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In a few days, Taft High School seniors will saunter across the stage to receive their diplomas. And in a class filled with numerous students destined for bright careers, 2019 Valedictorian Madd Scott and Salutatorian David Jin, are the epitome of the entire graduating class.

Son of Mark and Danyel, 2019 Valedictorian Madd Scott boasts a 3.93 grade point average (GPA), has taken college and advanced classes in math, business, biology, writing and English and has a resume filled with a slew of extracurriculars. While in school, Scott has participated in track and field, where he placed in state and was ranked No. 5 in the 3A classification, and soccer for a couple years.

But outside of confines of the Taft facilities, you’ll often find Scott on a board either on land or in the water.

“Over my past four years of high school, I’ve found passions in track as well as soccer, but I also do board sports like skateboarding, snowboarding and wakeboarding,” Scott said. “I typically do those on the weekends.”

Although he has a love for those activities, Scott said it is almost equally matched by his passion for academics. That thirst for knowledge has sprouted into a fascination in graphic design, which is what Scott said he likes to do the most in the classroom.

“In graphic design I’ve done projects such as learning how to use different software programs like Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator,” Scott said. “I have also done projects like designing and building skateboards and creating my own t-shirt company as well.”

After graduation this week, Scott, and many other grads, will place his focus on his collegiate career. For Scott, he will be heading to Oregon State University next fall, where he will be attending the College of Business and focusing on marketing, sustainability and entrepreneurship.

He has big goals for the future, goals that are in part thanks to the example set by his parents Mark and Danyel, owners of Dreamland Skateparks.

“I wish to one day have my own company; just like my parents do building skate parks,” Scott said.

On June 8, Scott will address family, friends, faculty and fellow classmates during his Valedictorian speech, but not before Salutatorian David Jin takes the stage to do the same.

Son of Young-hoon and Jae-hee Jin, David holds a 3.89 GPA, has taken AP classes in language and composition, literature, computer science, physics and college algebra, trigonometry and calculus.

Much like his counter part Scott, Jin has participated in many extracurriculars like football, playing four years and two as the quarterback, track and field, qualifying for state as a hurdler, wrestling for three years and swimming for one year. Outside of athletics, Jin has also been involved in National Honor Society, Young Life, Bible study, has been and Outdoor School counselor and an ASB officer.

“Throughout my four years of high school, I found that I gravitated toward three very specific things; one being sports, two being music and three being God,” Jin said.

To call Jin well versed would be a bit of an understatement. In addition to the litany of activities he is involved in, Jin has also found a passion in music, and more specifically, the guitar.

“I love playing the guitar and I love practicing it, but the calluses disappear, they come and go, so it's kind of hard to keep it up,” Jin joked. “I play for the local youth group that meets every other Monday and Sunday.

“I have a chance to kind of just show off my passions in that way and praise God as well.”

Through the trials and tribulations of school, athletics and community activities, it can become easy to become burnt out. For Jin, he said he fell into a lull last summer, but found his strength in God during a mission trip to Anchorage, Alaska.

“I feel like it was one of the biggest turning points in my life because I felt like I was kind of in a low point and it just allowed me to bring myself to God and just admit that I was broken,” Jin said. “It gave me the opportunity to grow as a man.”

Fast forward to June 2019, Jin will be graduating second in his class, with a future at the U.S. Naval Academy ahead of him. In just a few short weeks, Jin will embark on his journey that includes Plebe Summer, the summer training program that is required of all incoming freshmen to the U.S. Naval Academy. The program lasts approximately seven weeks and consists of rigorous physical and mental training.

“I’m excited for it, but also really nervous,” Jin said.

Jin will be studying mechanical engineering, serving the mandatory five years and he plans on staying for a longer period of time as an officer.

Even though their time at Taft has come to an end, their future careers are just beginning, and it all starts when they receive their diplomas this coming Saturday. The Taft graduation is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m.

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