VVHS Class of 2012 valedictorians and salutatorian are Brailee Ogden, front left, William Lara, Katelyn Sumpter, Tara Hansen, Halle Wakefield, back row left, Polina Etkareva, and Lane Tait. Photo by Barbara Ellestad.
It takes a lot of hard work, time management, and dedication to become the best of the best in your high school graduating class. Six valedictorians and one salutatorian in this year's Virgin Valley High School Senior class prove that.
Valedictorians for the VVHS 2012 Class are Brailee Ogden, William Lara, Katelyn Sumpter, Lane Tait, Polina Etkareva, and Halle Wakefield. The lone Salutatorian is Tara Hansen. To win the top honor, the students maintained a 4.85 grade point average (GPA). The second spot taken by Hansen required a 4.8 GPA.
All of the students plan on attending college with several of them seeking a career in the health industry.
"It was all worth it," Etkareva said as she described how difficult it was to balance her school work, testing requirements, and sports activities. "With all my AP (Advanced Placement) classes and the sports that I do, it was hard for me to have to go to my practices and then go home and do homework and get ready for the AP and ACT tests. I'm going to Brigham Young University and studying Nursing."
"The team camaraderie was the best," Tait remarked as he talked about the fun he experienced on the swim and dive team. "There weren't any cliques or drama. All of us enjoyed it."
Tait said his favorite subject was Math. "I've taken a few AP classes and actually tutor around town. Math is my thing" He plans to head to Utah State University in the Fall although he's uncertain what field he'll concentrate on. "I'm leaning towards Nursing or Secondary Education."
Sumpter remarked that her favorite classes were in Music, where she played the flute, because "it's fun to express your emotions in music." Her goal after high school is to study Business at Brigham Young University-Idaho.
"My biggest challenge was in time management because I had to keep up with my job and doing homework," Lara explained. "I would get home late at night and stay up until about 1:00 am doing homework. Then I had to get up about five in the morning and go to Student Council. That was always difficult."
Lara added that he plans to attend the University of Nevada-Reno to study Pre-Med and "eventually go to Medical School and become a doctor."
"All of us are really busy," Ogden remarked. She said it was really difficult sometimes "when all of our friends go out during the week nights and we know we have to get our homework done. You just have to prioritize and remember what you want and what your goals are." She has her sights set on attending Utah State University and studying Statistics.
Hansen enjoyed all the after-school activities she experienced during her high school career. Her most favorite subject was the Anatomy class she
took during her senior year. "I learned things about myself that I didn't know." She plans on attending Utah State University and studying Dietetics to become a Dietician.
Wakefield is also heading to BYU with plans to become a Nurse Practitioner. "My biggest challenge was keeping my grades up and playing sports at the same time. It was really hard with homework and practice and games."
All of the highest achieving students in this year's graduating class cited their parents as the people that influenced them the most.
"So many people influenced me," Ogden said. "My parents influenced me the most because they always knew what I was capable of and they always pushed me to try my best at everything."
"My father," said Lara. "He doesn't have the greatest job. I've always seen how hard he works for so little money. He's always taught me to be better than what he is. Then I can raise a family and give them what he wasn't able to give us. That's always pushed me to become successful in life."
Sumpter said her mom had the most influence in her life. "She works really hard and encourages me to work hard as well. She always made sure I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing to become successful."
Hansen echoed Sumpter's thoughts about her mother's influence. "She's always been an example to me. She's a really hard worker and she's really strong. She's always been there for me. I don't know if I would be in this position without her."
"It would be my parents," Tait said about who influenced him the most in his high school career. "Especially my Dad. He encouraged me to go in a different path than my brothers. He said I could do my own thing if I wanted to. It helped me realize what I truly would like to be instead of trying to live up to my older brothers. He made me push my boundaries a bit."
"My mom had the biggest influence on me," Etkareva explained. "I was actually born in Russia. She worked so hard to bring me to this country. I feel that I owe so much to her. I have to be the best that I can be because she worked so hard. My teachers were a great influence because they have gone above their job descriptions to help me. I succeeded because of them."
Wakefield echoed all the others when explaining who had the most influence on her life. "I would say my parents, especially my Dad. He's always pushed me to do things that I don't think are possible which has been really frustrating. But it's been great to have those expectations."
The brightest students in the Virgin Valley High School Class of 2012 will join 150 other students for graduation ceremonies Thursday, June 7, at 8:00 pm for their final ceremony as high school students.