May 27—Editor's note: This is the final in a longstanding annual series in the MDJ spotlighting the county's best and brightest as they graduate high school.
Despite being a young man who likes to get out of his comfort zone, Charlie Rossitch felt deeply drawn to his parents' alma mater. And one day, he may follow his father's career path, too.
Rossitch, a graduating senior at The Walker School in Marietta, will move to the town often called "the Southern Part of Heaven" to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
It's where both his parents, along with cousins, aunts and uncles studied. A lifelong Tar Heel fan, Rossitch hopes to study business administration and follow a pre-dental track.
His father, Mike Rossitch, is a pediatric dentist in Marietta. Rossitch is interested in that path but is keeping his options open.
"Those things could work together in terms of growing multiple practices ... but I also think could be completely separate," Rossitch said.
Mike Rossitch is excited about his son's interest in the field.
"But at the same time, it's really important for me that he really explore and find what his ultimate calling is, so I think it's great that he is not just going in with one plan," Mike Rossitch said.
The decision of where to attend college wasn't simple, as Rossitch applied to more than a dozen schools. He narrowed the acceptances down to UNC, Baylor University, and the universities of Georgia, Florida, Miami, and Virginia.
But when the UNC acceptance came in, "you could just see that there was a weight off of his shoulders, and the decision process was done in his mind," Mike Rossitch said.
"When I toured North Carolina, it just felt like the right place," Charlie Rossitch said. "It ... just made me realize, if I get in, this is where I'm supposed to be."
A role model in the classroom, Rossitch has spent his extracurricular time playing varsity tennis, being a member of the Model UN club and serving on the school's honor council. He participated in Cobb Youth Leadership, coached T-ball and worked in his father's private practice in the summer.
If that sounds like a lot, Rossitch's mother Shannon Rossitch would concur, saying her son has always kept busy. But if he does something, he'll do it right.
"He always goes above and beyond, and puts his whole self into things," she said.
Ever the hard worker, Mike Rossitch said his son was the type of student everyone wanted to do a group project with. They knew he wouldn't slack off.
Shannon Rossitch also lauded her son's integrity.
"I kind of feel like he always makes me want to be better," she said. "Just by some of his own actions and the way he conducts himself."
He served on Walker's honor council, a body of high school students from all four classes tasked with reviewing cases of rule-breaking such as cheating, plagiarism and the like before making judgements and recommendations to the administration.
Although most cases are pretty clear-cut, Rossitch said, being on the council itself meant he had to be a paragon of good behavior.
In addition to playing for Walker's tennis team, Rossitch, an avid sports fan, cheers for the Los Angeles Lakers, takes his chances with Fantasy Football, plays pick-up games with friends and fishes as much as he can.
"One of my goals is to try to fish in as many different continents as I can in the future," he said. "Or at least six out of the seven."
Rossitch is also committed to community service: he volunteered for local food pantries growing up, and when the pandemic started "it kind of hit him that there was more need than just food," Shannon Rossitch said. So, Charlie worked to organize a "Healthy Marietta" project, providing health and hygiene products to people in need.
At home, Charlie has been a role model to his two younger siblings, his parents said. It'll be tough, then, to see him go. Shannon Rossitch said despite the pride and excitement she feels, August will hit her "like a big truck."
"My biggest hope for him is that he stays true to himself and keeps the values and the good character that he has exhibited through high school through college," she said. "And I think if he does that, he's got the whole world kind of at his fingertips."
Rossitch said he will cherish the high school memories he made, from kickball at recess, to winning a middle school football championship, to school trips to Cumberland Island and Chattanooga.
His class at Walker is about 100 students. His first few days and weeks in North Carolina will be his first since pre-K that he'll be among a new group of classmates.
"It feels kind of weird," Rossitch said. "It's exciting. ... part of the reason I wanted to go out of state is because I didn't want to be in a place where I already knew a bunch of people."
He doesn't plan to waste time or tuition; he wants to capitalize on all the options open to him. And he gave similar advice to rising high schoolers.
"Take advantage of all the opportunities, whether it's just the education aspect itself or the extracurricular opportunities, because you'll find interests that you didn't know you (would) have," he said.