Seneca val, sal exceptional in character and academics

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Valedictorian Alissa Rooney & Salutatorian Taylor Sime

Seneca High School will celebrate its graduating Class of 2019 Friday, May 31, at 8 p.m. in the school gym. Valedictorian is Alissa Rooney and Salutatorian Taylor Sime are the top two seniors this year. 

Valedictorian Alissa Rooney is the daughter of Timothy and Pamela Rooney, of Seneca. She is looking forward to attending Viterbo University this fall to major in nursing. 

During the past four years, Alissa feels she has grown into a responsible, hardworking and dependable young woman. She’s kept busy in FFA and the National Honor Society academically, while helping with class fundraisers and school blood drives when possible. But, it’s been her work on the family’s dairy farm that has given her the greatest responsibilities and life lessons.

“My family counts on me to do my part on the farm which I do. My family has been through some rough times the past four years,” she shared. “My mom was diagnosed with an early stage of breast cancer and my family helped her as she went through that difficult process. Then, my older sister committed suicide, which struck my family hard. Through those difficult times, my family has become closer, and it is still difficult, but we have a great support system through my family and the community.”

Alissa named her English teacher, Jennifer Fisher, as the one educator who has made the most impact on who she’s become at Seneca Schools. “She is always there to help me when I need it and to give me advice,” she remarked. 

Additionally, her parents have been a huge inspiration in her young life. “They are both hardworking people that care about everyone in their lives. They inspire me to do my best in school and to be kind to everyone around me,” she said.

Alissa said, as she follows her next goals, she will miss the close-knit community that’s so prominent at the school and in the Seneca area. Though, she’s excited to start pursuing her career as a nurse and “making an impact on everyone I can help.”

Reflecting on her high school experience, Alissa noted that she wished there were more options for classes. She stated, “We don’t have a lot of classes to choose from unless we choose to take online college classes.”

Finally, she provided some important advice to underclassmen, “Enjoy your time in high school because it will go by fast.”

Salutatorian Taylor Sime is the daughter of Ryan and Jacquee Sime and Martina and Travis Erickson. She lives in Utica Township. In the fall, she plans to attend UW-River Falls and study animal science. 

Over the last four years, Taylor has spent her academic free time developing personal skills and sharing her talents via the National Honor Society, FFA, S.H.A.R.E, Art Club and Yearbook. In extra-curricular activities, she has kept busy as a three-sport athlete, participating in volleyball, basketball and softball. In sports, she’s proud to have received a best sportsmanship award and most coachable award.

Taylor has also given of her time as a volunteer through the local blood drives. She’s helped at these events and also donated blood.

Personally, she feels she’s gained strength in persistence, athletics and honesty. “I have had to manage my time wisely and work hard for what I want,” she noted.

Throughout her time in school, Taylor said she feels most influenced by Rick Sime. “When he was diagnosed with cancer, that did not stop him from doing what he loved. He would come back to school every chance got. He lived life to the fullest no matter what he was going through,” she said.

Furthermore, the senior said her parents have been a big inspiration. “They have always tried to do their best in everything,” she shared. “They have taught me what a person should and should not do.”

Taylor said she will miss the faculty and her classmates who’ve pushed her into becoming the person she is today. Yet, she had a bit of wisdom to impart regarding one change she’d like to see happen at Seneca High School. She said she’d like to see the students, at least the seniors, take final exams. 

“The students who go off to college have never had the experience of taking a final exam and do not know the information they need to remember,” she commented. 

Standing at the peak of her high school career, Taylor took a moment to both reflect and look toward college.

To underclassmen, she advised: “Don’t be afraid to be true to who you are. Remember at the end of the day, the only person you can really count on is yourself.”

She feels nervous about moving on to college but concluded by saying, “I am looking forward to a fresh start and making new friends.”

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