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Meet the Class of 2018 Val and Sals


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Congratulations to our Valedictorian Neeve Chen and our Salutatorians Annika Mellquist and Rosa Valdez.  In the following interview, they pass on their knowledge and share what made them successful during their four years at Woodcreek.

What WHS activities have you been involved with over the past 4 years?

NEEVE: 4 years of varsity golf and swim athlete, Golf Captain, National Honor Society officer

ROSA: Track and Field freshman year, California Scholarship Federation member all 4 years, Key Club member for 2 years

ANNIKA: 4 year varsity cross country & track athlete, Cross Country Captain, California Scholarship Federation officer, National Honor Society member

What community activities have you been involved with over the past 4 years?

NEEVE: Volunteer with Placer Food Bank, The First Tee of Greater Sacramento Mentor and Volunteer, Junior Golf Academy Coach at Diamond Oaks, Volunteers with Rocksteady Boxing with Parkinson’s patients

ROSA: Volunteer at the Martha Riley Community Library, Roseville Police Explorer

ANNIKA: Self-created math volunteer service, founder & leader of community pop-rock band, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation volunteer

What awards or special recognition have you received over the past 4 years?

NEEVE: 4-time golf All League Team, 2-time SFL League MVP for golf (2016 and 2017), Varsity Swim Women’s Coaches Award, Distinguished Student Athlete Award presented by the Marine Corp, CIF Scholar-Athlete, Girls State Runner-Up, Student Athlete of the Year

ROSA: Outstanding Advanced Systems Physiology Student, Outstanding Chinese Student, Outstanding Calculus Student, Federal Bureau of Investigation Teen Academy Recipient

ANNIKA: Top 10 cross country varsity individual all-league champ (Sierra Foothill League) in both 2016 and 2017, 3-time California cross country state qualifier, National Merit Commendation, Girls State Nominee

What was your reaction when you learned that you’d been named Valedictorian/ Salutatorian?

NEEVE: I was really surprised and when I tried texting my parents, it kept autocorrecting to “Valid Parking” or “Victorian”.

ROSA: I was really surprised and couldn’t believe it. When I told my family, they laughed and said they weren’t surprised at all. I also didn’t realize I kept mispronouncing the word “salutatorian” until later when I heard someone else say it.

ANNIKA: I remember texting my mom and she told me it sounded like “salad”. I still can’t really spell it, but I was pretty excited and thought it was cool.

What does being Valedictorian/ Salutatorian mean to you?

NEEVE: It is really an honor to represent my class and I am very grateful for all the support from staff and friends.

ROSA: While I’m sure there are other people who are much more qualified than me, it is a really big honor for me to be one of the salutatorians.

ANNIKA: To me, it’s an honor to be one of the Class of 2018’s salutatorians and I am proud to represent my class.

How might your classmates describe you?

NEEVE: I think they would describe me as witty, funny, and kind with a hint of sarcasm.

ROSA: I’ve been described as one who always follows the rules, but I still am fun to hang out with – I know, quite the juxtaposition. I also have really bad jokes and puns that people hate, but I time them so well that I occasionally am the comedic relief.

ANNIKA: Some of my friends have told me I’m “not the best chef but still fun to hang out with,” driven, focused, loves music.

What do you consider your biggest achievement(s) and/or the legacy that you’ll leave behind?

NEEVE: I hope I have left an impact on other students and shown them that it is possible to balance school and sports while still having a social life.

ROSA: I don’t think I have left a legacy; but I hope that I have left an impact on the other students, showing them that it doesn’t matter all the hardships you face, as long as you just grit your teeth and march on.  Everything eventually works out in the end.

ANNIKA: There isn’t a specific achievement that I’ll leave at Woodcreek, but I hope I left an impact on the younger cross country athletes as a captain to keep all the fun cross country traditions (egg nog mile, riff-offs during runs, etc), to stay motivated and to balance school, sports, and fun.

What have you enjoyed most about attending high school at Woodcreek?

NEEVE: I loved the people! My friends and peers have always been so supportive and kind, which makes high school that much more bearable.

ROSA: As I’m sure Annika and Neeve have said, the people are definitely what make attending high school at Woodcreek very enjoyable. Especially when you’re super stressed out, it’s great to have that moral support there.  

ANNIKA: The people – this place is where I’ve made some of my best friends. Although going to school every day wasn’t always the most fun, getting to hang out with my friends every day was worth it.

If you had these past 4 years to do over, what would you do differently?

NEEVE: I honestly don’t think I would change much. Maybe I would have gotten started on some assignments sooner than the night before.

ROSA: For the most part, I liked how these past four years turned out. However, one thing I would do differently if I could is stress out less about school and have a bit more fun.

ANNIKA: Of course there were small details I would have changed; but honestly as cliche as it sounds, if I woudn’t have made mistakes, I wouldn’t have grown and gotten to where I am now.

What is your favorite memory of your time at Woodcreek?

NEEVE: My favorite memories are always ones with my friends whether it was at Senior Sunrise, dances or even just hanging out after school.

ROSA: I have so many favorite memories at Woodcreek, but I must say my favorite one was when my friend and I were volunteering at Mistywood and we had to make a soup with a very limited variety of ingredients (and we accomplished it and even won the competition!).  

ANNIKA: Definitely ones involving cross country.  I actually enjoyed running every morning with my best friends, singing at the top of our lungs even though we were already out of breath from running.

Next year what will you miss about Woodcreek?

NEEVE: I will definitely miss all my friends. I will be looking forward to breaks even more now!

ROSA: I will miss seeing all my friends, especially those I have known since middle school.

ANNIKA: My friends. Splitting off in different directions will be hard, but I know we’ll reunite over breaks.

What are your future plans for college and/or career?

NEEVE: I am attending Rice University to study bioengineering with a minor in business. I hope to have the opportunity to continue working with people and maybe create something that can save a life.

ROSA: I will be attending Sacramento State to study criminal justice with a minor in psychology. I hope to be able to work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the future and help solve many different cases.

ANNIKA: I will be attending UCLA to study civil engineering. Someday I hope to work both inside and outside with other people and have the ability to express my creativity.

What are you looking forward to in the future?  Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

NEEVE: I hope in 10 years I will be finally done with school and be working on some cool research project. If I haven’t started a family by then, I hope that I am still travelling and golfing.

ROSA: Wow, ten years, that seems like so far away. But then again ten years ago I was in elementary school and now I am here. I hope in ten years to be done with school and have a job in the forensic field (or if that doesn’t work out, in the law enforcement field). Hopefully by then I will have started a family; but if not, I can always travel and have fun!

ANNIKA: Yikes, I have no idea. Hopefully working as a civil engineer working on some cool project, running every day…maybe starting a family and if not yet, then traveling or working on an engineering project abroad.

Who or what has influenced/inspired you the most in your life?

NEEVE: My family, friends, teachers, coaches and so many others have influenced me so much and have given me an unimaginable amount of support.

ROSA: My parents have definitely inspired me the most because they managed to overcome so many challenges and still be able to care for me and my three other siblings.

ANNIKA: I’ve been shaped by many important people- my mom, dad, coaches, music teachers. And my dog.

What advice do you have for underclassmen?

NEEVE: Enjoy high school! Even if it sucks right now, when you look back on graduation day, you will only remember the good times, so enjoy 🙂 Four years goes by so fast!

ROSA: Definitely have fun. High school is SO much easier than the adult life. Also stay focused because if you have no goals in life, you really won’t get that far (that’s pretty blunt, but there’s no other way to put it – haha).

ANNIKA: Have fun!! Of course still make sure to stay focused on your school work, but make sure you’re leaving time for yourself to enjoy high school. There’s so many games, dances, people, etc that you won’t want to miss.

Where did you find inspiration for your graduation speech?  What do you hope your listeners will take away?

NEEVE: I thought a lot about my speech beforehand, but I am terrible in putting my ideas out on paper. I have to thank Grace Waterman for sitting there and helping me finally get some words out of my own head. I hope my listeners reflect on their time at Woodcreek and remember all their best moments these past 4 years.

ROSA: I put off writing my speech for so long. I didn’t start fully freaking out about it until my parents asked me if I had written it. When I replied that I had not, they shook their heads and said, “Well you better not go up there and just talk about In-N-Out”. Let’s just say after that, I became just a bit stressed. But the idea for my speech came to me when I was watching my favorite movie. That one quote from the movie was the inspiration behind my speech. I hope my listeners will be able to reminisce on the past four years but also be excited for the future.

ANNIKA: I was talking with my friends at my Spanish table joking around about my speech and trying to think of funny analogies for high school. I gotta give Dylan Pyburn some credit for helping me get running once I got my idea. After hearing my speech, I hope my listeners are able to reflect on their years in high school (well the students at least) in a fun, not too serious way.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

NEEVE: Thank you for everyone who has supported me thus far! I am so grateful to have you in my life!

ROSA: Thank you for everyone who has been there for me since day one, and believe me this is such a great honor!

ANNIKA: Thank you for this opportunity!!!

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