Dominika Piech, a graduating senior at Lake County High School (LCHS), is the valedictorian of the class of 2020. In anticipation of students graduating over Memorial Day weekend, the Herald reached out to Piech to ask a few questions about her time at LCHS, what graduating amidst a pandemic is like and her plans after graduation.
Tell me a little about yourself. What do you enjoy doing when not working or in school?
I am an introverted student who comes from a Polish family. I have an older sister who also graduated from LCHS in 2014. When I am not working or in school, I enjoy playing my ukulele, walking my dogs, running, drawing and spending time with loved ones. I also like to volunteer at health fairs and events with small kids. Doing these things helped me ensure what I would like to do in the future, which consists of working with kids in the medical field. All throughout high school, I was involved in a variety of extracurriculars and groups. I was in band, cross country, track and field, chamber choir, musicals and for some time, student senate.
What, if anything, did you enjoy about high school?
I’ve heard many people say that they did not enjoy their high school years, but I smile when I look back on mine. It provided so many opportunities to bond with others, either through musicals, sports, or even just being assigned partners in class. I absolutely loved participating in cross country and singing in chamber choir. It is without a doubt that several teachers also made the high school experience enjoyable, especially my CREW teacher, Ms. Cremin. These teachers saw it all. The happy times, the sad times, and they deserve so much credit for it. Overall, high school allowed me to grow and come out of my shell.
Congratulations on the honor of being named valedictorian. What do you think the hardest part of earning that title was (or was it just a breeze. . .)?
The hardest part was definitely balancing everything. My schedule was pretty packed, as I was involved in sports, musicals, band, choir and on top of that, had a load of college courses. There were several nights where I stayed up till the early morning to finish my schoolwork. Although things became stressful sometimes, I do not regret doing so many things, as I still wanted to enjoy my high school experience by doing the things that I loved like running and singing.
What has it been like finishing out your senior year through distance learning and other shifts due to the pandemic?
It came unexpectedly and I would have never pictured finishing my senior year in this way. However, since I was already taking college classes online, it wasn’t that big of a difference when it came to schoolwork. I was looking forward to many events like prom, Class Day, and a regular graduation ceremony to say the least.
How do you feel about the remote and otherwise changed graduation ceremonies?
It would be a lie to say that I am not disappointed about the changed ceremonies. However, I am super grateful that our school listened to what my classmates and I had to say and desired. I know that graduating and having some kind of ceremony was important to many, if not all of us. Although our graduation day did not turn out like many of us wanted it to, I appreciate that our school worked hard to find ways to honor and celebrate the Class of 2020.
I’m sure you’re sick of people asking you this, but what are you planning to do after graduation?
After graduation, I will be attending Colorado Mesa University in the fall as a sophomore to study nursing. In the end, I plan to obtain my Bachelor of Science degree in nursing and become a pediatric nurse.