Student of the Week, Palisade High School senior Jessica Stouder

GPA: 4.34

Favorite book and its author: "Calico Palace" by Gwen Bristow

Favorite TV show: "House"

Favorite band or musician: Five Finger Death Punch

After-school activities: Hiking, photography, painting, 'The Squad' — student enrichment group

Parents: Randy and Christine Stouder

Favorite teacher and why: Mr. Wallace, because he is understanding, compassionate, fun, and successfully teaches a difficult foreign language to his students year after year. He also took my French class to France, and constantly develops relationships with his students that makes him not only a great mentor, but a wonderful teacher. Mr. Wallace makes our class community feel like a family, because encourages us to fail together and laugh together. I couldn't ask for a more supportive atmosphere.

Personal hero and why: Either of my parents, for drastically juxtaposing reasons. My mom has the greatest work ethic of anyone I have ever seen, and she works out of the goodness of her own heart. She is the most selfless person, compromising her own desires to provide for our demanding family. My dad is also a personal hero for me, because I aspire to live with his philosophy. He has worked hard all his life, and now lives with a freedom balanced with familial responsibility and adventure. I wouldn't be the person I am today without my parents, and I have never expressed my gratitude in a way that encompasses how truly grateful I am for them.

Preferred college: Oregon State University

Dream job: Marine biologist

Highlight of your high school experience:

The highlight would have to be traveling to France with my French class. Not only did I get to apply my language skills, I was immersed in a foreign country that I had been dreaming of experiencing for my whole life. Rather than explore as tourists, we were encouraged to attempt to fit into the French culture as much as possible, eating at favorite local restaurants and avoiding all the common areas, except for those one simply can't miss. The best part of the trip was learning about the 'melting pot' of cultures that happens in France, as well as experiencing it with my closest friends and classmates.

Q: What accomplishment are you the most proud of?

A: I am most proud of my voyage through the International Baccalaureate Program at Palisade. I always knew that a rigorous academic program was where I belonged, and IB has grown me into a more open-minded person than I ever thought possible. While I have grown tremendously academically, I have also grown socially, because I now have forged the closest friendships with incredible people that I wouldn't trade for the world.

Q: If you were the principal of your high school for a week, what would you do or change?

A: I would forge relationships with all the students. For my high school, that wouldn't be too difficult an endeavor, because our school is only 1,000 students strong. However, I think back upon my elementary school days with my principal Mr. Levinson, who knew each student by name. I felt the most welcomed at Scenic Elementary, and I would try to implement some of their qualities at Palisade.

Q: If you could have dinner with one person, living or dead, who would you choose and why?

A: Dick Van Dyke, hands down. I want to learn about his life, and how even in his old age, he has kept a positive attitude and outlook on life.

Q: If you could live anywhere or do anything for one year, what would you do and why?

A: I would live in Hawaii, on the Big Island, but not in tourist destinations or resorts. I would get a job working on a coffee plantation, attempting to experience the most authentic Hawaiian culture, because the two times I have visited, the culture was the most memorable part. I love to see where the food I eat comes from, and the intricate process of guiding coffee from the plant to beans is fascinating. During the times I wasn't working, I would be snorkeling around the whole island, studying the effects of global warming on coral and the resultant coral bleaching.

Q: What advice would you give to yourself as a freshman?

A: It's okay to ask for the opinions of others, but don't get caught up in them. That advice goes hand-in-hand with the fact that it's better to be unique than to fly under the radar. Even now, I am only beginning to embrace what makes me different, but I look back on my first years in high school with regret, because I acted like a bump on a log that never got recognized. So, to freshman year me, you're going to regret it if you don't put yourself out there!

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