Story by: Katherine Ly
There are 12 students in this years graduating class who dedicated four years of their lives to learning with a great amount of effort, focus, persistence and motivation.
The 12 valedictorians representing South this year are: Anthony Bacon, Emily Bennin, Molly Burkard, Jordan Eissner, Paul Garni, Benjamin Mills, Bradley Pfeifer, Heath Reinl, Stuart Schmidt, Rachel Smith, Aaron Stenz, and Lane Van Epern.
“Valedictorians are completely determined by grade point average,” said guidance counselor Kevin Heling.
In order to be the top of their class, the valedictorians had to take at least six honor weighted credits, and have a total of at least 22 weighted credits. All valedictorians needed a grade point average of 5.273 by the end of their first semester senior year.
The feeling of being a valedictorian could be described with the words, honored, proud and accomplished.
“I feel proud to share the honor of having the same title as many of South’s best and brightest,” said Stenz, majoring in political science at UW-Madison next year.
When the valedictorians were asked what being a valedictorian meant to them, most of them answered that it meant all their hard work had paid off.
“It means being committed to your learning and working hard and pushing yourself hard,” said Eissner, who plans to attend Valparaiso University and major in meteorology and physics.
Schmidt, majoring in sustainable community development at Northland College said, “To me, it means I get to represent my peers and even the community. It’s an opportunity to show the community the good things in life.”
Support plays an important role in achieving and accomplishing goals.
Burkard, future student at UW-Madison for nursing, shared that her parents, teachers, counselor and coaches helped her achieve her goal of becoming a valedictorian.
“My parents definitely helped me. My friends did as well, because we would always compete to see who gets the highest on schoolwork,” stated Reinl, attending UW Madison and majoring in mathematics and economics next year.
Planning to major in physical therapy at UW-LaCrosse this coming year, Smith said, “Feeling proud of my accomplishments and sitting on the stage,” were her motivations to become a valedictorian.
“I just tried to get the best grade I could, and my brother was a valedictorian,” stated Bennin, who is attending UW Madison next year and plans to major in pharmacy.
Attending Marquette University and majoring in biomedical science and pre-med next year, Pfeifer commented, “I knew I was able to do so because I had the capacity, and I wanted to be a doctor, and having an education makes you more successful in any walk of life,” regarding his motivations.
With other co-curricular activities and the need for outstanding grades, how were the valedictorians able to keep their grades up for four consecutive years?
“I always do all my homework and study for tests, and if I didn’t understand the curriculum, I’ll ask for help,” said Mills, will be attending UW-Madison and choosing to major in biomedical engineering.
Bacon, who’s attending Michigan Technological University and plans to major in mechanical engineering stated, “A lot of long, hard work and studying and not sleeping.”
“Always give effort even if it seems like you shouldn’t. Have integrity,” said Van Epern, majoring in biomedical engineering at UW-Madison this coming year.
For those who plan to become a valedictorian in the future, take advice from the 2013 valedictorians.
Planning to major in mechanical engineering and minor in political science at UW-Milwaukee, Garni stated, “Work hard, don’t be afraid to put a lot of time into your school work, don’t be afraid to ask for help and make sure you understand everything.”
Pfeifer’s advice to students is to “keep yourself organized, don’t lose sight of your goal, go to the right measures and keep sight of your prize because if you lose your sight, you’ll lose motivation.”
“Don’t freak out if you start to feel overwhelmed and stressed out, it’s normal. Just keep your head up and keep working toward your goals,” said Smith.
“Being a valedictorian is a representative of work ethics and an award for working hard in school,” added Garni.
Congratulations to South High’s 2013 valedictorians and the Class of 2013!