McGlaughlin, Meana top MFL MarMac Class of 2018

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Valedictorian Hope McGlaughlin

Salutatorian Jerica Meana

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

Hope McGlaughlin has earned the honor of being valedictorian of the MFL MarMac Class of 2018, while Jerica Meana has been named salutatorian.

Hope, who is the daughter of Wayne and DeeAnn McGlaughlin, said she’s known the distinction could be a possibility since she was a freshman.

“I didn’t really realize it, though, until this year,” she said. “I’ve worked hard and stayed focused, so it’s kind of nice to be recognized.”

Jerica, daughter of Troy Meana and Andra Meana, said she felt much the same.

“We’ve both been in the top since freshman year,” she remarked. “I think it shows that the hard work we’ve put in through the years pays off.”

Both Hope and Jerica have been heavily involved in activities throughout high school. Hope focused on football and basketball cheerleading, dance team, show choir, National Honor Society and speech, as well as basketball, golf and track. Jerica has been a wrestling and football cheerleader, a dance team member and two-year officer for the organization SODA (Students Opposed to Drugs and Alcohol).

Hope said she’s appreciated the opportunity to be involved in a lot of extra-curricular activities.

“It really teaches you time management,” she stated. “I think that’s prepared me for college.”

Being involved in activities like wrestling cheerleading, where she was captain her sophomore year and co-captain her senior year, will stand among Jerica’s most cherished high school memories.

“I think doing that taught me a lot of leadership and time management skills,” she said, “and all the memories there were really fun.”

As for Hope, she said she’ll always remember the late nights working on homework and stressing out over assignments and tests. High school wasn’t all about studying, however.

“I’m going to remember the teachers—their passion and learning and pushing us to be our best—but also having a fun time while we did it,” she said.

Hope and Jerica both listed English as their favorite school subject.

Not surprisingly, their favorite teachers have taught English-related classes. 

For Jerica, Lynn Jones especially stood out.

“We had her freshman year for English and then we didn’t really have her after that, but I learned a lot from her just freshman year,” she explained. “And now I TA (teaching assistant) for her, and I still learn things just sitting in there TA-ing.”

Hope said Angie Killian was her favorite because of all the life lessons she’s imparted. Jasen Thompson also made an impact.

“I’ve learned a lot and he’s pushed me to be my best,” she said.

“His classes are difficult,” Jerica agreed, “but you learn a lot. I think that’s important.”

During their high school careers, Hope and Jerica said they have benefitted from the variety of online college courses MFL MarMac offers.

“I think that’s really important because it helps introduce us to college classes and what they’re like,” Jerica said.

It also helps lessen the financial burden of attending college, she noted.

Hope challenges younger students to pursue those classes, even if it’s intimidating.

“Take the more difficult route,” she advised. “If you take the easy route because you don’t want to challenge yourself, then you won’t learn as much, you won’t be prepared and you won’t have that sense of accomplishment.”

Jerica said it’s important for students to take their grade point averages seriously, even as freshmen.

“If you want to go to college, with a good GPA you’re going to get scholarships,” she said, “and that’s really important.”

Looking ahead, Hope said she plans to attend the University of Iowa. Although she’s an open major now, she’s considering pursuing psychology. She also hopes to go to grad school, then possibly become a doctor with a mental health focus.

“I think the mind is very interesting,” she said, “and I think there’s a big need for mental health professionals today.”

In the fall, Jerica will head to Upper Iowa University for health services administration. With that degree, she said she could become a manager in a hospital or clinic.

“There’s a lot I could do with it. I’ve always wanted to do something health care-related,” she said. “I’ve always had leadership abilities, and being a manager in a place like that would use that.”

As she embarks on this new journey, Hope said she will miss the “sense of home” MFL MarMac provides. It will also be difficult to leave the classmates she’s grown up with over 12 years.

“We have a small class,” Jerica added, “so we’ve all gotten to know each other pretty well.”

It will be nice to meet new people, though, she quipped.

“I’m excited to expand my life,” Hope agreed. “I feel like there’s a lot more out there to see, and I’m excited to experience that.”

Commencement for MFL MarMac High School’s Class of 2018 will be held Sunday, May 20, at 2 p.m., in the high school gymnasium in Monona. See the special graduation section in next week’s issue for additional details and to learn more about the Class of 2018.

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