Jill's Journal: Connections with the graduates

Jill Meier, Editor

I get a little sentimental this time of year – graduation.

Seems a bit silly for a woman who never bord any children of her own. The emotions are warranted, though. After years of being in the business of writing stories and snapping pictures, I’ve come to know many of the graduates, whether that be through sports, the arts, academics, at church, through their employment or volunteer endeavors, and of course, their parents.

This year’s graduating class is no different.

Last week, I had the chance to sit down with some members of the class. You can read about their achievements in our annual graduation section.

Take Ian Candy, for instance. I’ve literally watched him grow up on the stage of our Performing Arts Center. But Ian is more than just a good actor. The list of his involvement in high school would make anyone’s head swirl. Oral interp, one-acts, fall and spring plays, HOSA, Student Council, HOPE Club, …. and he did all while maintaining a 4.0 GPA and holding down a part-tome job at B&G Milky Way. 

My connection to Kaitlyn Riedel was born out of a friendship with her mom, Ang, and our church affiliation. There was also a business transaction: She purchased my former car, the trusty 2005 Chevy Impala, which from time to time I’ve spied in the school and church parking lots or cruising down the road. 

I well remember the pride she had that day as I handed over the keys. 

I’m told the Impala is headed to the East Coast with her to Colgate University, and of course, I hope the Impala, despite her age and miles, bodes her well for years to come.

As for Mia Wentzy, I first met her on the sidelines of the cross country course in 2018. She was just a seventh-grader, but had – and still has – the talent to compete at the varsity level and beyond. Just prior to the state meet that season, I wrote a story about Mia and her elder sister, Katie, who were both fixtures on the Lady Lynx roster. She was eagerly looking forward to her first state meet. A year prior, as the story read, she talked about how exciting it was for her to witness Katie and the rest of the 2017 Lady Lynx squad hoist the state championship hardware high into the air. It was something she aspired to do as well in her prep career.

Ironically so, Mia and her 2023 teams hoisted a similar trophy this past fall.

Earlier this year, I wrote a story about Mia heading to Arizona State for triathlon. To my knowledge, she’s the very first Lady Lynx to score a scholarship in this capacity. If she attacks swimming, riding a bike and running like she does on cross country courses and tracks, who knows, maybe one day I’ll be writing a story about her representing the U.S.A. in the Olympics.

As for Navarro Schunke, I’m excited to see what’s in store for the most decorated Class A wrestler the state of South Dakota has ever had. Winning five state titles is certainly impressive, but to do it in dominating fashion speaks volumes about the work and time he dedicated to the sport. Schunke was one of the most talked about football players last season, and rightly so. On the grid iron, he was like the “Berlin Wall” to opponents. I, too, look forward to seeing where Schunke and his 6-foot-5, near 300-pound frame takes him. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll be writing a story about him as an NFL draft pick.

There are so many stories yet to be written by every member of Brandon Valley High’s Class of 2024. And I, for one, can’t wait to read all about it.

Congratulations, BV Class of 2024, on a job well done, and best wishes for what’s to come.



The Brandon Valley Journal


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