Silverton High School valedictorians Morgan Anderson, Abigail Bennett, Bridget Garlinghouse, Talia Helman, Josif Illisoi, Amy Jamsa, Madeline Kuenzi, Marissa Sewart and Karen Zhen and salutatorians Miriam Drummond, Kaitlyn Furnish and Grant Martinson share some insights.
What advice would you give to juniors about applying for and selecting a college?
Illisoi: Look past the ranking and reputation of a college. I would recommend juniors spend a good amount of time researching the schools they want to attend, planning for the cost of college, and having a back-up plan in case they don’t get into their ideal college.
Garlinghouse: Apply early to a school that you are confident you’ll get accepted to. This gives you a level of comfort, knowing you have a backup plan. Another important thing when searching for a college is to make sure they are accredited in what you want to study, have a good reputation, and you like the location.
Zhen: Apply to more than three colleges and always visit the college before you actually select it as the one you want to go. It’s going to be your home for the next few years so if it isn’t a good fit, you can transfer later on. And don’t forget to apply to as many scholarships as you can.
Martinson: I would advise juniors to apply in the fall. That way if they change their mind they have the opportunity to change colleges without running into deadlines.
Jamsa: Keep an open mind about college – there are hundreds of possibilities out there. Don’t rule out a school based on tuition alone. You never know what kinds of scholarships, grants, work-study, etc. might open up.
Bennett: Do whatever will make you happy. I am not going to start off at a place that is the most prestigious school, but I will be comfortable and not worried about having $40,000 in debt to finish my prerequisites.
Is there too much emphasis placed on grades?
Anderson: Yes, there is absolutely too much importance placed on those things. There is way too much stress in the life of a high school student who is trying to accomplish everything. Students should take classes to challenge themselves and gain knowledge. Yes, grades measure this. But too often students take easier classes so they don’t face the possibility of bad grades or fear of not being able to handle the class. The stress I have had over my high school career I am sure have been the cause of several cases of illness and sleep deprivation. And that’s not even bad. I don’t devote my entire life to my grades. Yes, I work very hard, but my sanity comes first. Too many people take a 97 percent over a 92 percent too seriously.
Garlinghouse: Although grades are important and mostly show competency of subject material, they don’t always show knowledge for all students. Because I am a perfectionist, grades are important to me, but I know many people who are as bright as me that don’t have the same grades to show it. Standardized testing has the same issue.
Kuenzi: Everyone has strengths/ weaknesses. Someone may not excel in school but may be talented in other areas. These other areas should be equally valued and emphasized.
Drummond: Grades are not everything in life. Yes, you want to get good grades, but if you put fourth your best effort that is something to be proud of. I don’t like standardized test first off because I am terrible at them, and don’t believe that they reflect well about the kind of student I am or other students that are not as good at standardized tests.
Bennett: There is an incredible amount of pressure put on students when it comes to grades and standardized testing. As long as the student learns the material it shouldn’t matter what grade a student gets. I have had one too many nights spent fretting over small things, that in the long run, I won’t even remember I did.
Furnish: Worrying about grades distracts students from the learning experience. We are all so focused on preparing for tests that we forget to be curious about the material. I also think that standardized test results aren’t necessarily going to be a good indicator of how a student will do in college or in a real career situation. There is much more than knowledge involved in being successful. Focus and determination mean just as much.
What do you know as a senior that you wished you knew as a freshman?
Kuenzi: Keep an open mind. Focus on the positives. Be joyful and learn to embrace yourself.
Furnish: I have learned that there isn’t always a right answer. Until recently, I had always thought in black and white and worried too much about making the right choice. In the end, it’s more important to be happy with the path you choose. No one can truly know where their decisions will take them. Make life’s uncertainties into part of the adventure.
Illisoi: I now know as a senior how important getting involved is. This can include sports, volunteering, or clubs. As a freshman, knowing the importance of involvement would have helped me know what I was interested in sooner.
If you were the principal what changes would make to the high school?
Sewart: There are a lot of changes I would want to make to the high school. The most important thing I would change is the relationship between students and the administration. Rather than treat the students as inferiors I would listen to their ideas and actually give them a chance. I think there are many great ideas that students have that are shut down before they are even given a second thought. I would be closer to the student body in a way that would allow me to hear what they had to say. Instead of making rules and regulations that limit students’ high school experience I would do my best to hear their opinions and form compromises based on what they would like and what is best for the school.
Illisoi: I would help match students with opportunities. A program that helped students gain real-world experience by means of internships in subject they are interested in would help prepare them for their futures.
Martinson: Create classes on how to be ninja, how to survive in the wild, etc.
How do you deal with stress?
Anderson: I run. I go to practice and work really hard. When I run I focus on each step, every breath, the beating of my heart, and I don’t think about the stress. With every step it’s like my stress is leaving me through my feet and all being left on the road or the track. And then I go home and take a hot shower and pray. Because when I am overwhelmed I know that my God is bigger than all my problems.”
Martinson: I deal with stress by taking deep breaths and counting to 10. Then I calm myself by creating a schedule that plans everything I need to get done.
Helman: I deal with stress through clay. With a packed schedule and many extra activities it is hard to find some time to sit down and really calm my mind and soul. However, I am lucky enough to have found my passion which inevitably led to a way to get away from the stress in my life. I have taken ceramics for three years now with Mr. Boyd. He is the most amazing and inspiring teacher, he is kind, patient, and he loves what he does. He has taught me so much about clay, art, and life. I am lucky that I found ceramics; I plan to keep throwing throughout my life.
Bennett: I don’t deal with stress well. I can usually just suppress it enough to get though whatever it is that is stressing me out and then as soon as it is over it makes me physically sick and completely worn out.
Stewart: I have had a lot of stress in the past four years, but dealing with it was never my strong point. One of the most effective ways to deal with stress for me is to exercise. A good run never fails to clear my mind and set me on the right track. My favorite way to deal with stress is just to be with my friends and laugh.
What were the highlights of high school?
Helman: Winning most inspirational in soccer, being named all-league for soccer, receiving a national scholarship, meeting my boyfriend Hunter Fennimore who has given me more common sense than any school book could, volunteering, walking in our famous pet parade, being involved in our peer court system, and having so many incredible teachers to help me through it all.
Furnish: The highlight was my summer internship in the Harper Nanotoxicology Laboratory at OSU. It allowed me to learn about the true nature of scientific research. I met a lot of great people who encouraged me to pursue a career in engineering.
Jamsa: A highlight of high school was when my family hosted an exchange student, Junko Kajiro from Japan. I have two younger brothers, and it was lots of fun to have a sister for a few months. Jun’s brave decision to come to Oregon for a year inspired me to be more adventurous in my college search, and her fun-loving nature reminded me to focus on the positives of high school as opposed to the stress.
Zhen: My parents used to own their own business so I sometimes had to transfer schools. Coming to Silverton was possibly the best thing that ever happened in my high school career. The people here are just so amazing and the community is so close-knit and warm. I am so glad I was a part of this community, even if it was only for two years.