All-GTNS: Cade Millikin
PEKIN — If Cade Millikin could give a letter grade to Pekin, it would be an A.
"The 13 years of education that Pekin community schools have provided me have been outstanding," Millikin said. "I have high regards for the dedicated and caring teachers, staff and administration.
"The district strives to maintain high academic standards in a safe and welcoming environment," he continued. "At times of challenge, supports were always there to help me succeed. I am thankful that each and every K-12 teacher helped shape my school experience in a different, but positive way. ... Throughout my school days and most recently my high school days, I have been very privileged to be associated with the faculty that I have. Not only are they very pleasant to be around, but also will not deny a question you have and only make the decisions to best benefit the student body.
"Each and everyone of the faculty have made some kind of positive impact on my life; they didn't necessarily all even teach me either. That just goes to show how great of a high school experience I have had."
When Millikin thinks about today's educational system, he recognizes both strengths and weaknesses.
He said a great strength is that public education is available for everyone.
A weakness is funding. He said there is not enough funding to cover services for special-needs student, "and school funding in general remains deficient when it becomes a politically partisan debate."
Millikin also sees dropout prevention as a strength, although "we need to continue the current efforts as well as expand second- chance opportunities for dropouts to return and complete their schooling."
Kindness, honesty and hard work go a long way.
"These three virtues, which I first learned from home, have constantly been reinforced on a daily basis at school," said Millikin. "So much learning requires teamwork between students and teachers as well as between peers. For the most advantageous learning environment, where the utmost learning is accomplished, I have found these have served me best and recognize their importance in my future."
Millikin encourages incoming freshmen to be involved and stay active in school "because in four years, it will all be over and you can only live that experience once."
Millikin said his parents have had the most influence on him.
"With both of them being teachers, it is not always easy to meet their standards, but this has taught me the meaning of hard work," he said. "They encourage me to be kind to everyone and saying as little as 'good morning' to anyone I meet in the hallway demonstrates this. Making it possible for me to be able to experience tremendous opportunities is just another reason that I can't thank them enough."