Victoria Kearns

Onalaska School Board student representative Victoria Kearns is eager to get involved in the process of running a school.

Senior Victoria Kearns is ready for a yet another challenge, this time as a student representative for the Onalaska School Board.

For her final year at O.H.S., serving on the school board was an opportunity to learn more about the inner workings of the district.

“I saw it as something that would be interesting to do,” she said. “It’s another way to stand out.”

As a representative to the board, it will be her duty to represent the interests of her peers and keep the board apprised of the activities and functions going on in the school district.

Kearns was selected to serve by High School Principal Jared Schaffner who described her as “driven.”

“Victoria is an outstanding young woman, a senior at Onalaska High School, and has an academic record that is incredibly impressive,” he said.

Kearns said she wasn’t entirely sure why she was picked to serve on the board but looked on the opportunity as a chance to learn more about the role the administration plays in the day to day events of the school.

She moved to Onalaska in 2013 after returning from a year-long stay in Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates.

She and her family moved to Abu Dhabi when she was in eighth grade after her father, an army vet and civil engineer, began working for a Colorado Springs-based firm.

Kearns said her father made frequent trips to the United Arab Emirates, often for extended stays.

Eventually, her father’s employer offered to move her family to the country. It was an experience, she says has changed her.

“It was a really different experience,” she said adding Abu Dhabi was a much bigger city than Colorado Springs.

As a visitor in a fiercely conservative country, Kearns said, “You always had to watch what you said.“

She added there was always a fear of getting deported for saying something unfavorable of the country or its government.

School in the United Arab Emirates also offered her an opportunity to learn more about the country’s origins and history as well as dabble in Arabic.

Arabic, she said, was a required class in the United Arab Emirates.

“It was a very difficult language to pick up,” she said.

Despite her struggle to learn the language, she and her sisters took on the challenge enthusiastically.

“My sisters and I found it really interesting,” she said.

After a year in the United Arab Emirates, the decision to settle down in Onalaska came down to family.

“My dad’s family is from here,” she said adding that Onalaska H.S. had a good reputation didn’t hurt.

With her, Kearns and her sisters brought with them a favorite activity, the Science Olympiads.

She said there weren’t many academic extracurricular opportunities at O.H.S. so she and her sisters decided to get the Science Olympiads started.

“I like to compare it to a track meet,” she said. “A lot of independent events that add up to one.”

Kearns enjoyed the variety of questions and tasks offered by the Science Olympiads. She also said she has no regrets spending her high school years at O.H.S.

“I’ve met amazing people,” Kearns said. “I’ve really enjoyed my high school experience.”

Outside of school, the avid running is an active member of the cross country team.

“Our girl’s cross country team has been really successful,” Kearns said proudly.

The teen plans to follow in her parent’s footsteps and apply to attend West Point and study chemical engineering.

If she isn’t admitted to West Point, she plans to attend college on a ROTC scholarship.

“I’m really interested in going into the Army,” she said. “I’d like to make a career in the Army.”

After college, Kearns said she’s interested in attending medical school and becoming a trauma surgeon in the Army.

For now, she is one of four Onalaska seniors vying for one of 7,500 National Merit scholarships.

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Tobias Mann is a reporter with the River Valley Media Group. He can be reached at tobias.mann@lee.net or at 608-791-8216.

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