WRH’s Kovacs Takes A Well-Rounded Approach To School

Timothy Kovacs’ love of reading and writing — and hard work — led him to become the Wiregrass Ranch High Class of 2021 valedictorian. (Photo: Charmaine George)

Timothy Kovacs says he hasn’t begun preparing the speech he will give to the Class of 2021 at graduation, but the Wiregrass Ranch High valedictorian isn’t too worried. After all, he took a public speaking class as a requirement for his Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree from Pasco Hernando State College (PHSC) and passed his toughest test — singing the “Baby Shark” song while dancing in front of a class of 30 students.

He says it was terrible, and he lost coordination midway through the dance, but he is no longer leery of public speaking.

And he got an A, for effort.

“So, if I can do that,” he says, “I hope I can present a speech in front of my classmates.”

Getting As is no problem for Kovacs, so it would be a surprise if he didn’t nail his speech. The Bulls’ senior finished his high school career with a 4.71 weighted grade point average, and picked the University of Central Florida in Orlando over the University of Florida in Gainesville and the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill for college.

It wasn’t easy, he says. He moved to Wesley Chapel from Orlando, where he attended Hagerty High as a freshman. There, he was No. 14 in a school of 4,000 students, and when he got to the smaller Wiregrass Ranch, he started his sophomore year in the top 3. While he says it hadn’t crossed his mind before, it was at that point Kovacs decided to try to become his class valedictorian.

“I’ve always found competition among my classmates ever since I was in the third grade,” Kovacs says. “I always wanted to get the highest grade, and when I didn’t, I just studied harder.”

At Wiregrass Ranch, that entailed giving up every class (other than those that were graduation requirements) that wasn’t an honors or AP course. 

Last semester, he took nine classes, most of those at PHSC, sprinting across the academic finish line. His toughest challenge was the havoc caused by Covid.

“It really mucked up my AP exams,” he says, especially in classes like AP Chemistry that aren’t best suited for online study. Reviewing for exams was more difficult, and chemistry was not one of his better subjects. 

“When chemistry went virtual…that put me in a more precarious spot than I’ve been in,” he added.

However, Kovacs, also a National Merit Scholarship Finalist, says it was just a matter of finding a way through the new challenges, and finding the positive in Covid’s disruptions by “turning lead into gold.”

Kovacs, who says his favorite class was AP computer science and whose hardest were chemistry and biology, is happy to be valedictorian, although he says it doesn’t make him any smarter than anyone else. In fact, he says there are plenty of students who easily could have become valedictorian, but they chose to pursue music, sports or technology and didn’t have as much time to put into school as he did.

Not that Kovacs is a one-dimensional bookworm. In fact, he’s something of a Renaissance man, who has dabbled in fencing, loves playing the guitar, is a devoted writer and published author who works for two magazines and has a deep interest in politics.

When he wants to relax, he plays his favorite songs from his childhood on his guitar — although he really wishes he had learned the piano as well — and had a story about the pandemic published in the literary magazine Unlimited Literature last summer.

Politics, though, is his passion. 

“I love to read about how countries interact with each other, and why the world is the way that is,” he says. “It’s always such an interesting field to see how the decisions of government officials affect us in daily life. And, the results of diplomacy are fascinating. It’s incredibly cool and I always have a blast learning about it.”

Now that the “Baby Shark” song has prepped Kovacs for his speech, he will tell his fellow classmates at graduation that after years of traveling the same road together, a million different paths now await them. It’s a brave new world, and it doesn’t matter where you are going as long as you are doing what you want to be doing.

Kovacs will be doing just that in college, where he will double major in computer science and political science at UCF. Where that leads him he doesn’t know. He has multiple dreams — becoming a politician, an author or a software engineer are all among them — and is eager to see where his road takes him.

“My goal right now is to go with the flow,” he says, “and make the most of whatever opportunities come my way.”

The Wiregrass Ranch High graduation ceremony is scheduled for Thursday, June 3, 7 p.m., at the school’s football stadium.

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