Ben Miller is the valedictorian and Ashley Orr is the salutatorian of Waupaca High School’s Class of 2012.
They will address their classmates during the high school’s graduation ceremony, set to begin at 1 p.m. Monday, May 28, in the high school gym.
The ceremony will also include music. The high school’s wind ensemble, under the direction of Mark Kryshak, will play Symphonic Dance No. 3 “Fiesta” by Clifton Williams. The school’s concert choir, under the direction of Dan Wolfgram, will sing “Jai Ho!” from the movie Slumdog Millionaire by Rahman, arranged by Sperry, and also “You’ll Never Walk Alone” by Rodgers and Hammerstein II.
High School Principal C. Robert Becker will present the Class of 2012. District Administrator David Poeschl and School Board President Steven Shambeau will issue the diplomas.
Miller is spending his final semester of high school in northern Wisconsin.
He is at Conserve School, a semester school near Land O’ Lakes that focuses on the theme of environmental stewardship.
Miller, who maintained a 4.0 grade point average throughout his high school career, said he decided to go to the school for his last semester, “because I wanted to expand my horizons and know what job opportunities there are in the environmental field.”
In addition, he was interested in a new style of learning, which he has found Conserve School.
“I like it a lot,” he said. “I like the teachers there. They are very passionate about what they are doing. The classes are more hands-on.”
He also is enjoying meeting students from throughout the country.
Next fall, Miller will head to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he plans to go into the physician’s assistant program.
After college, he wants to work in a hospital setting and get an idea of what the needs are in medicine today.
Becoming a doctor is something he thinks about, with Miller’s interests including gene studies and pathology.
He explained why he chose to go to school there.
“I really like the campus. It’s a big school,” Miller said. “I think I will like it. There’s so much to do and so many people and opportunities. I will be able to find a niche.”
During his four years of high school, he took a rigorous courseload and also participated in a number of extracurricular activities.
He played soccer all four years and served as the team’s captain three out of those four years.
Miller was on student council for three years and a member of the National Honor Society. He performed numerous hours of community service through NHS.
In addition, he was class president three out of the four years, including this year.
Miller also joined the school’s Green Team this school year.
His memories growing up in Waupaca will include boating on the Chain O’ Lakes and, of course, Halloween.
Each year, his father carves pumpkins that decorate the family’s front yard in rural Waupaca.
“It’s like another holiday for me,” Miller said. “I have to come back for it.”
Before heading to Madison, he will be a lifeguard at Jellystone Campground in Fremont.
And when he does head to college, he will take with him many lessons about life.
That includes the biggest lesson his parents taught him, which is to live by the Golden Rule.
“My parents had the biggest impact,” Miller said. “They’ve been so supportive of everything I’ve done.”
Miller is the son of Jim and Debbie Miller.
Orr said Jen Erb had a big impact on her years at WHS.
“She’s an amazing teacher and one of the FFA advisers. She used to teach with my mom,” Orr said of Erb, who is an agriculture teacher.
Orr said Erb pushed her to try new things.
“I guess she taught me to be more outspoken. She helped me get used to talking to people,” she said. “Ms. Erb would work with me on helping to prepare for speeches. She has taught me so much. She got me out of my shell, to try to new experiences. She refined the qualities I had.”
Orr was shy when she started her freshman year at WHS and remembers being worried about navigating the school and getting her locker open.
From preschool through eighth grade, she attended Immanuel Lutheran School. “I was going from three grades together in one room to high school. I had never had a locker before,” Orr said.
Throughout high school, she was involved in FFA.
She participated in speaking contests and also served in officer positions.
As a member of FFA, Orr helped organize many community service events. She was the chairperson of both Farm Fest and Day on the Farm.
She particularly enjoyed chairing those two events, because she got to see children experience being on a farm.
In addition to FFA, she was a member of NHS and played soccer for three years.
At her church, Orr helps with events for teens and is a member of the senior handbell choir. She is also a member of the Chain O’ Lakes 4-H Club.
The oldest of seven children, she lives on Graz-Orr Farm and plans to attend UW-River Falls next fall.
She is leaning toward a career as an ultrasound technician, with a focus on animals.
“I met someone who does that and thought it was so cool,” Orr said. “I was always leaning toward something in the agricultural field.”
This June, she will complete her Certified Nursing Assistant class and will then take the certification test.
She ends her high school career with a 3.993 grade point average.
Orr is the daughter of Dean and Michelle Orr.
In addition to helping on her family’s farm, Orr also works at Paul Eisentraut’s Sunnyview Dairy.
Growing up a farm taught her many things, including time management.
“Through working on a farm, I know the value of time,the value of hard work, the value of a dollar,” Orr said. “When you put in a full day of work from 6 a.m to 10 p.m., it gives you an appreciation for what you have. My parents have been teaching me life lessons throughout my life. I’ve learned how to do things and to learn from my own mistakes.”