Telstar High School senior Makenzie Eliot stands May 20 on the athletic field at the Bethel school. She is described by her Honors English teacher, Melissa Poston, as the “very definition of a scholar.” Eliot will attend the University of Maine in the fall to pursue a nursing career and hopes to become an Army nurse. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

BETHEL — Telstar High School senior Makenzie Eliot, 18, is driven to be the best at whatever she takes on – setting goals and reaching them, her father, Principal John Eliot, said.

What stands out is her “never say never” work ethic, her Advanced Placement and Honors English teacher, Melissa Poston, said.

She takes ownership of her learning, asking questions and doing research. She is not only respectful, but is respectable, Poston said.

She is truly intrinsically motivated — the very definition of a scholar,” Poston said. “Not once have I ever heard her complain or be negative in any way. … She conducts herself with dignity and treats others with compassion and good will.”

While in high school, Eliot said she learned many things, from how to manage her time to who she surrounds herself with. She said she will use those lessons in future endeavors.

Best part of each day?

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The best part of each day for me was hanging out with my friends. I looked forward to senior transition or physical education where we could all get together and socialize or play games together. These moments truly made my day and I couldn’t be more grateful for my friends who made these memories happen.

Worst part of each day?

The worst part of each school day was honestly waking up. I am not a morning person, so waking up every morning at 6:30 a.m. for school was not easy. Don’t get me wrong, school itself was not the bad part. I am greatly looking forward to college where I can still enjoy school but be able to sleep in as well.

Favorite class or subject? Why?

My favorite class is a toss-up between anatomy and physical education. I love anatomy – something about learning about the parts of the human body and how they work is fascinating to me, and will apply to my future career as a nurse. On the other hand, I love my physical education class because it allows me to embrace my competitive side while playing sports and games with my friends.

Favorite teacher or school staff member? Why?

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My favorite staff member has to be our principal, not just because he is my dad but because he is so understanding and compassionate with students. He is always up for having fun but knows when to be hard on kids, if needed. There is nobody who could fulfill the role of principal at Telstar better than Mr. Eliot, or dad, as I better know him.

What was the hardest part of high school and how did you find your way through it?

The hardest part of my high school experience was junior year. This was the year that I completely overloaded myself with Advanced Placement and Honors level classes and just overall took on more than I could handle. Yes, I made it out of the year and with some of the best grades I have ever had, but there were sacrifices that had to be made. When taking so much time focusing on academics, I lost sight of my relationships and suffered because of it. Working through this year was hard, it took a lot of to-do lists and development of time management skills, but in the end I learned a lot about myself and how to move forward in my life.

How do you think you’ll be remembered by the members of your class?

I can’t speak for them but I think that my classmates will remember me as being a diligent student-athlete who was always busy whether it be in the classroom or on the field. I also hope that they remember me as being caring and someone who always had their back. Having good grades is something that I am proud of but I hope that my personality and care is what is remembered most.

Something you wish teachers and administrators understood about students today?

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One thing that I wish teachers and administrators understood about students today is that there are a lot of new and different things that are going on and even though some have already experienced certain things, others may need time to learn before they truly understand.

Advice to all those eighth graders entering high school next year?

One of the biggest pieces of advice that I have for eighth graders entering high school is to enjoy it. Yeah, it’s cliche, but time flies by and you don’t really recognize that until you’re in your senior year wondering where all the time went. That doesn’t mean dwell on the little things and take life slow, it just means to live in the moment and cherish what is around you. I wish that I had spent more time living in the moment instead of looking at what was going to happen next because you don’t get that time back.

What is next for you after graduation?

After graduation I am going to be attending the University of Maine Orono where I will study nursing and be a part of the Army ROTC program to become an Army nurse. I received the national four-year Army ROTC scholarship and plan to make great use of that. While upon my graduation from Orono, I will be a second lieutenant and enlist as an active-duty Army nurse. While at Orono I also plan to continue my athletics, not wanting to let go of that side of me quite yet. While life happens and plans change, these are my aspirations after graduation; as for what will really happen, we will just have to wait and find out.

This is the 12th article in a series featuring a high school senior, chosen by their principal, from each of the 18 high schools in the Sun Journal’s coverage area.

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