Nostalgia caps senior year

(Editor’s note: This is the first of a three-part series detailing Iola High School students who excelled in the classroom. The IHS commencement is Sunday, starting at 2 p.m. in the high school gymnasium.)

By RICHARD LUKEN
Register Reporter

Drew Mueller

Little did he realize it at first, but staying home to study turned into a nice little lesson in economics for Drew Mueller.
Mueller, who will join 104 of his classmates at Sunday’s Iola High School senior commencement, completed his high school career with all A’s — a perfect 4.0 grade point average.
The economics lesson came about after Mueller began thinking about where he would attend college — and how he’d pay for it.
Mueller, son of Iolans Tom and Carla Mueller, earned about $10,000 worth of academic scholarships to attend Kansas State University, where he’ll study to become an athletic trainer.
“I started to figure out how much work I’d have to do to make up that money without those scholarships,” he said.
Suddenly, staying up an extra hour or two became much less cumbersome, he said.
That wasn’t his sole motivation for getting good grades. That goal was instilled at a young age by his parents.
Tom Mueller farms and hauls crude oil. Carla Mueller teaches Title I programs at Jefferson Elementary School.
“Education has always been important for my family,” Mueller said.

HIGH SCHOOL was a buzz of activity for Mueller, who wrapped his studies around football, baseball, basketball (through his sophomore season) and helping on the family farm.
There were near misses on the grade card.
Twice, Mueller recorded Bs in individual subjects through the first quarter of a semester, prompting him to redouble his efforts to get the grade up to an A before semester’s end.
He also leaned on his siblings for help on occasion, as they would him.
He’s the second oldest of four, with brother Josh, 20, sister Brook, 17, and brother Bryan a seventh-grader at Iola Middle School.
“I don’t know that there was any competition between us,” he said, “although Bryan likes to tell me how much smarter he is than me. We’d all usually help each other with math.”
He already sports wisps of nostalgia.
“It’s usually fun days, when you think about how you’re going to miss your classmates,” Mueller said. “But with the boring days, I’m just ready to get out of there.”
The aim, he noted, is to ensure his school career does not peak in high school. The best, he hopes, is yet to come.
Wednesday — the last day of school for the senior class at Iola — was reserved for any hints of sadness.
“Sunday’s more about the excitement,” he said.

MUELLER credits his parents, as well as several teachers, for making high school enjoyable.
“Marv (Smith, chemistry instructor) was great,” he said. “He’s just as awesome as everyone said he was. I never ran track or cross country (Smith coaches both) but he was always there for me 24/7. He even gave me his cell phone number if I ever needed to call.”
He also praised Diane Kauth, math instructor.
“She’s always so easy to talk to,” he said. “She made learning enjoyable.”
Head football coach Rick Horton, meanwhile, helped instill pride in the Mustang football team.
“We had a good team our freshman sophomore years, but we just couldn’t put it all together,” Mueller said. Iola qualified for the state football playoffs last fall, its first playoff berth in 25 years.
“Coach instilled in us a work ethic and the confidence to win. I’m glad we were able to do that as seniors.
“All of my sports coaches have been great,” he said.

IN CHOOSING K-State, Mueller picked a school with solid academic credentials and one that fits his small-town demeanor.
He also hopes to walk on to the football team.
Mueller played fullback on offense and linebacker on defense for Iola High; he’ll stick to defense only for K-State.
But first things first.
He’ll continue to help on the farm through the summer and play summer baseball for Iola’s American Legion team.
He’ll also continue weight training for football season.
“I jus enjoyed meeting with the coaches and the people on campus,” he said. “It just felt like a good fit.”