On May 17th, the end of an era will occur for our Waukegan High School seniors because it will be their final day as a part of the Waukegan Public School District. No more riding the PACE and yellow school buses, no more waking at the crack of dawn, no more lockers, no more processing, dress codes, cafeteria lunches, and for several, it will mean an end to senioritis. Senioritis hasn’t bested everyone though, because Brookside senior Michelle Johnson was named Waukegan High School’s Class of 2012 Salutatorian. Johnson is the second highest-ranking senior, behind only our Class of 2012 Valedictorian Lindsey Bennett.
It was not an easy year for Michelle. The 18-year-old, who is a National Honor Society Member, National Merit Scholarship winner, and Schuler Scholar, will be attending Brown University. For her commitment to The Dog Times as our very own editor-in-chief, Michelle also has been inducted into the Quill and Scroll Society, an international honor society for journalists. She will command the stage at Weiss Field to give a speech just before the valedictorian addresses the crowd at Commencement.
Working on college selection, after school activities, and events at home, made things very difficult for Michelle. On battling ‘senioritis’ Michelle commented, “Everyone gets it. You just have to deal with it.” She observed, however, that there is a difference between senioritis and procrastination: “Senioritis is the realization that it’s second semester and your grades really don’t matter, and procrastination is being lazy all the time.”
Michelle says that she wasn’t too surprised to be named salutatorian: “I knew how hard I worked. The more surprising thing was that my dad went through with his promise that if I were to graduate first or second in my class, he would get his ear pierced. I went with him when he did it a few weeks ago, and that was exciting!”
Michelle’s doesn’t have a single special memory about high school, but she’s sure that being part of band was by far her favorite thing. “All of my favorite memories come from football games with marching band or basketball games with pep band or concerts with Wind Ensemble,” says Michelle. “My best friends are in band and all of the most fun I’ve had since high school has happened because of band.”
Over the course of the past month, Michelle has received many words of encouragement and praise from family, friends and teachers. One of the many well wishes comes from Michelle’s Junior Literature teacher, Ms. Ali Schultz, who says, “Michelle has one of the finest analytical minds of anyone I’ve taught in 12 years at Waukegan High School. I’m really excited to see what she does at Brown over the next four years. I think the intellectual stimulation is going to be an incredible experience for her.”
Even though her high school career is winding down, Michelle isn’t done. On May 3, 2012, Michelle advanced in the Chicago Metro History Fair competition from the state-wide competition to the National History Day competition to be held in Washington, DC, in June. Finally, Michelle says her lasting advice to the Bulldogs she leaves behind is to “go all out because at the end of four years, you realize that it went by too fast.”
– Denzel Washington, Brookside junior