In 24 days, Madison Abraham will join her classmates for the final assembly of their high school career — commencement. And it will be somewhat surreal.

“I cannot believe I am almost done with high school,” said Abraham, who is this school year’s final Senior Spotlight. The Nevada Journal thanks our sponsor, Story County Medical Center, for helping us bring the stories of nine area seniors to readers the past months.

“It feels like just yesterday I was walking into fifth grade and had all these years ahead of me,” Abraham said.

Thinking back to elementary school, she said some of her fondest memories include playing in the snow with friends and acting like firefighters while dressing in their snow pants and coats. She’ll remember lining up by the old bell outside after recesses, and swinging on the swings and playing on the merry-go-rounds during recess time. In special classes, music and art, she won’t forget playing drums or sculpting out of clay.

Then, there was middle school, where she most enjoyed starting band, something she’s continued throughout her school career. “My fifth grade year is when I walked down to the band room and played all the instruments to figure out which instrument to play. I ended up picking the trombone and have a strong love for playing music,” she said.

It’s high school, though, where Abraham has felt the most growth as a person. “I have grown so much as an individual and have learned a lot more about myself,” she said.

Part of that comes from being involved in lots of things. Abraham has enjoyed a wide variety of extra-curricular activities, from band and chorus to speech and FFA, to basketball and golf. “Being in all these different groups and activities, I have learned how to get along with everyone and I make new friends all the time,” she said.

Something she concentrated on the most in high school was academics. “Receiving good grades throughout high school has been one of my number-one priorities, along with taking more advanced classes along the way. I strongly believe that challenging myself has set me up greatly for graduation and being prepared for the next stage of my life,” she said.

Taking classes like Spanish 4 and honors calculus at the same time, “stretched and bettered my time management skills, on top of juggling basketball, speech and FFA events.”

As she called it, “the next stage of her life,” Abraham said, will play out at Iowa State University, where she isn’t sure exactly what degree she will pursue, but plans to explore a large list of interests and see what unfolds. “My interests range from teaching kindergarten to being a lawyer to writing books,” she said. “I know for sure that I will continually volunteering at my church and give back to my community, since I will be so close to home.”

Several instructors who Abraham said have had a profound influence on her during her time in Nevada would include Bob Mittman, Kevin Cooper, Mike Lawler and Dr. Heather Ludwig. “These four educators have pushed me to my best abilities and are a good part of the reason of who I am today. They have allowed me to make mistakes … and have always been there to help me when I needed it.”

If Abraham was to give advice to younger students coming up, she said she would most importantly tell them to “be yourself. Follow your heart and never once back out of something because you are scared of what someone else will think. Live your life the way you want and in the way that makes you happy.”

That’s what she has done, and she has no regrets, she said. “I haven’t always loved every second, but I believe that if you asked anyone, they would tell you that. Each and every experience I have ever had has shaped me into the person I am today, and I am very thankful for every person that has allowed me to get as far as I am today.”

Among those people, would likely be the members of her family — her mom, Jayne; dad, Keith; brother, Sam; her dad’s significant other, Erika and her two boys, Parker and Ty.

As she walks into commencement ceremony on May 28, and then departs Nevada High School for her final time as a student, Abraham hopes to be remembered by others as someone who always had a smile on her face and never thought twice about saying ‘hi.’ “I think positivity is a wonderful thing and all my life, I will continue to smile and do my best to bring others to smile along with me.”

This concludes the Senior Spotlight for the 2016-17 school year. If you would like to nominate a Nevada or Colo-Nesco senior for us to feature in next year’s series, please send an email with their name and why you think they would be great to feature. We will confer on the final decisions with the schools. Thank you for reading!