IHS valedictorians: Self-improvement drives Keira Fawson to succeed

Iola High School senior Keira Fawson learned at a young age that in order to succeed, she'd have to become a better student.



May 9, 2024 - 2:01 PM

Keira Fawson. Photo by Richard Luken / Iola Register

When Keira Fawson walks across the stage Saturday to receive her diploma as one of seven valedictorians for Iola High School’s Class of 2024, she’ll likely think back to the day in fifth grade when she decided to become a better student.

“I’d never really stressed about my grades before,” Fawson said. “I thought I had pretty good grades. I’d occasionally get a B or a C, but they weren’t bad.”

Then came that fateful day when her teacher announced that year’s Student Council members.

Fawson was heartbroken her name was not called. “All of my friends were selected, and I was sad I wasn’t.”

Then, an epiphany. Each of the students tapped for the StuCo roles had exemplary grades, Fawson quickly realized. Plus, they were active outside the classroom.

“That’s what started me setting a higher standard for myself,” she said.

Fawson cited one other motivating factor: Her older brothers.

No, they weren’t the inspirational types to stress the importance of studying, Fawson explained. Nor were they trouble-makers.

“But I was the tattling sister,” she laughed. “If they got a bad grade, I’d be the one to tattle about it.”

Then came another “ah-ha!” moment. Fawson, too, had a younger sibling.

“I figured I’d better do my best so it didn’t happen to me, too,” Fawson said. “I didn’t want to become an example of what not to do.”

Her grades improved, as Fawson went through middle school, and then into high school.

“Once I started developing the habits and standards to want to do my best, it was hard to lower that.”

FAWSON, daughter of Iolans Nathan and Robyn Fawson, will attend college at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, where she hopes to study psychology.

Fawson picked BYU over her original dream, attending Utah Tech, where many of her relatives went to school, or to attend Allen Community College and play basketball.

“That was kind of a big plot twist,” she noted. “It took me a long time to figure out what to do. It was stressing me out. I finally decided I wanted to get out and do something new, maybe do a little adventure.”

Fawson’s high school years included her decorated athletic endeavors.

She was a three-time state qualifier for singles tennis, and eventually earned all-league and all-state honorable mention honors this winter on the basketball court. That came despite suffering a broken nose — twice — concussion that forced her to play much of the season in a mask.

“I don’t know how the mask helped me, but it seemed to help me channel my aggression a little more on the court,” Fawson surmised. “I started feeling more passionate about it. Most of it was kind of a daze.”

Fawson hopes to take part in intramural sports, especially tennis, at BYU.

Again, she credits her brothers — and her father — for her tennis game.

“My dad loves tennis,” she said. “We’d go out and play as a family, but I never got super serious about it until high school.”

Fawson eventually improved to the point she could play with her family members, and occasionally pull out a win or two herself.

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