“An exchange student from Germany came here and she was awesome. She lived with me and she just told me, ‘You have to do it,’ and I was like, ‘OK.’”
That, Cosette Whitcoe said, is how she ended up deciding to spend her junior year of high school in Denmark, studying at a school in Copenhagen.
She said that the experience influenced her “a thousand percent,” and helped her think about some of her personal priorities.
But it also meant that she was surprised when she learned, earlier this year, that she was a co-salutatorian of her class at Patagonia Union High School.
“I wasn’t really expecting it, because I was gone for a year,” she said. “But it always was something that I worked for. So it was relieving, but it made my tummy feel like… when you go on a bump or a dip.”
Whitcoe said that her parents always supported her and her teachers had motivated her to succeed.
“That’s what I love about going to this school,” she said, adding that all of her teachers had been “amazing,” but a few stood out.
“Ms. (Journee) Hayes, she’s the English teacher, and every single time you’re in her class, you want to be there. It’s not a class that you’re not looking forward to and she’s always interesting when she teaches,” Whitcoe said.
“Mr. (Kenny) Hayes, he’s the history teacher, and I’ve always just loved history,” she said. “But it’s easy to teach history in a boring way. He does not do that at all, he’s really awesome.”
And, although his class isn’t among her favorite subjects, math teacher Gilbert Melanson also made Whitcoe’s list: “He’s just, really good at his job!”
In her three years at PUHS, Whitcoe was an athlete and student representative. In her senior year, she was the president of the student council.
Basketball, she said, was the most important activity to her, “but also I love student council, it’s given me an opportunity to get out of my shell a little bit more.”
In the fall, Whitcoe will head to the University of Arizona to study for an interdisciplinary degree in philosophy, politics, economics and law.
Ultimately, she wants to be a lawyer.
“You see everything going on in this world and I just want to be a person that contributes to a positive change,” Whitcoe said. “I think that for me my main way is to be a lawyer.”