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From left: Fort Calhoun High School's salutatorian Julie Klemm and valedictorians Zoe Fickbohm, Avery McKennan and Taya Skelton. Principal Jerry Green said the school has had co-valedictorians in the past, but three is more unique.

FCHS valedictorians, salutatorian reflect on high school, look forward to college

Four days until graduation and four diplomas for Fort Calhoun High School's valedictorians and salutatorian.

Zoe Fickbohm, Avery McKennan and Taya Skelton — the three valedictorians — and salutatorian Julie Klemm graduate from FCHS on Saturday. Though the students are still considering just how humorous their speeches will be, they know there's a few things they'll miss about Fort Calhoun and more they're excited for in college.

"While living in Fort Calhoun has been great, I think I'm really excited to get out and experience new things and meet new people," Skelton said.

Skelton and her peers said they'll all miss the community, familiarity andFort Calhoun's small-town feel.

"A lot of us have gone to school with each other since elementary school," Klemm said. "I feel like (we'll miss) those bonds that you have."

Fickbohm said she'll miss the bonds created with her high school teachers over the last four years, too.

"We've all had the same teachers for four years, basically, having those familiar faces teaching and knowing how to teach you," she said.

McKennan, who participated in cross country, track, band, choir and art, said she enjoyed hanging out with a wide variety of people while at FCHS.

"You're involved in so many different activities, and you just see people all the time and make a lot of friends," she said.

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From left: Fort Calhoun High School's salutatorian Julie Klemm and valedictorians Zoe Fickbohm, Avery McKennan and Taya Skelton. Principal Jerry Green the school has had co-valedictorians in the past, but three is unique.

Even though the four students will miss the close-knit relationships they've built through their years in Fort Calhoun, all of them said they're interested in forging friendships in the more open and independent college environment.

"I think living on campus, and not being at home all the time, and just being surrounded by a whole different crowd," Klemm said. "I feel like that as a whole is an exciting thing, meeting new people. Independence."

Klemm plans to attend Creighton University where she'll study accounting in the school's accelerated master's program. Though she's happy for the freedom college entails, she's also glad to be a quick drive from home away in Omaha. That way, she doesn't have to pay for laundry.

"Luckily, I'm close enough to come home on Sundays. I don't want to pay for that," she said.

Skelton said she's curious about doing laundry and all the other "adult things" as she prepares to attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for exercise science with an emphasis in pre-med.

"I've kind of always wanted to be a pediatrician or a doctor, and recently, I've thought about physical therapy just because of sports and stuff. I spend a lot of time in physical therapy, and I think that'd be a fun way to help other athletes," said Skelton, a cross country, basketball and track athlete.

Fickbohm, though a multi-sport high school athlete herself, plans to shift her attention to a major in chemical engineering at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City.

"My whole family is really science and mathematics oriented," she said. "For me, it really wasn't, 'Am I going to do science,' it's, 'What type of science.' This one kind of encompasses all of them, so that way I can choose later on."

McKennan, though graduating, decided this fall to return to high school one day as a teacher. She's starting the fall at Hasting's College as a biology education major. Her upcoming college class schedule and future teaching career fit with McKennan's self-proclaimed "morning person" status.

"I signed up for 8 o'clock classes on purpose," she said. "I like mornings."

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