Hudson High School Class of 2012: The future awaitsThese five students are among the 399 graduating from Hudson High School on Saturday. They talked with the Star-Observer about their experience in high school and their future plans.
These five students are among the 399 graduating from Hudson High School on Saturday. They talked with the Star-Observer about their experience in high school and their future plans.
Martha Harell, 18, is ready to get started on her future.
She will attend UW-Madison in the pre-veterinarian program. She will minor in business because she plans to have her own practice one day.
“I’ve known what I wanted to do since I was 5. I can’t wait to get started and I’m ready for the new experiences college will bring and to meet some new people.”
But as excited as she is about moving on, she will miss her family and friends from Hudson. She feels a closeness at Hudson High School that will be in sharp contrast to things at UW-Madison.
She counts cheerleading and track among the highpoints of her four years at HHS. She competed at the state track meet on her last time as a sprinter, high jumper and hurdler. As for cheerleading, she says “People don’t realize how hard we work and how much stamina and athletic ability it takes and we do it all with no pads or protection. You really have to be flexible or you wouldn’t be able to do half the stunts we do.”
Harell said she will miss family as much as anything when she goes to college. Along with her mother, Rebecca Harell, she credits her aunt, Bonnie Hintze, for helping her graduate. “They have always been there to encourage me and support me. When it seemed like too much, they were there to build me up. Without them, I would be nowhere.”
Harell took an impressive number of advanced placement classes and “loved being in band.” She said the person she will remember most from HHS is cheerleading coach Suzanne Robole. “I could always talk to her and she understood. She always has such a positive outlook and I am happy I got to know her.
As she leaves high school she wants underclassmen to get involved as much as they can during high school. “Don’t let what other people think get in your way. These are you last few years in your hometown before everything changes.”
And as for adults, she wants them to know that teens make more positive decisions than they get credit for. “There is a lot of stress associated with high school and we make decisions all the time. “We may not act like we need you, but we do.”
David Kein is also heading to UW-Madison to pursue a degree in engineering but he said there is lots he will miss about HHS and Hudson.
Kein, 18, has been a member of the HHS hockey team for three years and has been a member of the varsity golf team and believes he has made friends for life there.
He has also made some important connections with teachers along the way, namely math teacher Steve Kocmoud and history teacher John Amann. “But I’ve liked all my teachers. I’ve never had a bad teacher here.”
He said the Project Lead the Way courses that he took helped him decide on what to major in at college.
But the highlights of his time at HHS have revolved around the sports he loves to play. “I was doing what I loved to do — you can’t have a bad time playing hockey.” He said he was fortunate to be able to make some money as a hockey referee and says any time on the ice was special to him.
As much as he loved high school sports, Kein made time for other extracurricular activities including Youth Action Hudson, the Student to Student program, Senior Mentors and the National Honor Society. “Those things were fun and rewarding and they look great on college transcripts.”
Kein says that his peers at HHS make good choices for the most part and he doesn’t believe drugs and alcohol are too big a problem in the school. He thinks adults tend to stereotype teens but he believes most do a better job with their lives than they get credit for.
Kein is the son of Lisa and Robert Kein.
Connor O’Keefe, 18, says he is ready to move onto the next chapter of his life as well. He will attend WITC in La Crosse to become a diesel and heavy equipment technician.
He said his grandfather, Pete Keller of Hudson, has been his mentor for as long as he can remember and said he learned to love working with his hands.
“I took all the hands-on courses I could, any tech. ed. class they offered. I always felt comfortable in those classes.”
He says teachers like Aaron Haskins, Tom Klatt and, more recently, Bob Branson, have been important to his success and his decision to go on for his post-secondary degree. “Teaching can be a stressful job but they are great guys. They are always there for me to be sure I passed my classes.”
O’Keefe says he will miss going to a smaller school and small town where he knew most people. “But I am really happy to be going to a school where I can really focus on taking only the classes I want to, that will get me finished and working as soon as possible and getting lots of hands-on experience.”
O’Keefe earned several college credits while at HHS that will apply to his degree at WITC.
O’Keefe isn’t too concerned about his future because he believes he has chosen well when it comes to a career. “I’m really not too concerned about the economy and all that. I think I’ve picked a growing field where there is work available. I’ve had friends whose parents jobs and businesses that have been hit hard and it has been tough for them but I think I will be OK.”
O’Keefe said the best advice he could give to those just starting high school would be to take classes outside of their comfort zone. “Take all the different classes you can, especially hands-on ones. You might find something you like and the more you like something, the more you learn.”
O’Keefe is the son of Tom O’Keefe and Veronica Strand.
If Mary Lesher’s plans for the future pan out, this won’t be the last time her hometown newspaper will be writing about her.
Lesher, 18, will attend Vassar College in the fall. She will major in history with an eye to becoming a museum curator one day, maybe at the Smithsonian.
But Lesher says she is open to whatever comes her way. “Things always change.”
Lesher has been busy in high school, as a musician and a member of the several choirs as well as being active in other groups and activities. School and education trips like those to Germany and Italy and U.S. trips to Yellowstone National Park and Alaska have provided some of her favorite high school experiences.
She said while she will miss the friends and teachers she sees every day, she is ready to move on. “It feels like it is time for a change. Moving out East is a good thing. And I am looking forward to picking my own classes.”
Lesher will miss seeing her younger brother every day. Her brother has special needs and as a member of Student to Student, Lesher was able to see him regularly. “He really likes it when I just pop in and surprise him. I will really miss that.”
Lesher said her high school years have been busy ones with advanced placement classes, choir, Student to Student, Senior Mentors and a part-time job. She says the support and influence of teachers like Patty Mueller, Laurie Harmon and music teachers Kari Heisler and Andrew Haase have been important to her success.
“They are so enthusiastic about what they do. They are here because they love it. It’s not just a job to them and we benefit from that.”
Lesher says there have been some sad and tragic moments at HHS in recent years including a student’s suicide. She believes student-led programs like “Flip It Forward,” that tries to break down barriers between students and point to their similarities more than their differences are having an impact. She was one of the initial group of students who were trained to facilitate the program
“I think it has had a trickle-down effect and will ultimately make this a better environment for everybody.”
Her advice for those just starting high school, “If something happens in those first days or months, don’t worry about it. Let it go. Chances are everybody else will too.”
As for adults, “Don’t write us off as lazy or assume we don’t care about things. Don’t underestimate us. Some day you are going to say ‘where did she come from?’ and I will say from right here.”
Lesher is the daughter of Mike and Julie Lesher.
Andy Klanderman, 18, has something to do before he heads off to college at Bethel University.
As a member of the Army National Guard, he will leave for 10 weeks of basic training at Fort Benning, Ga., next week.
His decision to join the National Guard was based on two things. “It is a great way to serve my country and a great way to pay for college. It is intense but I think of it as a new adventure.”
As for Bethel, “It was kind of my dream school but I didn’t think it would become a reality. So this made it all possible.”
Klanderman said he has loved his time at HHS and he has been busy with classes and extracurricular activities. Along with choir, Klanderman has been a member of the HHS Peer Helpers, a group of students who offer help and support to students who need it.
“I think I will miss that most. The Peer Helpers are such a close group — like a family really. We help a lot of kids with a lot of issues. There are some real challenges in high school and everyone wants to fit in. We’re here to help when that seems hard.”
Klanderman believes most adults don’t realize the kinds of issues teens deal with every day. “Kids suffer a lot of stress and it comes out in all kinds of ways from self-harm like cutting to eating disorders to trouble with relationships.”
He cited the suicide of a student last year as a “big moment” for Peer Helpers. “Kids really wanted to talk about what happened. There was a lot of stress around school and we were there to listen and be supportive, show we cared.”
Klanderman said teacher Bob Smith has been an important influence in his life. “He showed me we don’t have to conform to fit in. Be who you want to be and don’t be afraid of divergent thought.” He also points to his choral teachers, Heisler and Hayes, and to Peer Helper advisor Dana Krahenbuhl as people he counted on during his high school years.
Klanderman says he is realistic about what is ahead for him. “I know this is going to be a hard summer but I’m up for it and I feel good that I have no regrets leaving high school.”
Klanderman is the son of Mark and Cheryl Klanderman.