Pepin grad is 'model student'PEPIN — Ellie Raethke comes from a family of high achievers.
By: Sarah Gorvin, The Republican Eagle
PEPIN — Ellie Raethke comes from a family of high achievers.
The current Pepin High School valedictorian is the third in her family to carry that title, after first cousins Cody Raethke and Jacob Raethke claimed the top spots in 2011 and 2010, respectively.
So it’s not surprising that Raethke wasn’t exactly shocked when she was told she was graduating at the top of her class.
“My classmates have been saying ‘You’ll be valedictorian,’ since junior high,” she said. “Grades have always been really important to me.”
But that doesn’t mean those good grades have come easily for the graduating senior. She credits parents Chuck and Lisa Raethke’s encouragement for her work ethic.
“They’ve always said do your best, try your hardest,” Raethke said. She added that knowing that she’s worked hard on school work and studied “feels good.”
Still, Raethke admits that there are a couple subjects that don’t make her work quite as hard as others.
“I’ve always loved math,” she said. “It just makes sense to me.”
Mike Olson, who has been Raethke’s math teacher for five years, calls her a “model student.”
“She sets lofty goals and works diligently to attain them,” he said. “Ellie will often help other students and she will take the time to give a thorough explanation.”
Once Raethke began taking high school science courses such as chemistry, she found that those classes take math principles and apply them to actual situations. That’s when she began loving science and now lists chemistry and physics among her “all-time favorite” classes.
But Raethke’s high school career consisted of more than studying. She also participated in Pepin’s dance team her freshman year and played volleyball.
“It was fun to be part of a team,” she said, “to be active and hang out with my friends.”
On top of that, Raethke has also worked at Pepin’s Harbor View Café for the past three years and has kept active in 4-H, her church and other community organizations including the Lions Club. In addition, Raethke has put in plenty of time at the family’s dairy farm.
“My favorite thing is to feed baby calves,” she said.
In the fall, Raethke will attend the University of Wisconsin–Stout to study applied science.
“I’m really excited,” Raethke said. “I want to start my life and be independent.”
Raethke acknowledged that leaving the small town she has spent the majority of her life in will be difficult.
“You always feel safe in Pepin. … You kind of know everybody. You can call everybody by their name,” she said. “I like that aspect.”
And while Raethke may be a little nervous about living in a bigger city, her teachers have no doubts that she will do just fine.
“Ellie is one of the most caring, giving and down-to-earth students I have had the pleasure to work with in my career,” Supt. Bruce Quinton said.
“She is very kind and personable,” Olson echoed. “With Ellie's academic ability and work habit, she will be very successful.”
What: 17 students graduating from Pepin High School
When: 7 p.m. Friday May 25
Where: Pepin High School gym, 510 Pine St.
More info: 715-442-2391