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Voyageur's Best Features of 2004

Top of their class

Top of their class
McGregor names Valedictorians and Salutatorian
by John Grones  |  May 25, 2004

There are quite a few words that easily describe the top academic students graduating at McGregor High School this year. Some might say they are high achievers, others might say goal oriented, but it appears that competitive and necessity are the best words to describe the three individuals that were named Class of 2004 Valedictorians.

By all accounts this is the first time in McGregor School history of the school that there has been a three-way tie for Valedictorian. Sunnah Maki, Derek Cummings and Andy Hadrich all tied with 4.0 grade point averages. In other words the three individuals went through grades nine through twelve with all As.

For Sunnah it all started the second half of fifth grade. “I was getting Bs in reading,” said Sunnah. “It was at that point that I told myself I wasn’t getting any more Bs in reading. I decided I would get As from then on and I did.”

For Andy and Derek, it started in fourth grade. “I remember watching Sarah DeRosier get a plaque for getting all As in elementary school...” said Andy. “and then there’s that competitive nature between me and Derek.”

“That’s right,” said Derek. “It’s never been about the grades... just beating Andy.”

All three Valedictorians strove from that point to keep their grade point average at 4.0. While Derek and Andy were competing against each other, Sunnah worked hard out of necessity. She felt it was the only way she could go to college.

As the class progressed through the years, it became clear that there might be a three-way tie. Meanwhile, Salutatorian was up for grabs and Katie Hamilton felt confident that the honor would be hers. Katie’s road to Salutatorian was much different than the other three. She wasn’t competing and she wasn’t striving out of necessity. “I didn’t really think about it,” said Katie who graduated with a 3.94. “There were so many at the top of my class. I just tried to do my best.”

Along the way all four individuals talked about some difficult moments they had maintaining high standards. For Andy it was any one of Mr. Rossina’s English classes. “I think I had 90 percent in every one of them,” he said.

For Derek, Mr. Cirilli’s chemistry class was a bit intimidating. He felt he had to work really hard the first half of the trimester. The material wasn’t particularly interesting to him and he had no real background in the subject.

Sunnah had a few tests that were challenging, but she really enjoyed all subject material. Katie felt geometry proofs were her biggest challenge.

As the senior year progressed the outcome was predicted by most, but there were still some concerns. Derek told himself ‘just don’t screw it up,’ while Andy felt he’d gone this far, he might as well finish it up. Sunnah’s only concern was getting senioritis (a feeling that strikes many seniors that involves not wanting to go to school).

Katie had the biggest concern—if one of the top three faltered, Salutatorian would be down the tubes. “I wasn’t worried about myself,” she said. “I was worried about those three. I was on the phone with Andy one day and I told him I’d kick his butt if he got a B.”

It’s official now and Katie is Salutatorian. Sunnah, Derek and Andy will share the McGregor Class of 2004 Valedictorian honor.

Valedictorian has come with a few perks, and thanks to the McGregor Lions Club, all four received a 1,000 dollar scholarship to attend college, which is where they are all headed.

Sunnah is headed for St. Scholastica where she plans to graduate in four years and go to medical school. Sunnah would also like to minor in Russian and possibly visit the country. In addition to her fine grade point average, Sunnah was also involved in speech, drama, band and choir. She received a superior rating for her flute solo this past year.

Derek will be attending the University of Minnesota-Duluth to study business. Derek’s success in the classroom was duplicated on the athletic field. He participated in football, basketball and baseball. He was an all-conference performer in all three sports and was awarded Academic All-State.

Andy’s plan is to attend St. Scholastica and pursue a physical therapy degree. Andy’s activities outside the classroom included three sports and National Honor Society. Andy was all-conference in cross country, basketball and track and field. He was the vice president of National Honor Society.

Katie will be attending the University of Minnesota for broadcast journalism and will minor in business. In addition to being named Salutatorian this year, Katie was the yearbook editor, the senior class president and was active in student council.

The four will enjoy the summer of 2004 before heading out on their own. Each of them had someone that they wanted to thank for helping them rank in the top of the class. Sunnah wanted to thank Mr. Baumgardt, who she felt was behind her all the way. “He believed in me,” said Sunnah.

Derek wanted to thank his parents who encouraged him to do his homework every night.

Andy also felt Mr. Baumgardt was a significant influence. “He really challenged us,” said Andy. “He related academics to athletics.”

Katie felt her parents were very instumental in her success. “My parents gave me the self-motivation at a young age,” she concluded.

This article first appeared in the May 25, 2004 issue of the Voyageur Press.