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Top area student has interests in art, medicine, literature and theater
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Rachel Cottrell explains the process she used to create her untitled anatomical drawing of a dissected cat, which is on display at Lakeview Academy, where she is a senior. - photo by Jennifer Jacob Brown

Rachel, a senior at Lakeview Academy, has switched schools often as her parents moved for their jobs, but her artwork has been a constant.

“That’s something I’ve been very passionate about. I’ve been doing it my entire life,” Rachel said. “It’s easy to convey or illustrate my feelings without having to worry about how other people perceive it.”

Rachel said she became serious about her art in the eighth grade when she won second place in the middle school category of the Kiwanis youth art competition at the Quinlan Visual Arts Center, which features the work of local students. Since then, she has won best in show at the same competition, among other awards.

While doing research for her anatomical drawings, Rachel developed an interest in biology, and she plans to pursue a college major in medicine.

“I read a lot about the human body, and I find it really interesting,” she said. “There are so many of us and there are so many crazy functions that keep us going.”

Rachel said she loves literature — especially the novels of Albert Camus and the poetry of Edgar Allan Poe — and many of her interests began with her love of reading.

Her interest in drama, however, started with a suggestion by her father, Lakeview basketball coach Todd Cottrell.

“When I was a freshman I really struggled with finding where I was supposed to be, and my father suggested I take a drama class because I wasn’t really into sports,” she said.

Since then, Rachel Cottrell has appeared in 10 plays and has earned a role in the Georgia High School Association’s State One Act Play Championship.

She auditioned for her 11th play, a production of “The Addams Family,” on Wednesday during her first day back at Lakeview.

“There’s nothing like being on the stage. That sounds very cliché, but it’s the honest truth,” she said.

“It’s very interesting to see how a character can be completely different (in different performances). The thing about that is it really depends on the audience and how they perceive things.”

Rachel said she enjoys her extracurriculars, but she hasn’t let them get in the way of academics.

She took two senior Advanced Placement classes last year, and will take four this year, including AP Biology.

“I think it’s going to be a lot of work,” she said, but she’s confident sh`e can do it.

So is Lakeview’s headmaster, John P. Kennedy.

“Her academics are strong,” he said in an e-mail. “Yet, her artistic talent is what separates her from high school students anywhere. ... Singing, visual, acting: she is exceptional.”