One journey concludes and another begins tonight for Brownwood High School’s Class of 2017, and its top two graduates eagerly await the next phase in their lives.

McLane Moore is the valedictorian for Brownwood, while Cole Fowler is the salutatorian.

For Moore, he’s been focused on being the top member of his class since junior high.

“I’ve always known I was close to the top of the class,” Moore said. “I’ve always taken care of my grades, ever since seventh grade. I really take great pride in how I do in the classroom as well as what I do outside the classroom, so this is a great honor. I’m excited I was lucky enough to pull it off somehow.”

Moore will be packing up and heading west for college, as he has been accepted at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California.

“I chose Pepperdine first off because of its Church of Christ ties and background,” Moore said. “And it’s somewhere different. I’ll get to experience something new while I can and hopefully I end up back here in Texas.”

Moore plans to study Finance and Accounting and eventually gain a Master’s in Business Administration.

Among his career goals, Moore wants to “manage and run small businesses, and hopefully my own businesses. I’m not sure exactly what businesses yet.”

Moore competed in football, basketball, track and field and baseball during his high school career, which are among his fondest memories, along with the friendships that were forged.

“All the great friends I’ve made, the bond we have in all the sports I’ve been in, I’ve been really blessed in that area,” Moore said.

Moore, the son of Brownwood High principal Mitch Moore and wife Julie, thanked his parents for their support and encouragement, along with his teachers.

“My parents always supported me no matter what and always told me to just do my best and that’s enough,” Moore said. “They never put any pressure on me to try and be valedictorian or anything. My teachers always pushed me to be my best and all the staff here is supportive of each student. It’s really something special here in Brownwood. I’m really blessed to be able to graduate from here and be a Brownwood High School alum.”

Fowler is also proud of ranking at the top of his graduating class.

“There was a lot of hard work put in,” Fowler said. “We have a lot of smart students, so it’s a big accomplishment.”

Future plans for Fowler — the son of James Fowler and Brownwood ISD School Board member Lisa Fowler — include completing a degree in Petroleum Engineering from the University of Texas.

“I love math and science first off,” Fowler said. “Petroleum engineering is a new challenge every day. You can be managing mineral rights one day and be on site the next day managing a well. It’s a really diverse field where you can find a lot of niches to work.”

As for attending the University of Texas, Fowler said, “It’s the top petroleum engineering program in the nation so that’s why I chose to go there.

Career-wise, Fowler said, “In five years I hope to be working for a major oil company. Ten or 15 years down the road I’d like to starting my own oil drilling company.”

Graduation will be held at 7 p.m. at the Brownwood Coliseum.