ZEPHYR — Even in a graduating class of 20, becoming valedictorian or salutatorian requires an extra level of focus, discipline and responsibility. Zephyr valedictorian Georgia Thomas and salutatorian Andrea Howard know firsthand that balancing sports, school and extracurriculars is a tough task, but one that’s prepared them well for the future.

“You have to know how to organize your time,” Howard said. “Know how to split time where you have enough to study, get all your work done and still have time for all your extracurricular activities.”

Thomas said it’s about getting the most out of the moment. “I only have this much time before I do everything else, so I’m very focused during the time I do have,” she said.

It’s that focus that Thomas will take with her to Texas Tech this fall, where she plans to study architecture. “Both my parents went there,” Thomas said, “so it’s kind of like a family deal. Plus they have a great program for what I’m going into.”

Howard, meanwhile, will attend Angelo State University and major in psychology with a criminology minor. Howard said Angelo feels like just the right size. “What originally got me looking is, it’s a smaller community with a bigger college,” she said. “Since I’ve never lived in a bigger place, I thought I’d go somewhere similar.”

Howard has lived in Zephyr all her life, while Thomas has been there since seventh grade. “I was valedictorian until someone showed up,” Howard joked.

Thomas said it’s going to be a little strange living somewhere without her longtime friends and the teachers who know her by name.

“In a small town,” Howard said, “everyone knows everyone.”

But the biggest thing Thomas worries about?

“I’m kind of nervous about my drawing classes for architecture,” Thomas said. “I’m not a very good artist — but that’s what rulers are for.”

Howard said her biggest worry is adapting to change after leaving her lifelong home, but that she’s ready for the challenge. “I’m excited to meet new people,” Howard said, “and experience something really different.”

In college, Howard said she wants to get involved in intramural sports like basketball and softball, while Thomas wants to stay active with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. “It’s given so much to me in the past couple years,” she said.

Thomas will also be a member of Tech’s honors college.

Zephyr’s graduation will be held this Friday at 7 p.m.