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Five girls take top spots at Mount Si's 2006 graduation

This year, 258 students will graduate from Mount Si High School, including four valedictorians and one salutatorian.

Biyeun Buczyk, Alison (Ali) Bilow, Kristine (Krisi) Lund and Alina Plavsky are this year's valedictorians, earning a 4.0 grade point average throughout high school; Kristin Kowalski is the salutatorian with a 3.97 grade point average.

In honor of their achievements, the students will receive special recognition at the June 15 graduation ceremony, along with a plaque and a gift.

"When you take a look at these kids, they're remarkable," said Mount Si principal Randy Taylor. "These are wonderful young ladies with a tremendous amount of intelligence, charisma and personal commitment to learning and the learning process. They have a great future ahead of them."

Faculty- and student-selected senior speaker Buczyk plans to attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and would like to study computer science, physics and bio-engineering, as well as electrical, chemical and nuclear engineering. She would like to become a university professor and a science researcher. A National Honor Society officer, she was offered four scholarships for a total of more than $152,400.

"[Buczyk] is a very unique person," said counselor Joe Galagan, noting that her talent in analytical studies and her efforts in community and public service make her a great role model.

In addition to her studies, Buczyk has worked for the Snoqualmie Valley School District No. 410 and as a Web designer for ShareMyAlbums.com. She's also been a part of the nonprofit organization Computers for Uganda, which brings computers to primary and secondary students in the poverty-stricken African country. Having already visited once, Buczyk intends to return at the end of June.

"Sometimes I wonder what I've gotten myself into," she said, noting that despite the sleep she usually lacks because of all the things she does, her efforts have been worthwhile in the long run.

Bilow will be attending the University of Washington (UW) Honors Program and was offered two scholarships from the UW totaling more than $17,000. Interested in studying history, biology and foreign languages, she said she is looking forward to trying new things before settling on a career path.

"[Bilow] is an exceptional honors student with a positive spirit, musical talent, academic abilities and a she is a very nice person," Galagan said.

Bilow has worked as a pet sitter and a soccer referee, and she has been a part of National Honor Society, Key Club, track, jazz band, wind ensemble and pit orchestra. She also took part in a state-level jazz band competition and has traveled to Japan and Costa Rica for language studies.

"I've just really committed myself to trying my best in all my classes no matter what," she said.

Lund, who was offered $145,000 in scholarships, will attend Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, Calif., on a soccer scholarship. Interested in majoring in kinesiology and athletic training, Lund was a Varsity Academic State Champion and Student Executive Board Member, a Mount Si "Student of the Quarter," a member of National Honor Society and played soccer in the 2005 Kingco League All Conference. Additionally, she was president of the Sports Medicine Club at Mount Si and worked at a golf course and, most recently, as a waitress.

She said believes that each of the girls honored chose to take on so many tasks during their high-school years and succeed because, "It's not in our personalities to not do something."

"She's a bright girl," Galagan said. "She's a very exceptional soccer player and achievement oriented."

Plavsky said she will be attending Dartmouth College in New Hampshire and would like to study molecular biology with the goal of going to medical school to become a kidney transplant surgeon. Offered about $172,000 in scholarships, the Advanced Placement scholar said Dartmouth was the perfect fit for her.

During high school, she also received the Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony Award in social studies, the Masonic Outstanding Junior Award in 2005 and was a part of the top eight in district for doubles tennis. Additionally, she has worked as a nanny and a tutor, been a National Honor Society and Key Club officer and a participant in Knowledge Bowl, as well as volunteered at Cascade Convenient Church and Swedish Medical Center in Seattle.

"I think she works very hard," Galagan said.

Most interested in taking on new challenges, Plavsky said she is looking forward to college.

"I am interested to see if I am going to succeed," she said. "I want to push myself to the uttermost best and see what I can become."

Salutatorian Kowalski will attend Western Washington University with the goal of studying psychology to become a child psychologist. With two scholarship offers totaling about $30,000, Kowalski said she is looking forward to attending the same college where her older sister currently studies.

Kowalski, who works at North Bend Montessori, took first place for photography in 2004 at the Mount Si Festival of the Arts and received honorable mention for photography in 2006. She also won the Snoqualmie Valley Rise and Shine Community Service award in 2005. Additionally, she was a National Honor Society officer and a part of Panther Pride, a local unicyling team.

"I've worked really hard through high school and [being a salutatorian] is the reward for everything I've accomplished," she said.

"[Having four valedictorians and one salutatorian] is obviously a reason to celebrate," said Thomas Tilton, a counselor at Mount Si. "It's also a nice reflection on this particular class."

None of the girls said that they felt unnecessary pressure to achieve their academic status except from themselves.

"I think the whole process of high school is to learn how to be successful and not burn out," Plavsky said.

"It's just not in our nature to give up on something," Kowalski added.

Each of the students said that when they leave for their respective college dorms toward the end of summer, they will miss the familiar faces of teachers, family and friends who have helped to support them throughout the years.

"Your teachers and your coaches, you really bond with them inside and out," Lund said.

However, each also noted that they will be glad to say good bye to "teen drama," classes outside of their interest area and cliques.

"I'm looking forward to being normal," Buczyk said, referring to the fact that MIT is a college specifically for those who share her academic interests in the areas of science and technology.

"I'm ready to meet new people and have a change of environment," Kowalski said.

"The world is so small these days," noted Plavsky. "I'm ready for more."

They offered these nuggets of advice to next year's crop of seniors: sleep more, just do what has to get done and try to enjoy the experience.

In all, students in the 2006 graduating class at Mount Si High School have been offered more than $3 million in scholarships. Thirty graduating seniors have a GPA of 3.8 or better.

Mount Si High School's 62nd commencement ceremony will take place at 7:30 p.m. on June 15 at the high school, 8651 Meadowbrook Way S.E. in Snoqualmie. Call (425) 831-8100 for more information.

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