It was fitting honor students from the Class of 2014 gathered in a Monticello High School room entitled “Strategic Planning” to recap the accomplishment of maintaining 4.0 GPAs.
In the course of less than an hour, a number of common themes quickly emerged after talking with Caleb Biasco, Levi Biasco, Anne Dockendorf, Kylie Gaeth, Amanda Gerold, Allison Gorseth, Renee Kasper, Christine Lui, Hannah Schleder and Amber Seidenkranz.
The 11th member of the academic honor group, Mackenzie Johnson, wasn’t able to join her classmates because she was off making a college visit.
That level of dedication to academic excellence and educational career planning was readily apparent when Monticello High School Principal Joel Lundin used a short and simple sentence to describe this year’s honors group: “They are very special.”
Special indeed. All have some sort of master plan involving a college journey, and many have post-undergraduate plans for advanced degrees. Their college academic interest include specialized fields involving science, medicine and engineering,
While looking ahead is important, so is taking time to honor a past filled with four years of accomplishments.
The Class of 2014 honor students are extremely thankful to the teachers, coaches and parents who have helped them make the journey down an educational path at Monticello High School that officially ends Friday, June 6, at this year’s commencement.
The Class of 2014 honor students most certainly knew how to be serious at the right time and place to get the work done academically and athletically, but they also understood the importance of humor and sharing a laugh with fellow students while becoming a tight-knit group.
“I have two older brothers, and saw how they did in school, and they did pretty well,” said Levi Biasco. “They were 4.0 students, too. [Being honored] is something that’s special at the end of high school, because if you have a 4.0, you’ve probably taken some pretty difficult courses going through your classes.”
Hannah Schleder said she was thankful for the people who helped her along the way academically. “I’m not sure I would have been able to accomplish this without them,” she said. “And I feel it will propel me to more opportunities in the future.”
Caleb Biasco injected a bit of humor into his comments about maintaining a 4.0 GPA “I’m pleased that I made it this far. My parents expect this of me, so doing this is the path of least resistance,” he said. “It feels great.”
Kylie Gaeth said time management was important to the group’s academic success, especially when it came to balancing schedules. “I guess I’m kind of amazed when I think of all of the activities we’ve been involved with,” Gaeth said. “I’m also thankful for all of our teachers. As friends, we’ve challenged each other to get to this point.”
Allison Gorseth said she was surprised and happy, but was quick to credit the others who have helped her along the academic way. “There are teachers and other people helping. It’s not just a reflection of me,” Gorseth said. “Everyone else has helped me get to this point.”
Amber Seidenkranz said taking college-level classes in high school helped her feel good about herself. “It shows you persevered through it, and made it through.”
Renee Kasper credited her brother for pushing her academically. “He’s the one who pushed me to get a 4.0, because I have to kind of follow in his footsteps.”
Anne Dockendorf took a reflective look at sitting in the same room with a large group of academic achievers. “I’m really surprised to be sitting here with all of these people,” Dockendorf said. “We’ve all worked really hard to get here. I’m proud of all of us.”
Amanda Gerold recalled the time spent in study groups. “I’m glad I have the 4.0 because it makes all of that work worthwhile,” Gerold said.
Christine Lui said it took a lot of work to maintain a 4.0 while participating in sports. “I’m proud that I’ve been able to keep it throughout high school,” she said.
Levi Biasco said becoming part of a social group and doing things with fellow students will remain his favorite high school memory. “When I came to high school, it was a whole new thing,” he said. “The first year and a half was a little bit rough. I was very introverted, but after that, it was much more fun, I became extroverted, and started doing more things. Participating in Postsecondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) allowed me to have more time with friends,” he added.
Schleder said she loved being in AP English with a large group of insightful students. “They were really understanding and have bright futures ahead of them,” she said. “I really enjoyed doing the honor guard experience last year with everyone. It helped me draw closer to all of the other valedictorians.”
Caleb Biasco said he didn’t have a specific memory to recall, but completing his Monticello High School experience forced him to change in a positive way.
“I’ve cocooned into more of a social butterfly, which is one skill I didn’t have because I was home schooled before high school,” he said “And so, I’m really glad over the past four years, I’ve had a lot of memories of doing stupid stuff with a bunch of other people who I never thought I would. It’s helped me branch out.”
Gaeth said she loved laughing at the lunch table with classmates, and had plenty of memories from swim team. “That’s a huge part of my life,” she said. That’s where a lot of my memories are coming from. It’s the team members, the coaches, all of our bus rides, SnapChats, and memories like that,” she added.
Gorseth said she loved participating in talent shows the most. “I really enjoyed those funny moments when our grade thought it could sing,” she said with a laugh.
Seidenkranz said one of her of my happiest moments in high school was winning the state cross country title in 2011. “That team was like my second family, and it was nice sharing that success with them for all the months leading up to that,” she said.
Dockendorf also mentioned her sports memories. “I really liked tennis season this year because we went the farthest a Monticello tennis team has ever gone, that was really cool,” she said. “Being involved with student council the last four years in high school has been pretty incredible.”
Kasper said her favorite memory involved being a football team manager in 10th grade and asking a German foreign exchange student a seemingly obvious question. I asked him if he had hamburgers in Germany, which is really embarrassing, because of course, they do. And dancing around in class was probably my favorite part of physics last year,” Kasper said with a laugh.
Gerold said for her, the best moments in high school involved sitting in class and hearing someone say something really stupid or really funny. “It kind of broke up the serious atmosphere,” she said.
Lui said her favorite or most happy Monticello High School memory was when the basketball team made it to state for the second time, beating Fergus Falls in the first round. “That was really exciting and a moment I won’t ever forget,” she said.
Dockendorf said she is going to miss her classmates. “I think we are pretty tight-knit as far as classes go. We are a super-welcoming group, and very open.”
Caleb Biasco and Seidenkranz have been selected as this year’s graduation speakers. They are working were with the other honor students on a special commencement video presentation the last week of May.
“Since there are 11 of us, not all of can speak,” Seidenkranz said. “Each person would only get two words in, so we want to use the video to incorporate everybody” She added: “Our class is really different and original. We are a class that knows when it needs to be serious, but we can joke around a lot and have a good time, It’s going to be tough to try and tie in all of the sides of our class into the video and what we are going to say.”
Biasco said he’s going to join Seidenkranz in having his graduation speaking comments written out beforehand. “I feel the biggest part of the graduation speech is being one of the last people the class will hear before they graduate,” he said. “That’s the one huge responsibility that I feel with being a 2014 graduation speaker.”
Contact Tim Hennagir at email@example.com