North Tahoe’s trio of valedictorians share stage

Kyle Magin
Sierra Sun
Ryan Slabaugh/Sierra SunFrom left to right, Anja Wittels, Arielle Younger and Hilary Stoner are the valedictorians for the Class of 2009 at North Tahoe High School.

TAHOE CITY and#8212; Instead of creating three seperate valedictorian speeches for North Tahoe High School’s three valedictorians and#8212; Arielle Younger, Anja Wittels and Hilary Stoner decided to combine their speeches into a three-part oration.

Wittels, who hopes to study linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley next year, plans to talk about the class of 2009’s shared experiences growing up in a small town.

Stoner, who is heading to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo next year to student political science, with minors in Spanish and economics, said her speech will talk about what members of the tight-knit class mean to each other.

Younger, also on her way to Berkeley as an undeclared major with an interest in medicine said her speech will look ahead to 2009’s shared future, while using as few cliches as possible.

The Sun sat down with all three ladies this week to talk about their time at NTHS and what the future holds.

Sierra Sun: What influenced your college choices?

Hilary Stone: Well, my sister goes there, and it’s right by the beach and I’m a beach girl. Even though I come from a pretty small area I feel comfortable there.

Anja Wittels: It’s an amazing school, and a good distance from home, but my family can still come to visit. They have a great marching band I really want to join, and I really liked that it’s so environmentally conscious.

Arielle Younger: It’s a family college, my aunt went there and my cousins are huge fans. I really like the location in the Bay Area, and their wonderful professors.

Sun: You’re all obviously talented students, but what classes did you need to work hardest at while you were in high school?

Hilary: I’m definitely an English-oriented student, so I struggled with math and science. I was really challenged in AP English but learned the most from that.

Anja: Science was not my strongest point and physics was really hard to understand. I had to work really hard in Spanish, even though it was one of my favorites, because when I started in high school I’d only had three years of Spanish and the rest of the class was pretty fluent. But it definitely felt good to work hard at it.

Arielle: Physics was challenging because it’s so objective. You really have to think critically to succeed, it can be a little nerve wracking.

Sun: Being a valedictorian isn’t an inherently easy task, what sort of help did you get to accomplish your goals?

Hilary: Both of my parents are huge influences on my life. When it came to school they’d make sure my homework was done every night. A lot of my drive came from myself, too, I’ve never thought it’s acceptable to not try my best.

Anja: I’m exremely fortunate to have two parents who helped me when I needed it. There was definitely pressure to achieve, but it was good. I’m an older sister, too, so I wanted to be a role model for my younger brother and sister.

Arielle: My parents are both very loving and supportive, but with them it wasn’t always about the grades, it was about the experience.

Sun: What did you three get out of growing up in North Tahoe?

Hilary: I think you get good at knowing how to make relationships with people. You learn how to take all different kinds of personalities and get along with them because it is such a small school. You also learn to really appreciate where you come from.

Anja: I was given the opportunity to change schools at the start of high school, but I had the best opportunities and education here. Because it’s so small you are given opportunities to try a lot of different things, it taught you to take advantage of everything you’ve got. There’s always something to do, and there’s no place we’ll go that’ll top Tahoe.

Arielle: The beauty of living in such a small town is you get the opportunity to try everything and participate in everything. There’s a great familiarity between the teachers and the students, they are so willing to help out.

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