Iola-Scandinavia commencement set for May 29
Ashley Fenn and Kaylin Ellioff are the top students in Iola-Scandinavia High School’s Class of 2016.
Commencement is set for 1 p.m. Sunday, May 29, at I-S High School.
Valedictorian Ashley Fenn is the daughter of Michael and Melissa Fenn, of Iola.
Her favorite subjects in high school were science (chemistry), chorus and art.
Her extracurricular activities during high school included solo and ensemble, auditioning for Honors Choir, All-State Choir, Clearwater Choralfest, supporting lead roles in the musicals “Seussical,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “All Shook Up,” Wisconsin Ambassadors of Music, president of chorus, treasurer of Senior Class, National Honor Society, Student Council, forensics, Art Crew, Math League and golf.
At Iola United Methodist Church, she served as vice president of the youth group and was a member of the Family Ministries and Nominations Committee.
Her community service includes volunteering at Bread Basket and during KidVenture at EAA.
“My favorite moment in high school was when the girls of my class and I did a surprise dance at our Junior Prom,” she said. “It was so much fun working and dancing together and it was a unique way to bring everyone closer at such a memorable event.”
Fenn plans to dually enroll at UW-Green Bay and Bellin College to pursue a degree in radiologic technology.
“When I first toured UW-Green Bay, I fell in love with the beautiful campus and conservative atmosphere, but they did not offer any medical programs,” she said. “I did some more research and discovered that Bellin College offered a program in radiology. I enjoyed the balance between a larger university setting alongside a more personal and specific program at the smaller college.”
She chose radiology as a career path because her grandmother had been diagnosed with cancer.
“I experienced medical treatment firsthand,” Fenn said, “and after caring for her for several months and seeing the amazing health care workers stay by her side during her challenging journey, I knew that I wanted to work with patients and help them along their road to recovery.”
Five years from now she plans to have a bachelor’s degree in radiologic sciences and, due to her clinical work in college, she hopes to have a job in the Green Bay area. Fenn plans to continue to take courses to refine her skills and work towards gaining a specialty position.
Her mother is her role model.
“My mom is the strongest woman I have ever known, and her optimistic and courageous attitude inspires me every day,” Fenn said. “She has had to overcome several obstacles in life, and no matter what, she makes other people’s happiness a priority. Her unwavering faith and love has given me the motivation to work hard and strive to better the world by being selfless and never losing hope.”
Salutatorian Kaylin Ellioff is the daughter of James and Cheryl Ellioff, of Iola.
Spanish is her favorite subject in high school.
“I love to learn about the cultures and language, and studying abroad is something I’m looking forward to in my college years,” she said. “I took a trip to Costa Rica with my Spanish class last year and the experience was life-changing. Being immersed in the culture for even just a week was eye-opening and definitely an adventure I will never forget.”
Throughout high school Ellioff has been a part of numerous clubs and teams both inside and outside of school. As an athlete, she played volleyball, basketball and softball for four years and as a senior was team captain in all three sports. She was also a member of the Waupaca Fire volleyball club team and the Iola Archers indoor archery league.
As a student, Ellioff participated in Student Council, National Honor Society and Math League.
“The leadership and service skills I’ve gained through these activities will help me greatly in my future endeavors,” she said.
As National Honor Society president, she helped to organize the school-wide community service day held twice a year. During the various projects, she cleared brush for walking trails in the school forest, organized the local food pantry, and weeded the community garden.
She helped with the NHS coat check during the Iola Winter Carnival’s Norwegian Lutefisk Supper, collecting donations for the Old Glory Honor Flight. Added to funds from a dodgeball tournament, the NHS raised enough to send one veteran to Washington, D.C.
Ellioff also helped with the NHS food drive, the annual Share-A-Tea, and helped to build a playground in New London.
“The feeling of serving others is one that I look forward to carrying into my college life and far into the future,” she said.
Her favorite moment in high school was “Stepping onto the varsity volleyball court for the first time,” she said. “I was terrified, exhilarated, but more ready than ever before. I don’t know why I remember this moment much more than others, but it may be because this was my first chance to prove myself and also marks the beginning of my varsity volleyball career.”
Ellioff plans to attend UW-Madison to study genetics, psychology and Spanish. Her goal is to become a behavioral geneticist, researching how the variation in humans is separated into genetic versus environmental factors.
“I hope to improve the mental health of society by working to discover how neurons give rise to behavior in people,” she said. “This will lead to finding cures and effective treatment for mental health disorders, or simply teach people how to lead a healthier life. My overall goal is to improve the life of others by letting my ever-curious mind lead the way in future research.”
High school classes inspired her to pursue a career as a behavioral geneticist. While choosing a topic for a persuasive paper, she came across information on designer babies.
“Not having any idea what that was, I pursued the topic and spent a few weeks researching,” she said. “As I looked more and more into genetics, I knew it would be perfect for me.”
An online college class about heredity and genetics, plus a psychology class, made her realize that neuroscience was right up her alley as well.
“I wanted to combine my two interests and a behavioral geneticist does just that,” she said.
Five years from now Ellioff plans to still be at UW-Madison, working towards a higher degree in the field of genetics and researching as part of the university team.
Her two role models in life are her parents.
“They have always led me in the right direction and also pushed me to be the best student, athlete and person I can be,” she said. “A strong work ethic, kindness and a curiosity are all values that my parents have, and have instilled in me since I was little.”