Hudson High School graduation is SaturdayMore than 400 Hudson High School students are part of this year’s graduating class. More than any other in recent history, their future seems sure to hold challenges.
The Hudson High School 2009 graduation ceremony will be Saturday at 7 p.m. at Newton Field, weather providing. The ceremony is open to the public.
The Class of ’09 will hear from valedictorian Zach Blum and senior class president Megan Zais. The graduates chose social studies teacher Bob Smith to be the keynote speaker. The ceremony will also include musical performances.
In the event of inclement weather, the ceremony will be moved to the HHS east gym and admission will be by ticket only. Each graduate will receive a limited number of tickets if the ceremony is moved indoors.
For more information, contact HHS at (715) 377-3800 or go online at www.hudson.k12.wi.us and click on Schools, then High School. Any change in the ceremony venue will be listed there.
Seniors reflect on years at HHS and look forward to the future
More than 400 Hudson High School students are part of this year’s graduating class. More than any other in recent history, their future seems sure to hold challenges.
The Star-Observer recently interviewed several of them who have already faced obstacles and are ready for whatever comes. Excerpts from several of the graduates are included here; the full story is available in this week's (June 11) print edition.
Rhea and Reese Blaiser
While some twins find it difficult to be thought of as part of a pair, Rhea and Reece Blaiser have no such issues.
They describe their relationship as close and they “do everything together.” They don’t fight and share a lot of the same friends and interests. When they head off to college in the fall, it will be together at UW-River Falls.
Both agree that their parents have been a big influence on them. Rhea says they have always been there for them and kept them on track. Reece believes he wouldn’t be the person he is today if his parents hadn’t pushed him and his sister “to get out there and do it.”
Rhea and Reece say HHS has a reputation among some as a “bigheaded school in a rich town” but they don’t see it that way. Rhea believes that the school is more open than people think and that the education they have received is a good one.
Reece agrees and says the school has been increasing in diversity as well as size. “There are so many people here you can’t get to know them all. I’d like to know more of them. I wish it were a school of 400 rather than a class of 400.”
Reece plans to major in marketing. Rhea hasn’t decided on a major yet but they wouldn’t mind going into business together after college.
Mark Tully, 18, has pretty much decided on a career in physical therapy. He has plenty of firsthand experience with the career as a result of two broken legs he suffered while playing football in seventh grade.
Tully said he had to learn patience during his recovery, something he thinks has served him well as he’s grown up.
Tully plans on staying positive even in the face of the worst economy in years. “There’s no point in giving up and hoping the government will take care of you. It’s better to stay focused and positive. Work harder and get an education."
Tully is moving back to Texas where he was born and will attend Texas State University in San Marcos.
Jenish “Jrab” Bhakta, 18, moved to Hudson when his parents opened their business here seven years ago. He has lived in Hudson longer than anywhere and likes it here.
He, too, has faced some medical challenges. He’s had four surgeries over his four years in high school including a slow-healing ankle injury and a serious staph infection that had him in and out of the hospital several times. While some of his medical problems were a result of the sports he played, he has no regrets.
“I enjoy sports and my dad says, if you play, injuries happen. Life throws all kinds of obstacles at you. You just have to get through them. You can be healthy one day and sick the next but life goes on.”
His advice is to keep at it. “As long as you do your best, you can accomplish just about anything. Things like injuries happen and they can change your life but they don’t ruin it. You have to stay positive.”
Bhakta plans on majoring in business at Mankato (Minn.) State University.
For John McNally, 17, it is all about the music.
He moved to Hudson from Minnesota seven years ago, was homeschooled until ninth grade and liked it. There was so much flexibility, and learning one-on-one had its advantages. “It was a cool thing. Since there weren’t so many distractions, we could get through the subjects and then I could take a break and play the drums or guitar."
He thinks life at HHS is pretty much the same as at any large high school, and most students try and find the people and places where they feel the most comfortable. For him, that was in choir.
McNally says he is never more comfortable than when he is on a stage. He performs as a solo act but also plays with a few bands. He hopes to someday be a studio or touring musician able to support himself by playing. He will attend McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul.
Tina Richter, 18, said her dad always told her “to keep learning no matter what, especially from your mistakes.”
She listened to him. “Knowledge and education are the most important things in life. It is how you grow up. That and through the people you meet. I’ve had good people in my life that have been there whenever I’ve needed them.”
As to what the future holds for Richter and her classmates, she isn’t particularly worried. “It might be difficult for a while but I have faith that we will pull through. It has a lot to do with attitude, I think.”
Richter says she is interested in the nursing field. She first plans to complete the certified nursing assistant course at WITC and see where that leads her.
Amara Treuenfels knows something about large vs. small schools. She transferred to HHS last year from her home in Montana. Her school there had 110 students and there were nine in her graduating class.
“There were only 350 people in the whole town. It was kind of a culture shock. I didn’t know anything about being in a big school — locker combinations, crowds in the hallways, meltdowns in the cafeteria. But I kind of threw myself into things."
Among the things she threw herself into were volleyball, advanced placement classes, 4-H and theater. She was one of the leads in last year’s school production of “Lend Me a Tenor.”
Treuenfels, 17, said the experience has been valuable because she learned she can adapt when her environment changes. That ability will be important especially since she has decided to take a year off before college to work abroad.
After her year sabbatical, Treuenfels said she will likely attend the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse or River Falls and study to be a teacher.
Jon Gruwell, 18, is yet another transplant to Hudson. He was born in New York City and has lived several other places including Oregon and Minnesota. He came to HHS as a freshman.
He said he has made lifelong friends at the school, especially since he got involved in the choral and theater productions. He had featured roles in last fall’s musical “Singin’ in the Rain,” and the spring play “I Never Saw Another Butterfly” and says his experience performing has changed his life.
Gruwell said he loved playing football and participating in sports but his experience on stage was something unique and unforgettable. “I like the idea of everyone working on one song, one concert and performing it together. That’s inspirational. I will miss that the most — that and the friends I’ve made.”
Gruwell, who is of Puerto Rican descent, acknowledges that HHS is “not diverse racially” but says his ethnic background hasn’t been an issue for him or anyone else.
Gruwell hasn’t decided yet on whether he wants to be a pilot or a surgeon. Both occupations have attracted him since he was young. In the meantime, he has enlisted with the U.S. Air Force and reports for duty in San Antonio, Texas, on July 28.
Mataya Kloos, 17, moved to Hudson first when she was in middle school, left for a time and then returned to complete high school here.
Kloos says moving to Hudson from the “craziness” of her St. Paul school was an adjustment. She describes herself as defensive when she first arrived.
Kloos said it took her some time to let down her guard, but when she did she began to feel more comfortable and has made good friends at HHS.
She describes the school as “clicky” but advises underclassmen to try and resolve their differences with one another in positive ways and to try to be respectful of where the other person is coming from.
As for the future, she is anxious to move on but is not too optimistic about what awaits her. “I think it will be tough getting a job and by the time I’m done with school there could be less opportunities. I’m not too confident and I think Obama is making it worse."
Kloos plans on first attending Century College in the Twin Cities and then applying to the nursing program at the University of Minnesota.