Students ready to end phase of life

As they look ahead, some look back to decisions they made
2010-05-28T00:21:00Z Students ready to end phase of lifeROB ROGERS Of The Gazette Staff The Billings Gazette
May 28, 2010 12:21 am  • 

As she prepares to leave high school, Jenni Monaco really only regrets not making more jewelry.

“I wish I could have taken more of the jewelry classes,” she said with a laugh. “Or art.”

Instead, she pushed herself, taking a number of advanced-placement classes, performing on the school’s cheerleading squad and playing the flute in the school band. This year, she was part of a support group that helped freshmen get acclimated to the school.

“She’s the real deal,” said Jeff Weik, her AP government teacher. “She’s a really good kid.”

Graduating with her will be Jeff Aders, who has spent much of the past four years busy.

He competed on Senior High’s football, basketball and baseball teams and this year he’s served as senior class treasurer, helping the school put on activities for the community and organize events for students. He also holds down an after-school job.

So after he and Monaco cross the stage at Senior High’s graduation ceremony on Sunday, one of the first things they’ll be able to do is catch their breath and relax a bit.

“It really hasn’t sunk it yet,”

Aders said of graduation. “(High school) has gone by fast.”

Both are headed to college. Aders has a baseball scholarship to play at the University of Mary in Bismark, N.D. Monaco will be attending Montana State University in Bozeman, where she’ll major in biochemistry on a pre-med track.

“I’m really excited to be done with high school,” Monaco said.

She’s eager to jump into college and find out what it’s like.

Weik said she’s ready.

“She’s very serious about her education,” he said. “(She’s) aggressive when she needs to be.”

Aders said he’s always had the goal to get to college.

“Both my parents have a college degree,” he said. “The standards (were) set pretty high.”

Aders’ counselor Don Olsen praised the graduate’s ability to succeed while maintaining such a full schedule.

“He’s just one of those great kids,” he said. “He was very busy and very committed to school.”

Looking back over his four years, Aders said he’s genuinely surprised at how quickly it passed. His freshman year felt “like it was yesterday.”

And evaluating those four years, he said he has few regrets. This year was the first time he was involved with student government and he’s loved it. If he had it to do over again, he said he would have ran for office his sophomore year.

Still, he’s ready to be done with high school. Moving on to college, “I’m looking forward to meeting new people again.”

By his count, he’ll know about three people at the University of Mary.

Monaco remembers how few people she knew when she first started at Senior. She remembers being surprised at just how diverse the student body was.

“It was very, very scary,” she said. “And that’s what I ended up loving about it.”

She looks forward to having the same kind of experience in Bozeman.

“I’m so excited.”

Contact Rob Rogers at rrogers@billingsgazette.com or 657-1231.

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