Sunday, June 16, 2024

A bright future for the Class of 2024

by Daily Inter Lake
| June 2, 2024 12:00 AM

We are once again amazed by the seniors graduating from the area’s high schools and heading out into the world. The Inter Lake over the last week has showcased some remarkable young people who shared their stories with the community.

It hasn’t been an easy path to graduation. Their capacity to find resiliency in overcoming health and housing challenges, while still completing coursework, should inspire us all. 

Flathead High School senior Austin Sanchez expects to be the first in his family to attend college after graduating with an outstanding grade point average. He found a way to make academics and his mental health a priority, even when his living situation was less than ideal.

“You can always turn things around,” Sanchez said. “That’s kind of cliche. But it’s true.” 

Columbia Falls debate state champion Eleanor Hollingsworth relied on family strength to get her through challenging times. Participation in debate became a source of solace through grief and an example of her drive to challenge herself.

“She was always a bright kid,” her mom, Rae Hollingsworth, said. “You know, kind of a little stinker sometimes, but she’s always been real smart. She learned everything very quickly.”

Living with chronic illness didn’t sideline Andrea Chandler, a Glacier High School senior, as she’s put in countless hours in theater and culinary arts. Or now, as she has become a disability advocate.

“I’d like to give people a voice and give girls a voice that are going through a similar experience to me, a voice to say, ‘No, this is real. We are struggling. We need support.’ I don’t want anybody to feel alone or confused about having disabilities or chronic illnesses — ever,” Chandler said.

Diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease, Whitefish High School senior Brooke Osburn underwent dialysis before receiving a kidney transplant. Through studying medicine she hopes to one day use her experience to help others. In the meantime, she’s been leading her fellow students through volunteering. 

“I love being involved in the community,” she said.

As young adults, they have already begun to set out a future for themselves, looking toward their passions outside of school to guide them.

Finding a love for adventure, Bigfork High School senior North Nollan spent time during high school as an exchange student in Sweden. He now aims to take his passions for linguistics and skiing with him as he pursues a job as a ski instructor in Switzerland. 

Stillwater Christian School senior Silas Jones shows up on the lake in the early morning hours in his pursuit of being the best angler in competitions. He’s set his sights on winning college tournaments and joining the pro circuit. 

“With his work ethic and his passion, he will never compromise,” said Stillwater Principal Matthew Vander Ark. “I know that he will go far.”

We are confident that the Class of 2024 can face any obstacle — they’ve already proven their resiliency, courage and determination. They are already looking to the next opportunity ahead.

And we know they all will go far.