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June 11, 2013
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Heads of the class: Truckee High’s top academic performers

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Truckee High School seniors will start the next chapter in their lives after graduating this Saturday.

Of the 155 graduating seniors, two will do so with the destination of valedictorian (Nico Kuyper and Joaquina “Quina” Williams) and two (Jake Kamenetsky and Sarah Williams) as salutatorian. Graduation takes place Saturday, June 15, at 11 a.m. at Surprise Stadium.

The quartet was asked to answer a few questions about their high school career and future plans.

Read what they had to say below:

Nico Kuyper, valedictorian

What are your post graduation plans? I’m going to UCLA, and I’m majoring in kinesiology and biology because science is my favorite subject. Math gets too hard and English is just writing, so I thought science would be sweet. After that I’m not really sure. You usually assume kind of that if you do science, you go into medicine, but I don’t want to make that commitment. I’m open to it. I would be down to be a doctor, but I also don’t want to like just commit to the path right now when I’m 18.

Do you plan to join any teams, clubs or activities in college? Oh, yeah, totally. I’ll be on the intramural soccer team. I’m going to do the ski club, for sure, and I’m hoping to do beach volleyball, some sweet beach activities, surfing.

What’s the most important lesson you learned throughout your high school career? That’s a tough one. I would say the most important thing I learned is to really find a good mix of the future and the present because doing well in school is all about gaining a better future, but you can’t forget about the present you’re living in because that’s what you worked hard to get to beforehand.

What will you miss most about Truckee High? Ski team, definitely. That was my team, for sure. It was so much fun to go ski every day after school.

What advice would you give incoming freshman? I’d tell incoming freshman to take the AP classes, definitely, and give it their best, but also to put themselves out there. Let them go explore, take hikes, do whatever they feel like doing after school, and always join teams and clubs or something like that. And definitely take some time to think about what you want to do and don’t pack your day too much. Take some time to just sit down, relax, close your eyes for a little bit.

Where do you hope to see yourself in 10 years? I have a lot of plans, but the dream is to become a spy or to open my own water park, but in my current path for life I want to be in 10 years finishing my Ph.D., my doctorate, and then buying a plane ticket to go travel to some country where I can be a doctor there. (To) travel around and show people what I know, help people and just fill my soul with what I want to be doing.

What are your plans for this summer? I have a bucket list of stuff I want to do, just silly little things, but other than that I’m going to Hawaii as soon as we graduate. I’m a nanny one day a week, so other than that, I’ll just be adventuring and checking stuff off the list.

Joaquina “Quina” Williams, valedictorian

What are your post graduation plans? I’m going to Stanford, and I’m planning to go into physical science — physics or chemistry, I think. For a really long time I had like a really specific plan, (but now) I want to keep my options open, and you know, really see what my strengths are and not commit to anything.

Do you plan to join any teams, clubs or activities in college? I am hoping to join the horse polo club team, and hopefully, participate in some environmental advocacy groups.

What’s the most important lesson you learned throughout your high school career? Oh, gosh, I guess it’s pretty cliché, but it doesn’t really matter people’s stigmas, just do what’s important to you and it ends up working out.

What will you miss most about Truckee High? I like that there’s a really great sense of community, and I feel like everyone here, I can have a real conversation with. Also, there’s very few high schools where you can look out the window and see this majestic Pacific Crest.

What advice would you give incoming freshman? Again kind of similar to what I said earlier — do what you love. … Doing what you love doesn’t necessarily mean taking all these really hard classes and stuff. If you love a sport or if you love to travel or something, just do that. It’s really cool to have a passion.

Where do you hope to see yourself in 10 years? I’d like to see, hopefully, making some sort of difference in either the field of sustainable energy or possibly health care in some form.

What are your plans for this summer? I’m traveling to Europe with my family after graduation, but other than that just working a little bit. I want to keep my summer open so I can enjoy Tahoe. It’s going to be hard moving away, so I want to get the most of nature and backpacking and camping and stuff. Get my fill of it.

Jake Kamenetsky, salutatorian

What are your post graduation plans? I’m going to be attending UC Santa Barbara, majoring in mechanical engineering there, and then I’m not sure exactly what I want to be doing with that yet. I’m interested in maybe biomedical devices or prosthetics, designing those. That’s what I’ve been looking at so far, but things can change a little, so we’ll see.

Do you plan to join any teams, clubs or activities in college? I’m probably going to be doing tennis and try to get into some surfing there. Also, maybe, I guess there’s a roller hockey team there, so I may try to see what that’s all about. I’ve always been a hockey fan.

What’s the most important lesson you learned throughout your high school career? Probably balance. Just balancing your school work with having fun. Knowing when to maybe take a break from homework and just kind of go out, relax a bit, and also knowing when to say no to when your friends want to go out or something just to make sure you’re working on studying for that next test.

What will you miss most about Truckee High? Probably being able to right after school just kind of head up to the mountain, ski with your friends for a bit. It’s kind of a nice way to end the day. I’ll miss all my friends that I’ve made, as well, since I probably won’t be seeing a lot of them for awhile.

What advice would you give incoming freshman? Once again that balance — make sure you balance your school work and your social life properly. Make sure it doesn’t go all the way on way or the other. Also, make sure you challenge yourself because you can probably be better at something than you think and the only way to know is if you actually try to challenge yourself with it.

Where do you hope to see yourself in 10 years? Probably at a biomedical firm, designing biomedical devices, (or I) may go into research. I’m not sure whether I want to go into the business side of it or research, so that’s another option that I have to decide on.

What are your plans for this summer? My family’s going to be going on a Euro trip after I graduate, so going through London, Paris and Rome, seeing the sights. The rest of the summer I’m just hanging out in Truckee enjoying the mountain air as much as I can before I move off to SoCal.

Sarah Williams, salutatorian

What are your post graduation plans? I’m going to Claremont McKenna College right outside of LA. It’s a really good, small liberal arts college. As of right now, I’m leaning toward pre-med majors. I haven’t decided exactly what, and I think I’m going to also major in Spanish. I think eventually I want to become a doctor. Right now I’m really interested in surgery.

Do you plan to join any teams, clubs or activities in college? Maybe student body government and maybe intramural sports just for fun.

What’s the most important lesson you learned throughout your high school career? Learning to balance school and life. It’s really important not to be completely focused on one thing. You have to have a variety.

What will you miss most about Truckee High? My friends and the teachers that I’ve gotten close to, and like Quina said, the location. I’m a student body president, so I work closely with Mrs. Evers, the leadership teacher; Mrs. Kuch; Miss Lowder; and Miss Jacobs. They’re all fantastic teachers, and I owe a lot of my success to them.

What advice would you give incoming freshman? I would say work hard, but find a balance in your life.

Where do you hope to see yourself in 10 years? On my way to becoming a doctor and just continuing to enjoy life.

What are your plans for this summer? I’m going on a graduation trip to Mexico and then I’m teaching sailing at a youth sailing camp on Donner (Lake).


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Jun 11, 2013 07:32PM Published Jun 13, 2013 12:53PM Copyright 2013 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.