All-GTNS: Jessie Cassens
KEOSAUQUA — Van Buren High School senior Jessie Cassens said she would give the education a letter grade, it would be an A-.
"I enjoy the fact that being in small classes gives the students the opportunity to get to know the teachers, but it also means that we, as students, are limited with the classes we can take," Cassens said.
"As active as I am in numerous extracurricular activities, it helps to have teachers that support students' involvement," she added.
Cassens sees both strengths and weaknesses in today's educational system.
"Some of the strengths ... are how the schools are wanting us to be involved in what we want and encouraging us to be supportive of all activities," she explained. "Also, they want to incorporate technology into our academics, but that doesn't always work well.
"Some of the weaknesses ... are how the schools can't afford to be as updated with technology as they need to be," she continued. "And the small schools tend to be pushed to the back; they become 'underdogs.' On the bright side, schools are realizing the importance of technology in our day-to-day lives."
Cassens credits high school/junior high choir and band director Marcie Atwood as shaping her high school experience in a positive way.
"She has helped me gain confidence in myself, taught me about life and music, and she is my role model," said Cassens. "I can go to her about any of my problems, and I know she is always there to listen. She helped me realize that I want to teach when she let me help out with the junior high. She is a great individual."
The most important lesson Cassens learned in high school was that she should always go after what she wants and not expect it to be handed to her.
"I work hard in academics and my activities," she said. "I work hard to get to where I want to be. I am forced to be organized. This will help me in college ... It will also help me when I am searching for a job, and when I am finally doing my job."
"Walking into high school, I had no idea what I was in for," Cassens recalled. "I was nervous, but I was extremely excited. I grew up; I made friends; I lost friends; I made mistakes; I had incredible experiences, and I would not trade high school for anything. ...
"Advice I would give to an incoming freshman wold be to not be ashamed of who you are and be involved in activities," she continued. "You will be a happier and more successful individual if you are true to yourself, and being involved helps you become organized, active, and it always looks good on applications."
Cassens's parents, grandparents, siblings, family and friends have helped her grow into the person she is today.
"I can't thank them enough for the laughs, tears and smiles I have had and will have with all of them," she said.