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HIGH SCHOOL VALEDICTORIANS


Local high school valedictorians were asked these questions:

1. What academic achievement(s) have made you most proud?

2. Which extracurricular activities have you been involved in that you will remember most?

3. What are your plans after graduation?

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BRIELLE JEZIORSKI
WEST HIGH SCHOOL

1. I won a scholarship to Montana State University in Bozeman. It’s a long process of filling out an application and then I had to up go there for an interview and sit down with a big board of people in a room. It was rewarding to go through all that and then get chosen for the scholarship.

2. Definitely cross-country. There are a lot of good memories from bus trips and practices and learning to work together as a team and support your friends and have them out there supporting you. And also music – I’m involved in band, orchestra and choir, and all the friendships that have come from those. It’s been an awesome experience, being with fun people who enjoy life.

3. I’m going to Montana State University Bozeman and study nursing.

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KARA ZACCARDI
SKYVIEW HIGH SCHOOL

1. The first and by far the academic achievement I am most proud of is receiving the Chemistry Merit Award for my honors chemistry class my junior year. The entire year was spent studying for countless hours and much extra work to understand the material taught and excel in the class. I felt very honored to receive the merit award because I felt like my hard work was appreciated.

2. For three years of my high school career, I participated in cross-country. I think cross-country has impacted my life in more ways than just being involved and getting to know other people. Cross-country taught me that being a part of a team is more than attending all the practices and meets, it about lifting each other up and enduring to the end – together. I will also never forget the countless hours of choir activities I involved myself in. Music has become a passion in my life. From show choir to having the lead role in the musical – I love surrounding myself with music and good friends.

3. Upon graduation I plan to attend Brigham Young University-Idaho. I look forward to attending a college with high standards and expectations.  I look forward to going to college because of the new environment I will live in as well as the new things I will have the opportunity to learn. I am planning on studying in the field of psychology as well as music. Both fields interest me very much. I have always loved observing the people around me, listening to what my friends have to say, and helping them when needed. Music has always been a huge part of my life; I enjoy singing and wish to be able to share my knowledge and talent with others.

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KENDRA HERTZ
SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL

1. The academic achievement that has made me most proud is becoming a National Merit Finalist. To me, this is proof that I have learned enough to be academically competitive at a national level. But getting an A in my physics class this year was also an incredible accomplishment to me, as that is the most difficult class I have taken.

2. My most memorable extracurriculars have been singing in professional operas with the Rimrock Opera Company and helping out with the Interfaith Hospitality Network at my church. Both of these have given me memories I will keep for the rest of my life.

3. This fall, I will be attending Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. I will be pursuing a degree in chemical engineering with a minor in either music or Spanish. From there I may continue to medical school. Eventually, I plan to be involved in research or studying the neurosciences.

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WYLSON WHITNEY
SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL

1. Being mostly fluent in German, and my ACT score.

2. Volunteering for Hope 2 One Life and a trip to Germany.

3. Attend Montana State University Bozeman and earn my chemical engineering degree.

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NICOLE FICEK
WEST HIGH SCHOOL

1. I’ve improved my writing so much in the past five years. I’ve learned how to be more thorough, insightful and creative than I previously was.

2. My favorite activity has been playing violin with the Billings Symphony, and just music in general. I’ve done a lot of research on the brain and characteristics of gifted children. Those are some of the things I do in my spare time that I enjoy.

3. I’m going to the University of Southern California where I’ll major in neuroscience with music as a double major or minor.

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SARA MORLEDGE-HAMPTON
SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL

1. I am most proud of becoming a valedictorian while also taking every Honors and Advanced Placement class. I wasn’t sure I would be able to receive straight A’s while taking all of these classes, but I’m glad I pushed myself because it paid off in the end.

2. I will remember competing in and teaching gymnastics. Being involved in gymnastics was a great experience, and teaching it has been fun and rewarding.

3. After graduation, I plan to work during the summer and then go to college in the fall. I will be attending Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, Calif.

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NAOMI YAKAWICH
CENTRAL  HIGH SCHOOL

1. The academic achievements of which I am most proud are receiving an academic letter and the Advanced Placement Biology Award.

2. The activities that I will remember most from my high school career will be being in the Pep Band, Tri-County Honor Band, Moses and the Golden Calf Destroyers and National Honor Society.

3. I plan on attending Montana State University Billings and will major in elementary education with a minor in psychology.

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EDWARD GILLIG
CENTRAL  HIGH SCHOOL

1. The academic achievement that I am most proud of is placing fourth at the International Science and Engineering Fair.

2.  Throughout my high school career I have been involved with the soccer program at Billings Central. I now serve as an assistant soccer coach, which has given me a new perspective on soccer and being a leader.

3. I plan on attending Montana State University and studying biochemistry.

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MICHAEL SILVERNAGEL
WEST HIGH SCHOOL

1. I’m most proud of making valedictorian and making it through Honors classes. It was a lot of work and I’m glad I got through it.

2. Probably cross country and track. I’ve met a lot of great people and have a lot of memories.

3. I’m going to attend the University of Notre Dame and study electrical engineering.

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THOMAS STAFFILENO
SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL

1. I think I am most proud of just keeping a 4.0 grade point average throughout high school. I had some wonderful teachers who challenged me to work hard.

2. I will always remember the fun times I had in cross-country and tennis, as well as talking with kids through trading cards and singing in Expressions.

3. I plan to attend Montana State University Billings to study business or biology and play tennis. I am grateful for all the opportunities that I have been given.

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SARAH OLSEN
SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL

1. Maintaining straight A’s through all my honors and AP classes.

2. Tennis, soccer, Campaigners, and Relay for Life.

3. Attending Montana State University Bozeman and pursuing a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering.

Here is this weekend’s graduation schedule:

Skyview High School Graduation
Date: May 31
Time: 11 a.m.
Location: MetraPark

Senior High Graduation
Date: May 30
Time: 2 p.m.
Location: MetraPark

West High Graduation
Date: May 30
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: MetraPark

Billings Central High Graduation
Date: May 30
Time: 6 p.m.
Location: Ralph Nelles Center at BCCHS

Information on the following valedictorians was not available at press time:

Billings Senior High:
Erin Dear
Laura Habein
Kerry Heard
Ryan Huntington
Sarah Mutch

Billings Skyview:
Christopher White

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