Four years of dedication for Vlazny, Gregerson

Error message

  • Warning: array_merge(): Expected parameter 1 to be an array, bool given in _simpleads_render_ajax_template() (line 133 of /home/pdccourier/www/www/sites/all/modules/simpleads/includes/
  • Notice: Trying to get property 'settings' of non-object in _simpleads_adgroup_settings() (line 343 of /home/pdccourier/www/www/sites/all/modules/simpleads/includes/
  • Warning: array_merge(): Expected parameter 1 to be an array, bool given in _simpleads_render_ajax_template() (line 157 of /home/pdccourier/www/www/sites/all/modules/simpleads/includes/
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in include() (line 24 of /home/pdccourier/www/www/sites/all/modules/simpleads/templates/simpleads_ajax_call.tpl.php).

Mackayla Vlazny (left) and Madylen Gregerson are the top academic students in Central’s class of 2024.

By Willis Patenaude, Times-Register


Central seniors Mackayla Vlazny and Madylen Gregerson are in a tight race for the title of class valedictorian. Both of these top students were often driven from an early age and motivated by family, who held them to “high standards.” 


In the case of Vlazny, it was her mom, who was pivotal in pushing her to be the best she could be in all areas of life. Being in the running for valedictorian is recognition that hard work put into school has “paid off.” All those years giving “full effort” and trying her hardest were worth it, she said.


“My family is always there for me when I need someone. They are also there when I fall short of my expectations and they push me to move forward,” Vlazny said. 


Vlazny’s mother is her role model and inspiration, the person who taught her “anything is possible.” 


She is a “super woman,” Vlazny said.


It’s a similar story for Gregerson, who pointed to her parents and the support they have provided as key in her pursuit of academic success, something she has always worked hard to achieve.


“My parents helped me continue working hard by encouraging me and expecting a lot out of me, even without words,” Gregerson said.


While academic success is difficult enough, neither Vlazny nor Gregerson simply stayed buried in the books. Both have had busy high school careers. 


Gregerson was involved in track and field as well as cross country for four years, while also playing softball as a freshman. She was a member of the Clayton Ridge Drill Team during her senior year. 


Through those activities, Gregerson came to enjoy the team atmosphere and how much fun cross country was, regardless of who was on the team. As for the drill team, that decision stems from a love of dance and the “enjoyment in performing.”


But it doesn’t stop there for Gregerson, who was also class vice president for three years and a student council member for one year. She “enjoyed the connections and relationships” she built in both groups and came away from those experiences fully believing that involvement in activities “had a positive impact” on her leadership skills and helped her “gain a greater sense of responsibility and time management skills.”


Vlazny’s extracurricular list is just as lengthy, and includes playing volleyball for four years, basketball two years and softball four years. She also participated in track and field for a season. Like her counterpart, Vlazny will miss the “team atmosphere” of competing in those sports.


Additionally, Vlazny was involved in 4-H for eight years and, through 4-H, has shown different livestock as well as her dogs, Lucy and Blaze. Vlazny has been secretary of the St. Olaf Jr. Farmers as well as the secretary of the class of 2024 and is a member of National Honor Society.


Through being involved, she has “learned many new skills and grown more as a person,” she said.


Looking back at any high school career is often filled with joy, but also overcoming struggles. 


When it comes to struggles, Vlazny noted just one. It was history class due to being “horrible at remembering dates,” among other historical tidbits necessary for the subject.


Gregerson, on the other hand, talked about being able to enjoy the moment in the busyness of classes, school work, jobs, sports and anything else life can throw at you on a day-to-day basis. But she has “loved almost every minute” of the busyness and the things she has been involved in.


In terms of what they would change, the seniors offered different responses. Vlazny indicated she would have “paid more attention to the grades online” as a freshman, while Gregerson would’ve “branched out more” socially at the beginning of her senior year.


“I have made so many memories this year, and I wish that I would have taken more opportunities to make memories with my friends,” Gregerson said.


As far as accomplishments go, Vlazny highlighted the fact she is a Governor’s Scholar, earned the Royer Farms, Iowa Farm Bureau and Parkinson’s scholarships and received red and silver cords, the seal of biliteracy and honors diploma. Her greatest accomplishment, though, was “successfully balancing” all the different activities she has been involved in the last four years.


Some of Gregerson’s highlights included being awarded first and second team all-conference in the shuttle hurdle relay during her junior and senior track seasons, as well as being recognized as KWWL Best of the Class, maintaining a 4.0 college GPA as a high school student and receiving the Tappan scholarship.


This experience as high school students gives the two some wisdom to impart to future graduating classes. Both agree on one notable piece of advice: get involved. Whether it’s in sports, musicals, plays or clubs, it doesn’t really matter.


Just “get involved and stay involved,” Gregerson said. Vlazny added, “enjoy everything that high school has to offer.”


As Vlazny cautioned, while the first two years of high school inch by at a snail’s pace, the last two “go by so fast.”


Once these four years are over, the door to the future opens, and Gregerson and Vlazny have big plans. Vlazny will attend the University of Iowa in the fall to pursue a degree in exercise science. After she graduates with a bachelor’s degree, she hopes to attend medical school to study medicine and become a doctor. Her career goal is to become a dermatologist.


Gregerson will start at NICC this fall in the elementary education transfer program, before heading to a university to obtain a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. It’s a career choice that was influenced during her time working with Central kindergarten teacher Andrea Zittergruen. It’s also who Gregerson selected to present her diploma during the graduation ceremony.


“I am an SOS for Mrs. Zittergruen and I have developed a close relationship with her and the students I have worked with. She inspired me to follow her in becoming an elementary teacher,” Gregerson said.


As they get ready for one final walk through the Central halls and across the graduating stage, there will be things both Vlazny and Gregerson will miss. For Gregerson, that’s participating in sports and friends. 


Vlazny will miss the stability, small town environment, sports and the teachers who “honestly want to see their students succeed,” she said. One of those teachers is Mrs. Alison Patenaude, Vlazny’s English teacher and the person she chose to present her diploma. 


When it comes to being valedictorian, both students put in the work and watched that work lead toward their goals.


“I was very excited and proud of myself for working hard. I was also very excited to tell my parents because they knew how hard I have worked to excel academically,” Gregerson said.


Vlazny stated, “I know that having academic success does not come naturally and it requires a lot of work. I feel very excited and appreciative to all of my teachers who taught me what I know, and my family for supporting me.”


Central’s commencement will be held Sunday, May 19, at 2 p.m., at the Dittmer Sports Complex in Elkader. Learn more about the Central class of 2024 in the graduation section included in this week’s edition.

Rate this article: 
Average: 5 (1 vote)