Survey: Students heading to colleges
The new graduates of Tonganoxie High School plan to continue their education.
In a recent survey conducted by The Mirror, 79 percent of the Tonganoxie High School seniors said they plan to continue their education.
Out of the 117 members of the Class of 2003, 95 participated in the survey.
Of these, 44 students said they plan to enroll in a four-year college and 35 plan to enroll in a two-year college or vocational school.
Twelve of the students said they plan to work full-time, and two students said they plan to go into the military.
Some of these students are well along the way to readying for the future, whether it be looking at how to finance college, training for jobs or enlisting in the military.
Here's a look at some of the students in the Class of 2003:
Wanting to teach
His friends and teachers tell him he'll be famous someday.
But Billy Ottens said that after college he'll be content to be a teacher at Tonganoxie High School.
However, there's a good chance the 2003 THS graduate will have a pen in hand and a fresh sheet of paper ready to write on.
Billy has written at least 300 poems since he was in the seventh grade and he has two novels in progress. Moreover, one of his college scholarships was awarded because a short story he wrote captured the eye of a 1981 Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and sole contest judge Teresa Carpenter.
Even while devoting much of his time to writing, as well as working 20 hours a week at B&J Amoco, Billy maintained a 4.0 grade-point average.
The son of Linda Ottens, Tonganoxie, and Robert and Thea Ottens, Lenexa, Billy plans to attend Graceland University in Lamoni, Iowa. The school is affiliated with the Community of Christ Church, which Ottens attends.
His first year is looking good, financially.
"My financial aid package has over $20,000 for one year," Billy said.
For Ottens, working in high school and maintaining a top grade-point average wasn't easy. Some days he could study while on the job at B&J Amoco. Some days he couldn't.
He recalled having a busy shift at work while a big English assignment loomed.
"I stayed up till three in the morning and finished my assignment," Billy said.
The assignment was to analyze poems that he hadn't had time to study yet.
"I thought oh no I'm not going to be able to do this, but I stayed up and I was able to do it and I got an A."
In his spare time, Billy writes poems or works on his novels.
"I usually write not because I'm bored," Billy said. "I guess it's the best way to express myself. Some people sing, some people play sports, some people dance -- I write."
Working nearly full-time her last two years of high school has paid off for Adrienne Guarino.
"It made it a little difficult at times because it's stressful work," Adrienne said. "But I made it. I think it was a good experience."
Because she hopes to be a surgeon someday, Adrienne said it made sense to work in a health care setting. She became a certified medication aid and took a job with a Eudora nursing home.
But the job was more than a way to earn money. She quickly became attached to the residents.
"Being as young as I am and working there it's like I have 86 grandparents up there," Adrienne said. "They all care about you and they ask you how your day was. It's not really just a job."
Guarino, the daughter of Bill and Kathy Guarino, plans to focus on just working in the fall, and to enroll at Johnson County Community College next spring.
She wants to graduate from a four-year nursing program, work in a hospital for a while and then apply to medical school. Adrienne is interested in working in an emergency room setting.
Josh Olsen plans to find a summer job until school starts in August. Olsen, who has been an honor roll student throughout high school, plans to head to south-central Kansas to further his education.
"I'll be going to Pratt Community College on a full-ride athletic training scholarship," Olsen said.
And, after his first two years of college in Pratt, Olsen said he'll likely finish up at Emporia State University or Kansas State University.
For years, Olsen has had a career in mind. Athletic trainers, he said, work with high schools to colleges and professional teams. They work toward helping athletes prevent sports injuries, help with team training regimens and tape ankles and wrists before games to prevent injuries, Olsen said.
Working with people
Shannon Theno, the daughter of Alan and Cheryl Theno, is another December graduate.
Shannon, who is currently working 12 to 25 hours a week at Cabela's, has already completed another step in her education. In March, she completed a certified nursing assistant program, and passed her licensing examination.
Shannon, who plans to eventually become a registered nurse, was pleased to accomplish this goal.
"It makes you feel so good," Shannon said. "I just feel like I could do anything."
She enjoyed the monthlong course work.
"I loved doing the clinicals, the students in my class were great," she said.
In August, Shannon will enroll at Johnson County Community College, and she hopes to complete her nursing degree at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan.
And after that? She's thinking about becoming a nurse practitioner.
"I think it would be really challenging," Shannon said. "I'm really ambitious and I like to set goals and when I set a goal, I guarantee you I will get it done."