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Stars head of class
Roper, Bearden chosen as top students for 2013
4 Val Sal pic1
Dawson County High Schools 2013 valedictorian Spencer Roper performs an experiment during chemistry class. - photo by David Renner Dawson Community News

Two Dawson County stars - one on the basketball court and the other on standardized testing - finished a close race for head of the class after three years of competing.

Dawson County High School senior Spencer Roper was named 2013 valedictorian and Kacie Bearden as salutatorian.

The two seniors are known in Dawson County for other accomplishments this year alone.

Roper was named the 2012 STAR Student for Dawson County after scoring 2,000 points out of 2,400 on the SAT, noting that his success "just sort of happened" and that he "just wanted to score over 2,000."

Bearden was part of the 2012-13 girls' basketball team that advanced to the Class AAA Basketball State Finals in Macon. The Lady Tigers' took runner-up in the competition.

"It was pretty close," Roper said. "I don't know the difference in grade points exactly, but I know it was within a 10th of a point."

The two have been competing since they started high school.

"We've been close [in grades] since ninth grade," Bearden said. "We've both always been up there in our class."

Roper said that he had always been second to Bearden in grades.

"Kacie and I have been going at this for pretty much all of high school," he said. "Kacie has been No. 1 and I have been No. 2 for most of high school - until this last semester."

However, this has not been the most nerve-wracking race Bearden has been in, she said.

"The basketball finals were definitely more nerve wracking. We had a whole team depending on everyone else," she said. "With the valedictorian/salutatorian race, you do it for yourself. When you're part of a team, you have to do your part to help the whole team."

For Roper, this has been a race he has been running for several years now - not just for himself, but for his family.

"It was a great relief to hear I had pulled ahead in the end. I was so excited," Roper said. "My mom was valedictorian, too. I thought it was a great way to continue that."

Bearden said she is happy for Roper and that they both worked hard to get where they are.

"I'm fine with being salutatorian. Spencer is a great guy and he's smart, so if I had to come in second to anybody, I'm glad it was him," she said. "He worked hard for it and I worked hard. We both appreciate this accomplishment in the same ways, I think."

The two have already begun planning for college, both of them receiving numerous scholarships.

Bearden plans to attend the University of North Georgia in the fall to study to be an elementary school teacher.

Roper has been accepted into the University of Georgia, where he will study pharmacy like his mother.