Summit High recognizes top-5 scholars as graduation nears |

Summit High recognizes top-5 scholars as graduation nears

Ruthie Boyd
Ben Trollinger / |

Why Five?

The Summit School District decided in 2014-15 to create a more inclusive model for academic achievement as opposed to the traditional high school honors structure of the past. Summit High will still recognize a valedictorian and salutatorian during a Commemoration ceremony the night before graduation, but — similar to collegiate environments with Latin honors — will also award tassels to students in the Summa Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude and Cum Laude grade-point average ranges.

Summit High School’s class of 2016 graduation fast approaches this upcoming weekend (Saturday, May 28, at 10 a.m. at the high school), and five students stand atop the academic standings. Get to know this quintet of outstanding scholars and where they’ll head next.

Ruthie Boyd

As Summit County native Ruthie Boyd looks forward to college out of state in the fall, she also fully grasps the concept that the local community will forever be her original training grounds.

Boyd, a four-year standout runner in both cross-country and the distance events in track and field for the Tigers, will head to Division-III Carleton College, a private liberal arts school in Northfield, Minnesota but will carry on much of what has long been an anchor for her here. She hopes running maintains what the life equation that’s made her so successful academically in Summit as well.

“It’s just been a big part of who I’ve been in high school,” she said, “and I’m really excited to continue that in college and get to that next level.”

Aside from heading to the 4A state meets in both sports each season since entering high school and eight total letters, she has participated in Spanish National Honor Society as well as National Honor Society and the school’s Interact Club — Rotary International’s high school equivalent. Oh, and of course, she will obtain her International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme, too.

Boyd will enter Carleton undeclared but, for now, possibly has thoughts of pursuing a degree in Spanish or environmental studies. Either way, she is confident that among a number small, East Coast schools she was considering, Carleton was the proper pick after a visit.

“Something about it just felt right,” she said.

She thinks having some members of her family nearby in Minnesota will be beneficial — her close friend and fellow top Summit scholar Cait McCluskie (see her profile below) will also be in school just across the street. That the campus also has a 14-mile winter trail system for her first sport, Nordic skiing, was also attractive, and, as Boyd approaches the finish line on her high school career, she is ready to begin the next context, while also quickly dismissing any idea that she’ll ever forget from where she sprung.

“Everyone has been so supportive in the community, and I’m so thankful for that,” she said. “I’m really excited to go out to Minnesota and kind of have a new experience, but Summit County will always be my home.”

Blair Huntley

For Blair Huntley, aspirations of leaving her home of Breckenridge her entire life are actually landing her right back to a sense of strong familiarity.

In choosing Wake Forest University, the private school in Winston-Salem, North Carolina of about 7,500 students, she will coincidentally land less than an hour from her older sister at nearby Elon University. New surroundings and slightly warmer temperatures, on top of a little familial comfort, ended up being the perfect recipe for Huntley.

“I didn’t pick that school because I’d be close to her,” she said, “but it worked out great.”

After all, it was her big sis, just now wrapping up her junior year of college, who told her to explore the idea of Greek life because of her own positive experiences in a sorority of corresponding values and like-minded young women that appealed to the younger of the two.

In addition, Wake Forest, like the other top schools around the Northeast that Huntley considered (UPenn, Lehigh, Villanova, Boston College), offers the business management program she plans to study. Specifically, after experiences at Summit High in Leadership class, on Student Council all four years, Spanish National Honor Society and National Honor Society, as well as with the Summit County Care Council and The Summit Foundation’s Youth Giving Council, she said she intends to focus on the field of health care.

“I like leading and taking charge and making decisions,” she explained, “and so I thought business management would a good place.”

Huntley departs Summit completing the bulk of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme and says she is grateful for all of the community support through the years — through scholarships to help her into her next phase of academics and career pursuits, just the same as the skills and aspects of her personality that experience has leant her.

“Because I’ve grown up in Summit County,” she said, “it’s really helped shape who I am. I think that will really help me, especially going out of state, with a new perspective.”

Cait McCluskie

Being a team player and working as a collective is what Cait McCluskie enjoys most about all that she’s accomplished in her time at Summit High School.

It’s precisely why she continues to strive for a career as a professional actress, either on stage or in film, in her selecting to go to St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. Above all, the emphasis remains on joint efforts.

“I’ve always loved theater,” she said, “it’s my whole life. You look at other job fields, and there’s certain collaboration in everything, but theater is 100-percent, completely collaborative.”

She said that she also just really likes human and social interactions, which helps explain her long list of clubs, chapters and community organizations. They include completion of the IB Diploma Programme, four years on the Speech & Debate Team, both Spanish National Honor Society and National Honor Society, Rotary International’s Interact Club and The Summit Foundation’s Youth Giving Council.

Between all of those school groups, as well as a number of others, on top of spending nearly all of her childhood growing up in Summit Cove near Keystone, it’s started to register with McCluskie just as high school comes to a close how special the relationships she’s developed through the years are to her. At least her close friend and fellow top Summit scholar Ruthie Boyd (see her profile above) will basically be coming with her.

“What I’m finally starting to realize,” she said, “is I have a lot of really, really good friends here. Just having all those people around me that I’ve known since I was 4 years old and having to kind of say goodbye to everybody is going to be crazy. I’m going to miss them so much.”

Then again, that’s probably not surprising to hear from a young woman who has spent the majority of her life building friendships just the same as her career pursuits — collaboratively.

Bailey Radek

It was a class, specifically a teacher, at Summit High School that is essentially helping set the course of the rest of her professional life. That, and catching a full glimpse a knee replacement surgery during a job shadow at the hospital in Frisco.

“That kind of told me I wasn’t squeamish,” she said, “so that was also helpful.”

Radek, who will attend Seattle University in Washington State in the fall, explained that her experience in the high school’s certified nursing assistant program through the med-prep class really solidified her career aims. Always someone who goes out of her way to help provide for those around her — be it her younger sister or within her friend circle — now studying nursing seems an organic outcome.

“It’s just really person-oriented,” she said of nursing, “and the reason I didn’t want to be a doctor was I wanted to form more relationships with people and use my natural skills of compassion and just of taking care of people. I want take care of people and spend my life doing that.”

That’s not all Radek has completed while at Summit High, obviously. She will obtain her IB diploma by the school year’s conclusion, is presently Student Council vice president, as well as the community service coordinator for Spanish National Honor Society and historian of school’s chapter of National Honor Society.

Through it all, Radek is proudest of the self-motivation she possesses to work hard in order to get where she’ll be heading next with the stage of her education. And with plenty of family in the Seattle area from her father’s side of the family, she’ll feel right at home in a place she grew up visiting as a child, and a school that sits nestled near the heart of the a city she loves.

“It’s not too big, it’s not too small,” she said of Seattle U., at approaching 8,000 students. “It has a really good sense of community.”

Familial support, a familiar city and a tight-knit school population — all ideal features for someone who one day hopes to herself more fully comfort and provide for those who surround around her.

Katie Sullivan

Unlike her four top academic peers at Summit High, Katie Sullivan is basically brand new to the area and yet wasted no time setting it ablaze in that brief period.

Originally hailing from a tourist destination near Portland, Maine, she spent a year in Clear Creek before she and her family settled in Breckenridge. The move came on a bit of a whim based almost exclusively on their collective enjoyment of the mountains and has resulted in academic and athletic records worth bragging about.

“We were all for it,” she said of the family’s initial decision to relocate. “We just moved out here kind of for fun, but it ended up working out really well. There’s always stuff to do, and being outside I feel like it’s just easy living up here.”

Being outdoors is a location where Sullivan thrives. Upon becoming a Tiger as a junior, she joined the cross-country team before immediately being named captain of the soccer team as one of its top performers in the spring. She forewent running again the fall of her senior year for club soccer in Vail and once again helped lead the Tigers as a midfielder on the pitch during her senior season.

“Soccer,” said Sullivan, “I absolutely love the sport. It’s like my favorite thing. It’s just really fun.”

Due to the rigorous course load she’s expecting once arriving to Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Florida for her freshman year, she remains uncertain if she’ll try out for the Division-II squad. In the meantime, while enjoying the sunshine near Orlando, she intends to continue studying French while focusing on a pre-med double major in biology and chemistry vin the hopes of becoming a dermatologist specializing in aiding victims of severe burns.

“I consider myself to be pretty social,” she said. “A job with people around, where I’m helping them while also getting to do these things like growing the skin and all these other cool things that you can do, I just feel like it’s really cool.”

In her time in Summit County, she has also finished the majority of the IB Diploma Programme, all while working as a host at Nozawa Sushi in Dillon. As she next sets her sights on Florida Southern, there’s no telling what she’ll accomplish next as she arrives to yet another new destination.

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