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Three girls take top honors at FHS


Last updated 6/17/2019 at 1:52pm

Christine Eastman

Special to the Village News

Varsity swim captain, President’s Service Award, American Sign Language Biliteracy Seal, Most Improved Swimmer, Principal’s Honor Roll, Prom Queen, Warrior Head Pin Award, San Diego Union-Tribune All-Academic Team, National High School Honor Society. And the list goes on…

Fallbrook’s top three scholars are all girls and they are unapologetically rockin’ the STEM scene – biology, physics, science, biochemistry, math, engineering – and carrying the torch for the next generation of Fallbrook’s female Warriors.

Audrey Petersen (Valedictorian), Kaitlyn Callagher (Valedictorian) and Alex Jeppesen (Salutatorian) are not only the upper echelon of Fallbrook High School’s students, they are Fallbrook natives and have grown up together. They’ve supported each other along this path that hasn’t always been a yellow brick road, lent each other a helping hand when the going got tough and cheered each other on at the countless tournaments and events it took to get that coveted ‘Female Athlete of the Year,’ ‘World Champion’ title or ‘Sportsmanship Award.’ And for that reason, we thought it’d be fun to sit down and talk to them together and see what’s behind these uber-smart girls with big GPAs…

OK, of course everyone wants to know…what did your GPAs end up being?

Kaitlyn: Audrey and I tied at 4.439. There are about 5 different calculations and reported scores…it’s gotten a little crazy. It depends on not only academics but volunteerism, job experience, club activities and sports.

Alex: I think mine was about 4.35.

Did all you guys have your own little battle raging for the Valedictorian title?

Kaitlyn: No, we wanted to tie! Neither one of us wanted to beat the other because we’re friends!

Audrey: Yah, we wanted to see if we could actually get the same GPA – and we did!

Were you always good students, or was there something that really triggered you and got you excited to learn?

Kaitlyn: My mom is an AP math teacher here at FHS so we’re a pretty academic house.

Alex: I was actually a horrible math student in elementary school, but I didn’t really know it, so I just kept doing it and now I love math!

Audrey: I guess I’m a people-pleaser and I want to do well. It’s like you get this dopamine reward for getting a good grade, so it makes me want to keep doing it over and over again.

You mentioned you’ve known each other a long time. Are you all Fallbrook born and bred?

Kaitlyn: Pretty much. We live in Temecula now, but I’ve always gone to Fallbrook schools and wanted to stay with my friends so didn’t switch districts.

Alex: My dad came here from Denmark in his twenties to make a life for himself and met my mom. Me and my brother were born here so we have dual citizenship and we’ve been here ever since.

Audrey: Yup! My dad’s been a doctor at Graybill Medical in town forever.

Sounds like you’re all legit Fallbrookians. Are your family members all legit brainiacs, too?

Kaitlyn: Well, with my mom being an AP math teacher here at FHS, I’d say yes. Also, my grandma was a teacher and my grandpa and uncles were engineers, so there’s definitely lots of brainpower in the family.

Alex: I come from a long line of doctors and engineers so I guess science is in our blood!

Audrey: My grandma was also a teacher and as I said, my dad’s a doctor. But he’s always said, “Mom’s the brains of the family!”

Your Dad sounds like a smart man, Audrey! So, where are you going to college and what are you majoring in?

Audrey: I’m going to UCLA and majoring in Biology. I come from a long line of USC grads, so now we have a sign that says “House divided!”

Kaitlyn: I’m going to UCSD and studying Structural Engineering.

Alex: I’m headed to Aalborg University in Denmark. It’s in a small port city near some of my family and I’ll be studying Biotechnology and Chemical Engineering.

*Interesting fact. All three girls’ first choice was California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo – and NONE of them got in. They were all wait-listed and then denied. Talk about a cosmic universe…no amount of math can figure that one out.

Do you girls have a “dream job” in mind?

Kaitlyn: I’d really love to be a residential architect at some point.

Alex: Not sure yet, but I see myself working in a lab…I’ve toured several already and could really see myself doing that.

Audrey: I’m going to be an ER doctor.

What do each of you feel your greatest victory has been in high school?

Kaitlyn: Definitely the Sportsmanship Award I got at our final CIF (water polo) game. That was pretty special.

Alex: I was a competitive saddle seat rider (horse riding style) and won ‘World Champion, Show Pleasure for 13 and Under’ my freshman year. School had literally just started so not only was I new to high school as an incoming freshman, I was already a week behind with multiple AP classes! But that’s a unique accomplishment that I’m super proud of.

Audrey: Being a Valedictorian again! I was Valedictorian in middle school, so it was sort of a personal mission to get that title again in high school.

You girls are so busy…you must have pretty structured routines?

Kaitlyn: I play sports year-round but homework is always #1. I just have to fit it in in-between whatever else is happening that day, so I have to be organized. And I always get in 30 minutes of reading before bed.

Alex: I’m pretty routine – home, snack, homework, shower, bed usually around 8:30. But that’s all me…my parents don’t enforce any particular bedtime or curfews.

Audrey: Yah, like Kaitlyn and Alex, schoolwork is always priority. Going to bed without it all done is not an option.

What do you love to do in your free time?

Kaitlyn: I love to go camping in the desert with my family.

Alex: I like gardening, hanging with my family and working summer camps at the barn I ride at. And even though it was a school activity, swim was an incredible experience that never felt like a responsibility. I was a late bloomer, but I love to swim.

Audrey: I just enjoy being outside – the beach in particular. I go surfing as much as I can and I love hiking and running, too.

What kind of music/TV/movies are you girls into?

Kaitlyn: I’m a country girl! I love a good rom-com, ‘The 100’ and anything sci-fi.

Alex: I like pop and 2000s flashbacks – all the feels! And ‘Brooklyn 99’ and comedies.

Audrey: Country for sure! (flashes her cowboy boots) Far as TV goes, my family loves to sit down and watch ‘This is Us’ together – that’s our jam and we’re trying to figure out how to keep it going when I’m gone!

Have you had moments when you thought, “This is all too much, I give up?”

All: Of course!

Kaitlyn: Freshman year I was in Honors Algebra II with 2 other underclassmen and all the rest were seniors – it was intimidating! And this year, with all the college applications, I’d just go in my room and curl into the fetal position on my bed. But my mom would come remind me there’s always a solution – my mom’s the best!

Alex: As I mentioned before, that freshman year when I started a week behind – what a knock in the jaw that was. I cried a lot. And junior year I had multiple AP classes and tests jammed together…it was nuts.

Audrey: My junior year I pretty much started out with an ‘F’ in physics. I was like, what’s going on? I just don’t get physics! And the teacher, who was a new teacher that year, actually told me I’d probably never be able to get an A in that class. I was like, uh, no. My parents got me a tutor and I got an A.

Are you total techies or do you still do some of your work old school, like writing it out on paper?

Kaitlyn: Oh yeah! I do research on computers and stuff, but I do notes on paper.

Alex: Ditto. If I did everything on computers, I’d go crazy…all those pop-ups like, “Need to update,” “Click here to install.” Ugh.

Audrey: Yup, old school a lot of times…I’m all about the handwritten flashcards!

On that note, high school’s rough. What are you NOT going to miss?

Kaitlyn: I kind of loved all of it with my mom being on campus! I love my mom. I guess I’m looking forward to a more lax schedule, being able to have real breaks in-between classes.

Alex: The bathrooms! Eww! There’s always a line, people doing their makeup, blocking the sinks and those gross hand dryers that blow germs everywhere!

Audrey: Having a curfew! It’ll also be nice not to have a full day of classes back-to-back every day. I’m really looking forward to a more staggered class schedule.

What teachers/administrators at FHS are you going to miss the most and why?

Kaitlyn: (wait for it…) My mom! She was my favorite teacher (big smile)…I loved going into her classroom at lunchtime because she was there and had a microwave and a fridge and my friends would come in and hang.

Alex: Mr. Lenaway and Kaitlyn’s mom!

Audrey: Ms. Nava really instilled my love for science. And Mr. Lenaway for sure, he’s such a fatherly figure – and Kaitlyn’s MOM! And hey, what about Dr. Morrow, right!?

All: YES! Dr. Morrow’s the best! And Mrs. Cain!

Certainly, coming of age is an exciting adventure, but it also tends to bring out fear and anxiety in a lot of kids. What are you afraid of?

Kaitlyn: Leaving my mom!

Alex: Driving. I cry when I get behind the wheel…the thought of all that responsibility. I mean, what if I kill someone?

Audrey: I’m actually not really afraid of anything in particular or to leave home. I feel prepared to leave home; my parents have done a great job!

Finally, what are you going to do this summer – work or play?

All: PLAY!!!

Kaitlyn: I’m doing a camping trip up and down the California coast with Alex here and a few other friends. I can’t wait to just chill.

Alex: I’ll be getting ready to move to Denmark, so that’s pretty big but I’m excited and it’ll be fun to do this trip with Kaitlyn.

Audrey: I’m just going to try and relax. I’m doing a mission trip to Mexico with my church, summer camp with my church, a few tutoring jobs, a trip to Big Bear and a family reunion.

So much for relaxing. At the end of the day, Alex, Kaitlyn and Audrey are ‘normal’ girls in that they like to listen to music, watch TV and play around on social media like all teenagers, but they have this crazy self-motivation gene that you have or you don’t. Their skill sets are more nature than nurture, but the ying doesn’t exist without the yang – their families. What outstanding role models these girls are for this generation, those who will follow them and those who will have the honor of befriending them in the Fall. Farewell and best of luck to Kaitlyn, Alex and Audrey as well as the entire FHS 2019 graduating class!


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