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Profile on the valedictorian: Elizabeth Grossman

The Feather Online has a list in its office of students who staff writers are not allowed to quote, because they are used so often in articles about a wide range of topics. However, some students are impossible to leave out, for their involvement is so far-reaching.

Senior Elizabeth Grossman is one of these students. In addition to acting as ASB vice president, CSF vice president, Spanish Club vice president and The Feather’s hard copy editor-in-chief, she will be recognized as the valedictorian of the class of 2010 at graduation, May 27.

As a fellow editor and close friend of 15 years, I sat down with Grossman to discuss her favorite classes, best advice and future plans.

Quiring: How does it feel to be the valedictorian?

Grossman: It’s exciting to be recognized for all of my efforts throughout high school. I put in a lot of time and effort into my academics, so it’s rewarding to have some recognition for that.

Quiring: Did you expect to be the valedictorian, and did you aim for it?

Grossman: Doing well academically has always been important to me, so it’s always been a goal; not like ‘I want to be the best,’ but a measure of if I did the best I could. Was I able to stick to my goal, and was I determined to succeed academically throughout high school? In that sense I aimed for it.

Quiring: How big a part of your education is this distinction?

Grossman: I don’t think this is the defining moment of my high school career, academically or otherwise, as if I’ll always consider this my crowning glory. I think all the different parts that went into accomplishing this are the things I’ll remember, like the fact that I didn’t want to, but stayed up all night to finish that paper, or pulled an all-nighter to do that poetry project for Mrs. [Molly] Sargent, [AP English teacher].

It was more being challenged in all my different classes, experiencing all the different books, teachers and subject areas throughout my high school career.

Quiring: Do you consider yourself an academic person?

Grossman: Yes and no, because academics aren’t the central focus of my life. They are a big part of it, but they don’t define who I am, in that I’m not solely focused on academics and that’s not the driving reason I get up in the morning: to go to school, and do homework.

I remember back in elementary school, I thought Lauren Barisic [’10] was so smart and so cool, and I thought, ‘I want to be smart!'”

Quiring: And you know, for a lot of people, you’re Lauren Barisic, you’re that girl.

Grossman: I guess so, and that is so weird to me! I can’t wrap my head around it.

Quiring: That brings up an interesting point, because at Fresno Christian we have known Lauren since kindergarten. Having said that, what part has Fresno Christian played in your academic career?

Grossman: I think that being in such a small community, like a school community, it’s been easier to be challenged by my teachers and classmates, and vice versa. In a larger school, I don’t think it would be possible for us to have the close relationships that we have. A lot of my friends are in the same classes, and we’ve gone to school for so many years together.

[Greg] Stobbe [journalism adviser] remarked the other day that you and I wouldn’t have accomplished what we did without the other one. We’ve challenged each other.

Quiring: I can attest to that! So, for challenging each other or otherwise, what high school class do you consider the most memorable?

Grossman: There are many, but one would probably be freshman Honors English with Stobbe. It was the first time that I had ever realized that there was more to a book that just reading it: like, ‘gosh, there’s a theme! What the heck does that mean?’ Just the way that he pushed our class and knew we were capable of so much more than we thought we were.

It sparked that curiousity and that thought — ‘maybe I can do more than I think I can do’ — that has continued with me throughout high school.

Quiring: How about a favorite teacher?

Grossman: This is a very tough quesiton, because there are many teachers that have been incredible to get to know throughout high school. It would probably have to be between Stobbe and [Michael] Fenton [math teacher], because they have both just kept challenging me and encouraging me to go past what I thought I could do.

They have encouraged me to drive ahead and be determined, even when I didn’t necessarily want to stay after school and finish the newspaper, or go to that conference workshop — those types of things. They kept on pushing me.

Quiring: How do you incorporate faith into your education and academcis?

Grossman: I think it’s been easier because I’ve always gone to a Christian school; it’s been integrated for me, in a way. Taking Bible classes and having that as part of a normal school day has definitely been a part of the things I’ve learned through academics. It has definitely enhanced my faith.

Quiring: What advice would you give to a younger version of Elizabeth?

Grossman: One of the things I would say — to anybody, really — is to just jump in and get involved. My freshman and sophomore year, I was very, very shy. Looking back, I just wish I would have gotten involved more in the extracurricular random things: like I wish I would’ve played in badmitton intramurals, just because I could, and random things like that, that would have been such great memories.

Quiring: What do you like to do in your time off?

Grossman: I love reading realistic fiction, which is something I don’t get to do much anymore since I’m so busy; but I love sitting down with a good book, because I love seeing insight into all these random characters’ lives. They’re all made-up and fake, but if I can relate to them somehow, it’s really interesting.

I also love being involved in cheer, and that’s been an amazing experience throughout high school. And I love being in choir. It’s one of my favorite things to do.

Quiring: Where will you attend college, and what will you study?

Grossman: Next year I will be attending Westmont College in Montecito, near Santa Barbara, and I will be studying chemistry. When I took the class my sophomore year, I just thought it was the most interesting subject, even though all my friends hated it. It was actually one of my favorite ways to start the day.

It was one of those things I was just naturally intrigued by: I loved the math element, and balancing equations, and putting the ions together and how they could make chemicals, which was really interesting. I’m really excited to go beyond basic chemistry.

Quiring: How do you feel about high school ending?

Grossman: I am both excited for and dreading high school ending, because I have loved high school. It’s been so much fun; I’ve had such great friends, so that will be sad to see it come to a close, with all of us going off into such different directions. But on the other hand, it’s exciting to see this whole new world of opportunities opening up.

Quiring: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Grossman: Where I’ll be in 10 years is still very much up in the air. I’m very indecisive about what my future career path will be. Even though I know what I want my major to be, I have no idea what career I want to do.

I’m pretty sure I won’t be a doctor: I can’t do blood and guts and bodies! Overall, it’s kind of intimidating with all these people who have their whole futures planned out, and it’s been a challenge to not know, and to be content with not knowing.

Quiring: Looking back, what is one of your favorite high school memories?

Grossman: One of my favorite memories is actually sitting next to you in all four years of English class, and all the fun times we had: freshman year, having popcorn and listening to Stobbe yell and watching The Muppets, and all sorts of crazy things. Sophomore year, someone wrote “Be happy” on the board every day.

It’s just been so fun to have all those memories of just going to class every day. Now we can look back and see that one thing that has been the same all four years, and a great experience.

Graduation for the class of 2010 will be held May 27 at 7:30 p.m. in the Peoples Church sanctuary. A reception will follow at 8:30. Grossman will give a speech along with the salutatorian, Tatiana Fontes.

For more articles about Grossman’s achievements, read the Feb. 9 article, Grossman nominated for Girl of the Year award, or the Oct. 20, 2009 article, Senior qualifies as National Merit Semifinalist.

To see her contributions to The Feather, check out her staff biography and archive page.

For an interview with the salutatorian, read Profile on the salutatorian: Tatiana Fontes.

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