Seneca class of 2022’s top grads motivated by their futures

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The Seneca High School Class of 2022 Valedictorian is Nick Kirchhoff and the Salutatorian is Willow Roensch.

Nick is the son of Richard and Annette Kirchhoff, of Seneca. He plans to attend UW-La Crosse in the fall toward a major in pre-medicine.

Throughout his time at Seneca High School, Nick has been found himself busy in academics, with sports and in the community. He was a member of the National Honor Society and participated in basketball, baseball and track and field. In track, he was captain and earned first-team all conference, an academic medal and a letter. During his extra time, Nick volunteers for church groups and works at Cabela’s in Prairie du Chien.

Thinking back on the last four years, Nick said he’s worked hard, and he’s learned that by his mom’s example.

“Seeing the way my mom has handled her cancer has shown me that’s how I am supposed to get through life,” he stated. “My mother and my brother (are an inspiration) because of the way they have handled the pressures around them.”

In the classroom, Miss Nelson is someone whose impact Nick has felt because “she has been a check-in kind of person on my road of ups and downs.”

Nick said one of the aspects of Seneca he will miss is Dawn Ray’s day care. However, he’s looking forward to moving out and making his own legacy. “I have big dreams and this is the only way to achieve them,” he said. 

If he were to change anything about high school, Nick said he would change “the curriculum and how we are taught.”

As for the underclassmen, Nick added some advice: “Don’t listen to the pressures. Put your head down and work even a little bit and you will be surprised at how well you are doing by the time you are graduating.”

Salutatorian Willow is the daughter of Todd Roensch and the late Kara Rosenquist, from Eastman. This fall, she plans to attend The Salon Professional Academy for Cosmetology in Onalaska.

Willow has kept busy the past four years. Aside from her studies at Seneca High School, she’s served on the student council, art club, and participated in forensics, dance, and cheer. Additionally, she’s volunteered at two student council blood drives, and she has worked at Special T’s, Huckleberry’s and Kwik Trip. 

Reflecting on her high school career, Willow recognizes her strengths as her leadership and responsibility skills. She’s overcome learning virtually, battling mental illness, and dealing with her families financial difficulties.

Willow has found herself inspired by many. In the school, teacher Jennifer Fisher has impacted her greatly, because, earlier this year, when she realized teaching wasn’t for her and chose to become a cosmetologist, Jennifer was the “only person who immediately supported my decision and didn’t try to convince her otherwise. 

“She is someone who I always knew I could turn to if I needed to talk, and I’ve always liked the advice she would give. When I became hyper-focused on a new show or book, she would always listen to me talk about it and often consider watching or reading it herself,” Willow stated. “Mrs. Fisher is a teacher who has had a huge impact on who I am and who I want to become.” 

Furthermore, Willow said her two brothers have been a couple of people she could look up to as well. 

“Both of them are over nine years older than me and have become very successful and happy. They have done wonderful things for me that I will be eternally grateful for. I look up to them a lot and I want to someday achieve the same success that they have,” she said. “I am incredibly proud of them, and my goal is to make them as proud of me as I am of them.”

With graduation this weekend, Willow is most excited to move into an apartment with her friend in August. She is going to miss her classmates and friends in the lower grades, of course. 

“I know that after we graduate, there are many people from this area I will never get to see again,” she said. “I am also going to miss the amazing staff of Seneca High School. All of my teachers truly do their best to educate their students and set them up for success, and I truly am going to miss them. I am also going to miss my art classes and my yearbook class.”

If she could adjust anything from her high school experience, she might consider requesting a change to the start time of school. She said she’s worked often until 10 p.m. the night before, making it difficult to wake up the next morning for school.

As for those coming up through Seneca High School next, Willow encourages them to “Know that the teachers really are trying to help you succeed, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with asking for help when you are struggling. 

“Also, if you are having a hard time with life, just know that you still have your whole life ahead of you and this hard thing will someday pass.”

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