PINETOP-LAKESIDE — Meet Gretchen Knox, recent Blue Ridge High school graduate. Among her many titles — outdoor enthusiast, sports competitor, National Honor Society member — she has also recently earned the distinction of being one of her school’s three Valedictorians for the class of 2020.

Opportunity "Knox" - pic of Gretchen in her cap and gown

Gretchen Knox, 2020 Blue Ridge Valedictorian, pictured with her diploma. Because of how Blue Ridge High School determines Valedictorian status, she shares the title with two of her classmates (not pictured): Kadan Brimhall and Paige Flake.

Gretchen has been involved in a huge range of activities during high school. She has participated extensively in sports, with various distinctions and awards in track, wrestling, and martial arts. Gretchen has also been a 4H participant, the President of her Future Business Leaders of America group (where they competed in state and nationals for three years), and has acquired her black belt in Taekwondo. Outside of organized events, she enjoys the outdoors, especially nature photography, camping, and hiking.

When Gretchen was asked about what she feels her greatest accomplishment has been, she listed placing in state wrestling during her first year, as well as getting accepted into the Air Force Academy, which she plans to attend for the next four years. “It [getting accepted] shows that you’re a well-rounded person, and that you’ve worked hard.” Much of Gretchen’s senior year was spent on the Academy’s extensive application process, which included a multitude of essays, letters of recommendation, in-person interviews, a nomination by a state congress member, and more. She was nominated for attendance by Representative Tom O’Halleran and Senator Kyrsten Sinema.

Gretchen’s interest in the Academy started with her mom’s suggestion to apply. As she started reviewing the application process, the opportunity to fly, coupled with the Academy’s people and their values, drew her in.

“It’s a really great education. You’re around tons of amazing peers and leaders. You come out with ... a good job, since you come out as an officer in the Air Force. You also get opportunities to fly while you’re there, and I have the potential to become a pilot after, which would be really awesome ... It’s the best opportunity to become a pilot.”

To her, it’s a great honor to be accepted. “It’s just a great opportunity.” We want to wish Gretchen good luck with her new adventure.

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