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Valedicatorian Rachael Herrick and Saltuatorian Brooklyn Parker

River Ridge High School has announced its 2018 senior class valedictorian and salutatorian, Rachael Herrick and Brooklyn Parker, respectively.

Rachael is the daughter of Brenden and Elizabeth Herrick, of Mount Hope. She plans to attend UW-Madison for pre-pharmacy in the fall. 

Throughout high school, she’s been active academically as well as extra-curricularly. In addition to making honor roll, she’s participated in science club, art club, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Leo’s Club, National Honor Society, choir, the newspaper and wellness club. She’s also played volleyball, basketball and track and will work at the Prairie du Chien Country Club this summer. In her community, Rachael has assisted with Operation Santa, raked leaves for the elderly via the Leo’s Club and attended the 2016 mission trip to Joplin, Mo.

Making the greatest impact on Rachael in the classroom, Mrs. Tara Drone sticks out in her mind, because Mrs. Drone is an understanding person willing to help Rachael with whatever she’s needed.

Outside of school, her older sister, Meagan, has been her biggest inspiration. 

“She is the most genuine and hardest-working person I’ve ever met,” Rachael remarked. “When I was younger, I’d always see her working on her homework after practice and sometimes even after games or meets. It inspired me to become as smart and as dedicated to academics as she was.”

The valedictorian describes herself as someone who loves to learn and is persistent, especially in academics. 

“I like to take initiative and see things through. In the last four years, I’ve mainly had to deal with learning how to manage my time between school, sports and having a job,” she said.

Looking back on her time at River Ridge, Rachael advises underclassmen to get more involved because that’s how they’ll have the most fun. She said she is “looking forward to being more independent, going to a college with an extensive amount of opportunities and being able to attend Badger sporting events.”

Brooklyn is the daughter of Jesse and Jamie Parker, of Patch Grove. She is looking to take coursework at Viterbo University in La Crosse and will be an undeclared major to start. 

At River Ridge High School, Brooklyn has been a busy student, dividing her time among the student council, National Honor Society, Future Business Leaders of America, science club, Spanish club, wellness club, Leo’s Club, newspaper, Friends Helping Friends and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. She’s made high honors and served in officer roles in the Leo’s, student council and business leaders organizations. 

In the community, Brooklyn has contributed plenty of community service as well. She’s volunteered at the Bagley Bull Bash, St. Mary’s Fish Fry and the district’s after-school program, “The Hangout.” She’s helped with the NHS can cage, fair cleanup, Operation Santa and raking leaves. Furthermore, she’s ready to start a new job in the high school office this summer. 

In terms of teachers, Mrs. Tina Dilley is one she’s appreciated the most. “I go to her the most, and she is part of the reason I am thinking of choosing a business major,” Brooklyn stated.

Growing up, her parents have been an enormous inspiration to her. “They’ve taught me many life lessons,” she said. “I have watched both my mom and dad build up their own careers, and they have shown me that not everything will be easy, but if I want it enough, I can make it happen.”

Reflecting on her high school career, she wishes she’d have been more involved in clubs her freshman and sophomore years because she feels she missed out on some opportunities. 

“It would have helped me make more connections sooner,” Brooklyn shared. 

Ultimately, she’s proud to be reliable, organized and good at communicating with other people. 

“I have had to overcome my fear of public speaking and have taken on leadership roles,” she added. “I’m going to miss my friends, family and the closeness of the community.”

For underclassmen, she had a few words of wisdom: “Get involved and don’t procrastinate.”

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