Temple High School’s Class of 2019 is led by valedictorian Clayton Gowan and salutatorian Emily Seela.

Gowan, 18, is the son of Temple Independent School District trustee Shannon Gowan and Brian Gowan of Temple. Seela, 17, is the daughter of Scott and Qwynn Seela of Temple.

Gowan said he only recently considered aiming for the top of his class.

“It was never really a goal of mine until this year — earlier this year — when I got my transcripts and it said I was ranked number one this past fall, and then from then on I just tried to maintain that,” Gowan said.

The honor came as something of a surprise.

“I knew I had always wanted to be towards the top, but I never really thought about having that number one spot,” Gowan said.

Seela said that although she has worked hard to maintain a high class ranking, she was a little nervous about the prospect.

“I knew that if I was up there I would have to give a speech,” she said.

In the fall, Seela will attend Baylor University and study nursing. Gowan plans to attend Texas A&M University to study computer science.

Gowan said that in addition to the material taught in classes, high school life has taught him to focus on his studies.

“I’ve really learned the importance of hard work and just staying diligent in the things that you do,” Gowan said. “That’s been the biggest lesson that I’ve brought out of this experience.”

Gowan advises incoming freshman and sophomores to manage their time well as they get into the swing of high school life.

“Procrastination is something that everyone I know has struggled with,” he said. “With some assignments you just really need time to think about things and develop ideas and things like that, and sometimes starting at the last minute isn’t always the best idea.”

Seela said that her high school experiences have helped her to better manage her schedule, and also to better relate to and work with adults.

“I’ve learned time management, and also kind of respect for teachers,” she said. “You just, over time, learn how to communicate with and respect teachers and other officials.”

Both the valedictorian and salutatorian will miss their friends and their high school lives. Gowan will miss the tight-knit community of students in the International Baccalaureate program.

“I’ll miss the bonds that I’ve developed with a lot of my fellow students in IB, because we have so many classes together throughout the day, and we have had those classes together for the past two years now, and so you really develop a relationship with those students and with the teachers, and so I will miss that,” Gowan said.

Gowan thanked his teachers, family and community for their support.

“I’m excited about just really exploring all the opportunities and possibilities that I’m going to have in college,” Gowan said. “And I’m excited about figuring out exactly what I want to do and taking that and building a career in the future.”

“It’s a huge honor to hold this position, and it’s been a privilege working with all the students and teachers here,” Gowan said.

Seela is also looking forward to the freedom of college.

“I’ll be excited to make new friends and create new experiences as well, to be able to take the classes that I want to take,” she said.

Seela is also in the IB program, which is very structured and does not allow as much selection of classes as a traditional high school curriculum.

She advises younger students to try to have a well-rounded high school career, with both good grades and good memories.

“Focus on schoolwork and make sure you keep your grades high, but also experience high school, and have fun, and go to those games,” she said. “Go see a play, because those are experiences that you may not have again in college.”