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Valedictorians say rivalry fueled success

Staff writer

For Hillsboro High School valedictorians, sisters Elise and Emma Heyen, academic success has always been part of living up to their potential.

“I always knew I could do it,” Emma said Friday.

She said that if she didn’t maintain straight As, she would be letting herself down.

Elise added that their parents, Bruce and Janell Heyen, always encouraged them to do their best. They acknowledged that a friendly sibling rivalry probably contributed to their success in school.

“If I see her getting A’s, I know I can get A’s, too,” Elise said.

The Heyens plan to attend Taylor University in Upland, Ind. It is a private Christian university with about 1,900 undergraduate students.

Elise plans to study biology.

“My dream job is to be a marine biologist,” she said. “I like science, and I’m pretty good at it.”

Emma doesn’t know what she wants to study yet.

“I haven’t thought a lot about that,” she said.

Emma said she likes that Taylor is a small school, away from Kansas, with a Christian atmosphere. Elise agreed, saying she wanted to get out of town for college.

They said they hadn’t thought much about where they would like to be in 10 years, but they have some ideas of what they would like to tell classmates at their 10-year reunion.

“What I would say is that, number one, I’m enjoying what I do, and number two, that I’m helping others,” Emma said.

“I would like to come back doing something unexpected,” Elise said.

Wherever life takes them, they said they will carry fond memories of growing up in Hillsboro.

“I think one of them is being part of sports teams,” Elise said.

Playing sports in a small school leads to closer friendships with teammates, she said.

“One thing that sticks out to me is not the classroom learning, but the teachers who do active, hands-on learning,” Emma said.

She said science teacher Scott O’Hare and social science teacher Jim Robb were among the teachers who effectively used hands-on experiences.

“We’re blessed with some really good teachers here,” Elise added.

Elise and Emma played tennis and basketball and were managers for the school softball team. They have been active in H Club, Spirit ‘N’ Celebration, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, National Honor Society, and Hillsboro Mennonite Brethren Church Youth Group. Emma acted in three musicals, and Elise was in two.

Last modified May 12, 2011

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