Salutatorian Dylan Dahlke Reaches for the Stars and Beyond

Katelyn Timple, Opinions Editor

The Salutatorian isn’t just a student ranked second highest in grade point average (GPA); it’s a student that is dedicated, driven, hard-working, and inspiring throughout high school. Earning this title requires a rigorous academic course load, but more importantly, it requires a notable work ethic. This year, UC High has two Salutatorians. Senior Dylan Dahlke, known for his sincere and passionate interest in science, is one of them.

Dahlke earned this title with a GPA of 4.83. Although being Salutatorian was not necessarily one of Dahlke’s goals going into high school, he said, “I have been very motivated to get all As throughout my high school career and take as many challenging courses as I could.” Dahlke is also an active member in a few clubs and programs at UC High, including Chess Club, which he founded in his sophomore year. In the same year, he became President of the Astronomy Club and  an Officer in Science Olympiad. Dahlke has been participating in Academic League since his freshman year, and is now a member of the Academic League Varsity Team.

Most know Dahlke for his sincere interest and impressive knowledge of science. Senior Matt Fan said, “[Dylan] nails science questions almost immediately [in Academic League]. I’m really impressed by how smart he is.” Dahlke attended COSMOS, a STEM program hosted by 4 of the University of California campuses, last summer on a full-ride scholarship. He said this program helped further and cement his interest in physics “as I was able to get hands-on experience in university level labs. The cluster I attended at UC Davis was ‘Quantum Mechanics and Applications to Nanotechnology,’ in which I worked with tenured professors Dr. Scalettar and Dr. Chiang to study the time evolution of the wave function and construct an atomic scanning tunneling microscope from spare parts.” The fact that most students wouldn’t know what this is (plus the mention of “quantum”) speaks to just how impressive this is.

Others know him for his dedication. Dahlke said, “I enjoy pushing myself to learn as much as I can, doing well in not only the classes that I take, but life in general.” If GPA is not enough to impress, this way of thinking is certainly remarkable on its own. “I really appreciate how dedicated he is to learning, not just for his many academic accomplishments, but also just for the sake of learning. Dylan’s sincere interest in Physics and Astronomy is really inspiring,” said Physics Teacher Scott Patterson. Senior Keenan DePaz said, “[Dylan is] an inspiration in that he knows so much and that he has so much passion for all the stuff that he’s into. You can really hold a cool, intelligent conversation with him.” Harper said Dahlke also has good social qualities like leadership, collaboration, and teamwork. “Dylan’s very good at respecting other people. He helps out anytime he needs to or anytime there’s something to help out with,” Senior Griffin Harper said.

Attending UC Berkeley in the fall, Dahlke plans to major in physics with a goal of pursuing a Ph.D. in the field of particle physics. Dahlke adds, “A strong work ethic and commitment to being the best that you can be is very important. There will be many times where you will have the choice between studying for an important test that might make or break your grade and scrolling through instagram. Having the fortitude to persevere and make the choice that will ultimately improve your future will make all the difference later on in life.”