CONWAY — Grace Jarell, Keith Badger and Kate Keefe have been friends since they met as seventh-graders at Kennett Middle School and have been in a few classes together over their four years of high school.
The trio will graduate today with the Kennett High Class of 2020 in a special ceremony at Cranmore Mountain Resort, beginning at 8:30 a.m.
Grace will deliver the valedictorian speech, while Keith, class salutatorian, will also deliver a few words of wisdom — only in a different fashion than Eagles before them.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, their speeches were prerecorded and aired Friday on Valley Vision (Channel 1301) and over the internet.
Kate has been named the Mount Washington Valley Career Technical Center’s Outstanding CTE student.
The graduating seniors recently sat down with the Sun to chat about the past, present and future.
Grace, 18, daughter of Sloan and Abel Jarell of Madison, has a sister Ava, who is a junior at Kennett and a brother, Jack, who is a seventh-grader at Kennett Middle School.
Grace attended Madison Grammar School and Kennett Middle prior to KHS. She will head this fall to Brown University in Providence, R.I., where she plans to concentrate on political science and Spanish.
Keith, 18, the son of Julie and Mark Badger of West Side Road in North Conway, has an older brother Kirk (a 2018 Kennett graduate who is attending the University of New Hampshire).
Keith grew up attending John H. Fuller Elementary and Kennett Middle prior to KHS. He will head to the University of New Hampshire this fall, where he plans to major in mathematics with the goal of being a data scientist.
Kate, 18, the daughter of Jennifer Keefe of Center Conway, has a brother, Noah, who is a freshman at Kennett. She attended Conway Elementary School, Kennett Middle and then KHS. She plans to attend the University of New Hampshire to study computer science.
• What has remote learning been like for you?
Grace: “It's been a lot better than I thought it would be, especially with being able to sleep in considerably more. But I do miss just the social aspect of school. I didn't realize how much of the social interaction I get in my daily life is just from coming to school.”
Keith: “It's kind of a balance of pros and cons. A lot of work can be done very fast now, whenever you like, and you can go from one thing to the next, without wasting any time. You also miss the responsiveness of learning at school, I would say, and you also miss some of the personal interactions with your teachers as well as other students, which I think helped a lot.”
Kate: “It is kind of lonely because I do like being in a classroom with kids.”
• Have you guys learned anything about yourself by going through this remote learning process — has it made you stronger?
Keith: “I'd say I probably learned about the limit of my isolation. I like being on computers and stuff like that, but it's gotten more exhausting than I anticipated. I go to sleep and my eyes are aching and I'm just happy to stop looking at a screen. When I go down to grab lunch, it's like a breath of fresh air.”
Grace: “I guess what I realized about myself, I don't know if this is universal because it sounds really lazy, but it is really exhausting doing nothing. Just waking up and knowing that there's nowhere you have to be, no one you're going to see. Sometimes I just get ready in the morning just to make it feel like I'm going to go do something.”
Kate: “I like kind of not having to wake up early."
• What made you choose your schools?
Grace: “I think the diversity of the campus and just the feel, being down to earth and grounded. I really love that. I kind of felt like they were my people in terms of just the personality of the campus."
Keith: “It was really good tuition and honestly it's such a good college for the area, and I liked their sciences school."
Kate: “I’ve had a lot of family that went to UNH, like cousins, aunts, uncles."
• Has it been a quick four years?
Keith: (Laughing) "It got quicker, a lot quicker. I’d say my freshman year felt pretty long, but once you get to know what you're doing, you just get into it and everything kind of passes you by. So, but this year, honestly, especially with COVID, I would say it went really fast.”
Grace: “I think that everyone said it was going to go by really fast. I didn't believe them, as junior year felt like it dragged on forever. And then this year was the year I was going to just relax and take everything in. I think it reminded me just to enjoy the time we have because I do feel that this year got taken away from us.”
Kate: “It seemed kind of fast, but it seems like the end of the year is just kind of dragging at this point.”
• When did you guys learn that you were going to be the valedictorian, salutatorian and career-tech students of the year?
Kate: “For me, it was a few weeks ago.”
• Were you surprised?
Kate: “Not really. I’ve always been interested in career-tech.”
Grace: “I guess it first got put on my radar freshman year, during the award ceremony, the freshman cup was awarded. And so when I got that, that's when I sort of started thinking about it. And I guess it was just finalized this year.”
Keith: “For me, junior year. I wasn’t going for any sort of class rank. I was just interested in my classes, and I wanted to learn a lot from them. It was confirmed by the end of the first semester senior year.”
• What do you think of the graduation plan, are you excited?
Keith: “I thought it was a creative solution, especially taking advantage of the resources we have here. I don't know how many other high schools have a local ski mountain where they're, like, ‘Oh, we can just use a chairlift, it’s specially spaced, I don’t know how far apart but far.' I think it's really cool that they found that.”
Grace: “I think we're just a creative community, and it's pretty awesome that we can just throw this together. I think it definitely shows that we're unique in that way.”
Kate: “It’s a very New England solution.”
• What's your favorite class?
Keith: “Math, as you might expect. Specifically, I'd say my favorite class was statistics when I took it. I had a really good teacher in Dr. (Jack) Loynd. It's changed more of my understanding of life than just my understanding of math."
Grace: “I think AP (Advanced Placement) government. Coming into the year, I sort of assumed that that would be my favorite class because I'm interested in politics. But bio surprised me because I'm not a science person.”
Kate: “I like a lot of my tech classes. I’m torn between CADD and computer science classes.”
• Can you remember your first day of high school?
Keith: “The only thing I can picture right now is me not knowing how the rooms worked and where to go. I also had my schedule crammed in a bag that had a bunch of stuff in it. I had to pull over to the side of the hall and rummage through all my papers to find it.”
Grace: "I do remember getting lost on the way to our reading break back when we had a reading break. And I bumped into Mr. (Harrison) Kanzler, and I thought he was the tallest guy in the world."
Kate: “I don’t remember that much, but I do remember that I was kind of confused why people didn’t use lockers because, in middle school, everyone used their lockers.”
(The trio said with just four minutes between classes there simply isn’t time to get to your locker and to class in that span of time.)
• What advice do you have for future students at Kennett?
Keith: “You might not necessarily learn something academic every day or you might not remember something academic every day, but just try to learn something every day and by the time you've reached the end of the road, you will have developed a lot. And try to learn more about yourself. I feel like that's what high school is really good for.”
Grace: “I think you should do things that scare you because they'll probably work out, and worst-case scenario, you just learn from it."
Kate: “Focus on what interests you. I guess you can't avoid the core classes, but you can find electives that interest you.”
• What do you think makes a good teacher?
Keith: “I'd say a teacher that really thinks about all the different ways kids learn, what they're trying to communicate and encompasses all those ways or tries to assist every learning style they can.”
Grace: “I think a teacher that realizes that their class isn’t at the center of the universe because kids have extracurriculars and other classes that bulk up their schedule. Some of the best teachers I've had have sort of taken stock of other assignments that kids have coming up in other classes before assigning a big test. I really appreciate it because it gives kids a fair opportunity to succeed.”
Kate: “I think the best teachers are the ones who can communicate. Sometimes when something is not clicking, you have to reach out to a teacher, and the best ones are those who aren’t uncomfortable with you reaching out.”
• What three people living or dead throughout history would you like to have dinner with?
Kate: “Probably P.T. Barnum because his life was kind of wild from start to finish. And (actress) Jenna Coleman.”
Grace: “Probably Maya Angelou, Pete Buttigieg and Gordon Ramsey. I feel like the dynamics would work."
Keith: “(Nikola) Tesla (a 19th-century inventor), Albert Einstein and Leonhard Euler (18th-century mathematician).”
• What are you going to miss the most about Kennett High School?
Keith: “I’ll miss some of the teachers. I feel like the teachers add a lot of character to this place. I admire that the teachers here are really for the students.”
Grace: “I'm just really grateful that I came to school to have such a robust Key Club. You know, 100-plus members, and just bringing back awards left and right. And I think that's really inspired me to try and make my mark in it more than if I had come from maybe a smaller school.”
Kate: “I’m probably going to miss the robotics club." (Kate and fellow Kennett Coders robotics club member Chani Mores have basically aced the Vex Robotics World Championships every year since middle school.)
• What are your summer plans?
Keith: “I’m going to be working for my mom at her dental office because some of the workers (with COVID-19 around) are a little concerned about going back in, so I’ll be filling in. Beyond that, honestly, I think I’m just going to enjoy my senior summer.”
Grace: “I don't know what my plans are right now. I was going to do some work for the Census Bureau over the summer, but that’s kind of dashed now. So I think kind of what Keith said, just sort of enjoy my time and maybe I'll do some babysitting for some people who have to work.”
Kate: “I’m going to be doing an internship at the Echo Group. I worked there last summer as well.”
• Where do you see yourselves 10 years from now?
Keith: “I personally want to be developing something that's not really being looked at, and I was thinking just in the realm of data scientists looking at new forms of AI (artificial intelligence) or coming up with solutions that aren't really there yet. And things we don't really have the answers to yet — that's where I want to be.”
Grace: “I'd like to have a law degree at that point and I'd like to be an attorney advocating for refugees who are seeking asylum in the U.S.”
Kate: “I’m hoping I’ll be out of school by then and working at some kind of software company doing software data.”