On Sunday, 90 students will graduate from Powell High School during the 100th Annual Commencement Ceremony. Graduation begins at 2 p.m. at the Powell High School Gymnasium.
“The Class of 2014 is an exceptional bunch of young people,” said PHS Principal Jim Kuhn.
He said their leadership is going to be missed, and he’s impressed with their success in athletics, activities and academics.
As a class, they have completed more than 700 college credit hours and have a collective grade point average of 3.24, Kuhn said.
The Class of 2014’s motto is: “It is our choices ... that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities,” from J.K. Rowling. Their class song is “No Such Thing” by John Mayer and the flower is an orange and white dahlia.
The valedictorians for the Class of 2014 are Emma Hanlin and Quin Wetzel. Both students have perfect 4.0 grade point averages and are extensively involved in school activities and community service.
Rather than looking for a tie-breaker to determine who would be valedictorian and salutatorian, Hanlin and Wetzel are glad to share the honor as co-valedictorians.
Neither student sought to be at the very top of the class — they just set goals along the way, and it was a happy bonus, Hanlin said.
“It wasn’t ever a goal all along,” Wetzel added. “It just kind of happened when we worked that hard.”
Their hard work has paid off in other ways, as they received numerous scholarships.
Wetzel received the STARR Scholarship to attend Michigan State University. The value of the scholarship is estimated at more than $200,000 and covers tuition, fees, room, board, books, travel expenses and a computer allowance for four years.
Wetzel plans to major in finance and then hopes to go on to law school.
A National Merit Scholarship finalist, Hanlin received a $124,000 scholarship to attend Bethel University, a Christian school in St. Paul, Minn.
“The reason I’m so excited to go to a Christian school is because after I graduate, I want to work as a missionary, and so when I’m at Bethel I’m going to major in Bible and theology,” Hanlin said. She also plans to get another degree, but hasn’t decided what field yet.
Both are accomplished members of the choir, being named to the All-State Choir and the EROCNE jazz choir.
Wetzel also is the student body president, a member of the varsity swimming and cross country teams, National Honor Society and Ignition.
He did a variety of community service projects and also worked at the Powell Aquatic Center and the Bonner Law Firm and Yellowstone Mediation.
A varsity member of the PHS speech and debate team, Hanlin won the state championship in original oratory. She also was cast for a leading role in “Once Upon a Mattress” and “The Secret Garden.” During her time at PHS, she also played on the tennis and soccer teams.
Her involvement also includes the National Honor Society and Ignition and a variety of community service projects through her church and other groups.
For three summers, she worked for Christian Youth in Action.
Hanlin and Wetzel agree that various activities and sports were the highlights in their high school careers. For both of them, involvement in choir stood out as a high point.
“A major highlight for me is how I’ve been able to try a bunch of different things,” Hanlin said.
Wetzel said another highlight was raising money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. With two consecutive fundraisers, students raised more than $40,000.
Both seniors plan to find ways to get involved at their universities and in their new communities. Hanlin and Wetzel said they’ve appreciated their education in Park County School District No. 1, and look forward to what’s next.
“Because of my education here, I feel prepared to go to college,” Hanlin said. “I don’t have any apprehension about not being up to the level of other students, just because I’m from a small town.”
“I think all of the teachers really strive to make sure that we’re ready to go to college,” Wetzel added, also thanking the counseling staff for everything they’ve done.
Wetzel and Hanlin also appreciate all the support they’ve received from their families.
Wetzel is the son of John and Shelby Wetzel, and Hanlin is the daughter of Brett and Renee Hanlin.
“I’ve always felt like my parents had a good balance of pushing me and supporting me and helping me to do my best, but also not forcing me to be someone that I wasn’t,” Hanlin said.
Hanlin said her parents always told her to do her best and they would be happy.
Wetzel said his parents also have been very supportive, no matter what.
“I have really strived to be a perfectionist, and I put so much pressure on myself, and my parents don’t put any pressure on me,” Wetzel said. “So whenever I’m stressed or nervous, it is all on my own accord.”
Hanlin and Wetzel will give individual speeches during Sunday’s graduation ceremony.