VALEDICTORIAN FOR 2017 - Myia Hellmer has been selected as valedictorian for the Class of 2017. Hellmer is excited to recieve such an honour, after putting a tremendous amount of work into her studies.                                PHOTO BY SAM MACDONALD / SYLVAN LAKE NEWS

VALEDICTORIAN FOR 2017 - Myia Hellmer has been selected as valedictorian for the Class of 2017. Hellmer is excited to recieve such an honour, after putting a tremendous amount of work into her studies. PHOTO BY SAM MACDONALD / SYLVAN LAKE NEWS

Class of 2017 valedictorian happy to see her hard work pay off

Myia Hellmer spent much of her days studying and tutoring to earn the opportunity to speak on behalf of her graduating class this year.

Myia Hellmer is no stranger to hard work. Her determination and academic achievement – particularly in the past year – has earned her the distinction of being the voice of the graduating class of H.J. Cody School. Hellmer will address her fellow graduates as they prepare for the next stage of their lives, as the valedictorian of the Class of 2017.

Hellmer, who plans to either study geo science and other earth sciences, or aerospace engineering at the University of Toronto, has worked fastidiously to earn the academic distinction to qualify as valedictorian.

She spoke to the Sylvan Lake News about what it took to get where she is today, noting that “it feels fantastic” to be selected as valedictorian, since it has been a goal of hers since she was middle school.

“I have always wanted to be a really smart person, and I felt that valedictorian was a title that would help get me where I want to go.”

Hellmer admitted that it was no bed of roses to get the average she needed: “It is quite difficult – I’m generally at the school from about 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. just studying and working, and I think that if I hadn’t been doing that I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am,” she said.

“I do all of my homework on the same day it’s due, at the top quality I can do it – it is a lot of studying.”

In order to accommodate the long hours she spends studying Hellmer noted that she had to curtail participation in extracurricular activities and not hold a job during her senior year – all part of a commitment to getting the average she needed. On top of the work she does educating herself, Hellmer also spreads her wealth of knowledge, by tutoring her fellow students.

“I generally arrive at school having eaten breakfast, and gotten ready for the day at about 8 a.m. – which is about half an hour before school starts,” said Hellmer. “What I actually worked out is that I started tutoring throughout the year,and I would actually tutor in the mornings and sometimes after school – which is part of the reason I was there early and late.”

After the morning tutoring sessions she’d hold, Hellmer would go through the rest of the regular school day, taking a necessary breather from studying at lunch.

“And then, there’d be more afternoon classes, and after school, I’d simply do my homework – and now that we’re in June, we have tutorials after school, as well.”

Hellmer noted she has tutored in many subjects, to students in many grade levels, however “this year, I’m primarily doing math, and what I’ve been finding is that they don’t really practice very much.”

She added, “So I help them in the mornings, because they are busy in the evening. I’m trying to work around their schedule as much as possible.”

The tutoring process comes easy to Hellmer, she noted, because “I kow the processes, and especially in the case of biology, it’s just a bunch of memorization. So once they know all that information, they can just apply it to other questions.”

One of the most striking things about tutoring other students that Hellmer noticed is that many who struggle with academic workloads don’t pay attention in class becuase “they find it’s just a lot of overwhelming information. So I break it down into small concepts that are important.”

Although Hellmer puts serious time into her studies, she manages to work in a healthy work-life balance where she can.

“I don’t really mind being there that late; it takes some time to get used to,” said Hellmer. “but [getting to school early and leaving school late] actually frees up my weekends a lot. So, I can spend my own time on those days, instead.”

Out of all the studying she has done, Hellmer intimated that English was the most frustrating for her, because “it’s one of the things that has to be included in the year average, but it’s not my strong suit.”

Hellmer added that her strong suit lies in math and physics, but added that “I am good at writing, once I know what kind of process I’m looking for.”

The criteria for valedictorian at H.J. Cody, Hellmer noted, was based on the averages of the top five students, in their top five classes – she was able to secure top average in the graduating class by a 2.5 per cent margin over the runner up.

Hellmer added that although there were no other considerations beyond averages, “the teachers told me they knew I would be valedictorian … because I am a very driven person, and I am willing to commit the time and effort needed to be doing something to the best of my ability.”

When asked what sort of speech she has planned for the school graduation ceremony on June 30, Hellmer described a plan that is as thorough and studious as should be expected from her: “I’m thinking I’m going to read a bunch of more examples from stuff on the Internet. I’ve been reading some of the older ones from our school, and I think I’m going to have to go back to our English 20 teacher, to get the instructions on how to write one.”