Kathleen Hicks has earned the honor of being the Marian High School valedictorian, placing first in her class with a GPA of 4.680. She will attend the University of Notre Dame this fall; and although currently undecided about a specific career, she intends to major in finance and accounting.
Before coming to the Mishawaka school, Hicks attended St. Joseph Grade School in South Bend. She believes the main reason she is where she is today is due to her elevated faith life, especially during high school.
“I’ve learned that with the many uncertainties of life, trusting in God relieves the stress. I am very unsure about what my future will be like, especially with majors or career choices, but trusting in a plan that is greater than myself allows my life to be much more stress-free,” she said.
“At Marian, I’ve been able to see how my faith life has gone from just another thing to work on to a priority. I am nowhere near a perfect living example of a faith-filled life, but each day I am trying to improve my relationship with God and the faith-filled friends I do have in my life through Marian.”
Before the pandemic, Hicks volunteered at the St. Mary’s Convent in South Bend with the retired sisters. She is a member of National Honor Society and served as the group’s secretary her senior year. She was also the student government secretary for two years and recently a class vice president. She has also been involved with the Marian High School Spanish Club, serving as the co-president and secretary as an upperclassman. She has been an altar server since the fifth grade.
Hicks is a youth tennis coach: Working with the kids is something she enjoys doing very much, she said. Tennis is “the main thing I do and have done my entire life since I was 4 years old. I’ve played number one varsity singles for all four years of high school and have even received some NIC honors.”
She loves spending time with her friends and family, as well as volunteering with the sisters at St. Mary’s.
From her years at Marian, Hicks said she will take much – including “all the little moments I spent with my friends.”
“I am so thankful for each and every one of my friends, especially the ones who I have been able to lean on when things in my life seemed overwhelming. Especially the people from my chemistry and Greek classes hold a special place for me, because by the end of the year, everyone in those classes got pretty close. I can remember lots of little precious moments that culminated into many very happy high school memories.”
Attending Marian High School in Mishawaka, following an elementary and middle school education at St. Thomas the Apostle School in Elkhart and St. Pius X School in Granger, was the fulfillment of a deep dedication to the Catholic faith for co-salutatorian Regan Burns.
“Although I went to Catholic school before Marian, I had never been fully immersed in my faith,” she said. “I have learned so much about what it means to be Catholic.”
Marian allowed her to flourish and grow closer to God and to her community through acts of service such as the school’s annual service days.
“I have been blessed with the opportunity to make friends who helped to develop my values, and to learn from teachers who showed the love of God each and every day, working hard for our benefit,” she shared. “Marian has taught me how to continue to spread the love of Christ even beyond my high school years and has impacted my decision on how to further educate myself.”
Burns has decided to major in biology and preprofessional health studies at Clemson University in the fall.
Since she plays soccer pretty much year-round, her after-school life changed from season to season while she was at Marian – but always involved doing homework. In the fall, Burns immediately headed across the street to the school soccer fields, where she would spend around two hours practicing before going home to start on her homework. On game days she would get home around 9 or 10 p.m., making starting that homework difficult.
In the spring, she played club soccer after school. “I usually went home right after school and spend an hour or two working on my homework before I went to club soccer practice. In the winter between the spring and fall season, I got to go home, finish my homework, and have the rest of the day to entertain my hobbies.”
Those hobbies included reading, watching TV shows with her dad, playing video games and studying foreign languages.
“I enjoy pretty much any books except sci-fi, despite the efforts of my junior year English teacher to assume me into the ranks. My father works long hours, most days not even coming home until it’s dark, and so it’s incredibly special for me when we curl up onto the couch and watch some of our favorite shows together.
“Being in high school can be stressful at times,” she said. “Video games have been a main outlet for me to release some of this stress in a harmless, entertaining manner. I have studied Spanish since I was very young, but recently, due to my close friendship with an international student, I’ve started to pick up learning Korean when I’m not bogged down with homework or studying.”
Marian High School co-salutatorian Alyssa Webb hopes to make health care more accessible to the Latino community by breaking the language barrier that inhibits many Spanish-speaking individuals from understanding their medical care.
South Bend has a large Latino population that is underserved in their medical care, she said, and Marian’s emphasis on community and outreach to the city impacted her decision to study biochemistry and Spanish at the University of Notre Dame.
A parishioner of St. Joseph in South Bend, Webb’s faith taught her the necessity of service to others.
“My faith spurs me to take action and help others in my immediate community,” she said. “God’s love demands to be shared, and I hope to spread it through my healing service.”
Outside of school, Webb spent most of her time in a pre-professional ballet training program at Southold Dance Theater. At St. Joseph she is a children’s liturgy assistant, where she helps to teach young kids the word of God “in a way that they can understand.” Additionally, she tutored underclassmen as a part of National Honor Society and was dance captain for Marian’s Spirit Night in 2020 and 2021.
Among her favorite memories of high school was a fun time that also involved her primary extracurricular activity: “During a research class, the two teachers left the classroom, leaving us to have a dance battle and jump rope with a chain of paper clips.”
Webb is an avid reader with a preference for fantasy, and she crochets stuffed animals to give to friends. She loves to bake and cook and is constantly finding new ways to keep active. “I love to self-choreograph dances and I am constantly learning new styles.”
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