Skyline seniors engaged in hands-on learning

Skyline High School seniors Gabi Huebner and Christian Madden stand in front of the mural in the school's senior lounge. Rachel Mahoney/Daily

FRONT ROYAL – Gabi Huebner and Christian Madden, the top female and male students in Skyline High School’s 2016 graduating class, will be able to take a bit of practical experience to college with them.

Both seniors will receive a $3,000 academic scholarship during Skyline’s graduation ceremony on Saturday morning. Huebner will be heading to Pennsylvania State University for biomedical engineering in the fall, while Madden is bound for Virginia Tech’s biological sciences program.

Madden said that taking AP Biology at Mountain Vista Governor’s School exposed him to what his future college courses might be like, participating in plenty of hands-on labs.

“It was fun to actually see the science working in experiments and stuff instead of just reading in a textbook,” he said.

“That’s kind of the same with the engineering classes – we had to program machines and stuff that we built to do things,” Huebner added.

Huebner said that taking two classes in the Project Lead The Way Engineering program helped to hone her interest in biomedical engineering.

“I’m good at math…and then after doing research and stuff like that, I just found an interest in biomedical,” she said.

Huebner said that by pursuing that particular degree at Penn State, she’s continuing some family traditions. She said several members of her family have gone to the university and her grandfather has worked as an engineer of medical machinery.

“Usually you can get offered jobs pretty quickly out of Penn State,” she said. “Their engineering program is pretty well known. A lot of colleges don’t offer biomedical engineering, and that’s why I chose Penn State, because it actually has one.”

She said she’s seen the energetic student body and intense school spirit at Penn State firsthand when visiting the campus.

As they prepare to leave Skyline, Huebner said she’ll be taking fond memories of the Hawk Flock with her and Madden said he’ll be parting ways with some good friends and teammates.

Madden said he ran every day with his fellow athletes, participating in varsity cross country and track for four years of high school. He said he’d consider clubs at Virginia Tech if he has the time.

Academically, he said he’s always been interested in the sciences and his goal is to eventually become a veterinarian. While he said that the Tech-affiliated Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine seems like a nice school, he’d probably apply to a few different schools for continuing his studies.

“The reason I chose Virginia Tech over other schools was because they’re more involved, they have more clubs focused on veterinary medicine,” he said. “It just felt like that was the best fit because there are so many more people interested in that field.”

Over the summer, Madden said he’ll be volunteering at the Humane Society of Warren County and seeing veterinary science in action by volunteering at the Warren County Veterinary Clinic.

“Just the exposure to that environment is going to be very helpful,” he said.

Skyline’s commencement ceremony will occur at 9 a.m. Saturday on the school’s football field. Principal Michael Smith, class president Jessica Walther and SCA president Katie Wells will speak to graduating seniors during the ceremony.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com