Archive for Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Hard times teach valedictorian to ‘roll with it’

Tonganoxie High School seniors Lacie Falk, left, and Miranda Bontrager will graduate Saturday with their classmates. Falk will address the gathering as class valedictorian while Bontrager will enjoy one of her last days as the school’s 2010-2011 Student Council president.

Tonganoxie High School seniors Lacie Falk, left, and Miranda Bontrager will graduate Saturday with their classmates. Falk will address the gathering as class valedictorian while Bontrager will enjoy one of her last days as the school’s 2010-2011 Student Council president.

May 11, 2011

Lacie Falk thinks she will do well next fall when she leaves home for Kansas State University.

“I’ve got a good work ethic,” she said. “I’m going to study chemical engineering if I can make it through calculus. If that’s what I want to do, I’ll do all right.”

There probably are few at Tonganoxie High School with doubts of Falk’s future academic success. She is the valedictorian of the Class of 2011 and has had grade cards filled with A’s during her high school career.

But Falk said one of the lessons she learned during her four years at Tonganoxie High School was that nothing can be taken for granted.

“There’s been some tough times with the things that led to Team Tongie,” she said, referring to health issues and tragedies that inspired students and community members to start the nonprofit organization that assists people in need. “It’s prepared me. You can’t always plan. You just have to roll with it.”

The experience reinforced lessons she learned growing up in a family that moved enough that she attended three schools before her parents, David and Janet Falk, settled in rural Linwood when she was in the seventh grade, Falk said.

“Life is about responding,” she said. “I try to respond with an open mind and a positive attitude.”

Preparation is also a part of her approach to future uncertainty. Falk said she “maxed out” on the number of advanced placement and honor classes she could take at THS and has more than a semester of college credit behind her before stepping on campus.

More than academics, her concerns are about being on her own and the sudden need to accept adult responsibilities, Falk confessed.

She took advantage of what Tonganoxie High School offered in that area, too, making herself a more well-rounded person by participating in a busy schedule of activities, including theater, forensics, choir, FCLA, National Honor Society, scholar’s bowl, art club and science club.

Her parents played a role in the well-rounded approach by having her forego a chemistry course so that she could be in the Chieftain Choir her senior year because they wanted her to stay active in one of the arts, she said.

“You name a club, I was in it,” she said. “I got to know a lot of different people and got to know a lot of people better.”

She’s still working on her valedictorian speech, and it has yet to be vetted by Tonganoxie High School Principal Jamie Carlisle, but Falk said her goal was to present something different to her classmates and the audience.

“I’m hoping to go a little humorous this year,” she said. “My mother might cry, but they’ll be tears of joy.”

If so, it will be a fitting tribute to the Tonganoxie Elementary School first-grade teacher, who Lacie said laid the groundwork for her academic success.

“Education was always important in our household,” she said. “She read a lot to me when I was young. She would find good books and share them with me. I love to read because of what my mom did for me.”

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