Phoebe Funai’s high school resume is impressive. At Brooks DeBartolo Collegiate High on N. Central Ave. in Tampa, the Tampa Palms resident is the captain of the cheerleading team, a member of five honors societies — including the National Honor Society — as well as the founder the Social Studies Honors Society and the student government vice president. And, thanks to her weighted grade point average of 8.72, Phoebe also is the Brooks DeBartolo Class of 2020 valedictorian.
However, her most impressive feat might be this:
She goes to the gym six days a week, and hadn’t missed a single 45-minute workout in a year and a half until everything shut down due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
Every! Single! Day!
“She would go on Sunday too, if they were open,” says her mother, Maryanne.
It’s really no wonder, then, that Phoebe has an abundance of the dedication and commitment it takes to be a class valedictorian at any school.
“I would say it takes a lot of work, a lot of personal motivation and always staying focused towards your goals,” Phoebe says. “But, it’s something I enjoy. I love school.”
Born in Ohio, Phoebe’s family moved to New Tampa in the middle of her seventh grade year. She attended Liberty Middle School, but when it came time for high school, instead of enrolling at Freedom, Phoebe decided she wanted to attend a smaller high school like Brooks DeBartolo, which has roughly 600 total students across its four grades.
She signed up to be a cheerleader, and dove right into her studies. She had already earned some high school credits at Liberty, and her freshman year, she noticed she was second in her class.
“Phoebe had her eye on the prize from day one,” Maryanne says.
Phoebe started taking dual enrollment classes at Hillsborough Community College her sophomore year. Every semester, she took at least three dual enrollment classes, and will graduate with 109 college credits. She also took eight AP classes, joined student government and, in her junior year, started a local chapter of the Rho Kappa Social Studies Honors Society at Brooks DeBartolo.
Under Phoebe’s leadership, Rho Kappa members at the school recycled American Flags, volunteered at Metropolitan Ministries and Feeding Tampa Bay, and read books and made Valentine’s Day cards for the residents of Discovery Village at Tampa Palms, an assisted living facility.
“I took as much as I could take without being too overloaded,” Phoebe says. “Class valedictorian wasn’t about just being first in the class, it was about developing a work ethic and seeing how much I could accomplish in my four years of high school.”
She says her favorite class was AP psychology; her strongest classes were math — she took eight math classes at HCC, and plans to major in finance to study things like data analysis in college.
Choosing a college was a hard decision, she says. She went back and forth between the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, where her father Edmund, a high risk-obstetrician/gynecologist, went to school, and the University of Florida in Gainesville.
She decided to become a Gator, and says through the school’s combined degree program, she’ll be able to earn both her undergrad and Master’s degrees in four years.
The last five years she has volunteered teaching dance at the New Tampa Recreation Center in Tampa Palms, and hopes to join a dance team in college.
When Phoebe says she is going to do something, you can rest assured, says her mother, that it will get done.
“Honestly, she has a really positive, outgoing personality,” Maryanne says. “Challenges don’t scare her. She likes to try new things, she’s very dependable, and she’s one of those people that just shows up, no matter what. She always shows up.”