Pioneer High School valedictorians reflect and look to the future – Daily Democrat


With the new school year in the Woodland Joint Unified School District slated for Monday, the Daily Democrat reached out to the co-valedictorians of Pioneer High School’s class of 2022 to reflect and look ahead.

Havingu Tamene, Pioneer High School

Q: What were your biggest challenges in high school?

A: A challenge I encountered in high school was balancing school and various extracurriculars that filled up all my time. I liked having a lot on my plate, but sometimes it was stressful. Once senior year arrived, navigating the college process was another challenge. Being the first member of your family to go through the lengthy college application process isn’t easy, but I was lucky to have supportive family and friends.

Q: What were your most important triumphs/victories in high school?

A: I set myself specific academic and personal goals each year and accomplished most, if not all, of them. Other than that, I’m proud that I successfully completed distance learning without losing my motivation. I also took as many opportunities as possible to learn and explore in high school, which I plan to continue doing in college.

Pioneer High School’s valedictorian, avoirdupon Tamene. (Courtesy)

Q: What are some of the study skills (techniques, habits, tips, etc.) that have helped you excel academically?

A: I found it helpful to eliminate as many distractions as possible, namely making sure my phone was as far away as possible. I also planned my days and started working on homework as soon as possible to avoid procrastinating.

Q: What were your favorite high school classes and why?

A: One of my favorite classes was AP calculus because I had so many “aha” moments in that class. He managed to connect seventh grade math with pre-calculus and show how it could be applied to interesting real-world scenarios. I also really liked the physics, again because of the real-world applications; I liked seeing the math and explanations behind concepts that I intuitively understood and also those that didn’t really make sense at first. Anatomy and Physiology were also my favorites because of all the hands-on labs and dissections.

Q: What are your academic and professional plans?

A: I will be attending MIT, majoring in computer science and molecular biology. This is an area where I can apply my interest in computer science and applied mathematics to understand biological systems. Since this is a relatively promising field, there are so many avenues I want to explore, such as modeling the genetic and molecular processes that lead to disease progression and improving diagnosis and of disease therapy. After completing my undergraduate studies, I hope to obtain a doctorate or doctorate in medicine and philosophy and make research a career goal.

Andreas Olvera, Pioneer High School

Q: What were your biggest challenges in high school?

A: My biggest challenge in high school was time management. When I’m doing my homework (especially on a Chromebook), it’s very easy for me to get distracted and lose track of time doing something unproductive; thus, staying focused and doing homework quickly can be difficult.

Pioneer High School valedictorian Andreas Olvera.  (Courtesy)
Pioneer High School valedictorian Andreas Olvera. (Courtesy)

Q: What were your most important triumphs/victories in high school?

A: My biggest triumph in high school was staying on top of my job during virtual learning. Although doing online school was difficult and daunting at times, I was able to find the motivation to keep going and do my best. Much of this motivation came from the encouragement and support of my parents, who helped me keep the big picture and my own long-term goals.

Q: What are some of the study skills that have helped you excel academically?

A: Some of the study skills that helped me do well were taking thorough notes, staying organized, and taking frequent breaks during long study sessions.

Q: What were your favorite high school classes and why?

A: One of my favorite classes was AP Calculus because it connected many math concepts that I thought were unrelated. It also taught me a lot of very interesting and exciting applications of mathematics in the real world. Another of my favorite classes was AP English Literature because of the books we read, which I really enjoyed, and the in-depth and thought-provoking discussions we had in class. Our teacher challenged us to think in new directions, which profoundly influenced my approach to reading literature.

Q: What are your academic and professional plans?

A: I will be going to Westmont College in the fall to study Mechanical Engineering. In college, I hope to study abroad to broaden my understanding of other cultures. After graduating, I would like to pursue postgraduate studies and find employment in an industry focused on sustainability, such as electric vehicles or renewable energy.

The Daily Democrat reached out to the two Woodland High School majors but was unable to establish contact.

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