By Mark Rountree
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Students said high academic achievement and being involved in extracurricular activities is the norm at Stillwater High School.
“The standard at Stillwater High School is very high,” said Kelsey Speer, who joined 43 other valedictorians in a round-table discussion Wednesday in the high school presentation room. “What might be considered nerdy at another school is pretty average here because we have so many students who excel and go far beyond. But above that, everybody who tends to be really smart is really involved in the school, whether it be in band or in athletics.”
The valedictorians will be among the 353 seniors who will participate in graduation ceremonies at 8 p.m. Friday at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
Principal Uwe Gordon said approximately 75 percent of Stillwater seniors will go to college at some level. Senior class president Bret Patterson will attend the University of Michigan to study flute performance. Garrett Wikle will attend Oklahoma State University and study history of strategic communications. Isaac Johnson, who recorded a 4.26 GPA, the highest mark at school, will attend the University of Minnesota to study engineering.
Each of the valedictorians have a minimum 4.0 GPA, and each is involved in diverse extracurricular activities and living conditions.
Jake Meyer competes in cross country and track, and was a part of the school winning six state academic championships this year. Christine Drummond plays in the band. And Kaylyn Terrill said she is living on her own and working a part-time job.
“I have rent to pay and I have a kitty to take care of,” Terrill said.
Blake Bulard said each of the seniors has skills and talents that collectively make the 2013 graduates a strong class.
“Academically, being a valedictorian is a big deal,” said Bulard. “But there is so many different aspects that students bring to the table. We have some amazing athletes. Some people are going to Division I schools to play sports. People think that valedictorians are the best, but I don’t think that’s the case at all. I think it’s just how each of us have excelled at Stillwater High School.”
The seniors said there were several teachers who inspired them during their high school career. Libby Wuller was inspired by math teacher Mark Thomas.
“His classes are all discovery-based,” Wuller said. “So instead of doing worksheets, we got to learn hands-on and learn by discovery He taught an engineering course this year, and it was all lab work. ... The engineering class was so much different than anything else we have taken because we were given a lot of projects and not everyone had the same background. I didn’t have physics or chemistry. I had a calculus background. ... So it taught us to work as a group. A lot of times, our project failed. And that taught us to go back and look at what we had done and re-invent and brainstorm new ideas.”