VDT Echols val and sal

Paul Leavy/The Valdosta Daily Times Echols County High School valedictorian Amanda Staten with salutorian Kristin Zipperer.

STATENVILLE — Echols County High School has named Amanda Staten and Kristen Zipperer 2007 valedictorian and salutatorian.

Leading her class with a 4.0 grade-point average, Amanda Staten says she has worked throughout her high school career to be named valedictorian. The daughter of Greg and Suzan Staten, she attributes attaining her goal to strong support from her family, a continued faith in God and belief in herself.

“I have always applied myself and done my best, and prayed a lot,” she said. “My family members have always encouraged me to do my best at everything. I don’t have to be perfect — just always do the best I can. They have always supported me and have tried to be good examples for me to look up to.”

Within the family atmosphere of Echols County Schools, Amanda has also had a great deal of support from the faculty.

“Mr. Sublett stands out as an influential teacher because he has always pushed students to do their best and think out of the box,” Amanda said. “He is always after the seniors, asking us if we have taken the SAT or ACT and whether or not we have applied for college. Also, Ms. Steltenpohl was a very influential teacher while she was here. She always pushed every student to do their best, and you could not slack off in her class. She, too, was concerned about students getting into college or some other type of post-secondary education.”

Outside of school, the senior enjoys hanging out with friends. “I also like reading my Bible and going to church.”

A lover of animals, she can be found after school riding horses or playing with the family dogs, and plans to work with animals in the future after completing a degree in biology. “After college I hope to get a good career, get a house with a lot of land, plenty of animals, and eventually get married,” she said.

More than her experiences and achievements in school, Amanda says her greatest lessons have come during her Christian walk, where she has gained the strength to believe in herself, while standing on her personal faith in God.

“My spiritual relationship with Jesus Christ, who is my Lord and Savior, has been vital to everything good that I have ever done,” she said. “I can do nothing without him, and I try to stay mindful of Philippians 4:13, which says, ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’”

Encouraging other students toward success, Amanda said, “Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t accomplish your dreams. Study hard and take good notes. It helps to stay awake in class.

“Most importantly, turn to God for help because He can help you through any and everything that comes your way. I wouldn’t have made it this far without him.”

Amanda is the treasurer of her senior class and is a member of FFA, Senior Beta, and Student council. She and her family attend Antioch Church of Statenville.

Salutatorian Kristen Zipperer is also a member of Antioch Church, and in the past four years has drawn wisdom from her life experiences.

“I have faced many challenges to get here, beginning in ninth grade when my family moved, and I had to go to a private school for the rest of the year,” Kristen said. “In 12th grade, my family moved again, and I have been staying with my grandmother, Lois Corbett, to finish out high school. I’ve had to live without my parents for a year and that has taught me responsibility and to be thankful for what I have.”

Although she has had to move to different residences and schools during that time, she believes it is the support of her family and parents, Marcus and Sharon Zipperer, and faith in God that have given her a foundation through it all.

“The most important lesson I learned was to never doubt God’s plan for me. He has it all under control,” Kristen said. “My family has been a huge part of my success and in ninth grade, they told me that I would have to start then if I wanted to accomplish this dream. They have given good advice along the way as well as just being there for me if I needed them and I think that I am very lucky and blessed to have them in my life.”

Outside of school, Kristen “loves to read, clean, watch movies, dance, and mostly I hang out with friends and family and laugh,” she said.

A family girl at heart, she plans to begin her college career close to home when enrolling in ABAC this fall, and later plans to move on to Valdosta State University to complete her degree.

“I’m planning to attend ABAC, and I will be back with my family for at least two more years and then I’m on my own at VSU,” Kristen said. “I plan on majoring in English to be a high school teacher or criminal justice to become an investigator.”

Looking to her future after college, Kristen said, “Echols is where my heart is — I love this county and most of the people in it. This is where I first felt at home, and I hope that I will come back, but you never can be sure of your next steps.”

As she prepares to embark upon this new chapter of her life, Kristen leaves words of encouragement to those she’ll leave behind.

“Don’t give up because God is with you until the end; be nice to everyone because you never know if you might need them one day; live every day to its fullest because you never know if you will have another one; laugh even if you don’t feel like it because there are people in worst situations than you; and love until you feel that you can’t love anymore.”

Kristen is a member of the Senior Beta Club and Student Council and also attends Christian Union Church of God as well as Antioch Church.

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