060117 Schools: Questions for Waccamaw High’s top grads
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Schools: Questions for Waccamaw High’s top grads

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

Juliette Gammel, is two people. One is academic and a little nerdy. The other more fun-loving. One leaves her room a mess. The other is the valedictorian of Waccamaw High’s Class of 2017.

The daughter of Joe and Rachel Gammel and sister of Lena and Erica started at the Waccamaw Schools in first grade. She was an All-State pick in soccer and will play in the North-South game.

She will attend the Calhoun Honors College at Clemson University.

How long have you known you would be valedictorian? I’ve gotten the C.B. Dodson excellence award since eighth grade and I’ve been the first since then. I never took it for granted. I always tried to one-up myself to stay on top.

What are your college plans? Biological science is my major currently with a focus in pre-med. Then I’ll go off to medical school.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? I’ll still be doing residency, probably a trauma fellowship. My aspiration is to be a trauma surgeon. I’ve done the calculations so I’ll get out into the work field officially as a trauma surgeon when I’m 30.

How did you balance athletics and academics? It’s easier for me to study for tests and stuff after I exercise. This year, I’ve not gone to bed past 11 o’clock. I’ve never pulled an all-nighter. I had a study hall during each of my four years at school so I used that time sometimes to catch up.

I do Coast FA in the fall so that’s like an hour drive. I’d make flash cards and do them in the car when it wasn’t my turn to drive. That’s two hours of studying right there. Time management I definitely think is the key to that.

Did WHS challenge you academically? I had to take it upon myself to take the harder classes. They weren’t all gung-ho about it. I had to be like ‘I want to take as many APs as I possibly can’ to challenge myself. Otherwise I’d just get caught in the regular crowd. They tend to enroll people in CP classes. I’d have to say, ‘No, I want those three APs.’ As a senior I took four APs.

I pushed myself to take the harder classes. The AP classes were definitely rigorous.

When did you decide to push yourself? The beginning of eighth grade I was like, ‘You know what, let me see if I can get all 100s.’ I got 100 on every exam every quarter. I kind of liked that feeling.

I challenged myself, but my parents were also really strict. They initially pushed me and sparked my interest. Also, the higher-level classes, it’s just more interesting. You dive into deeper discussion and you have more lecture-based learning and that’s what I enjoy.

What’s a subject that you struggled with? My most challenging class in all four years was AP World History with Mr. Kibler. He was a phenomenal teacher, but history just doesn’t stick with me. That was a very hard class. I got a 93 in that class. That was the lowest grade I got by far.

Did you work hard to get good grades? Yes. I’m smart, but I feel like a lot of people at this high school are smart. They don’t apply themselves. I definitely applied myself with my AP classes. I studied a lot.

Tell me about a teacher who’s made a difference. Ms. Kemp, she’s probably one of the more influential ones because she is so hard working, so inspirational, so talented and she tries really hard to please her students. This is her second year teaching AP stats. The night before the exam, actually, I was there with her until 9:30 at night studying with her.

What’s something you would have liked to do but didn’t have the time? Maybe weightlifting if it was an honors or AP class. It’s CP so it would lower my GPA. I’m a competitive person. I didn’t want to risk that.

What book would you recommend to a friend? Depending on the friend, I would say probably “Frankenstein.” You think it’s just about a person and a monster, but there’s so much more behind the scenes. It’s a universal book. I can apply to almost any situation.

For a head-spinner, if I didn’t like this friend, I’d recommend “The Sound and the Fury.” That book is crazy. That book is so complex.

Any advice for freshmen? One of my favorite quotes is by Henry Ford and it’s: ‘Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal.’ Don’t take your eyes off the goal.


Celie Anderson wasn’t a contender for a top spot in the Class of 2017 until her junior year. That’s when some students transferred from Waccamaw High to the Governor’s School and she found herself No. 2. She smiled at the thought, but it wasn’t a matter of luck. Her grade-point average was 5.163, a number she tracks on her smartphone.

The WHS salutatorian is the daughter of Will and Donna Anderson; the sister of Berndt and Em. She attended the Montessori School of Pawleys Island through second grade before moving to the Waccamaw Schools.

She will attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It’s the only one she really considered.

What are you college plans? I’m pretty excited. I’m not sure what I’m going to major in. I think it’s biology right now, but that’s subject to change.

UNC was kind of my dream school. That’s where I really wanted to go. My favorite thing about UNC is the campus and the sense of community that surrounds the university.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? I’m not sure. Maybe med school.

I know I want to be something in the science field. I guess I have a few years to figure that out.

You were the top scorer on the WHS girls lacrosse team, which reached the playoffs for the first time this year. How did you balance athletics and academics? It wasn’t too difficult. A lot of homework. Late nights. I used to do a thing where I’d wake up super early and do homework because I’d rather sleep at night.

It was definitely something fun. It was really cool to start as a freshman and grow with the program. We had great coaches. I learned a lot.

Were you challenged academically at Waccamaw High? There were a few classes that were definitely a challenge. It’s definitely important to challenge yourself academically at Waccamaw High.

This was the first year for virtual academy. What did you think of it? I didn’t take any online classes. I was more into the traditional classroom, especially since I had done it the first three years. It would have been weird to change up my schedule for one year.

Maybe if I went back to high school all over again I would try some of those.

Tell me about a subject you struggled with. My hardest class was a lot of the AP history classes like AP U.S. and AP World History. The combination of material and teachers who actually expected you to know it and tested you on it.

I thought AP U.S. History was especially challenging because it was a self-driven course. You were expected to read and be caught up with all the stuff. I would just read more and try and study feasible things, like vocab words and chronology. It was easy to connect the dots.”

How hard did you have to work to get good grades? I wouldn’t say I worked really hard, but I never know because I never get stressed out that much. Maybe that’s part of it. I did everything I was supposed to do.

Who is a teacher who made a difference in your school years? Ms. Graham, my AP Calculus teacher. She did a really good job teaching the material and making sure that we all knew everything. I guess I’m really good at math so I feel like she was able to help me, introduce new things and make it a challenge.

Can you recall a light-bulb moment in your education? In fourth grade is when I actually decided I cared about academics. I remember that because that was the first year that I got all A’s. That was pretty much when I started doing all my homework all the time and being diligent about everything.

We were the first class to go through the intermediate school all three years.

What’s something you would have liked to do but didn’t have the time? Student council. The leadership experience would be really nice and they do a lot for our school.

What book would you recommend to a friend? I haven’t read a good book in a while. One of my favorite books is “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” though. I’ve read that a few times. It’s very real life.

What’s your advice to incoming freshmen? Do your homework and always try.

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