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A conversation with county's top grads

Staff writer

I had the pleasure Saturday to sit down for pizza and conversation with four of the brightest young minds in this year’s graduating classes in Marion County.

School districts here may have anywhere from zero to seven valedictorians, but each has only one Governor’s Scholar .

The award honors the academic top 1% of Kansas high school seniors.

Joining me were Jake Flaming from Goessel, Isabel Rziha from Centre, Stacy Sattler from Peabody-Burns, and Natalie Sigel from Marion.

The county’s fifth Governor’s Scholar, Trudy Hein from Hillsboro, also was invited but out of town for the weekend.

Here’s how they answer questions over pizza the Record treated them to:

It’s finals time. Are you relieved or stressed out?

Isabel: “For me at least, it’s just, it’s a very busy time, because I have a lot of like extracurricular. They’re all converging around this time, and then my finals. It’s just, you gotta get it done. You gotta get it done. And when it’s done, hopefully you don’t fail. There is no other option here.”

Jake: “Yeah, I would say I’m mostly relieved about it. There’s too many tough ones. And just decided to get them over with.”

Stacy: “I’d say I’m kind of both. At the same time, I’m relieved, because I’m happy to have this experience. But I’m also stressed because it’s just ending.”

Natalie: “I’m definitely most stressed about my college finals. But everything else I’m relieved. Relieved to get to something new. Get out of high school.”

What’s next?

Isabel: “So I have been accepted into my university. I am going into nuclear engineering over at the Missouri University of Science and Technology.”

Jake: “I’m going to K-State for architectural engineering.”

Stacy: “I’m going to attend K-State for criminology.”

Natalie: “I’m going to K-State for communication sciences and disorders.”

Why did you choose that particular school?

Isabel: “The reason I’m choosing my school is because it’s the only university around here that offers in state tuition for nuclear engineering. K-State says they do, but they do not offer a bachelor’s. And that’s why I have to go out of state to get my bachelor’s in nuclear engineering.”

Jake: “I have picked K-State just because I’ve heard great things about their engineering program and everything related to that. And I know I’ll get a good quality education.”

Stacy: “I chose K-State because of the culture of the school. And it’s also one of the few schools in Kansas that offer my major.”

Natalie: “I chose K-State because of the environment, the beautiful campus. And I know that I’ll get a good education and have a fun time doing it.”

Are you concerned about how you might fit?

Isabel: “I am a bit. I’ve gone to multiple events where I come from a smaller town and I’m well aware that I occasionally have some moments where it’s been strange coming from, well, Tampa, and Tampa only has a population of — I think we’re up to 162 now — and there is definitely a difference in culture that I’ll be experiencing. What I find is that if I go into it, and I have a decent enough attitude about it, everything turns out fine eventually.”

Jake: “I’d say, yeah, about the same. I’ll be all right. It’s definitely going to be a different experience. But I think I’ll be able to adapt.”

Stacy: “I’m not really concerned about it from talking to current students that they said there’s always a way to find a way in; there’s like different communities that you can get involved in.”

Natalie: “I think I’m mostly just concerned about class sizes going from like 10 kids to potentially 300 kids. And that’s really only my main concern. I just see it as an opportunity to meet a lot of new people”

Do you think you’ll keep up with friendships from town as you move on?

Isabel: “I think it’s definitely like one of the main reasons I chose the major I’m going into is I personally am a huge fan of my small town. I love Tampa. And one of the reasons I chose nuclear engineering is because I have the potential to move back. Because I still want to be around. Such as, I hope to keep up my friendships with a lot of people around here because I’ve made friends. I’ve known them for my entire life alone.”

Jake: “I’d say I’ll try to keep up with friendships around here. And also be looking forward to making new ones and just seeing where they go.”

Stacy: “I want to try to keep up with my current friendships. We’ve already tried to, like, work out some plans to, like, come back and visit occasionally. But I’m also excited to meet some new people.”

Natalie: “I am definitely going to be home a lot. Like my friends and my family are really important to me, and I am kind of nervous to go up and not be able to see them as much. But I think it’s exciting to make new friends and make friends in Manhattan.”

What are some favorite memories of high school?

Isabel: “Probably my favorite memory was, I do band, and one of the times I had a couple of buddies, and we were waiting after school because we were playing at the football game that night. I don’t remember the football game for the life of me. But we proceeded to spend the next two hours waiting for that game, to start playing “Just Dance.” And I remember laughing so hard and my legs hurting so much that day, and the next day that I couldn’t walk.”

Jake: “Yeah, I would say, what I’ll remember, and just it’s not a specific memory, but just like being on sports teams and being part of a team that way. It’s been a lot of fun.”

Stacy: “I’d say that my favorite memories — I can’t pinpoint one but would be going to like forensics or debate tournaments, or cheering at the football games this year.”

Natalie: “My favorite memories are definitely involving softball going to state my freshman year and like making history essentially for Marion, and it was just a really cool experience. And I got to do with my older sister. So it made it really fun. And just high school in general, like spending time with my friends and going to games.”

What’s your worst nightmare of high school? What’s the part you’re glad to leave behind?

Isabel: “I think the worst part of high school has been the fact that I have to go in between two schools to get my college classes and my high school classes done, and how at the end of this year at this point, I don’t do anything at one of the schools I go to and the other school I’m doing everything. And it’s just a waste of my time at times.”

Jake: “This is really hard to think of. I mean, I have difficult times, but it’s just I don’t really focus on them. It’s hard to think backward, something that was really difficult. I would say I love math and, like, not loving English at all. I know I’ll still have English, but we have a pretty tough high school English teacher.”

Stacy: “It’s hard to really pinpoint one specific momen, but I’d say it’s just the moments towards the end of the year where everything comes to get done at once, especially when you’re involved in multiple activities. You’re just going back and forth between everything.”

Natalie: “I have one, but if you can’t put it in there, I can tell you another one. My most traumatizing but funny moment was probably when there was a bat flying around in the Hill Building in between passing period, and kids were trying to catch it in a trash can, and we were scared on how we were going to get to our next class. There are no bats anymore, though. No bats inside the Hill Building.”

Who and or what were your favorite teacher and or subject in high school?

Isabel: “My favorite subject has definitely been pre-calculus and calculus, purely due to the fact that I’m a huge fan of math — like, do enjoy math. However, there is something to be said about my love for history. And I thankfully had many good history teachers in the past.”

Jake: “I would say math is definitely my favorite subject. And we only have one math teacher at our school, Ryan Lightner. And he’s been a good teacher all through my years. Makes it enjoyable.”

Stacy: “I’d say my favorite subject is history. I’ve taken high school and college level. And both have given me like a new perspective on history and the world in general.”

Natalie: “I think one of my favorite classes that I’ve taken is culinary essentials, because I got to cook with some of my friends. And it’s just fun and a good learning experience.”

Do you plan to continue being a part of clubs, sports, and extracurricular activities while in college?

Isabel: “Yes absolutely. It’s, I mean, for me, at least, I’ve always greatly enjoyed the social aspect of events such as sports or other things I also do every day. And I love being able to go out and talk to other people comparing what I’m doing and finding out if I could do something better. And that extends doubly. I do a lot of projects with my hands. And I’ve been trying to get into the Kansas Weavers Guild. So that’s another, like, club I’d be interested in joining if they have like a weavers guild.”

Jake: “Yeah, I would say I don’t know of any clubs or anything I’ll be involved in college, but if the opportunity comes up for intramural sports — like, just for fun — I’ll probably do that every once in a while.”

Stacy: “I want to keep up with doing clubs for two reasons. One, I have more interest outside of criminology, and that gives me a place to put those interests to use and also gives me a new way to connect with people.”

Natalie: “I think one thing that I’m most excited to continue doing is being in students sections because, if you’ve seen K-State’s, they’re always fun, and they’re always big”

Is there one last thing you want to do before moving on?

Isabel: “I do this every time someone’s like, Oh, what do you want to do one last time? I’ll say, I want to go back to Tampa hog race because every year it’s great and amazing. So I’ll say that every time this question comes up ,even next year. It’s free food. And I like it. I’m a simple person.”

Jake: “I don’t know if there is anything. I’m just trying to enjoy the time I have here — I mean, make it all last.”

Stacy: “This is a little vague, but I think just having some more moments with my friends, making last minute decisions to go do something, because I think those make the best memories.”

Natalie: “I think the last thing that I want to do is walk across that stage with kids that have been going to school since we were in preschool or kindergarten and just have grown up together.”

If you were stuck in the woods, which would you rather come across: a man with the strongest bear arms possible or a bear who bears arms and knows how to use them?

Isabel: “I think the man because if he has bear arms, OK, the bear can get you from long distance, like maybe this bear has a sniper rifle. Compared to if it’s a man with bear arms, he has to run. He has to catch you. He has to be able to catch you. And I don’t know if he was bear legs.”

Jake: “I would say the man with bear arms, too, because with a gun, if he actually knows how to use it, he can shoot you even if you’re running away or trying to find them. You could potentially outrun the guy. And if he’s got big bear arms, that might slow him down a little bit.”

Stacy: “I’m gonna go with a man with bear arms, just assuming that would be much harder for him to move if he has bear arms.”

Natalie: “I agree a man with bear arms because who says that he knows how to work them? How do you know that he’d be skilled? Like it would not be proportionate to the rest of his body? I’m going to try to outrun him.”

Any final last words?

Natalie: “Dr. Seuss once said, be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

Last modified May 9, 2024

 

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