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Top grads 2012: Auburn's great accomplishers
Editor's note: The Reporter salutes some of the best graduating seniors from each of the Auburn School District’s four high schools.
Call Nicole Cramer a juggler and you just may get a big smile out of her.
It won't be the first time that the 18-year-old Pacific woman, who graduates Sunday at the top of Auburn High School's Class of 2012, has heard her name linked with that remarkable display of hand-and-eye coordination.
But juggling in her case has nothing to do with keeping pointy knives, smashable plates, droppable balls, or anything else in the air.
What Cramer excels at is something perhaps better — keeping a walloping hunk of activities going at the same time and not missing a beat.
All without raising a drop of sweat. Or so it would seem.
Besides being heavily involved for the last two years in the school's sports medicine program, Cramer, treasurer of the Auburn High School executive ASB, has been a member of Troy Crew for two years and for three years a member of the National Honor Society.
Cramer also found time to play basketball during her freshman and sophomore years. She ran track too, including cross country and the 400. For the last two years, she has been a track team captain.
And she holds down a job and keeps up a 4.0 GPA.
"I'm sure I can find room for improvement with my grades," Cramer said with a laugh.
This young woman, who at five "covered her room" and small self with baby powder, smeared lipstick all over her walls, "refused to be called Nicole for a couple of months," insisting she be called Kiara instead from "The Lion King II" and greased her hair with Vaseline — "I have no idea why" — has morphed into such an inspiration to others that she was named AHS Outstanding Girl Senior at the recent Senior Awards banquet.
An honor, Cramer admits, that got to her.
"My dad really stresses the importance of education. He always says he's so proud of me," Cramer said.
In the fall, Cramer continues her education at the University of Washington.
"Right now I'm thinking of majoring in aeronautical engineering. For a long time I've wanted to be a dentist, but aeronautical engineering is a nice fallback because it interests me, too. I can major in anything I want to get into dental school, but I thought I may as well major in something I like. They both involve math and science."
But lest you think that this young woman, who loves calculus, is a solid nerd, note that she likes her outdoorsey stuff, too.
"I love nature. We've always gone to the river and had fun there or to the lake or woods or something," Cramer said.
Upon meeting Tilden Sansom for the first time you get a palpable sense that just below the surface of his 18-year-old skin is a powerful engine, throbbing on idle, barely able to keep itself from roaring down the tracks.
A sense that some remarkable energy source has pooled in the depths but is constantly spiraling up into restless feet, hands and limbs. As if the body were doing its best to sit still in a chair but was actually out on the football field, or running bases, or on the mat, manhandling yet another wrestling opponent into submission, as Sansom has done to such distinction in his years at Auburn High School.
Sansom played one sport each season of his four years, was a three-year letter winner in football, a four-year letter winner in wrestling and a two-year letter winner in baseball. He was a quarterback for the football team, a two-time state placer for wrestling and all conference in baseball.
In all these sports coaches noticed something else, some unmistakeable leadership gifts that got him named captain of the football, wrestling and baseball teams, a rare distinction in one person.
The full use of his gifts along lines of excellence has much to do with why Sansom was recently chosen Outstanding Senior Boy and picked up the Trapper Nicholson Scholarship.
"It was a nice honor," Sansom said.
Sansom credits his parents for finding the perfect outlet for his energy when he was just a sprout.
"I've been busy since I was five. My dad's always coached me, so I think that's really helped me out. You hear, 'Oh, coach's kid, so he's going to be shortstop and stuff.' But it was just the opposite. I hit batting practice last. I had the same rules as everyone else. But I believe that instilled toughness in me. I've never been able to get away with anything. I always had to be top notch. My dad and I are best friends. He just wanted to see me do the right thing," Sansom said.
Now the time has come, Tilden says, to hang up the sports gear, cast one final backward glance at his high school triumphs and sling the pack over his shoulder for new fields.
In his case that means the Edward R. Murrow School of Broadcast Journalism at Washington State University this fall.
"I want to be in sports communication. I love sports. I mean, I'm an athlete, but I'm just not quite elite enough to continue," Sansom said. "I still want to live my life in sports, just not on the playing field. I'm not quite sure of my individual profession yet, but I know I want to get into that field."