River Ridge names 2021 valedictorian, salutatorian

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Valedictorian Abigail Polodna and Salutatorian Sidney Drone

The River Ridge High School Class of 2021 valedictorian and salutatorian are Abigail Polodna and Sidney Drone, respectively.

Abigail lives in Bagley and is the daughter of Cari and the late Stacy Polodna. She plans to attend UW-La Crosse in the fall but is undecided upon her area of study. 

Aside from academic success, Abigail has enjoyed being involved in many clubs throughout her high school career, including Future Business Leaders, National Honor Society, SAFE (Students Actively Fostering Equality), Friends Helping Friends and the Wellness Club. She is the current class vice-president. In extra-curriculars, she has sung in the choir, and placed in solo ensemble and FBLA state and regional events; played volleyball all four years, including school sanctioned and club volleyball; and participated in varsity track and field. She lettered in both sports and achieved second team all conference honors.

In the community, Abigail has found summer employment at the Crawford County Administration Building in Prairie du Chien and, most recently, she worked at Special T’s, a family restaurant in Eastman.

When asked to share her strengths, she explained, “I believe I am intelligent, confident, resourceful, a leader, and a quick learner. Sophomore year of high school, I lost my father due to brain cancer. Toward the end of junior year, I had to adapt to online learning and, this school year, I adapted to hybrid learning.”

Abigail feels all her teachers have influenced the person she’s become today. Of course, she said her mother and father are also a huge inspiration to her.

“[My mother] is the strongest and most hardworking person I’ve ever met. My father was also a big inspiration to me. He was a detective and previously an officer at the Prairie du Chien Police Department. He did a lot to serve for the community, and did so much for our family. I miss him everyday.”

Reflecting on her time at River Ridge High School, Abigail wouldn’t really change a thing, except, “the pandemic happening,” she said. Though she’ll miss her friends, and high school sports and club opportunities, she’s looking ahead and is excited to experience new people, places and things while off at college. 

Her advice to underclassmen is to do everything to your fullest potential.

“Responsibilities and other activities may seem tedious in the moment,” Abigail stated, “but high school goes by fast and you’re going to regret not participating when it’s too late.”

Sidney is a Bloomington resident and daughter of Jason and Nicky Drone. She intends on attending UW-La Crosse for the 2021-22 academic year to major in mathematics, with a concentration in education. 

Academically, Sidney received high honors throughout high school and was selected for the Wisconsin Leadership Seminar.

She has also been heavily involved in clubs and extra-curricular activities at RRHS. She was a member of the FBLA, Friends Helping Friends, Student Council, Wellness Club, Leo Club, NHS and the school newspaper staff. She played volleyball and softball and was a dance team member, lettering in all three sports; and she sang in the choir. 

Sidney carries a strong presence in her community as well. She has volunteered at church events, cleaned up the fairgrounds, worked at the local Bull Bash, sang Christmas carols to nursing home residents, helped package Operation Santa items and organized and donated to Adopt-A-Family. This was all while she also worked at Culver’s Restaurant in Prairie du Chien.

A self-described dedicated and responsible leader, Sidney is proud of what she’s overcome the last four years. 

“Having to deal with COVID this past year has made my life completely different, and navigating a whole new way of learning has been difficult,” she said. “I am definitely glad we are finally back to having in-person school and I get to see my friends and teachers.”

Sidney shared her appreciation for one teacher in particular, Mrs. Tara Drone, who has “always helped with anything” and pushed her to “be the best person I can be.”

Further inspiring her is her mom. She said, “She pushes me to be a leader, not a follower; to always be my own person and do my own thing, no matter what others think.”

In taking a moment to look back on the past four years, Sidney said she wishes she would have added more advanced placement or college level classes so she could have earned additional college credits. 

“Those classes can be hard but they pay off in the end and help prepare us for college,” she stated.

As she heads off to college, Sidney will miss the friendly atmosphere at River Ridge and the “amazing bonds” she’s created with the teachers and students. Yet, she’s also looking forward to meeting new people and creating new friendships. She added her excitement to being one step closer to her dream job of teaching, too.

Sidney has realized high school passes quickly and advises her underclassmen not to take it for granted. She said, “Make as many friendships and memories as you can before it’s over.”

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