Spotlight on top scholars at Elizabeth High School

EHS valedictorians share their thoughts about the future


The Elizabeth High School Class of 2023 took to the field on Saturday, May 13 in the annual graduation ceremony. Clad in red and white, students walked across the stage to receive their well-deserved recognition.

“As their principal I am humbled by what our students and staff can accomplish. The dedication put forth by these students, their parents and our staff make my job worthwhile every day,” commented Principal Bret McClendon in an email correspondence from May 15. “My advice to the class of 2023 is to not take yourself too seriously. Instead, focus on what you can control and what you can do to make those around you better.”
Earlier in the month, seven members of the graduating class were named as this year’s valedictorians. The seven exemplify exceptional scholastic and extracurricular achievements.
The 2023 EHS valedictorians are Ava Archer, Bethany Breikss, Reiley Callighan, Ella Hedman, Sydney Kissinger, Brady Mowbray and Karli Pronske.
“This class of valedictorians is outstanding. We have a National Merit Finalist, as well as athletic state champions,” said McClendon. “All of these individuals have been involved in multiple activities outside of their academics, all showing to be well-rounded students.”
The Elbert County News asked the seven EHS valedictorians to share their post-graduation plans, their favorite EHS memories, and their advice for the Class of 2023.

Ava Archer

Post-graduation plan: I plan to attend the University of Colorado Boulder in the fall. I am going to pursue a degree in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology. After I receive a bachelor’s degree from CU Boulder, I am going to continue my education at the University of Colorado Denver Anschutz Medical Campus in hopes of becoming a physician assistant in emergency medicine.
Favorite EHS memory: Among my favorite memories are the league volleyball games, the football playoff game my junior year, and nearly every aspect of my senior year.
Advice for the Class of 2023: Work hard for everything you want because only you are responsible for making your dreams come true.

Bethany Breikss

Post-graduation plan: I plan to go to CU Boulder and have a major in biology to get a pre-medical degree.
Favorite EHS memory: My favorite memories from EHS are the close connections I made with other people in gymnastics, track and in class.
Advice for the Class of 2023: My advice would be to work hard but not worry too much because it will all work out.

Reiley Callighan

Post-graduation plan: After high school I’m currently planning on attending Colorado School of Mines for an aerospace engineering degree.
Favorite EHS memory: One of my favorite memories from high school would be one of my last football games, where we beat TCA on my senior night.
Advice for the Class of 2023: My advice for our class would be to push yourself to your limits and never doubt what you are capable of. If you put your mind to it and put in the hours, you can do almost anything.

Ella Hedman

Post-graduation plan: I will be attending University of North Dakota for commercial aviation and track and field.
Favorite EHS memory: My favorite memory is probably qualifying for state in the 200-meter dash. It really felt like my hard work was paying off.
Advice for the Class of 2023: I would say my best advice is to make sure to find purpose in everything you do. It will make working hard a lot easier if you have something outside of yourself as motivation.

Sydney Kissinger

Post-graduation plan: I plan on studying kinesiology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa after high school.
Favorite EHS memory: My favorite memory is going to football games with my best friends and just having fun. Especially when I gave my shoe away for the shoe chant.
Advice for the Class of 2023: Try everything you can. Step outside your comfort zone and don’t be afraid of failing.

Brady Mowbray

Post-graduation plan: After graduating from high school, I will attend Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. Pepperdine has the best combination of challenging academics and spiritual life, plus the campus is extremely beautiful. Currently I am planning to major in physics, but I am interested in several other possible majors, including chemistry and mathematics.
Favorite EHS memory: My most extravagant memory has to be traveling to Dublin, Belfast, Edinburgh, and London for this year’s school Europe trip. I absolutely loved the green fields, the ocean, and the ornate buildings of the cities, not to mention the friendships I built with the other high schoolers.
Advice for the Class of 2023: My advice to the class of 2023 is to make the most of the summer and enjoy the little things, as I said in my valedictorian speech. Spend as much time as possible with friends and family and know that you can quite literally do anything.

Karli Pronkse

Post-graduation plan: I will be attending York University, Nebraska, this upcoming fall to play volleyball and study strategic communications.
Favorite EHS memory: My favorite memory from my time at EHS would probably be my junior year prom. Taking pictures and going to dinner with our group of friends was so much fun, and we were really close with the seniors that year, so it was fun hanging out with all of them! My boyfriend and I also won Prom Prince and Princess, which was really cool!
Advice for the Class of 2023: Go chase your dreams and do what makes you happy. It doesn’t matter what other people think of you. As long as you’re happy, that’s all that matters.
Elizabeth High School, valedictorians, Elbert County, Colorado, Ava Archer, Bethany Breikss, Reiley Callighan, Ella Hedman, Sydney Kissinger, Brady Mowbray, Karli Pronske


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