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A conversation with Christopher High School's 2017 valedictorians

  • Athena Flint

    Athena Flint

  • Camryn Maloney

    Camryn Maloney

  • Joshua Underwood

    Joshua Underwood

  • Madeline Gossett

    Madeline Gossett

  • Megan Wilson

    Megan Wilson

Posted on 6/7/2017, 1:00 AM

Five graduating seniors at Christopher High School finished tied for first in their class.

We asked Athena Flint, Camryn Maloney, Joshua Underwood, Madeline Gossett and Megan Wilson to tell us something of their high school careers -- what made them successful, what their future holds and who helped them along the way.

Q. What kept you focused through four years of high school?

Athena: I have always kept my vision for the future in the front of my mind, and those plans are what have motivated me to get through the trials and tribulations of high school.

Camryn: My goals. I always knew I wanted to do big things, and study to be a doctor at a good university. To do this, I knew I always had to keep good grades and go above and beyond average. For these reasons, I have always been determined to do my best through four years of high school.

Joshua: What kept me focused was the goal I made for myself on the first day of my high school career. I told myself I would always work hard and have report cards with straight A's. That goal was the main reason I stayed focused. Remember, it is impossible to succeed if you do not set goals.

Madeline: The main objective that kept my eye on the prize has been my drive for success. If you are not content with failure you will always succeed.

Megan: I stayed focused mostly because I did not want to have a limited future. With good grades and participation in activities, I knew I would have more opportunities at the end of my high school career. For myself, I wanted options, so I have worked my hardest in hopes of giving myself the greatest future I possibly could.

Q. What are your plans for the immediate future? What will you be doing next year and where?

Athena: This summer I plan on spending time with friends and preparing for college. Starting this fall, I will be attending Yale University to study chemistry.

Camryn: Next year I am going into the six-year accelerated medical school program at University of Missouri Kansas City. I'll start medical school in the fall and plan to study to be an OB-GYN.

Joshua: I will be attending Rend Lake College pursuing a ag-business degree with the hope of later receiving my bachelor's at SIU-C.

Madeline: My plans for the immediate future are to stay committed and push through college. I will be attending Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville to enroll in the honors program and study Mathematics and Statistics with a focus in Secondary Education Teacher Licensure.

Megan: For the immediate future, I plan to attend the University of Florida. I have not quite decided what I want to study, but I am hoping that my first year of college will help me to figure that out. I will be living in Gainesville, Florida and I am crossing my fingers that all will go well for me during this brand new journey.

Q. What are your long-term goals for the future?

Athena: I will graduate from Yale in May of 2021. After that, I plan to attend graduate school to earn my Ph.D. in Chemistry at a school in either New England or California. I hope to be teaching at a university within 10-15 years.

Camryn: Eventually I hope to have a beautiful family and have my own home with my husband and children. Also, I want to work in a clinic in a rural area like southern Illinois. I plan for my world to center around my loving family, work and God.

Joshua: Long-term goals, for me, are undecided. Obviously I have the same goals as everyone else like getting a job and starting a family. However the most important goal I have set for myself is making sure I am happy.

Madeline: My long-term goals are to receive my bachelor's degree, and eventually return to obtain my masters, get married, and raise a family. My whole life I've dreamed of being a mom.

Megan: When I picture my future, I see myself with two golden retrievers living in a house out in the country, and perhaps a husband would be nice too. As for a career, I haven't the slightest clue, but I would like to write a book someday. However, my most important goal is just to be happy. Happiness is all that I truly want.

Q. What adult made an impact on your high school career and subsequent choices?

Athena: Ms. Lisa Gariepy is the teacher that has had the greatest impact on me, and she has had the greatest influence on my choice of major. She is the most involved teacher that I have had in my four years of high school and does her utmost to help her students as much as possible.

Camryn: My mom. My mom has always encouraged me to follow my dreams, do my best in whatever I do, and she's also taught me to do what I love and not worry about the salary. I look up to how strong and beautiful my mom is, and hope I can be half the woman she is one day.

Joshua: Many people have impacted my choices and my career. However, perhaps the most influential is Lisa Miller, my math teacher. Ms. Miller has been a huge part of my life ever since I was young. Her girls, along with my brother and I, have spent countless summer traveling to rodeos and trail rides. Ms. Miller is like a second mother to me and she always pushed me to do my best.

Madeline: My mathematics and chemistry teacher, Lisa Gariepy, has left a major impact on me the past two years. Not only did she introduce me to the love of math, she inspired me to pursue a teaching degree and go the extra mile to ensure my students receive the education they deserve. Lisa spends hours upon hours helping her students whether it be before school, or staying at CHS until late evening to lend a hand. I think of her as a teacher, friend, role model, and practically my second mother.

Megan: I cannot possibly pick just one because that would honestly be unfair of me. There are two teachers in particular who have helped me immensely throughout high school, but both in different ways. One helps me with my homework as well as my life in general; the other helps me with my life as well as building me up as a person. Both teachers have aided in making me stronger in more ways than one. Saying thank just doesn't seem like enough, but that is all I have got. So, thank you Ms. Miller and Mrs. Pettit. Words cannot fully express how much I appreciate all that you have done for me throughout the years.

Q. What was the most fun you've had in high school?

Athena: Throughout my high school career, I've had the most fun simply hanging out/going on "adventures" with friends. I also had a lot of fun when I had a job -- your work family becomes almost like a real family. Having people you can count on for fun times or someone to pour your heart out to is incredibly important.

Camryn: Definitely freshman Homecoming week. Everything was very new and I loved all the activities: dressing up, football games and the dance at the end of the week. Everyone should worry about having fun that week and not what anyone thinks of you. It's more fun for participate than it is to watch because it's "cool!"

Joshua: Easily, the most fun thing I have done in high school is participate in Homecoming Week. Feeling the school pride overwhelm me for that week, along with the fun activities we experienced definitely made that week the most fun thing of my high-school career.

Madeline: The most fun that I've had in high school has been wrapped up in all of the sports I have participated in. Nothing will ever replace the laughs and countless hours shared with my teammates.

Megan: The most fun that I have had has been at each and every Homecoming or Prom I have gone to. I love to dance, despite the fact I am terrible at it. Those are the two nights a year that I sort of let loose and allow people to see a different side of me. I will really miss getting all dressed up and having fun with the people I've grown with. Wonderful memories were made and I will for sure look back on them and smile.

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