HHS grads concerned, but optimistic about futureThe 2010 Hudson High School graduating class of 426 is the largest ever and the first since the U.S. economy took its worst turn since the Depression.
By: Meg Heaton, Hudson Star-Observer
The 2010 Hudson High School graduating class of 426 is the largest ever and the first since the U.S. economy took its worst turn since the Depression.
But the eight graduates interviewed by the Star-Observer aren’t focusing on the negative. They have plans that take them from large universities and community colleges to Marine Corps basic training to studying abroad.
Gina Schultz, 18, transferred to Hudson High School her freshman year and “loved it” right from the start.
Transferring from St. Croix Central in Hammond, Hudson was a big city for Schultz and she found it surprisingly easy to make friends and fit in at her new school.
She says the biggest change in her over the last four years has been her maturity level. “When I was younger I was kind of loud and obnoxious. But these past few years I’ve gotten more focused and at the same time more open to new things around me.”
Schultz says the downturn in the economy has had an effect on her and her mother. They have cut down on buying clothes, eating out and entertainment.
“My friends are in the same boat. We don’t go to the movies as much or eat out together. We try to find things that don’t cost money like taking walks or just hanging out with movie nights at home. I wish I could spend more but with college coming up, it’s important to get in the right frame of mind to save.”
Schultz says she isn’t political. The troubled economy has her “a little bit panicked,” she isn’t worried. On the contrary it has “lit a fire underneath” her. She says she plans to work hard and “be successful and make as much money as possible while helping people.”
When asked if she is concerned that healthcare reform will affect that plan, she says no. She believes medical jobs will continue to pay a high wage.
Schultz named science instructor Veronica Ellingson as her favorite teacher at HHS. “I’m not really into science but she made physics fun and gave me a new perspective on the subject. It was never boring and she put a lot of her own personality into the class.
When asked about any advice she would give to underclassmen, she said to be open to new opportunities while at HHS. She has participated in Youth Action Hudson and through that been part of events like the Empty Bowl Dinner and worked to support places like Grace Place and local food shelves.
“It’s important to keep a balance between your school life and your social life. Don’t wait until you are a senior to get involved in things.”
Schultz will attend UW-Madison in the fall. She plans to pursue a medical career, perhaps studying to be a pediatrician. She is the daughter of Shari Schultz of Hudson.
Hillary Parson, 18, is excited to be moving on. Her favorite part of high school has been making memories with her friends but she is ready to make some new ones. She won’t miss “the drama of high school.”
Parson said she has matured over the past four years. “I’ve come out of my shell. I was shy at first around everybody but my family but I’ve made friends who accept me for who I am and that’s a good feeling.” She says too much time is wasted in high school trying to be popular or be liked by “the popular kids.”
Parson said her psychology class with teacher Bob Smith taught her a lot about herself. “It was really interesting and something you could relate to your own life and to others.”
She will attend WITC next fall to study early childhood education and teach in a pre-school before going on for a more advanced degree. She said the current job crisis concerns her and caused her to evaluate what is important to her.
“Do I go for the money or find a career that will make me happy. I think I’d rather enjoy going to work every day than just do something because of the money.”
She said the more immediate problem of the economy has been the lack of after school and summer jobs for her and her friends.
Parson said that the size of HHS has both an up and a down side. She likes that the size of the school has meant the chance to meet lot of different people from different cultures. But it does feel very crowded and makes passing between classes in the allotted time a real challenge.
“The first thing you learn is to walk on the right side down the halls. If you don’t, you will get plowed over.”
Parson believes the school will miss retiring principal Ed Lucas. “He’s been a good principal. He follows the rules but he’s not in your face about it. He’s easy going and is always willing to explain what he does.”
Parson is the daughter of Marguerite Parson and Steve Parson.
Johan Friisoe, 18, will be heading Norway later this year to live with relatives and attend a transition school there with his friend and fellow graduate Eric Anderson. He will be studying Norwegian and continuing his training in ceramics there.
Friisoe said he has enjoyed the increased freedom being a senior has meant. Along with his remaining classes, he has enjoyed his independent study in ceramics with art teacher Nick Lund. “I’ve really liked working with him and the class always is interesting and fun. It’s been an important part of my time here.”
When asked why he likes making pottery, Friisoe said he believes “it harnesses the culture.”
“You can see the influences of the land in the clay from different places like the rocky terrain of Lake Superior or the prairie of Nebraska and then the culture of the place in the design.”
He also enjoyed his advanced placement psychology course with teacher Jason Swavely. “It was a really interesting look at day to day life.”
Friisoe said he is more ambitious now than he was when he started high school, and more shy. He said his confidence grew as he found something he was good at and enjoyed. He also believes travel including a school trip to Paris has changed him and he urges underclassmen to take advantage of any opportunities they can.
Friisoe isn’t sure what he will do following his year in Norway but he may attend UW-River Falls to continue his art studies as well as his interest in political science and psychology. And travel will continue to be on his itinerary.
Friisoe is the son of Linda Emmons and Geir Friisoe.
Marki Turner, 17, isn’t wasting any time getting on with life after high school. She will report for basic training with the U.S. Marine Corps in August.
“I’ve always known I wanted to join the military and the Marines are the elite and best trained. I will probably become a police officer after that.”
Turner said when she started high school she wasn’t interested in working very hard but things have changed. “I’ve grown up a lot in the last couple of years. I was lazy those first years but now that’s all changed. I’m working toward something important to me.”
The death of classmate and friend Luke Zietlow following a car accident two years ago had a big impact on Turner.
“I just realized that if there is something you want to do, you shouldn’t wait or put it off because none of us knows how long we have. And when I do things I like to think I’m also doing them for Luke because he isn’t here to do them for himself.”
She said she has school friends who are skeptical about her post-graduation choice. Petite Turner says that some of her friends think she won’t make it as a Marine.
However, she has another group of friends, fellow recruits including her recruiter, Staff Sgt. Scott Cole, who meet regularly, who fully support her decision. “They are like family to me and give me a big boost.”
Turner said her parents, especially her mother, were not sure about the Marines either. In fact, her mother, who works in the HHS cafeteria, told Turner that she better tell the recruiter he better wear Kevlar the day he came to meet her at the school.
“But he has totally won her over. He explained about the training I would get and where I would serve and she is 100 percent less worried. She brings him cookies now.”
Turner said she is aware that she could end up in Afghanistan in the middle of a war but she isn’t worried. “I believe in the mission there and what we are doing there. I don’t believe they (the Marines) would send me if it wasn’t for a good reason.”
Turner said there are things she will miss about HHS. She has especially enjoyed her senior year and has fond memories of tech ed classes with Aaron Haskins. “I like the hands-on experience of those classes.”
Turner is the daughter of Mark and Lori Turner.
Chas Larson, 18, already misses what he loved most about high school—football.
While he won’t miss getting up early and going to class, he will miss playing with a team of friends.
“I started by playing Booster football and have been doing it ever since. I like playing with a group of guys and being able to hit someone and not get in trouble.”
Larson doesn’t think he will be playing the game when he attends UW-Madison where he plans to major in physical therapy and sports medicine.
One of the best memories of his years at HHS is working with former teammate and alumnus Mike Lugatis. “When I was a sophomore he kind of mentored me and took me under his wing. He got me into the weight room and into lifting. That meant a lot and I’ve tried to do the same for younger guys on the team too.”
Larson named John Amann, the advance placement American history instructor as his favorite teacher. “He made it easy and interesting. He’s a good teacher.”
Larson said the members of the Class of 2010 are a diverse group that includes students interested in art, performance and academics along with sports. “But we all get along and respect each other. I think that’s cool.”
Larson said the economic downturn has affected his ability to find a summer job and has meant his mother’s hours at Andersen Windows have been cut but he believes the worst might be behind us.
“I think we’ll be OK. I’m going to be in college for quite awhile so it should be better by the time I get out. And as people get older they are going to need rehabilitation. That’s good for me.”
He is the son of Charlie and Angie Larson.
Max Malanaphy, 17, will miss the stage at Hudson High School as much as Larson will miss the football field.
Malanaphy’s best memory of his four years at HHS has been on that stage -- this year, as the lead in “Beauty and the Beast,” and as the Scarecrow in “Wizard of Oz,” his first high school play. Along with other HHS productions, Malanaphy has a long list of performances with The Phipps Children’s Theater including another favorite this season as Willy Wonka.
Malanaphy says he has been fortunate to be brought up in household that encouraged creativity. He remembers putting on plays with his sister on a regular basis.
“Performing is what makes my adrenalin flow, what makes me happy. I’ve been lucky to have people around me who have stimulated my interest in the arts and my own creativity.”
Malanaphy says when he saw his first musical he knew it was what he wanted to do. “The actors seemed so free to go over the top. It was like an excuse to go crazy and I wanted to be part of that.”
He knows, however, that his passion and personal style don’t appeal to everyone. “I know there are a lot of people around here who dislike me and who fit in more than I do. But you don’t get places by fitting in.”
Malanaphy says a lot of his peers like to criticize people who look or act differently. While tiresome and sometimes uncomfortable, he doesn’t let it get to him. “There are enough people out there like me, that you don’t feel as alone.”
Malanaphy says he made an effort to “fit in” when he was in elementary and middle school. It was an awkward time for him and he tried being a skate-boarder.
“I did it all – hung out at the parks, dressed the part, did everything to fit in but I grew out of that. It wasn’t me”
Malanaphy’s advice to other students who feel different is to stick it out. “There’s always that time when it feels awkward and uncomfortable but you grow out of it. Don’t put too much thought into making other people happy or comfortable with you. Be who you are and friends will find you.”
In addition to acting, Malanaphy has also found a niche for himself in the HHS choral department. He says choral teachers Andrew Haase and Kari Heisler have been “unendingly supportive.”
“I’m so different from when I started. It is a wonderful program and has done so much for me and other kids.”
What Malanaphy won’t miss about his years at HHS is what he calls the “negative feelings toward me that I experienced in earlier years.”
“That might not change much in college but hopefully people will be a bit more mature and more open. But I’m looking forward to making new friends.”
Malanaphy’s personal experience has led him to go beyond his school and community and become part of the Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group that addresses human rights issues.
Come fall, Malanaphy will attend UW-Milwaukee’s School of Fine Arts. He would like a career in musical theater and expects one day to end up on the coasts, where he plans to “audition, audition, audition” and do whatever it takes to have a career he is passionate about. “I don’t want to look around one day and find myself in some cubicle job. That isn’t for me.”
Malanaphy is the son of Maury and Liz Malanaphy.
Adam Cameron, 19, is excited about graduating but will miss some things about his years at HHS.
Cameron has been a member of Peer Helpers, a group of students from all four classes who are chosen by their peers and the staff to act as advocates and mediators for students. The group receives special training and works individually and as a group on campus.
“I really enjoyed being a member of Peer Helpers. It really gave me the chance to know people from different groups in the school and become friends with them.”
Cameron describes the group as a small number of students educated on how to be there for their friends and for any student and to be a resource for them.
“It has been a solid group of friends for me and we’ve stuck together over the years.” He said he will also miss Elizabeth Smith, school counselor and the advisor for Peer Helpers. “She’s always been a good resource for me and she is just awesome.”
As much as his friends mean to him here, Cameron is looking forward to some change. He will attend UW-Stout next year and plans to transfer to UW-Claire for their chemistry department.
Cameron pays attention to politics and the state of the nation. He believes that things are moving in the right direction and he is optimistic about the future.
“And there is something we would all do well to remember in times like this. It doesn’t get you anywhere to blame people for things that have already happened. The only thing we can do is look to the future and try to do better.”
As for his own future, he says while he doesn’t want to worry about money, he also wants to be doing something he likes. “It should never be just about the money.”
Cameron is the son of Chris Cameron and Jeff Cameron.
Maggie O’Brien, 18, has already experienced a life-changing event after her father, Mike, died of cancer just before the start of her senior year.
She started school this fall three weeks late but she says teachers and counselors made her transition back easier than she expected. And with school and her job at the Dairy Queen, she has kept busy.
“Everyone has been very supportive. The counselors were always there for me if I needed to talk or just get away from things and I love where I work and my friends there. It has all helped.”
O’Brien says the loss of her father made her “grow up a lot.” She and her mother have a close relationship. “She is a rock for me but I try to take care of her too. It has brought us closer together.”
O’Brien said she will be glad to graduate on Saturday. She will miss her friends but won’t miss the “busy work” of the last weeks of senior year. That doesn’t include her civics class taught by Jay Kluz.
“I loved that class. We got to kind of work on our own, do our own research and then discuss things in a roundtable. It was nice to have that independence.”
O’Brien said among the happy memories of HHS are those of her involvement with the annual Diversity Days which highlight the diverse cultures of students. “That was a lot of fun and I made friends I wouldn’t have otherwise. I recommend getting involved with that.”
O’Brien said that after her dad passed away, she began to realize how much she took her family for granted and that she wanted to change that.
“I wasn’t close to them before but now – wow, they mean everything. And my friend, Chelsea Solfest, we’ve been friends since middle school. She’s been a rock through everything. It’s kind of a silver lining in something so bad to feel this way. That has surprised me.”
O’Brien will attend Century College in the Twin Cities and hopes to enroll in their radiology program. She expects she will continue to live in Hudson and stay close to her family.
For details about graduation, see the attached story link.