Dare to Excel: Ian Vacek

Posted 1/17/22

When it comes to challenging classes, Warrenton senior Ian Vacek would rather be frustrated than bored. Maybe that’s why most of his day is spent in college-level classes at Warrenton High …

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Dare to Excel: Ian Vacek

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When it comes to challenging classes, Warrenton senior Ian Vacek would rather be frustrated than bored. Maybe that’s why most of his day is spent in college-level classes at Warrenton High School or dual-enrolled online.

Vacek is an enthusiast of science and math, and has directed his education toward a future in engineering. His class roster this year has included AP calculus, physics, multiple college chemistry classes and a college biology class in the spring.

“I don’t like going into a class and not feeling like I’m working. I enjoy the challenge. If it’s not difficult, then I feel like ‘Why am I here?” Vacek commented.

He also spends two hours each morning in band classes, exploring a different kind of challenge that Vacek has been working at since his family first signed him up for piano lessons when he was eight.

After hours, Vacek is a cross country and track athlete, and devotes time to organizing volunteer activities for National Honor Society.

Q: What draws you to science classes?

“I pick them up pretty easily and I enjoy them, so it’s a self-fulfilling cycle, where I want to learn more and then get better quicker. ... It’s like problem solving reality. It’s interesting to use numbers to translate into something tangible.”

Q: Have you struggled with any classes?

“I struggled a lot with chemistry. It’s a different kind of science. It’s less math, more symbols and understanding models to get the big picture.”

Q: What habits have helped you with hard subjects?

“Take book notes, really sit down with the material and figure it out. You do get frustrated, but as long as you take your mistakes, focus on them, and figure out what you did wrong, you can do better next time.”

Q: Does music present the same kind of challenge?

“Piano is definitely a lot more frustrating (trying to improve). You’ll run the same melodies over and over trying to get it right and spend the whole day upset. But that feeling of overcoming and getting through it is something else.”

Q: How involved are you in your service activities?

“Right now NHS is a pretty big one. Mostly through (my grandmother) and church I find service opportunities and try to get other members to go. I’ve found a couple opportunities for students to hop onto this year.

“It feels good to help. There’s a lot of issues in our community that need help. I’m happy to gather people who want to be there.”

Q: What are your plans for college?

“I’ll be an engineering major of some sort. I don’t know more specifically yet. ... I’m going toward chemical engineering, but if that doesn’t work out, I have leniency to switch.

“Two colleges are standing out (to attend). There’s University of Minnesota in Minneapolis and Missouri S&T in Rolla. Both have really good engineering programs.”

Q: If you could pick an ideal career, what would it be?

“Probably research and development in a lab working on a chemical that would revolutionize things. Working on something important and being able to do the hard work in it.”

Favorite food: Ribeye steak

Favorite show: “Letterkenny”

Favorite movie: “Pulp Fiction”

Favorite musician: Billy Joel

Favorite destination: Grandparents’ cabin in Minnesota

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