|OUSD press release
Oakland, CA — Eleanor Wikstrom from Skyline High School has a unique set of skills. She studies as hard as anyone, pulling a 4.0 GPA that has her heading to Harvard University in the fall. She is such an effective orator that she has taken first place in OUSD’s Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Oratorical Fest four times, and she is the current Vice Youth Poet Laureate for the City of Oakland. And as record-setting captain of Skyline’s Track and Field and Cross Country teams, she leaves just about everyone in her dust. That set of skills enabled Wikstrom to make history in 2020, becoming the first ever California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Scholar-Athlete of the Year from the Oakland Section. She and a football player from the Central Valley won the CIF’s top honors on Monday, out of 830,000 student athletes across the state.
|“I am excited by this award because I know that it represents something bigger than myself,” said Wikstrom. “I think that this honor reflects a lot of what I have tried to do throughout my career – to represent our historically-overlooked city at championship meets around the state, to set cross country and track records that give current and future Oakland athletes a new understanding of what is possible, and to model excellence in academics in a public school system that has faced challenges with resources and that outsiders often look down upon. Everything I am is a result of the community that surrounds me. Everything I do is in hopes of exalting the community that has shaped my life.”
In athletics, Wikstrom has enjoyed as much individual success as anyone ever has in Oakland. In Cross Country, she is the 2019 Oakland Section Champion and a State medalist in Division 3. She’s the Oakland Section record holder in the 3 mile, finishing in the top 70 in the nation in 2018 and 2019. In Track and Field, her main event is the 1600 meters, but she is the Oakland Section record holder in 3 track events: the 1500m, the 1600m, and the 3000m. Plus, Wikstrom was the 2018 and 2019 Oakland Section champion in the 800m, 1600m and 4x400m (with three of her teammates).
It’s clear that, honored though she is to win this award, this kind of recognition was never a goal for Wikstrom. “The purpose of all of the hard work, the discomfort, and the sacrifice was the pursuit of excellence, which never really ends. In this way, it is perhaps because I never considered an award like this to be the end goal that I ultimately ended up winning it.”
|And how did she enjoy so much success academically? “Mind over matter. In freshman year, I established a routine of doing every academic assignment as soon as I received it – even if that meant starting homework in the middle of class – because I simply did not have the time to waste, and it remained that way for the rest of high school. That way, I could focus on training while I was training and resting while I was resting, because I never had any assignments hanging over my head and I knew that I had a cushion of time in case something came up last-minute.” As if to prove her routine of doing every assignment as soon as she receives it, Wikstrom returned these answers about her success via email just over four hours after receiving the emailed questions with no advanced warning.
Running, public speaking and academics are hardly her only passions. She has been a member of the Oakland Youth Chorus since sixth grade. Wikstrom also co-founded the organization Oakland Students for Public Education and led a Day of Education Advocacy at the State Capitol, where she empowered other Oakland public school students to meet with legislators and promote education reform bills that were then in the legislature. And unsurprisingly, she loves to write. “In 2018, I wrote a poem in response to the Senate testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford (who testified against now Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh), and a year later I was given the opportunity to perform my piece for Dr. Ford herself at the Silicon Valley YWCA Empowerment Awards.”
|Of course, the end of Wikstrom’s high school career, like for the rest of the class of 2020, has been anything but normal. “Losing senior year and the closure that comes with it has definitely been difficult to work through, but I’m grateful to be in a stable situation and I’m happy that I’ve been able to stay in contact with my friends, teammates, and family through social media and Zoom. My friends and I still held a virtual “prom” and have plans to do something similar for the other senior events.”
As previously mentioned, Wikstrom will attend Harvard University in the fall “hopefully in person,” she said, “and joining their Cross Country and Track teams. I plan to study Government and English on the pre-med track – something that combines social sciences with hard STEM because I believe we need more scientists in government. My ultimate goal would be to work for the United Nations or as a member of Congress on education policy and humanitarian relief.”
“Eleanor is hardworking and diligent, community-driven and compassionate, as well as exceptionally intelligent and motivated,” Skyline Assistant Principal Justin Anderson told the CIF. “The word resiliency comes to mind when thinking of Eleanor, not just her resiliency for her own path, but supporting others to be resilient on theirs.”
“It’s hard to be any more eloquent than Ms. Wikstrom when describing what it takes to succeed,” said Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell. “But then, I saw her perform in our MLK Oratorical Fest, and immediately recognized her brilliance. Not only does she set a remarkable example for her classmates and the students coming up behind her, Ms. Wikstrom is also a vivid reflection of Oakland, the community she credits with making her who she is. We are all proud of her success thus far, but know it’s only the beginning.”
Along with the CIF Scholar-Athlete of the Year award, Wikstrom receives a $5000 scholarship. Twenty CIF Section winners from across California earned $1,000 scholarships as Scholar-Athletes. In the Oakland Section, Carla Franco-Felix and David Robles, both from Coliseum College Prep Academy, took home those honors.
|###About the Oakland Unified School DistrictIn California’s most diverse city, Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) is dedicated to creating a learning environment where “Every Student Thrives!” More than half of our students speak a non-English language at home. And each of our 83 schools is staffed with talented individuals uniting around a common set of values: Students First, Equity, Excellence, Integrity, Cultural Responsiveness and Joy. We are committed to preparing all students for college, career and community success.
To learn more about OUSD’s Full Service Community District focused on academic achievement while serving the whole child in safe schools, please visit OUSD.org and follow us @OUSDnews.
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