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Lakewood names valedictorians, salutatorians


Christopher Andersson

Lakewood High School students, from left, 2018 salutatorian Cole Nelson, 2018 valedictorian Paige Shimkus, 2018 salutatorian Emmaline Seth and 2018 valedictorian Palina Buchanan.

Lakewood High School named four students as their 2018 valedictorians and salutatorians in recognition of their academic achievements this May.

Palina Buchanan and Paige Shimkus are the co-valedictorians and Cole Nelson and Emmaline Seth are the co-salutatorians.

Buchanan and Shimkus earned perfect GPAs throughout their high school career so it wasn't much of a surprise when they were told about the honor.

"I always expected myself to be valedictorian," said Buchanan.

For Shimkus, the recognition was something she wanted to work for.

"It's something my sister wanted, she's two years older than me and worked really hard for it and ended with an A- in chemistry," she said.

"So it's something I wanted to go after so I just worked really hard for it and kept my grades up," she said.

Seth and Nelson both ended with a near-perfect GPA, with only one A-.

"I wasn't planning for it too much because I got my A- when I was a freshman in wood shop, believe it or not," said Nelson.

"I just went throughout high school taking the same classes as these guys and I was like, 'okay, let's just be competitive' and I ended up getting enough A's," he said.

Buchanan, Shimkus and Seth have been with the Lakewood School District their entire lives, while Nelson moved to the district for third grade, so they have spent a lot of time in Lakewood schools.

Shimkus said her favorite part of school has been the extracurriculars, and she has been a part of eight clubs, volleyball and track.

"I've gone to all the dances and everything like that. Just trying to live out my high school experience to the fullest was really fun," she said.

Buchanan has been involved in cross country, track, honor society and knowledge bowl, but she said she found her passion with the music department.

"My favorite part has just been getting involved in the music program here. I've been doing jazz choir and this year I joined jazz band playing piano and trombone," she said.

"Getting involved in the arts department is really what fulfilled me," she said.

Seth has been part of the cheer squad, honor society and the knowledge bowl.

"I've been super involved in the leadership here at Lakewood High School, so I've got to plan all the activities and dances and that has been really fun," she said.

"I just love the community we have here," she said.

Nelson said he enjoyed the close-knit community.

"I like how small Lakewood is. It's big enough where we have a little bit of everything, but at the same time it's small enough that you get to know everyone," he said.

The valedictorians and salutatorians are moving to various colleges next year, and Nelson will be attending the University of Washington.

"Lakewood schools are small so you have relationships with all the teachers and the students," said Nelson. "Going into a school that big is going to be really, really weird to not have that," he said.

He hopes to study mechanical engineering at the school.

Seth is also attending the University of Washington and said she will miss the friends she grew up with.

"I've really been around the same people for most of my life and those people have been a great support system for me, and now I won't be seeing them," she said.

She wants to major in biology and minor in political science on her way to eventually becoming a surgeon.

"So I've got a long road of schooling, but I'm really excited about it," she said.

Buchanan plans to attend Carleton College in Minnesota to study music and environmental studies.

"I'm going to miss how early spring comes. That's going to be rough," she said.

"Most of all I will miss Mrs. Trapp [Lakewood's music teacher] and how good our music program is, because it has been amazing going four years with some of the same people through music," Buchanan said.

Shimkus plans to study journalism and participate in the javelin team at Western Washington University.

"I'm not going to be super far away from here, but I'll just miss the familiarity of it. Just knowing everybody," she said.

"For me, especially, it's been the same group of people and atmosphere since second grade," she said.

Shimkus wanted to show her respect for the community as well.

"I'd just like to thank the Lakewood community. I'm grateful for my experience here and being valedictorian is small in the face of everything that Lakewood has done for me," she said.


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