Jenessa Iverson and Anna Koopmann

Koopmann, Iverson excel in music and academics

United by music, but forging their own path, Jenessa Iverson and Anna Koopmann are the valedictorian and salutatorian of the Staples Motley High School Class of 2016. They will each be giving speeches at the graduation ceremony on May 27.

As the daughters of two of the school’s music teachers, the two students took literally every music opportunity available to them at the high school.

Looking back at their high school careers, both of them see music as the education they value the most. 

“Music is life,” said Koopmann.

Iverson said their parents would have probably allowed them to go into another field, but “we wanted it,” when it came to music.

They also agreed that their English composition class was a memorable class. “It is challenging but laid back,” said Koopmann. “The class discussions are a hoot, but then we have papers and essays to focus on.”

Koopmann also remembered making spoof videos for class projects, such as films based on The Man in the Iron Mask and the Cold War.

Despite having a full schedule of activities throughout the year, Koopmann and Iverson were able to keep up with their academic studies, taking all of the college level classes available to them.

“The busier it gets, the easier it is to do schoolwork,” said Iverson.

“I am a compulsive scheduler,” said Koopmann about keeping up with her academics. She said she even schedules free time for herself.

The school also appreciates the talents the valedictorian and salutatorian brought.  “These two are a great example of setting your expectations high and taking full advantage of everything we have available at the high school,” said Principal Mike Schmidt. 

Schmidt said the two charted their own courses of study and the school was willing to accommodate where they wanted to go. “The handbook didn’t apply to them, they became the best of the best through their own efforts,” said Schmidt. “They represented the community and their families very well.”

Koopmann plans to attend St. Olaf College and study music performance and English. She said her career goals include becoming a music professional.

After high school, Iverson is lined up to do a work/study program in Germany, where she will be an au pair for a former foreign exchange student who stayed with her family. After that, she may stay in Germany for college or return to the U.S. “My thoughts change every day,” she said about her indefinite plans.

Iverson said she feels her high school career has given her the tools to handle whatever comes next in her life. “It was well-rounded, it prepared us for a lot of different stuff,” she said.

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