The Times-Independent

Lillian Scott, valedictorian and Salutatorian Maggie Groene reflect on their years-long friendship

The cream of the Class of ’23

Peer pressure can be a good thing. Just ask Lillian “Lilli” Scott and Maggie Groene, two Grand County High seniors who have been “pressuring” each other to excel in everything they do since seventh grade — the year they became best friends.

Lillian Scott, left, and Maggie Groene have been best friends since seventh grade. They end their high school careers as Grand County High’s valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively.
Photo by Doug McMurdo

That drive to push themselves and each other culminates with Scott being named the valedictorian for the Class of 2023 and Groene the salutatorian.

“We’ve been a big influence on each other,” said Scott, who was last highlighted in The Times-Independent in March after winning the state DECA championship. Indeed, both women have “made the newspaper” a surprising number of times. Scott has been mentioned in at least a dozen editions, starting with second grade when then-Mayor Dave Sakrison named her the Student Citizenship award winner for the month of February in 2013. Groene has been mentioned about two dozen times, most often because she seems to have participated in every sport available to her.

Even the COVID lockdown couldn’t slow them down.

While other students might have struggled to learn remotely during the pandemic, Scott and Groene thrived. When one would get down, the other would pick her up. For teenagers, they demand an awful lot from themselves and each other, and it has paid dividends.

Both will graduate with a 4.0 grade point average and both intend to go to college, Groene at the University of Utah, where she will pursue a degree in Chemical Engineering; and Scott to the University of Oklahoma, where she’s leaning toward a degree in Business with a minor in English.

“Ultimately, I want to be a teacher,” said Scott. “But I definitely want to have my own career first.”

Groene’s big dream is to do something positive for the environment, specifically as it regards climate change. “My biggest thing is sustainability,” she said.

Looking back on their high school careers and especially this last year, one filled with tragic loss when two classmates died in separate accidents, Scott said those deaths as well as the pandemic and the uncertainty, the social isolation and the total disruption of life that came with it have yielded a positive outcome.

“Everybody in our school went through the same tragedies and that brought people together,” she said. As for advice to those coming behind them, she said, “Getting up every day helps. Depend on your family. Reach out for help. I’ve always struggled with that, but talking about things helps a lot.”

“I totally agree,” said Groene. “I’m kind of a perfectionist. I always want to do my best work.” She said “a lot of kids” struggled learning online during COVID. “I just did it because I wanted to feel that success and I was being encouraged to do well … it’s fun to feel accomplished.”

On the subject of encouragement, both girls said their parents and teachers played major roles in motivating them.

“My parents pushed me and I wouldn’t have gotten to this point without them and I definitely had teachers who challenged me. I have had such a great support group. I’ve been lucky,” said Scott.

“My parents for sure,” said Groene when mentioning her greatest cheerleaders. “They have supported me the whole time. They taught me how to prioritize and how to treat others and to just be a good person.

“I also wanted to be a great role model for my sister, Sadie (a junior at GCHS). She’s even more driven than me.”

So, what do they have to say to encourage their younger classmates in the classroom?

“Focus on the learning rather than the grade,” said Groene. “Have great friends and support them and be supported.”

“Just turn in your work,” said Scott with a chuckle. “I’m serious. You’ll at least get a B. Try a sport … find something to be passionate about.”

“Do things for yourself,” added Groene. “Your parents can push you, but if you want to do well in something, doing it on your own makes the reward that much higher. When you’re making choices for you, you’re helping yourself. When you don’t … you’re choosing for someone else.”