By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
MEREDITH— The top ten graduates of Inter-Lakes High School, divided evenly between men and women, are all bound for college knowing what academic path they intend to follow and most with the career they seek to pursue in sight.
Only Tyler Taggett, who will study mechanical engineering at the University of New Hampshire, has chosen to further his education in the state. And Taggett also stands out in another respect as the fourth generation of his family to serve with the Meredith Fire Department, where he is a trainee alongside his father, Capt. Mike Taggett, and two brothers. Taggett said that he will apply his engineering degree to designing and manufacturing fire apparatus at Pierce Manufacturing of Appleton, Wisconsin.
No one else was nearly so specific, but Ariana Lopez, Ben Jacques and Cameron Daly also chose to study engineering. Of the ten, none will go further afield than Lopez, who will attend Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. "I like the campus and I loved the mountains," she said, adding "and I'm a Mormon." Jacques, who appeared more apprehensive of the the prospect of a Trump presidency than the challenge of a college education, will study software engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy New York.. Daly will remain in New England at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island to study mechanical engineering and alone among the group continue as a middle-distance and cross-country runner at the next level.
At Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Jacques will be joined with his classmate Liam Donohoe, a student of computer science and mathematics, the first for a job and the second for fun. Despite their years together at Inter-Lakes High-School, neither has chosen to room with the other. "I took the first choice," Donohoe said, as the two swapped smiles.
Marena Neggers said that she knew she wanted to pursue a pre-med track and go to school in Boston. She chose Boston University where she will major in neuroscience.
The remaining four graduates stepped beyond the bounds of a STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics — education. Bridie O'Connell aspires to a career in journalism and selected George Washington University in the nation's capital because "it's not like here." She said that journalists must appreciate and understand cultural diversity and "I forced myself to be somewhere different."
Although all ten students praised the teaching staff at Inter-Lakes High School, only Kaylee Converse chose to study education in college. She will attend St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, but remains unsure whether she will prepare to become a classroom teacher or an architect of educational policy.
Only Ambrose Bean was bitten by the political bug that swarms in New Hampshire every four years. He will study political science at Ave Maria University near Naples, Florida. Seeming to acknowledge that political science may well be an oxymoron, he seems to have a head start on his degree.
Julia Eifert, the co-president of the class who was in the forefront of the effort to change the venue of graduation, was the least specific but the most passionate about her plans at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. Although unsure of her major, she was equally certain that she would immerse herself in literature with the aim of becoming a writer.
Taggett echoed Eifert, insisting that "you come to school to chase your passion. It's not the grades. It's what shapes and forms you."
These are not only intelligent but talented students. Most played more than one sport and many were members of the band and chorus. Eifert said "we missed some things, like family and sleep," but added "it was all worth it."
Of the ten, seven were admitted to their college of first choice. And all held fond memories of Inter-Lakes High School, though they agreed what they will remember will be what happened outside rather than inside the classroom. "I know what the outside of that book looks like," Day said pointing, "but the inside. . . "
The top ten members of the Inter-Lakes High School class of 2016 are, from left, Marena Neggers, Ariana Lopez, Bridie O’Connell, Kaylee Converse, Ben Jacques, Julia Eifert, Tyler Taggett, Liam Donohoe, Ambrose Bean and Cameron Daly. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)