Olivia Mitchell, 17, is Tucumcari High School's valedictorian. An active senior, she was in many clubs and will graduate with a 4.36 grade point average. We talked with Mitchell her about her last year in high school and her college plans.
Question: As the valedictorian you'll be giving a speech at your commencement on Friday. What will talk about?
Answer: It's kind of along the lines of an inspirational speech and I've put in a little story. It's a story about me and my class. The only people who have read it are my advanced placement English teacher and my principal.
Have you been working on it long? Are you nervous?
I've grown up in Tucumcari. So, basically I'll be talking to all the people who helped me get where I am today. I'm just a little nervous ... but, I just want to thank all my family, teachers and friends. They've all helped me.
With top academic honors have you received some scholarships?
My ACT score helped me get a $7,000 for each year of college and I also received a $500 scholarship College of Agriculture Science and Natural Resource.
What is your secret to high grades?
Studying and working hard and knowing that I really want to be successful with my grades. Whether it comes naturally or not, it's the drive you have that makes a difference. I'm fairly self-motivated. My parents have taught me to work and strive for excellence in everything I do.
You've also been active in a number of clubs and groups while in school?
I was the president of the National Honor Society. And I was very active in Tucumcari High School FFA chapter and served as the secretary. I've also been active in the judging teams. I'm also our class treasurer. ... I've been active in 4-H since I was five and it's the second year that I've been club president.
How did you balance your class work and your participation in the other activities?
Practice. I also have a little notebook and it's got a to-do list. I write down a list every day. It's been a balancing act. Some weeks it's a running list, because I have to keep moving things from one day to the next. My friends and teachers laugh at me. Organization is definitely something that's very important. I get that from my mom, but my dad has helped. My mom is very organized and my dad says, take things one at a time.
What do you think your best memories of high school will be?
Everything. I've gone to school with my class since fourth grade. It's a small school, so you know everybody and everyone in my graduating class.
What college do you plan to attend?
Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. Everybody's very friendly and I know a couple of people who have gone to school there.
What do you plan to study?
My plan is to have a double major, animal science and food science, and a minor in chemistry. I love chemistry and I love the sciences. I understand that you change your major a lot, so I'm not sure what my eventual degree will be. I also plan to go to graduate school.
Lastly, what are you looking forward to this summer?
I need to find a job. It's on my to-do list. I want to work all summer.
– By Chelle Delaney, Associate Publisher