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GRADUATION 2018: Horizon Christian's Susong made his mark as valedictorian
Horizon Christian Academy's Denver Susong of the Class of 2018 made his mark at the school in just two years after transferring, becoming the school's valedictorian who now plans to go to the University of Georgia. - photo by Brian Paglia

Denver Susong was looking for a change. 

Susong had been attending Covenant Christian Academy, and he loved it, but after seven years he felt like he needed to experience a new environment. So Susong transferred to Horizon Christian Academy for his junior year of high school, willing to take the uncertainty of being the “new guy” if it meant personal growth.

“That’s a big change,” Susong said, “especially when you don’t know anybody.”

He soon fixed that. A few months into the school year, Susong went with others in his class at Horizon to Woodlands Camp, a Christian retreat center in Cleveland, Georgia. They spent a week playing games and going to chapel. He came back with deeper friendships and felt like he belonged at Horizon. 

Susong went on to make his mark at the school in just two years. He played sports (basketball, football and track). He performed in theater productions. He became secretary of the school’s student government and president of its National Honor Society chapter. He competed in National History Bowl (and won a state title) and Quiz Bowl. He joined the school’s marketing team and helped teach Spanish to younger students. And just last week, Susong found out he is Horizon’s Class of 2018 valedictorian.

To find out more about Denver, FCN sat down with him at Horizon to talk about school, passions and the future.

Question: What college did you chose to go to?

Answer: “Georgia. I picked UGA because it’s a great school, in state (and) I can get Zell Miller Scholarship.”

Q: What do you have planned as your future major?

A: “Probably business. I’m not totally sure yet. I’m also interested in some sciences, like biology or neurology. (For business), first of all, my dad’s an entrepreneur. He owns two businesses. It’s always kind of been in my life. That obviously played an impact. Also, just how there’s a business side to everything. There are a lot of options you can take with it. Then, from a leadership standpoint, I just like the idea of leading others."

Q: What was your favorite subject?

A: “I like a couple, and they’re all kind of even. ... I’d say either human anatomy or AP government. Anatomy, because I’m interested in biology. AP Gov, because it was one of the classes that I learned a lot from, and more so I find myself using what I learned (in) daily life when I’m seeing different political systems or the news.”

Q: What is your least favorite subject?

A: “I’d say math. I’m not very geared toward math naturally.”

Q: Who was your favorite teacher?

A: “I would say (academic advisor) Lisa Stiles, because she’s been the most helpful to me, especially applying to colleges. She’s always more than willing to advise me and help me with the future.”

Q: Do you have a favorite school tradition?

A: “Team building, which is where we all go up to Woodlands Camp in Cleveland, Georgia, and we spend about a week there just having fun, doing games, have chapel, stuff like that. You have a team, and you guys all work together to win the week. It’s just really fun.”

Q: What was your best school memory?

A: “Last year’s team building. It was actually my first year coming to school. I’ve only been here for two years. It’s earlier in the year, so it’s kind of a time to get to know everybody, get integrated into the school, form better relationships with people and have fun. 

Q: What has been your toughest challenge in high school?

A: “Transferring schools. I’d been at my last school for seven years, since elementary school. That’s a big change, especially when you don’t know anybody. But it was something I really felt like I needed to. I needed to experience a new environment. I loved my old school. I just needed a change after seven years. Being the new guy again, that was probably biggest challenge, and I definitely don’t regret.”

Q: Favorite TV show?

A: The Office

Q: What is your least favorite household chore? 

A: “I hate washing my car at home. I’ll go a self-car wash station, and I’ll wash it. I just hate washing my car at the house. I don’t why.”

Q: What is your one nervous habit?

A: “I think I crack my knuckles a lot when I get nervous.”

Q: What are you most talented at?

A: “I guess learning. I just pick up on things easily, and I like to break them down and understand how they work.”

Q: What is something many don’t know about you?

A: “I’ve visited so many places. I’ve been all over the U.S. We’ve taken some trips out west where we’ve RV’d through eight states. I’ve been to Alaska.”

Q: What are your career aspirations?

A: “Something business-oriented, but I can’t say for sure right now. Find a specific passion to devote myself to. I get very focused on one thing and just really involved in it.”

Q:  Do you have any advice for next year’s seniors?

A: “Enjoy it while it lasts. It does go by pretty quickly in the end. Keep trying new things. And finish strong. I know a lot of people have trouble with that, and I’ve had some bad senioritis too, but just push through it.”