Meixner comes in first: Pepin High School senior named valedictorian
PEPIN -- It's been a close race. But after four years of hard work, Pepin High School student Kayla Meixner has come out on top. The senior will walk across the stage during commencement Friday evening as valedictorian.
"(School) is very, very important to me. It's my No. 1 priority," Meixner said. "I really care about being well-educated. It really helps you in different aspects of life. Not just school."
Meixner said she was first inspired to work toward the valedictorian title when her brother Shaughn graduated as salutatorian in 2009. She said she was further spurred on once she saw her class ranking after her freshman year.
"I got my report card and I was fourth," she said. "It was a huge wake-up call."
From there, Meixner said she really started to pay close attention to her grades and make sure she did her best. She also said she paid attention to how her classmates were doing, too.
"We've been in competition, but not in a mean way," Meixner said, adding that she and her classmates have been more than willing to help each other out over the last few years. "It's been a really fun time."
Going into her senior year, Meixner said she knew she "had a cushion" over her classmates. But that doesn't mean she let her grades slip or relaxed.
"I was able to stay focused all four years with the huge competition we had," she said. "I feel so blessed just to have the opportunity."
Though she was just recently named valedictorian, Meixner's teachers have been noticing her strong work ethic for the last several years.
"She's very hard worker. She will put in a lot of time and effort to make sure everything is done at a high level," math teacher Mike Olson said. "She has high expectations she works very hard to achieve them."
But Meixner hasn't just been a hard worker inside the classroom. She is also involved in a number of extra-curricular activities, including volleyball, softball and National Honor Society.
"Playing sports has really taught me time management," Meixner said of squeezing in all of her activities.
Meixner, the daughter of Aaron and Mary, said now that high school is over, she is "ready to branch out and move on."
"I'm ready to start something all by myself. ... I'm excited to not walk down the street and not know every face I see," she said of moving away from Pepin.
Meixner will attend University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. She hasn't decided on a major.
"I don't have enough experience to know what I want to do," she said.
However, if her high school career is anything to go by, Olson said he knows she won't have any problems, no matter what she chooses to pursue.
"She'll do well," he said. "She knows what it takes and has the work ethic to succeed."
What: Pepin High School graduating 22 students
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: Pepin High School gym, 510 Pine St.
More information: 715-442-2391