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Friends take top school honors
Burt, Reece head the class of 09
4 Val.  Salut. pic
Friends since fourth grade, Paige Reece, left, is valedictorian and Mallory Burt is salutatorian for the Dawson County High School class of 2009. - photo by Photo/Elizabeth Hamilton

Friends since childhood, Dawson County High School’s 2009 valedictorian and salutatorian are proud of each other and their classmates.


Mallory Burt, salutatorian, said she and valedictorian Paige Reece have known each other since fourth grade.


“We did a lot of projects together and have always been very close with the grades we have received over the years,” Burt said.


Reece didn’t set out to become valedictorian, but said school was always a priority and that making good grades was important.


“I was really surprised,” Reece said shortly after learning the news. “It wasn’t really a goal of mine, but it is a good feeling to know that the hard work I have put into school has paid off.”


Principal Wayne Chelf announced the top two students Thursday, as well as the 2009 honors graduates.


“They are both excellent students,” Chelf said of Burt and Reece. “It has been interesting to see the development of their valedictorian and salutatorian situation over the past two years, as they have been very close with each other.


“I have great anticipation for both of them once they leave here,” he said. “They should both do very well in college and beyond.”


Both young women plan to attend the University of Georgia in the fall. Reece has her sights set on medical school.


“I’m not sure exactly what I want to do, possibly medical research, but I know that I want to be in the medical field,” she said.


Like Reece, Burt noted that making good grades was important and that school was “something she was good at.”


“Being named either valedictorian or salutatorian was definitely a goal of mine,” she said. “I really wasn’t into sports, school was always just kind of my thing.”


Burt, who wants to major in business, is looking forward to being on her own.


“I have had a good high school experience and I know I will miss it,” Burt said. “But I am ready for the next step, and ready to become independent.”


Reece agreed, saying that thoughts of graduation bring bittersweet feelings.


“I had a good high school experience as well, and I know that what I have learned over the past four years will serve me well in the next phase of my student career.”


E-mail Elizabeth Hamilton at