The Race to First


Lauren Gant

Three years, seven months, and eight days, senior Ella Hansen has remained at the top of her graduating class. She has tied with several of her classmates throughout the years. It is the final stretch, with one quarter remaining. A four-way tie. College decisions made for several, the next few months would be very different for many after summer. There is one last goal Ella would like to accomplish during her time at Rock Island High School, and that would be earning first in the graduating Class of 2023. 

During Freshman Year, Ella Hansen was taking several honors classes enjoying her time at Rocky. “I wanted to be first in the class coming into high school because I have always set high standards for myself,” she explained. Ella comes into high school determined with a goal. Unlike a normal freshman year, COVID-19 hit the United States, shutting down schools. A dark time for the community, but the school had to move forward. A year of remote learning, and Ella preserved. She claimed, “Remote learning wasn’t easy but I also didn’t have much to do.” With extra time on her hands, she was able to focus on school and progress forward. 

Junior year was fast approaching, and a lot more AP classes were available. Ella said in order to remain top, “I took as many AP classes that could fit into my schedule.” For some, that might sound like a nightmare, but she was ready to be put to the test.

Ella’s parents, Paul and Julie Hansen, both a huge part of the Rock Island School District, instilled in their daughter the value of education. “They did not expect me to be perfect, by any means,” she stated. She holds high expectations for herself, with her parents by her side, supporting her every step of the way, without any pressure from them. 

Senior year, in the final stretch, Ella enrolls in four AP classes. Jam packing her school schedule along with being in Chamber Choir, marching band, Symphonic Band, in multiple musicals or plays, President of NHS, and is very involved in her community. She enjoys the last few moments of high school, while striving for academic excellence. In the fall of her senior year, she applied to her dream college, University of Washington St. Louis. 

School has never come easy for her, she has had to work for everything she has done. As senior year comes to an end, the four-way tie remains. She states, “I’ve already put in a lot of hard work into it in the last three years, and this last year, I wouldn’t want to lose it.” She’s been accepted into her dream college, and a new chapter will begin soon. Hansen has to finish one last part of her chapter during her time at Rock Island High School. In the final stretch, one more quarter, senior Ella Hansen battles for the top spot.