Anyone aspiring to be a valedictorian has to work toward that goal from the first day of high school. One bad grade could spell the end of a student’s dreams.
Caitlin Haack never had trouble with her focus. She’s one of six valedictorians at Northeastern, along with Sara Augustus, Katherine Baneck, Nicole Edwards, Anna Jung and Katie Thompson. Haack credited her parents, Dan and Dawn Haack, for always being there for advice when she needed it.
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“It’s hard for me to fail,” Haack said. “It’s crazy, but even if it’s a B, I know that I can do better. I always want to be the best that I can be.”
Haack’s brother Cooper, who’s now a student at Ohio State, received one B in his high-school years. Haack set a goal of earning A’s in every class for four years.
“It was a realistic goal,” Haack said. “I knew I could achieve that if I put my mind to it and really studied hard. From freshman year, I really started out working hard. I was pretty confident the whole way. There were always times when you had a hard test and I would get nervous about it, but overall, I was OK.”
Caitlin’s mom called her a dedicated student who has a passion for learning.
“She truly enjoys school and the interaction with her teachers and classmates,” Dawn said. “She puts her heart and soul into everything she does and also enjoys each moment. She loves to get involved in sports, clubs, and volunteer opportunities. Caitlin is unique and is not afraid to be herself and try new things. We are so proud of her!”
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Haack could not have envisioned finishing her high school career at home. Schools closed throughout Ohio in March because of the coronavirus pandemic. Haack said students had a couple video Google meets with their teachers every week through the spring, and the teachers would post assignments each day.
While it couldn’t compare to the experience students had in school, Haack said it was nice to see everyone’s faces.
“We still get the aspect of talking to everyone,” Haack said, “because even though they’re still teaching, they’ll give little breaks where we can communicate and have some fun still.”
The staff at Northeastern High School did a great job checking up on students throughout the spring, Haack said, making sure they still felt included even as the COVID-19 crisis robbed everyone of classes and sports and then the end-of-year celebrations: prom, graduation, etc.
One teacher, Ann Turner, dropped off homemade cookies. Other teachers placed signs in the yards of students.
Northeastern planned to give seniors a time slot and let them walk across the stage with six family members. That would serve as the graduation ceremony, though the school hoped to have a typical ceremony at the end of June.
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For Haack, one of the school’s six valedictorians, it’s not the ending she wanted for her high school years, but like everyone, she has done her best to adjust. The cancellation of track season hurt her as much as anything.
“I love the actual sports,” Haack said, “but the social aspect, too, getting close to your team. At the track meets, I got to meet people from other schools, too, which was nice and just have little conversations with them. So I miss that a lot. Those little social aspects are really fun.”
Haack will attend Ohio Northern University in the fall and major in pharmacy. Her mom’s a pharmacist, so Haack has always been around the business. Her mom took her to work a couple of times but never pushed her to get into the business. Haack also attended a pharmacy camp at Ohio Northern last summer and decided she liked the aspect of being able to use knowledge to save a person’s life.
“That’s where I really fell in love with the profession and also with Ohio Northern, too,” Haack said. “It’s a really small environment like Northeastern. You can have a close relationship with the teachers. I really like that aspect of the school.”
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