and being an honor graduate for 2013-14.She has received JROTC certificates of commendation and proficiency, various ribbons and decorations, the National Society Daughters of American Colonists National Defense Committee JROTC Medal and JROTC Leadership Training Camp certificate of completion.While JROTC was her official school pathway she does not plan to enter the military.’This year was strenuous but I enjoyed it,’ she said. ‘It made me feel productive.’She has received commendation letters from state school superintendent Dr. John D. Barge, Gov. Nathan Deal and Rep. Lynn Westmoreland.She has received the Griffin RESA regional science fair Special Recognition Award, class of 2014 Georgia certificate of merit, National Society of Professional Surveyors certificate of participation and a National Honors Society award as a two-year member.At Gordon State College she was named to the 2013 fall semester and 2014 spring semester dean’s lists. She plans to continue her education at Southern Polytechnic State University, which has given her a Barnett Alumni Scholarship.’By the end of the next semester I should be a sophomore in college,’ she said. ‘I’ll be a full time student when I start in fall. Gordon is a great school with a oneon- one environment. I enjoyed the atmosphere and the teachers want to help you. I’ve had a great experience.’Now she has three scholarships from Zeta Phi Beta, Alpha Kappa Alpha and Delta Sigma Theta sororities. She also won the Dewaine T. Bell fine arts scholarship and one from Southern Rivers Energy Trust in addition to the SPTI money. She plans to study industrial engineering.’It’s really interesting,’ she said. ‘I researched the career and field. I like to think through things like that. Once I get to my junior or senior year I’ll have an internship wherever the school places me. By graduation I hope to be working full time with that company.’She also plans to become involved in college clubs, organizations and community events ‘“ and get a job.’I’ll have a lot more free time and I want to be involved,’ she said.