Meet Your Neighbor: Robert “Max” Rautenkranz, 18
Robert “Max” Rautenkranz has a heartfelt message for his peers.
Rautenkranz, Park Vista High School’s 2013 valedictorian, wants them to reflect on their journey. That’s why he will implore them at Friday’s graduation to not only be grateful for making it so far - but to remember the people who helped them along the way.
He’s been practicing his two-minute speech, and although he admits he’s a “little nervous,” he’s grateful for the opportunity. “I am very honored to be valedictorian,” the aspiring doctor says humbly. “I am not going to try act like I am the best because I am not. I’m just a normal student.”
Park Vista officials think the senior - who has a honor grade point average of 5.0175, highest in the senior class - is extra special. A recent school newsletter announcing his title included these accolades: “Max is an extraordinary young man who has done all that is necessary to prepare for the rigors of university- level academics and his future goals. Max impresses those who know him with his exceptional work ethic, achievements in the classroom, performance on the athletic field, and commitment to his community.”
Rautenkranz, who found out he had the top honor on his 18th birthday, sent a text his mother, Kathy, a teacher at Coral Reef Elementary as soon as he could. His dilemma? Spreading the word without appearing conceited. “I didn’t know how to tell everybody without sounding too arrogant. So I just told a few people and they told a few people and …,” says Rautenkranz, who will head to the University of Florida in the fall, where his sister Lauren is a student.
“It’s good because she will show me the ropes and hopefully do some of my laundry for me,” he quips. “It’s a great school and I plan to be the epitome of a Gator,” says Rautenkranz, who has been playing lacrosse since middle school.
Of his favorite sport, he says “you meet a lot of great guys, you get to take all your frustrations out on the field. But it‘s a tough sport and you have to keep up with conditioning or you will pay for it during the games - you’ll be wheezing on the sidelines.”
He was recently named a US Lacrosse All-Academic (students chosen for the prestigious award exhibit exemplary lacrosse skills, good sportsmanship on the field, high standards of academic achievement and have made significant contributions to their school and/or community.)
He’s departing Park Vista with a lump in his throat . “I’ll miss a lot about it. The teachers are very helpful and the students are good kids. The staff does its best to make everyone looked after, which isn’t easy since it is such a big school,” says Rautenkranz, whose community service included tutoring, beach cleanups and working with Habitat for Humanity.
What won’t he miss? “Waking up at 5:30 a.m.”
What are your hobbies?
What is your favorite book?
“Slaughterhouse Five”. When you get to the end it blows your mind.
Who is your hero or someone you admire?
“My cousin who is a physician’s assistant. He was a preemie and sometimes he took longer to learn information. Some of his teachers told his parents he would never be able to graduate college. You should never tell anyone something like that. He took that as motivation and is a very successful person.”
What was your favorite class?
AP calculus. For the content and the teacher, who is one of a kind. He makes math fun and doesn’t put anyone to sleep. And … he’s a Gator.