All-Area Academic Excellence Team: Dunn, Rendel, Still, Richins

May 19 — Jennalee Dunn

—Parents: Reed and Lee Ann Dunn.

—School: Joplin High School.

—Planned career field: Human rights adviser for the United Nations.

—Long-range goals: Some of my long-range goals are to graduate with honors from Cornell, join the Peace Corps for two years and to go to law school.

—Advice to freshmen for academic success: Keep working hard. Staying up late for homework will be worth it some day. Find a passion and stick with it. Share your passion with the community and branch out of your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to take hard classes and push yourself.

—Inspiring educator: Mr. Cooney teaches AP language and composition for juniors here at JHS. He was one of the most influential teachers I’ve had. In his class, we read social commentaries and had important conversations. I have never before felt so part of this world than I did when I was in his class.

We talked about delicate topics such as racism and religion, but also philosophical topics such as “Are we products of our environment?” This class gave me the ability and strength to ask big questions. Mr. Cooney showed me how to be curious of the world. I am forever grateful.

Isaac Rendel

—Parents: Brent and Jera Rendel.

—School: Baxter Springs (Kansas) High School.

—Planned career field: Air Force pilot.

—Long-range goals: To have a career doing what I love in the Air Force, retire after 20 years and then become a commercial pilot.

—Advice to freshmen for academic success: If you’re thinking about doing something, but you aren’t sure if you’ll get in, you aren’t sure if you’re qualified, or you just aren’t sure that you ‘re good enough, try it anyway. Regrets are often made of things you wish you would have done.

—Inspiring educator: Every year in second grade, we would have a little musical with everyone in the class for all the students and families to watch. I remember neither the musical we performed nor the plot, but what I do remember was Mrs. Heyburn choosing me as the narrator.

I was a terrible speaker. I could not talk until I was 4 years old, I was in speech therapy and I got held back in kindergarten. Despite this, I wanted to be the narrator, simply because it was the part with the most lines. There were certainly many better choices for the part, but that mattered far less to Mrs. Heyburn than helping me grow.

Her kindness spoke volumes to her character, and what she did for me has now inspired me twice. As a child, it inspired me to read, to learn and to put myself out in front of people. As an adolescent, it has now taught me about how to treat people because sometimes the growth you can stimulate in someone is simply more important than the task at hand. Thank you to Mrs. Heyburn, one of the first teachers who ever believed in me.

Zoe Still

—Parents: Donna and Matthew Still.

—School: Webb City High School.

—Planned career field: Graphic design.

—Long-range goals: To own or be part of a branding company and design packaging or other materials.

—Advice to freshmen for academic success: Keep track of your homework and upcoming assignments in a calendar. Don’t get so involved in extracurriculars that your schoolwork suffers. Find an outlet for your creativity, even if you do not think you are good at it.

—Inspiring educator: Ms. Laura Henry, AP literature teacher, has reinvigorated my love for reading and sparked a different side of books. She has also given lots of life advice and shown her students how to get invested into learning and broader knowledge. She has challenged me to think deeper, and I have really enjoyed her class this year.

Calvin Richins

—Parents: Matthew and Elizabeth Richins and Nicole and James Kelleher.

—School: Carl Junction High School.

—Planned career field: Microbiology.

—Long-range goals: I’m going to go to MSU this fall and major in biology with an emphasis in microbiology. After I get my bachelor’s degree, I’m going to look into graduate programs.

—Advice to freshmen for academic success: Do not procrastinate. If you do, everything will build and you’ll be drowning in stress.

—Inspiring educator: My junior high enrichment teacher, Mrs. Hensley, has always been one of my favorite teachers. She incites fun education and promotes equal opportunities for all. She helped me find my future passion and taught me many important life lessons that have helped me survive high school. She continues to inspire me throughout my high school career and future endeavors.

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