One Ballard senior has a lot of big dreams, but her overall long-term goal in life is to have a job she’s able to enjoy.
“But if by some stroke of luck I become famous and live in a mountainside mansion surrounded by grammys with Taylor Swift as my best friend, that’d be pretty cool, too,” said Emma Clinton, daughter of Matthew and Kim Clinton of Cambridge and sister of Josh, who is a junior at Ballard this year.
Emma is not short on words, or the ability to communicate her thoughts, traits that should serve her well as she pursues the fields of public relations and business next year at Iowa State University.
As for what she’s feeling right now, as graduation day gets closer, “It’s a weird feeling,” she admitted. “On one hand, it feels totally surreal. On the other, it feels like I’ve been ready for it for months now. It may be kind of scary embarking on a completely new journey…but it is something I feel prepared for.”
As excited as she is to see where her life goes, she’s equally excited “to see where all my classmates’ lives take them. There’s no doubt in my mind they are all going to succeed in life.”
Emma started school at Ballard in the second grade. Of the school district and local community, she said they’ve been “amazing.”
She lists a number of teachers and adults who’ve impacted her life. She has endless kind words and statements about each. Here’s a condensed synopsis:
Mrs. Holly — She ended Emma’s previous hatred of math because she was such a great person to see every day, “when I need someone to laugh at my jokes or to help me feel better if I’m down in the dumps. She is the type of person who, just by seeing her, your day gets better,” Emma said.
Mr. Fletcher — “I have a tremendous amount of respect for the work he puts into his career and all the amazing help he offers to his students. Something I especially appreciate is his effort to make every extra-curricular important.”
Mr. Hawks — a guy who has done a wonderful job building the band program during his first few years at Ballard. Emma said he shows his passion for the job and his students. She loves that he helped her work on an original song she wrote, with truly constructive and honest criticism. “He gave me real things to work on…while still supporting what I was doing. Before he left the room he said to me, ‘I’d buy your album if you decide to release one some day. I believe in you.’”
Emily Erickson — “No matter how busy she is, she is someone who is always willing to help. She has played piano for all of the choir concerts I have sang in, she accompanies performers at solo and ensemble contests, and this past spring she took on playing piano in the pit for the musical. She does this all on top of working at the school library.”
Mrs. Ronca — She teaches theater, which has been one of Emma’s favorite classes. “Mrs. Ronca is absolutely incredible and my (theater) classmates are amazing. Aside from this class just being a ton of fun, Mrs. Ronca is helping us put on a student-directed show this spring…It has been a great learning experience. I’m extremely grateful Mrs. Ronca is giving us this opportunity.”
Mr. Krum — an incredible choir and chamber choir director. “He has made choir a really great experience for me. Most of my best friends are also in choir, so it’s nice to walk into the choir room every day and see a room full of your favorite people… Choir has shaped me into the person I am today.”
Outside of school, Emma is equally grateful to others who’ve impacted her life. “The Kahlers, Longs, Vaseys, Connells and Reetz are just a few families that come to mind, but there are so many others as well. I would like to thank all of them for what they have done not only for me, but for their families and other organizations they have been involved in as well.”
Emma has gotten to know a lot of people through a various of involvements during her school years. Her activities have included speech, choir, chamber choir, show choir, band, marching band, plays and musicals, student council, 4-H, transition team, and she is president of Ballard’s National Honor Society.
“My service-related activities have pushed me to work extremely hard in order to create successful outcomes,” she said. “In student council, my biggest project I led during the years was our fall can drive (for) Day of Caring.” This was a partnership with United Way. “It involved months of planning and hours upon hours of work. That was probably the thing I worked the hardest on in high school, and I have a tremendous amount of pride in that.” This year, she said, the student council collected a record number of food items and she thanks the community and all of student council members for that result.
Through all of the activities and classes, Emma said she’s has experiences she’ll never forget. “From staying in a super sketchy hotel on my freshman year choir trip, messing around backstage during plays and musicals, having dance parties during speech, singing karaoke in theatre and worrying that half the choir got food poisoning in Colorado, I’ve made some pretty amazing memories and even better friends.”
As for a favorite class this year, she noted, it’s AP statistics. “There is something so satisfying about a difficult concept finally clicking, which has made me end up liking this class so much. I have also enjoyed being able to work on stats homework during seventh hour with my friends Taryn and Nathan. They are big incentives for me to truly understand the material so we can all help each other. Of course, Mr. Fletcher has also been a big reason I’ve enjoyed this class. I see how much work he puts in and it makes me want to work hard as well.”
Hard work isn’t lost on Emma. She’s not only been super involved in school, but has also worked at three jobs outside of school. She worked at Sandy’s Grill the summer after her freshman year, worked at Subway in Huxley the summer after her sophomore year and worked at Hickory Park last summer. With each job, she can go on and on about her respect for and friendships with the people she worked with and the things she was able to learn.
Above all her other relationships, there’s the one she’s had with her parents. ‘I’ve greatly appreciated how close I’ve gotten to my parents throughout high school. They are always there for me and have showed me what it truly means to be a good parent. They have stayed up late waiting for me to get home from practices to hear about my day, pushed me to achieve my full potential in school and have never stopped supporting me throughout anything and everything.”
She recalled this past fall, when her dad was in northern Minnesota on a business trip during academic awards night. “I was going to be giving a small speech, and my brother and I were receiving academic letters. My dad apologized profusely over the phone, saying he wouldn’t be able to make it since he was eight hours away, but when I looked out into the audience that night, I saw my dad. He had driven all that way just to see his kids walk across a stage. That meant the world to Josh and I.”
She credits her parents with giving her brother and her an amazing childhood. “When I look back on being a kid, they are always there taking Josh and I on hikes, going on bike rides, camping, fishing and being active, hard-working parents. I have no idea how on earth they pulled that off, but they did.’
As she winds down her time in high school, Emma wants to “take in” and fully appreciate her last days at Ballard High.
‘I’m going to miss the extra-curricular activities I’ve been involved in and the people I have met because of them. It was hard saying goodbye to speech season and I definitely felt a lot of emotions when I took my final bow during the musical. Those types of activities are what brought me together with so many amazing people over the years. I’m really going to miss performing with them come next fall,” she said.
She advises younger students to get involved with things they truly enjoy and to be careful not to become overwhelmed by being in everything. “Get involved in things you enjoy,” she said.
And she hopes that others will enjoy and take pride in the Ballard School District. “I’m most proud of how (Ballard) has such a strong sense of community. The people here are able to come together in both the worst and best of times to support one another, and that’s something I really admire.”
Her parting thoughts, “Keep it real and que bella cosa.”