Brother and sister both valedictorians at LHS graduation

As Maddy and Hunter Hutchins stood at the podium during Lebanon High School graduation on the evening of June 4, it was the realization of a goal the siblings had had, well, pretty much for most of their lives.

Both finished high school with perfect 4.00 grade point average and both were among LHS’s seven valedictorians.

“It’s been our goal since we started school,” said Hunter, 18. “(Finishing with straight A’s) was just something that interested me. It was challenging, so I did it.”

Maddy, 17, got her diploma with her brother after skipping a grade in elementary school.

“Our mom (Sally Hutchins) was a salutatorian at Sweet Home High School,” she said. “We were always motivated to do the best we could. We were raised to earn what we want.

Even in elementary school we were planning and had goals to be valedictorians.”

Hunter said he got serious after his freshman year.

“I had taken really hard classes,” he said. “AP classes. I got A’s in all of them. That encouraged me to keep going. I’d worked so hard in them, why let it all go to waste?”

She said they started taking more advanced classes as middle-schoolers at Seven Oak.

“We took classes in the high school, so we were doing that stuff in middle school and being prepared. Seven Oak really taught us how to be one step ahead and get all that stuff taken care of and go into high school and do our best.”

The two said they worked together, even when they weren’t in the same classroom.

“We had a lot of classes together, but at different times,” Hunter said.

“It was nice to have a built-in study partner,” Maddy added. “If we got home, if there was something we didn’t understand, we could talk through it and then we’d always go in the mornings before school or stay after school and ask questions and stuff.”

They agreed that the hardest classes they took were math and Human Geography.

“Human Geography was a freshman class. The tests were really hard, and we had to keep up while studying for the AP test,” Hunter recalled. “And the teacher was out on maternity leave for the first semester.

“Then we had packets we had to do with the book, come into class and take quizzes and do more. That was just a lot of work,” Maddy said.

They ended up taking the hardest classes they could, they said – AP or Honors English Composition and Literature, college algebra and trigonometry, two years of College Spanish and AP Chemistry.

“We both already have credits at Linn-Benton,” Maddy said, counting up eight classes they’ve gotten college units for.

They liked school, she said – especially hands-on classes. She personally enjoyed the Land Lab and the chance to learn about agriculture and veterinary science, the latter a new class introduced last year.

“Those classes that were career-related were the best for us, but we still enjoyed going to our core classes,” Maddy said.

“For me, I’ve really enjoyed ag. It’s career-related and it’s exactly what I wanted to do.”

Having completed the veterinary technology program at the high school, she said, she has been able to apply “what I was learning to the animals. In the cattle barn I was the feeding representative. It was applying that in the same area I was learning.”

Although they said they got a lot of encouragement from school staff to move on to higher education, the two have decided to pursue “hands-on” careers. Both have worked during high school, Maddy at Faithful Friends Veterinary Clinic and Hunter at Complete Ag Resolutions in Shedd.

“I’ve loved trucks and everything mechanical, ever since I could walk,” he said, noting that his father is local gunsmith Jeff Hutchins and his grandfather runs H&H Machine in Sweet Home.

“My dad got me into it. When I mentioned that I was going to be a diesel mechanic to my teachers, they tried to get me to do something at, like, a four-year university.

“If you enjoy your job, you never work a day in your life.  I just like how complicated (an engine is), how you can modify it, how everything works together, efficiency, stuff like that.”

He plans to work there full-time after completing the Heavy Equipment/Diesel Technology program at LBCC. “It’s a great place to work, so I don’t plan on leaving any time soon.”

Maddy is focused on a career with animals, but not as a veterinarian.

“My whole life, I’ve absolutely loved animals. I knew I wanted to do something in the veterinary field. My whole life I’ve kind of been exploring that.”

Working at Faithful Friends after training as a veterinary technician in the high school program, she said she’s gotten a front-seat perspective on what’s involved in animal medicine.

“I decided that I wanted to be a veterinary technician. I’m absolutely positive that that would be the best fit for me.

“A lot of the (high school) staff and administrators say, ‘Why don’t you become a veterinarian?’

“Because I want to raise a family and I want to have time for my hobbies and because I love cattle and horses and I want to have a ranch. I think that veterinary technician suits me.

“Also, I’m a realist. I know that I don’t want to do eight years of college. I’m already in the work force and I want to be working as long as I can and not have debts that I have to pay off in the future.”


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