Decatur Graduation 2018: Wunrow, Kyle fly to the top of the class

Published Wednesday, May 23, 2018
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Kirsten Wunrow and Madison Kyle

Valedictorian Kirsten Wunrow and Salutatorian Madison Kyle. Messenger photo by Joe Duty, design by Joy Carrico

Longtime pals Kirsten Wunrow and Madison Kyle shared a lot through the years – a love of reading, disdain for carrots and now top honors at Decatur High School.

Wunrow is valedictorian and Kyle is salutatorian of the Class of 2018. They are also both National Merit Scholar finalists.

Cover design by Pierre Moua

Both plan to attend the University of Texas at Austin, and although they’ve been friends since second grade, they didn’t plan to go to college together.

“It wasn’t my initial choice, but it has a good chemical engineering program,” Kyle said. “It’s ranked sixth in the state right now. Plus, it’s a lot cheaper than me going out of state.”

Kyle, who’s majoring in chemical engineering, has been accepted into the Jefferson Scholars Program at UT.

“We never thought we’d go to the same college,” Wunrow said. “Up until a month ago, I was planning to go to USC, and Madison was looking at Pittsburgh or Northeastern.

“I don’t think freshman year either one of us wanted to go to UT, and now I’m excited for it.”

Wunrow’s only potential concern is a conflict of interest. Her father graduated from Texas A&M.

“My dad’s an Aggie, so I’m worried about being shunned,” she said with a laugh. “He was like, ‘I just don’t want you to bring back anything t.u.'”

Wunrow added that she and her family toured both campuses – UT and A&M – and her dad understood why she chose UT. She’s entering into the Business Honors Program there, which requires a double major, but she’s uncertain what career path she will follow.

Kyle has considered pursuing a degree in the food industry or environmental field, but she’s also undecided on how she’ll eventually use her engineering degree.

“I’m really hoping to study abroad at least once, hopefully twice,” she said.

Wunrow’s interests range from economics to computer engineering.

“I’ve already met with a lot of the kids in my program, so I’m excited to get closer with them,” she said. “We’ve got a little family thing going, and I love Austin. I don’t know a lot about it, but I’m excited for the music and the food. And there are a lot of outdoors activities.”

Kyle said she’s starting to get more excited but had to warm up to the idea. Both her older siblings and her father attended UT, so it’s not a new place for her.

“I’ve been there so many times already,” she said. But she is looking forward to leaving home and stretching her wings, as is Wunrow.

“I’m not really nervous about anything,” Wunrow said. “I’m just ready.”

Kyle said she’s a little nervous about transitioning to the college classroom.

“The college classroom style versus the high school classroom style … I know studying is a lot different so I need to figure that out,” she said.

The girls are already planning to attend the ACL Music Festival in October. Wunrow anticipates taking Kyle to explore the outdoors, while Kyle will likely plan other concert and theatrical outings for the duo.

“We’re good at balancing each other,” Wunrow said. “A lot of times we drag each other along to places.”

Wunrow said she’ll miss hiking and camping with her friends, and she’ll also miss her younger brother, who will be a senior next year, not to mention her grandparents Lou and Beatrice Scoones.

“My grandparents live right next to me, so I’ll always go over there and play Canasta and Bridge or do puzzles,” she said.

Kyle said she anticipates missing band and organized sports. She even thinks she’ll miss seeing so many familiar faces.

“I’m not sure I’ll actually miss that, though,” she said with a laugh.

As they prepare to leave Wise County for Austin, both girls recognize they’ll have the best of both worlds – a fresh start on a collegiate campus but with the comfort of a close friend nearby.

Wunrow is the daughter of Bill and Shaleen Wunrow, and Kyle is the daughter of Doug and Ashley Kyle.

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