Eagle Valley: Redheaded duo share top honors | VailDaily.com

Eagle Valley: Redheaded duo share top honors

Kathy Heicher
Eagle Correspondent
Kristin Anderson/EnterpriseFriends Kelsey Elwood, left, and Hilary Henry are vying for Eagle Valley High School's valedictorian position.

EAGLE ” Kelsey Elwood and Hilary Henry met on the first day of first grade at Eagle Valley Elementary School. There was no doubt they had something in common.

“I walked into the classroom and saw another redhead. I was so excited,” Kelsey recalled.

Hilary had a slightly different take on the situation.

“I was mad. I liked being the only redhead,” she said.

She got over that pretty fast. For the past 12 years, these two girls have been good friends. They’ve also been neck-and-neck on an academic achievement path that has led them right up to the top honors for the Eagle Valley High School Class of 2008. The word wasn’t yet official at press time, but all signs pointed to Kelsey and Hilary sharing valedictorian honors.

Red hair is just one thing they have in common.

Both have an aptitude for math and a hunger for learning in general. Both girls competed on the alpine ski team, although Kelsey insists that Hilary is the better skier. Hilary denies that claim.

The two girls, who are both 18 years old, also share an interest in dance. They recently shared the lead roles in the Alpine Academy of Dance presentation of “Aladdin.” Hilary danced Jasmine to Kelsey’s Aladdin. On the second night, they swapped roles.

“It’s kind of a weird coincidence,” Kelsey said.

They’ve ended up taking most of their classes together. The college-oriented schedule included a number of advance placement classes.

But sometimes their paths go different directions. Kelsey signed up for auto shop while Hilary did ceramics. Sometimes, their colleagues refer to them as “Hilary/Kelsey” ” like it’s one word. More than a few people have gotten the two redheads confused.

The girls admit there’s been some friendly competition along the way.

“Sometimes you think, ‘OK, if Kelsey can do it, I can do it,” Hilary said.

They also try to help each other along the way.

They’ve had some adventures together. Hilary recalled the time several years ago when they got lost while walking around a lake in Whistler, Canada, where they were attending a ski camp. They had seen bears wandering about nearly every day of their trip.

Neither girl can explain how they got off the circular path around the lake and ended up in the woods. They heard an animal crashing though the forest, then smelled a strong, musky sent.

“There was no doubt it was a bear,” Hilary said.

Kelsey’s little sister, Chloe, was with them. All three girls were too scared to look for the source of the noise and the smell. The strategy: Kelsey talked them out of the woods. She kept up a loud and assuring patter until they found the right trail and got back to civilization.

Both girls have loved their high school experience. While excited about what’s in store for them, they’re also experiencing some bittersweet moments about leaving the life they have known.

Hilary is headed to Duke University in Durham, N.C. on a full scholarship. She plans to major in international relations; and to minor in a yet-to-be determined science, such as chemistry or botany. Kelsey will head to Colorado College in Colorado Springs, where she wants to study environmental science and political science. Both girls are leaving their educational options open.

How are they feeling about separating after a dozen years together?

“It’s going to be weird. I won’t have my partner in crime,” said Hilary, with a laugh.

“We have Facebook and cell phones. It will be OK,” Kelsey added.

This story first appeared in the Eagle Valley Enterprise.

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