LACONIA — The students at the top of their graduating class at Laconia High School have a few things in common: They are active in extracurricular activities, they have big plans for the future and they are ready to move on to college.
Football, soccer, lacrosse and track-and-field are among the sports they play. Nursing, engineering, pharmacy, physical therapy, computer science and journalism are the career paths that interest them.
Some have taken college-level classes in high school, so they have a head start when they get to the universities they have chosen, which include the University of New Hampshire, Cornell and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
The No. 1 ranked student this year is Benjamin Beliveau.
"I find some classes come easier than others, but I have to put in a lot of work," he said.
"I really like history, but I also really enjoy science and that's what I plan to do," he said. "I like learning about the environment of the world."
He plans to study environmental engineering or civil engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
He plays football and participates in track-and-field and participates in math team events.
Drew Muzzey, No. 2
Drew Muzzy is a running back and defensive back on the football team and one of its four captains this year. He also plays lacrosse.
He'll be going to Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, where he also plans to play football.
What's rougher, football or lacrosse? Football.
"I usually have 15 to 20 carries per game, so I get hit a lot," he said.
He's looking ahead to a career with a lot of potential.
"I'm going to try to major in computer science because that's where the world is going. There's a lot of jobs in that field," he said.
Sports takes up a lot of his time, but he is also secretary of the senior class and a National Honor Society treasurer.
Thomas Bastis, No. 3
Thomas Bastis plans to go to Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.
"I am going to Cornell and I'm aimed at computer science," he said. "It is a well-respected program, and it's not in a super-urban environment, so it seems like a nice place to live for four years."
He's been able to get scholarships to help him afford the private school.
He's played football and participated in track-and-field at high school, and thinks he may do some club sports when he gets to Cornell.
Will he miss Laconia?
"I'll probably miss it a little bit, but I'm excited to go somewhere completely different," he said.
Nemanja Boskovic, No. 4
Nemanja Boskovic plans to pursue an undergraduate degree in chemistry at the University of New Hampshire, then transfer to a graduate school to get a doctorate in pharmacy.
He is president of the student council, participates in track-and-field as a thrower, and is on the math team and chess club.
"I like sports but I'm usually spending more time developing my brain," he said. "I like to learn new things all the time."
He has taken college-level classes that will give him a leg up when he gets to UNH.
He applied to eight colleges. "But UNH was the most affordable," he said. "I like the campus."
Dakota Cross, No. 5
Dakota Cross will be going to Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where he plans to study aerospace engineering.
Ultimately, he would like to work for Elon Musk's SpaceX, NASA or Lockheed Martin. He's on the soccer team, track team, chess club and is captain of the math club.
He's also a ski racer.
"I like the speed and the thrill of it," he said. "I like going fast."
An experience he had while racing may say something about the kind of person he is.
"I had a bad fall and thought I had dislocated shoulder, but I got up and finished. I took me a while, but I finished."
Rebecca Howe, No. 6
Rebecca Howe plans to go to St. Bonaventure University in St. Bonaventure, New York, where she will study health sciences with a goal of becoming a physical therapist. She will also play lacrosse there.
Her hardest classes in high school have been physics and advanced placement calculus.
"I spend a lot of time studying," she said.
Between sports and academics, she will be busy at college.
"It will be a lot to handle, but I'm hoping there will not be a lot of stress. It's very exciting."
Isabella Lovering, No. 7
Isabella Lovering plans to study economics at UNH, with a goal of pursuing financial management. She also sees graduate studies in her future.
The discus is her event in track-and-field, and she recently placed fourth in a track meet.
"Right now calculus is taking up most of my time, but I'm willing to do it now, so I don't have to do it later in college."
Nina Caruso, No. 8
Nina Caruso will be going to UNH, but she's waiting to declare a major.
"I'm going to start with liberal arts and then switch later on," she said. "I have a bunch of interests now and want to wait and see which one I am most passionate about."
She likes psychology, biology, environmental studies, journalism. She likes to write and has been on the school newspaper. She's the girls varsity soccer captain.
"My high school years have been pretty fun, but I'm excited to move on to college."
Sophia Joyal, No. 9
Sophia Joyal will be studying nursing at UNH.
She has taken so many college-level classes in high school that she will be entering as a sophomore.
"My high school years were definitely rough at times, but I made a lot of friends, learned a lot about myself and how I deal with certain situations and I definitely enjoyed my time here at LHS," she said.
She has done more than 1,000 hours of community service, is a year-round Special Olympics coach, and plays a flute and piccolo in the band.
As a freshman, she started a nonprofit organization for women with disabilities, called Miss Amazing.
"I want to get a master's of science in nursing with a concentration in midwifery," she said. "I want to be able to deliver babies."
Thomas Turpin, No. 10
Thomas Turpin hasn't selected a university yet, but UNH is one possibility among several.
"I'm thinking about civil engineering, but physics is also a possibility," he said.
He plays soccer, is a ski racer and plays baseball.
"I think college will be pretty fun, but also pretty challenging, you've got to have a good time and have fun, but know you're there to get work done.
"I'll miss the nice tight-knit community here, but I'm excited to go meet new friends, meet new people and maybe see a different part of the country."