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Seventh-graders head to Stanford

By: Gloria Beverage
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Colfax Elementary School seventh-graders Riley O’Keefe and Autumn Turner will be attending Stanford University this summer. The young women were selected to attend the Tech Trek Science Camp, a program for seventh grade girls sponsored by the American Association of University Women. The one-week camp on the university campus features hands-on activities in math, science, technology and related fields. The goal of the program is to introduce students to a variety of potential careers. O’Keefe and Turner were nominated by their math/science teacher Michelle Heimann. “I am really proud of them,” said Heimann. “All I did was nominate them. They did the rest. They’re beautiful people — inside and out. I’ve never heard either one of them say a negative thing about other kids.” Both students were required to write an essay and meet with an interview panel. Riley is the daughter of Terry and Jodi O’Keefe. A student body officer at Colfax Elementary, she is also a conflict manager and participates in basketball, soccer and choir. “Riley has always been eager to try anything — photography, geocaching, sports, travel, art,” said her mother, Jodi. “She is the type of girl who sees the positive side of each experience and the people in her life. Whatever she is doing, she loves it.” Riley has been “guided and influenced by amazing teachers who have helped her find her strengths and really build upon them,” her mother continued. “She has had coaches who have helped her develop a higher level of perseverance, drive and competitive spirit.” The daughter of J.D. and Jenny Gardemeyer and Mike Turner, Autumn is also a student body officer and conflict manager. She plays on the school’s volleyball team and participates in cross-country. For the past nine months, Autumn has volunteered once a week at The Cat House, a feline rescue service in Auburn, her mother said. She also cares for the chickens and other animals at her family’s business, Colfax Hill Family Farm, and plans on opening a flower business this summer. “She’s a good kid,” said Jenny Gardemeyer. “She has a lot of different interests. Everything she does, she does it all the way.” Currently, Autumn is interested in becoming a veterinarian. “Before that she wanted to be a marine biologist,” Gardemeyer continued. “Her dad and I both have science backgrounds. And so does her stepdad.” The Auburn branch is sending four seventh grade girls to Tech Trek. The other students are from Loomis and Newcastle.