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Top RMA graduates also Front Royal residents

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Randolph Macon Academy valedictorian Chris Munden, 17, left, and salutatorian John Christoph, 18, stand in front of Sonner Hall in Front Royal on Thursday. They are both from Front Royal. — Rich Cooley/Daily


By Kim Walter -- kwalter@nvdaily.com

Randolph Macon Academy may be graduating 82 students on Saturday, with six countries and 13 states represented, but Front Royal produced their top two academic performers.

Chris Munden, 17, and John Christoph, 18, will leave the academy as the valedictorian and salutatorian for the Class of 2012. Both have GPAs over 4.0, and their aspirations reflect the spectrum of their achievements.

Christoph came to the institution in his freshman year, and dove into the academics.
"Everything is my favorite subject," he said. "I'm obsessed with learning."

Christoph said he appreciates all academic subjects, because he can take in something little from each of them and add it to the "big picture."

This past year, Christoph and a few other students participated in an engineering design competition. They presented an "asteroid mining colony" project that would allow valuable chemicals that are rapidly decreasing on Earth, to be retrieved from asteroids.

The group came up with a business model for the idea, and proved that a profit could be maintained.

"That was the highlight of my senior year," he said. The group placed third in the competition.

Christoph will head to William and Mary in the fall, but with an undecided major. His current top choices include physics, chemistry, neuroscience and public policy.
As for life lessons learned at RMA, he admitted that the most important one is taught at a kindergarten level.

"If you want people to be nice to you, you need to be kind to them," he said.
Munden attended RMA for seven years, and agreed that practicing acceptance of others was important there.

"After a while you stop noticing that we're a diverse group. It was pretty easy making friends," he said.

Munden is a member of the Honors Society, as well as a community service officer. He's most proud of becoming the vice president of the school's Honor Council this year, though.

The senior admitted that for most of his life he dreamed of attending college to become an attorney, but a last minute change of mind will take him to the University of Virginia where he will major in chemical engineering.

"After taking classes here, I realized I wanted to do something to help the environment," he said. While Munden enjoyed his time at RMA, he said he's "had his fill" of the military lifestyle.

Both young men are proud of their classmates, and wish them the best of luck in the future.

Munden will speak at commencement on Saturday, along with the Secretary of the Air Force, Michael Donley.






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