By Jason Arndt
Staff Writer

Maria Grenyo

Maria Grenyo’s thirst for knowledge, notably in civics, was a trait she acquired toward the end of her tenure at Westosha Central High School.

Grenyo, daughter of Gregory and Kristine, of Kenosha, said her desire to learn more about civics intensified when she became involved in Kenosha County’s Youth in Governance program.

Grenyo, a National Merit Scholarship Finalist and AP Scholar with Distinction, joined the county program at the recommendation of her government teacher.

“I decided that it was something that I should look into because I am actually doing a political science minor in college,” she said. “I really wanted to see how local government works and functions.”

She became a member of the Judiciary and Law Committee, which Grenyo found interesting, because it allowed her to see how law enforcement and local government works together.

Local civics, however, was not the only activity she was involved in while a student at Westosha Central.

Grenyo, an honor roll student for eight semesters, earned an academic plaque, letter and medal en route to induction into National Honor Society.

Meanwhile, Grenyo contributed to the Westosha Central community, participating in the school’s Freshman Mentoring Program for three years, Peer Helpers, Academic Bowl for two years along with the Spanish Honor Society and forensics team.

Becoming the captain and president of the forensics team, she said, was her proudest achievement.

“That is public speaking, which I love to do,” she said. “When I finally got that, I was really proud because I worked a lot with the forensics team and gone to state with them.”

For her efforts in academics and beyond, Grenyo was selected at the Report’s Outstanding Senior for Westosha Central High School by the newspaper’s editorial staff. She was chosen from a field of four seniors nominated by the school.

Overcoming adversity
Grenyo, a softball player, spent her first season on the freshman team followed by two years participating on the junior varsity squad.

As a senior, she expected to play varsity, but saw her hopes dashed after sustaining a freak injury while jumping with one of her siblings at the beginning of the year.

“I was jumping with my brother and I tore my ACL and my meniscus and broke my femur at the same time,” said Grenyo, whose siblings are Matthew, 16, Gina, 15, and Henry, 8.

“I was in a wheelchair for six weeks in the beginning of my senior year, and honestly, that was pretty difficult because I had to have two surgeries and still go to all of the forensics meets and I had to play on the softball team,” she said.

“It was a long road to recovery for me.”

After undergoing an arduous journey, she found herself back in the batter’s box at the end of the year, making two appearances.

“I only got two at-bats by the end of my senior year,” she said. “But, I was super proud of that because I went through a whole ordeal to get those at-bats.”

Pitching in
In addition, she contributed to the community, volunteering as a pianist at Messiah Lutheran Church in Kenosha, as a softball coach at Paris Consolidated School and as a volunteer at various fundraisers.

Looking ahead
Grenyo, who worked summers at North Shore Water Reclamation District, said she found her calling as an aspiring journalist around Christmas last year.

She said the calling came after she realized she did not want to enter the political arena herself.

“I think it was over Christmas break this year, when I finally decided that I would rather not get into politics myself, but rather talk about it,” she said.

“My friends and I talk about politics and I really enjoy that,” she said.

She spends her time learning more about trade, watching cable television, including CNN and Fox News.

“Anderson Cooper from CNN is really good and Chris Wallace of Fox, they are both really good,” she said. “They always have some really interesting questions to ask and some really good follow-up questions.”

The experience she had as a Youth in Governance member will certainly help.

“I feel like when I finally got involved in it and started serving on the committee, it turned out that things were a lot more complicated than they seemed at first,” she said. “I really started to appreciate that and really started appreciating more people’s point of view. There are so many things you have to talk about and agree on first.”

She looks to pursue a degree in journalism at University of Alabama.

Grenyo felt compelled to enroll at the school because of its master’s degree program and ability to transfer her college credits.

“The University of Alabama has a master’s program for five years for journalism, because I have some credits that I can transfer from high school,” she said.

“I felt like I could pursue the advanced master’s program and get it all done in five years,” she said.

Grenyo has already looked into joining the school’s forensics team along with getting involved in either the student newspaper or radio station.

A look at the other nominees

Here are capsules on the other three nominees for Report Outstanding Senior from Westosha Central High School:

Heidi Dittmer
Dittmer, daughter of Andy and Shelia Dittmer, was an honor roll student, earning multiple academic awards and scholarships.

While she received an award for academic excellence, she also notched a DAR Good Citizenship Scholarship and CIP Scholarship Society member.

Dittmer, who spent two years in the freshman mentor program, was also involved in Peer Helpers for three years, serving as president and vice president. In addition, she sang in the school choir for two years, received induction into Mu Alpha Theta math honor society and was a member of Family Career and Community Leaders of America.

She remained dedicated in Kenosha County 4-H, serving on the organization’s council, and as an ambassador.

Dittmer, who is an assistant childcare teacher, plans to double major in special education and social work at University of Central Missouri.

Chloey Menarek
Menarek, a Southern Lakes Conference Academic Top 10 honoree, is the daughter of Laura and Jay Menarek.

An honor roll student for four years, she earned an academic certificate, silver medal, letter, plaque and a prospective educator scholarship.

Menarek, who was a two-year NHS member, was also in Mu Alpha Theta math honor society for two years and participated in Key Club for three years.

Within the community, she volunteered as a teacher’s aide at Paris Consolidated School, Westosha Lake Church and in the Helping Hands food drive.

Menarek, meanwhile, played four years of club volleyball at Wisconsin Juniors along with three years at Westosha Central and earned a varsity letter.

Menarek, who works as an assistant teacher at Kenosha’s La Petite Academy, plans to major in elementary education with a minor in special education at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

“I could not have accomplished everything I have if it weren’t for my amazing parents/family and my inspirational teachers,” Menarek wrote in her application.

Elizabeth VanKammen
VanKammen, daughter of David and Laura VanKammen, has been on the school’s honor roll all eight semesters and graduated Summa Cum Laude.

She earned an academic certificate, letter, medal, plaque and received induction into NHS. VanKammen won a Wisconsin Academic Excellence Scholarship.

In addition to serving as the NHS president, she was involved in Mu Alpha Theta for two years, Spanish Honor Society and student council.

While she spent four years on the Geography Club and Key Club, VanKammen also spent three hours participating in the school’s Freshman Mentor Program and Peer Helpers.

A member of the school’s Academic Bowl team, she was also part of the school’s prom planning committee, and emceed a fashion show fundraiser.

Meanwhile, she stayed engaged in local civics, serving as a youth representative on the Kenosha County Legislative Committee.

As a junior, she represented the school at Badger Girls State and was named a senator.

In addition, VanKammen stayed involved in the arts, participating in ballet and played the violin. She was a member of Dance Honor Society and ran varsity track for one year, racing in hurdles.

VanKammen, who works as a lifeguard at the Club at Strawberry Creek, will attend the University of Notre Dame in Indiana on a provost scholarship and major in philosophy.


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