Few accomplishments are more notable for a student, or more difficult, than earning the top academic ranking across four years of schooling. Each year, the title of valedictorian is awarded to a …
Few accomplishments are more notable for a student, or more difficult, than earning the top academic ranking across four years of schooling. Each year, the title of valedictorian is awarded to a senior who has shown an aptitude for education and a sustained commitment to performance.
While Warrenton High School’s valedictorian won’t officially be known until closer to graduation, the clear front-runner candidate this year is Mikenna Collins.
Collins is currently carrying a grade point average of 4.475, thanks to a heavy roster of college-level courses that carry extra weight in GPA scoring. In the last two years, she’s been enrolled in Advance Placement classes spanning a range of subjects in science, math, social studies and English.
She said sometimes, it can be hard to keep up with that work load.
“You definitely manage your time. Because if you’re not ... you’re going to fall behind, and it’s not fun to try to catch up, because you still have to keep up with all the work you’re getting currently.”
Adding to the challenge in her final year of high school, Collins took a job at a horse stable so she could save money for college. She said that had a challenging impact on her school performance, forcing her to be more strict with her time in order to prevent her grades from slipping too far.
The valedictorian status isn’t just a matter of pride for Collins. She has a full-tuition scholarship that’s dependent on being the top student in class.
“It’s a little stressful. If I don’t make this, I’m losing about $100,000 over the course of four years. Central Methodist University offered me full tuition to go there.”
Between work and classes, Collins also makes time to volunteer as president of the school’s National Honor Society chapter, helping to plan volunteer activities for members.
Q: What are your future education plans?
“I want to get a Master’s degree. ... I decided to go with accounting. I love math and I’ve always been good at math.
“Then I want to minor in law so I can do forensic accounting. Fraud and money laundering are pretty interesting.”
Q: Which of your classes do you enjoy, but find challenging?
“AP calculus. ... That’s been hard. But I look at it as there’s no reason I can’t learn it, it’s not like I’m incapable. I just need to spend more time on it.”
Q: Are there classes you haven’t clicked with?
“AP literature and AP language. Language isn’t my strongest point. ... I have to think a little harder, because it’s not analytical like math is. There’s no ‘right answer,’ which is stressful.”
Q: What advice would you give younger students?
“Usually, your biggest challenge is yourself. You have to believe in yourself and believe you can do it. ... You don’t have to have a huge, unattainable goal. Set smaller goals.
“Also, ask for help. A lot of people don’t ask for help. Asking for help is your biggest resource — ask teachers, ask other students, ask your peers, parents, siblings.”
Favorite food: Grouper
Favorite movie: “Saving Private Ryan”
Favorite show: “Friends”
Favorite musician: Tyler Childers
Favorite destination: Cancun, Mexico
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