In a class of their own |

In a class of their own

Ryan Salm/Sierra SunNorth Tahoe High School students Josh McCready, Julie Fair, Heather McNair, Meghan Caulkett and Robin Wilson get together in Tahoe City on Tuesday.

Graduating seniors at both North Tahoe and Tahoe Truckee high schools were accepted to a number of prestigious schools this year, which is a feat considering that more students nationwide have applied to colleges and universities than in previous years.

Judging by the statistics that are available so far for this application season, college admissions remain highly competitive, according to the Web site. Even though more students are entering the application pool, top schools are not increasing their class sizes.

Even so, the 106 graduating seniors at North Tahoe received 330 acceptance letters this year, and out of 193 graduating seniors at Tahoe Truckee High School, 157 are headed to college this fall. For North Tahoe High School, seven were accepted to University of California, Berkeley; four were accepted to University of California, Los Angeles; and two to the University of Southern California. Specific admission statistics were not available for Tahoe Truckee High School at press time.

“It’s remarkable for a school this size to get admission to so many prestigious schools,” said Stephanie Welsh, assistant principal for North Tahoe High School. “Schools of 2,000 are lucky to have seven students admitted to Berkeley. We have a high acceptance rates each year at prestigious schools.”

Admissions policies at both UCLA and UC Berkeley are stringent and both schools had a record number of applicants this year. Out of 47,258 applicants to UCLA, only 12,094 were admitted, a 12 percent increase over last year and the largest applicant pool ever, according to the university. Berkeley accepted 9,800 students for the fall semester out of 41,711 applicants, a 13 percent increase over last year, according to the admissions office.

The quality of applicants is also increasing. For UCLA, nearly 21,000 students who applied earned a 4.0 grade-point average or higher.

“We have had a number of students placed at a number of prestigious schools this year around the country,” said Grant Steunenberg, assistant principal at Tahoe Truckee High School. “This senior class is very special. They have achieved above and beyond my expectations. They have amazed me. They’re great.”

The students said they worked hard to get accepted at big name schools and they had a strong peer group helping them along the way.

“Our class is such a smart class,” said Amy Miescke, a North Tahoe High graduating senior who will attend Berkeley in the fall. “One B in four years got me in seventh. It’s a high-achieving class.”

Miescke, who applied to eight schools and was accepted to seven of them, is an example of the achievers the Tahoe-Truckee community produces. The 17-year-old has been a ballet dancer since the age of 2, is involved in rape prevention programs, teaches children ballet, and she is in Interact, in band, in a singing group and on varsity volleyball for three years.

“You mess up a little bit and you’re bumped way down,” said Robin Wilson, a North Tahoe High senior who will attend the University of California, Davis this fall. “I’ve taken advantage of all the opportunities presented to me. It helps being with motivated students.”

North Tahoe High’s valedictorian Josh McCready is just one of nearly 20 North Tahoe seniors who received a grade-point average higher than 4.0 this year, according to Welsh. Instead of applying to MIT or an Ivy League school, McCready opted for Olin College of Engineering in Massachusetts. The private school accepted only 80 freshmen for the fall semester, according to the Olin Web site.

“We’re all pretty self-motivated,” said Meghan Caulkett, who will attend Boston University and will be named North Tahoe’s salutatorian at the school’s graduation today. “Because we got into big schools, we have a whole bunch of options that are available to us.”

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