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Triple threat
Juda graduating class experiences a first with three valedictorians
Juda Valedictorians
Juda High School seniors Taylor Adkins, Nicole Kamholz and Karlee Kesler will all be valedictorians of their class. This is the first time in history a Juda graduating class has three valedictorians. - photo by Marissa Weiher

JUDA — When classmates Taylor Adkins, Nicole Kamholz and Karlee Kesler first realized they were all on the same path toward becoming valedictorian, a small rivalry started to brew.

“In the beginning there was some light-hearted competition,” Adkins said. “But then, it turned into collaboration.”

Instead of turning against each other, they came to a decision in spring of 2018. They would approach Juda Superintendent and Principal Traci Davis about the possibility of having three valedictorians. When they did, Davis said she was glad to see the highest achievers be so “forward thinking.”

Proud of their ingenuity, Davis brought the idea to teachers and school board members.  

“No one had any issues with it because they know they’ve been working so hard,” Davis said.

Adkins, Kamholz and Kesler have all been students at Juda since preschool.

Kamholz credited teachers in the district as one of the biggest reasons the three were able to keep 4.0 grade point averages. She said instructors made sure they didn’t get too competitive. They also understood when their students needed to reschedule tests because of big meets or games.

Kesler said for her, getting a 4.0 was something that happened by chance. She finished eighth grade with a 4.0 and decided to just try to keep it up through high school. Adkins and Kamholz said it was similar for them.

The girls not only dealt with their studies, but competed in sports as well. Adkins and Kamholz run track. Kesler plays volleyball and softball. Adkins also plays club soccer.

Kamholz said the hardest part of maintaining a 4.0 were the classes. They took the hardest classes Juda had to offer, like calculus and chemistry.

“We definitely haven’t gotten easy As,” Kamholz said.

Not only do the three share the same grade point average, they also all plan to attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison after graduation.

The three friends and classmates have future goals much bigger than being valedictorians.

Adkins plans to study chemical engineering and then eventually plans to go to grad school to become a researcher. Kamholz is considering either being a pharmacist or a pharmaceutical scientist. Kesler wants to become a physician’s assistant and to work in Madison.

The achievement was notable for Davis, who has seen a number of graduates in her time as superintendent.

“We’ve had close GPAs before,” Davis said. “But to have three of them do it, it’s pretty special.”