By Julie Ann Madden
Although they didn’t think about being valedictorians, they knew since they were freshmen they were the six who had Grade Point Averages of 4.0.
It was just last month when it began to dawn on these girls that the title might be theirs.
The Class of 2014’s valedictorians are:
• Katherine “Katie” Black, daughter of Sharyl and Jim Black of Akron;
• Mariah Grimm, daughter of Barbette and Duane Grimm of rural Westfield;
• Dana Hedlund, daughter of Deb and Troy Hedlund of rural Sioux City;
• Emily Meerdink, daughter of Dee and Kim Meerdink of rural Hawarden;
• Sarah Schroeder, daughter of Jill and Tom Schroeder of Akron; and
• Kayla Tindall, daughter of LeAnn and Dan Tindall of rural Akron.
It hasn’t been easy for the six to keep their GPAs at the top, they told The Akron Hometowner.
They are all involved in extracurricular activities in and outside of school.
“We had to figure out time management,” said Hedlund. “We had to prioritize.”
“It was just knowing you had to have extra time to do schoolwork instead of sleeping was the hard part,” said Tindall, noting she’ll never forget the book, The Scarlet Letter, and the quiz on which she got a 40 percent. She spent a lot of time bringing that grade back up the rest of that semester.
The teachers do let them retake quizzes, redo work and are available to help before and after school, they said, adding they also spend a lot of time doing homework together and supporting each other in their efforts to keep 4.0 GPAs.
“It’s the stress. Period,” said Grimm.
All credit their parents and teachers for helping them achieve this academic accomplishment.
“I really got this from my parents,” said Grimm. “They showed me if I do this good how much it would help in the long run.”
Black agreed and added, “I want to make my parents proud and by doing this and doing my best, I’ve got to be a perfectionist and that’s going to be an ‘A.’”
“My mom told me it’s okay if you get a ‘B;’ it’s going to be fine,” said Grimm, “but I never allowed myself to do that.”
“Me either,” said Black.
“My parents wanted me to do my best,” said Meerdink. “They didn’t care if it was an ‘A’ or a ‘B.’”
Their advice to incoming freshmen is to try hard from the beginning of your freshman year.
“If you don’t try at the beginning, you are definitely going to regret it as a senior,” said Hedlund. “Year after year I have kids tell me they didn’t try as hard and didn’t think it was a big deal (but it is when you are a senior).”
“I say don’t stress about the grades,” said Schroeder. “Don’t do something just because you’re going to be stressed out. Do everything you want to do. Work hard. Stay focused. If you get unfocused, that’s when it all falls apart.”
“Motivation can’t just come from someone else,” said Hedlund. “You have to actually want it.”
“My parents said ‘do your best and we’re proud of you no matter what as long as you try,’” said Hedlund. “But, inside you need to be able to say I can do this. I have potential and I have to want to.”
“It’s a good school,” said Meerdink as the group reflected on being classmates since Discovergarten and Kindergarten.
“It’s a great community to grow up in,” said Hedlund.
They all plan to relax this summer and pack their things for college this fall.
Black plans to study engineering at Iowa State University.
Grimm will be working toward a business degree at University of Northern Iowa.
Hedlund will be playing softball and studying chemistry and physical therapy at Northwestern College.
Meerdink is heading to South Dakota State University to study civil engineering.
Schroeder will be attending University of Northern Iowa. Her major is undecided at this time but she knows she wants to have a career working with children and/or people.
Tindall will join Hedlund at Northwestern College to play softball and study to become an athletic trainer.