High School Scholars In Their Own Words Orcas High's Valedictorian and Salutatorians Represent Us

— by Ayn Gailey, updated June 20 at 1:30 p.m. —

What better way to send off our top Orcas Island seniors than subjecting them to an island version of the historic Proust Questionnaire?

In their own words. . .

Emma Heikkinen, Orcas Island High School valedictorian

VALEDICTORIAN: EMMA HEIKKINEN

Valedictorian Emma Heikkinen, Editor-in-Chief of The Viking Voice, National Honor Society member, a founding member of Debate Club, and mastermind behind the zine collection at our local library, will be shining next in Iowa at Grinnell College, listed by U.S. News & Report as one of the “Nation’s Best Liberal Arts Colleges.” She intends to major in Political Science with a concentration in Peace & Conflict Studies.

What was your favorite high school experience?
Either watching the homoerotic Pablo Neruda movie in Spanish IV, placing the chicken image on the front cover of The Viking Voice, going to grocery stores on 2016’s trip to Japan, getting my paper back on Native Son in American Literature, after-school newspaper Photoshop sessions, or experiencing Mr. Waage’s old couch in the old computer lab.

What would you do differently or what would you have the school do differently if you were to do it all over again?
I wish I had spent less time on Heart of Darkness, and I wish Mrs. Wrightsman would stop teaching Heart of Darkness.

What school or extracurricular activity shaped you most?
The Viking Voice (as editor-in-chief).

How did the Orcas community or the island itself shape who you are?
Through granting me friends merely by association and small-town necessity.

What is your present state of mind?
Anxious?

Your chief characteristic
Clog-wearer

Your favorite qualities in a friend
Ability to wear ugly clothing

Your favorite qualities in a teacher
Self-deprecating, nihilist humor

Your favorite prose author
Haruki Murakami

Your favorite poet
Langston Hughes? I don’t read much poetry.

Your favorite composer or songwriter
Gustavo Santaolalla (and Sufjan Stevens!)

Your favorite heroes in real life
Gustavo Santaolalla for composing “De Ushuaia de la Quiaca.”

Your ideal occupation/career
Old woman by the sea

Where would you like to live?
Tiny fishing village in Japan

Your favorite motto
“Put an egg in your mouth before the dentist, then when he opens your mouth he can’t mess with your teeth because there’s an egg there.”

Your idea of happiness
Eggs dropped on hot cast-iron pans

SALUTATORIAN: BETHANY HANSEN

Bethany Hansen, Orcas Island High School Co-Salutatorian

Bethany Hansen, salutatorian and National Honor Society member, is well known for her athleticism and her senior class project, which had her teaching sign language to kids at the Funhouse Commons. Bethany will be attending Western Washington University and plans to major in Mathematics or Social Work.

What was your favorite high school experience?
My favorite high school experience was hitting my first homerun as a freshman.

What would you do differently or what would you have the school do differently if you were to do it all over again?
I wish the school could fix the heating. It was a cold winter!

What school or extracurricular activity shaped you most?
Being a part of softball, basketball, and volleyball throughout my four years of high school has greatly shaped me into who I am today.

How did the Orcas community or the island itself shape who you are?
I have been very lucky to have a lot of wonderful mentors from the Orcas community who have influenced and inspired me in so many ways.

What is your present state of mind?
Excited for the future!

Your chief characteristic
Determined

Your favorite qualities in a friend
Loyal

Your favorite qualities in a teacher
Authoritative

Your favorite prose author
Rick Riordan

Your favorite poet
John Keats

Your favorite composer or songwriter
David Andrew Burd

Your favorite heroes in real life
My mom

Your ideal occupation/career
Spiderman

Where would you like to live?
California

Your favorite motto
Honesty is the best policy.

Your idea of happiness
A very happy family

SALUTATORIAN: LUKE BRONN

Co-Salutatorian Luke Bronn has represented his peers as an ASB officer and earned respect as an artist and community member when he created a fundraiser featuring local-made soup in hand-thrown, hand-glazed bowls created by him. All proceeds from that event went to the public school art program, which he feels passionately about. Luke plans to major in art at Whitworth University.

What was your favorite high school experience? 
My favorite high school experience was going to state with my soccer team.

What would you do differently or what would you have the school do differently if you were to do it all over again?
I would have been more involved as a Freshman. I had a much better high school experience as soon as I got out and started doing things.

What school or extracurricular activity shaped you most?
Being in leadership class and an ASB officer helped me get out of my shell and made me a more confident person.

How did the Orcas community or the island itself shape who you are?
It made me love to know and be known by people.

What is your present state of mind
Relieved

Your chief characteristic
Loyal

Your favorite qualities in a friend
Willing to think deeply

Your favorite qualities in a teacher
Effort to know a student personally

Your favorite prose author
C.S. Lewis

Your favorite poet
Undecided

Your favorite composer or songwriter
Ed Sheeran

Your favorite heroes in real life
My parents

Your ideal occupation/career
High school math and/or art teacher

Where would you like to live
Orcas?

Your favorite motto
“It’s only clay” -Trudy Erwin

Your idea of Happiness
Having a positive impact on the lives of those around me and being content with my current state of being.

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