Prairie du Chien val and sal ready to do great things

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Valedictorian Landon Kohler and Salutatorian Clare Fritsche

Prairie du Chien High School’s top two graduates are Valedictorian Landon Kohler and Salutatorian Clare Fritsche. 

Landon is the son of Kirby and Melissa Kohler, of Eastman. He plans to attend UW-Madison this fall, working toward a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. 

During his time at Prairie, Landon has been involved everywhere possible. He’s joined math club, psychology club, National Honor Society, Future Business Leaders of America, Key Club and participated in mock trial. He’s also been a member of the varsity soccer team and was named all-conference honorable mention twice. He earned a varsity letter his first two years of soccer and was Rookie of the Year. 

Additional awards he’s achieved include the assuagement award and the Wisconsin Dream Career Contest Winner honor. In math, Landon was on the math competition team, was the Mathematical Association of America Wisconsin Mathematics Contest winner his junior and senior years, achieved conference honors all four years, was the UW-Platteville Math Contest individual winner twice, made the UW-Platteville Math Contest team that got silver this year, accomplished silver at the Southwest Conference Math Competition three times and gold as a senior.

Other academic honors for Landon have included the AP Scholar Award, AP Scholar with Distinction Award, an academic letter and an academic pin.

Landon has kept up his pace in the community too. He has volunteered at the nursing home, with various blood drives, Operation Santa, cleaned up garbage, did landscaping and gardening, organized the Veterans Day program, and created a middle/elementary school math contest. He also works as a teller at Community First Bank. 

Considering his strengths, Landon had a lot to be proud of, with his progressive mind-set rising to the top. He said that’s allowed him “to love people for both their commonalities and differences. Living in such a small town has brought to my attention how closed minded and quick-to-judge many of my fellow high schoolers are. These last four years have taught me how to filter out the noise and put all my effort toward achieving my goals, while deflecting all who tried to put me down.”

“But most of all, I stayed true to myself, allowing me to leave for college with nothing left on the table but a few scraps.”

From his teachers, Landon will miss many of them but found himself impacted mostly by Mrs. Rabbit. Since he was a sophomore, he said he’s connected with her over their shared passion for math.

“She was my first calculus teacher and truly introduced me to a subject that I fell in love with,” he said. “Through our many conversations, she also taught me to chase my dreams, and was the building block that helped me to where I am today.”

Landon also appreciates what his best friend, Chloe Clark, taught him over the past four years. 

“Chloe taught me that success doesn’t always come in the form of a trophy or a grade report, and that it’s different for everyone,” he stated. “She displays the hard work and perseverance that I absolutely admire.”

If there was something Landon could change about Prairie du Chien High School, he said that would be “the atmosphere.”

“Everything is shoved aside at the simple mention of sports; sports are placed above all. Every week an email is sent out listing the sporting events. Every week an update on how the teams performed is also sent out. Every time a single person makes it to state in a sport, there is a schoolwide pep rally held. However there is never any mention of other accomplishments—say math competitions. However recognition is not the issue at hand,” Landon shared. “This attitude fosters an environment of bullying for those kids that don’t participate in sports, which needs to stop.”

In his advice to underclassmen, the valedictorian urged them to “be who you want to be, while negating the possible negative feedback from others. Set goals for yourself and work to achieve those goals no matter how outlandish they may seem. And if you fail, at least you were yourself along the way.”

For example, he noted, “I set my goals impossibly high by trying to be admitted by the top prestigious universities of the country. Did I get in? No. Did I grow along the way and become a better person because of it? Yes.”

After graduating, Landon is most excited to experience the diverse world of perspectives and curiosities outside of Prairie du Chien. 

“I hope to meet people from all different walks of life as well as backgrounds. I hope to listen to their stories to further build my perspective of the world around me,” he said.

The salutatorian, Clare, is the daughter of Ryan Fritsche and Karyl Fritsche. She will also be attending UW-Madison in the fall for environmental science. 

The past four years have kept Clare busy. She’s been a volleyball and soccer player, and also spread her love of music through band. She was involved in three clubs, including National Honor Society, Key Club and SOS (Sources of Strength).

Honors have come her way through those endeavors as well. She was an AP Scholar with Distinction, received the varsity soccer Blackhawk Award in 2021, and was recognized with an academic letter and pin.

In the community, Clare helped with the 2020 and 2021 Operation Santa efforts and the blood drives at school. She’s also worked at Joe 2 Go and Gilded Lily Lash Studio in Prairie du Chien. 

Clare acknowledges that she’s a team player but that she’s had to “overcome many of my own bad habits, such as procrastination, over the last four years.”

She shared her gratitude for Mr. Gordon, because he was the teacher who always told her she could and would do great things. 

Additionally, she said she’s inspired by her little sister, Hannah.

“She always stands up for what she believes in and doesn’t let anyone or anything stand in her way,” she said.

Looking back on high school, she wishes she wouldn’t have worried so much about being perfect, so she could have better enjoyed “the little moments.”

She also hopes underclassmen take her advice not to push themselves too hard.

Of course, Clare will miss her friends and family after leaving Prairie du Chien High School, but she said she’s ready to live in “a new place and grow outside of my comfort zone.”

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