Students will graduate from Templeton High School this Thursday

TEMPLETON — Seniors from the Class of 2023 will be graduating from Templeton High School this Thursday. Last week, Templeton students were given their honors and celebrated for their accomplishments.

This year, the school has four top scholarly students they will be celebrating at graduation. Karen Clark and Heer Shinglot are the 2023 THS co-valedictorians, with Olivia Voos and Elyse Black as co-salutatorians. 

We asked each scholar various questions on their journey to this accomplishment and what the future may hold for them.

2023 THS Co Salutatorians e1686241110940
Olivia Voos (left) and Elyse Black are the co- salutatorians for Templeton High School this year. Contributed Photo

ATN/PRP: How does it feel to be named the valedictorian/salutatorian of your graduating class?

Karen Clark: Being named valedictorian is a great accomplishment, and it made me grateful to receive recognition for my hard work and dedication over the past several years.

Heer Shinglot: Being named valedictorian fills me with immense pride. It represents not only my personal accomplishments but also the sacrifices made by my immigrant parents. It is a true testimony to their own hard work and my own determination.

Olivia Voos: It was so exciting. It was nice to be recognized for the work I’ve done my whole academic career. I was especially excited to be given this honor alongside Elyse; she’s a good friend of mine, and I know that we’ve both worked very hard to get here.

Elyse Black: I feel happy and accomplished — my hard work paid off. I genuinely love learning and took classes that interested me throughout high school. I wasn’t striving to be at the top of the class, but it is nice to be recognized.

ATN/PRP: What was your reaction when you first found out you were going to be the valedictorian?

KC: Mostly, I was excited both for myself and my fellow co-valedictorian and co-salutatorians. All of us deserve to be where we are, and I am grateful that all of us were acknowledged for our accomplishments.

HS: Finding out I was going to be the valedictorian was a fulfilling and proud moment. The dedication I placed in my academics is being acknowledged, and I feel much joy and gratitude.

OV: I was absolutely shocked. I always knew I was high in our class rank, but actually being tied for second completely caught me off guard. I think my first thought was, “Oh no, I’m going to have to give a speech.”

EB: When I found out I was a salutatorian, I was quite shocked, I must admit. I knew I was high in the class rank, but not that high. Then I started freaking out about the speech I was going to give, but I am also excited to have the opportunity to speak at graduation.

ATN/PRP: Can you share some of the highlights of your high school journey?

KC: I have participated in many musical groups across our county. I am grateful to have been the drum major for my school’s marching band. Additionally, I have an internship with the Atascadero Mutual Water Company. Lastly, I am proud to have graduated from Cuesta [College] last month with two associate degrees.

HS: A few of my highlights have been: Playing on my school’s tennis team all four years — the memories are truly irreplaceable; partaking in my AP biology course, where I realized molecular biology is the area of study I want to focus on; sitting on the school board for two years where I got to advocate for my peers and values I believed were most important; and starting a Mental Health Awareness club affiliated with the National Alliance of Mental Illness and seeing its impact on our campus and the students.

OV: There’s many, but some highlights are going to Disneyland with FNL [Friday Night Live], going out to eat with classmates after AP testing, tough matches with my tennis team, study groups with my AP calc classmates, and starting traditions with my track and field team.

EB: I really enjoyed planning and participating in weekly Foreign Language Club meetings for which I was founder and president. I also enjoyed conducting my own study in AP research, where I compared a formulaic pop/rock song to a non-formulaic pop/rock song. I also loved performing in school functions such as plays, musicals, concerts, and Mock Rock.

ATN/PRP: What do you believe contributed to your success as a student and as a valedictorian/salutatorian?

KC: I believe that hard work and dedication are what have contributed to my successes. I have always signed up for extra classes and been excited about learning, which helps me stay motivated and achieve my goals.

HS: I believe the contributing factors are determination, genuine intellectual curiosity, effective time management skills, and perseverance. Though, the most important contributor has been the relationships I’ve made with my friends and family. Their constant support and unwavering encouragement have been the driving force in my success.

OV: I believe my ability to plan ahead. Maintaining a high GPA while having enough time for extracurriculars and a social life is really contingent on planning. I would start organizing my class schedule very early, and I spent a lot of time coordinating with the counselors.

EB: The amazing teachers who taught me had a lot to do with my success as a student — they constantly brought positive energy to what we were learning, and were approachable and willing to help. The strong work ethic I developed during my time in drama also contributed to my drive and determination to succeed in school.

ATN/PRP: Is there anything you wish you had done differently or any advice you would give your past self looking back?

KC: Something that I wished I had learned sooner was to value corrections from teachers, coaches, and mentors. I had a realization midway through my junior year that every critique I received was there to make me a stronger performer and person, not to hurt me.

HS: In full transparency, I am content and happy with the decisions I have made. The only advice I would tell my past self is to ease the worrying and that it will all work out in the end.

OV: I wish I knew high schoolers could take Cuesta courses sooner. It’s such a great opportunity to save money by taking college courses early, and it allows you to explore classes and fields that may not be offered at your high school.

EB: I don’t have any advice for my past self. At the beginning of high school, I made the decision to dive into things that interested me, and I’m really glad I did. Drama, jazz band, foreign language club, mock trial, cross country, and swim shaped who I am, and I have a lot of fond memories of the people I met through these activities.

ATN/PRP: What are your plans for the future? Are you pursuing any specific career or academic paths?

KC: I am planning to attend UCLA in the fall. I am planning to double major in geography/environmental studies and physics. I hope to continue to perform music in the future. I’m not yet sure what I hope to do for a career.

HS: I plan to study neuroscience and molecular biology at UCLA, hoping to join the medical field as a neurologist. Through shadowing Dr. Yamagata in Templeton and assisting in research in the field, I am confident this is my path, and I cannot wait to begin my journey.

OV: I will be attending UCLA to study business economics. I’m trying to keep my future career plans as open and flexible as possible in case I have a change of heart, but as of now, after UCLA, I plan to attend law school.

EB: I’m following my dream to be a professional working musician, so I am going all-in on music at Berklee College of Music in Boston after high school. If that doesn’t work out, I’ll probably go back to school to pursue international relations, psychology, or law.

Feature Image: Karen Clark (left) and Heer Shinglot are the co- valedictorians for Templeton High School this year. Contributed Photo