Newport Beach Mayor Rush Hill poses with Newport Harbor High School senior Natalie Cernius during the 53rd annual scholarship awards dinner hosted by the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce and The Commodores Club. (Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce / April 30, 2014)

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Newport Beach's top-performing high school students were honored at a celebration Wednesday evening for their exemplary academic achievements.

Thirty students from Newport Harbor and Corona del Mar high schools and Sage Hill School, dressed in their best formal attire, attended the 53rd annual Scholarship Awards Ceremony at the Radisson Hotel.

"Tonight we see the best of the best," said Mayor Rush Hill. "Looking at this group, I'm convinced that we have a good future for this country."

In previous years, the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce and The Commodores Club put on a breakfast for the high-achieving seniors. This year, they decided to make the event a dinner party.

Colin Duffy, a valedictorian at Newport Harbor, attended with his parents and younger brother.

Duffy, who has taken 12 Advanced Placement courses during his time at Newport Harbor, will study economics and computer science at Duke University this fall.

"I believe I speak for all the Newport Harbor valedictorians when I say we are proud of our successes, due to our hard work and determination throughout our four years in high school," he said.

With weighted grade point averages pushing well past 4.0 and long lists of extracurricular activities and accolades, the students honored at the dinner are each attending some of the nation's most prominent colleges, including Harvard, Yale, Stanford and MIT.

The students each received certificates of recognition from the chamber and local politicians, as well as an embroidered laundry bag, travel coffee mug and toothbrush.

For the first time in the event's history, three educators were recognized as Teacher of the Year at their respective schools.

Brian Tulley, a seventh-grade biology teacher at CdM, John Brazelton, a science teacher at Newport Harbor, and Pete Anderson, a math teacher at Sage Hill, were honored for their positive influence on students during their careers.

CdM senior Adrienne Mok, who plans to study biology at UCLA in the fall, said her friends and teachers pushed her to succeed academically.

"It's just humbling to be recognized for our hard work," she said.

This year's guest speaker, Eric Spitz, co-owner and president of Freedom Communications, which publishes the Orange County Register, urged students to forge their own path as they leave high school and enter the world.

"If you want to have a real impact, swim against the stream," he said. "Don't just go with it."