WHEELING - Wheeling Central Catholic High School 2012 valedictorian Luke Drnach said proper preparation, combined with giving each of his classes his full attention, were integral parts of finding success academically and with his extracurricular activities during his four years as a Maroon Knight.
"I knew that I would have to go from school to my rehearsals and then to swim practice," said Drnach, while talking about finding the proper balance of work and play during his high school years at Wheeling Central. "So I would make sure I got enough sleep the night before and then when I would go to class and I would sit and try to pay as much attention as possible."
Drnach - a National Merit finalist his senior year, a member of the National Society of High School Scholars his junior and senior years and a member of the National Honor Society for three years - said being properly rested and well prepared for class allowed him to spend the time he needed to compete with the school's swim team and other extra-curricular activities including the drama club without feeling overwhelmed.
"Don't overbook yourself when you have to make a decision between which activity you're going to today - always have enough to keep yourself busy, but never so much that you have daily conflicts," Drnach said in giving advice to students who may be trying to find the proper balance between academics and other activities, including leisure time. He said finding enough time to take a break between activities is another important part of the equation.
While Drnach was a state semi-finalist with Central's swim team during his junior and senior years, he also enjoyed participating in the school's drama club. He said both activities allowed him time to socialize with other students.
He also received multiple awards for his proficiency on the National Spanish exam and, most recently, he placed first in the state and was awarded a bronze national rank.
In addition, he has received nearly two dozen academic awards at Wheeling Central and has been a pianist since the age of 4.
Drnach says he thoroughly enjoyed his time at Wheeling Central. "At Central, I know our classes are a lot smaller - so I always felt like I could ask questions of my teachers either in class or outside. ... It's a smaller school, so it kind of has this family feeling," he added.
Drnach plans to attend the University of Pittsburgh this fall where he will study biomedical engineering. He is the son of Mark and Joann Drnach of Wheeling.