Fisher is going in the right direction

Fisher is going in the right direction
March 23, 2013, 1:30 pm
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York senior Emma Fisher is smart enough to know how to navigate her life in the right direction but too misdirected to find a road to get there. If she has to drive to Palo Alto, she might end up in Jersey City. Along the way, however, she could discover a solution for global warming.

Fisher is a self-described feminist who still is fighting a war that started in the 1960s. She is fiercely independent and eager to demonstrate she is her own person. Please don't dote on her. And don't bother to open a door for her, either. She knows where she is going.

She has a 4.886 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale. Her class schedule includes all Advance Placement (AP) and honors courses. She scored 35 on her ACT. She is a National Merit semifinalist, very eco-conscious, and will attend Stanford to study Environmental Science.

But Fisher is more than that. She is second chair flutist in York's symphonic and marching bands. She is a three-time All-Stater in cross-country and also competes in track. In a recent indoor meet, she recorded the fourth fastest time in the nation in the 3,200-meter run.

On a visit to Stanford, while talking to counselors, coaches and professors, she inquired to be sure that there also would be an opportunity for her to be involved in a classical music ensemble.

Of all the things she has accomplished, however, she doesn't hesitate to single out one achievement that she is most proud of. Last fall, in the state cross-country meet, her time equaled the time of the York runner who finished seventh in the boys state meet, a fact that York's legendary coach Joe Newton was only too happy to point out to her. And she was only too happy to acknowledge it.

"I didn't like the fact that men were faster," Fisher said "I'm glad I had my own personal time. I can handle myself. It comes from running."

She continues to knock down barriers. Last spring, she finished fifth in the state in the 3,200. Last fall, she bettered her personal best time by 33 seconds and broke the state record while finishing second in the state cross-country meet.

"She didn't come in as a star," cross-country and track coach Annette Schulte said. "She didn't do anything as a freshman that would make me think she could run the fourth fastest time in the country as a senior."

But Schulte quickly learned that Fisher is a tenacious competitor who doesn't want to settle for second best. In her first varsity race as a freshman, the 3,200 in the conference meet, Schulte advised Fisher to get behind state favorite Jill Hardy of Hinsdale Central and try to stay with her for as long as she could. She followed directions perfectly and beat Hardy.

Time management is a priority. She has no time to waste. She doesn't watch television but she does find time to hang out with her friends. "All of them are busy like me," she said.

Last fall, for example, it wasn't unusual to find Fisher practicing with the marching band at lunch, then running cross-country in the afternoon, going to the football field to play with the band at halftime, and then get up at 5 o'clock in the morning for a cross-country meet. Oh, by the way, she also competes with the math team.

So why is so important to excel in everything she does -- academics, sports and music?

"That is who I am," she said. "I want to try my best in everything. People I have been around fostered that work ethic and environment. I do it all because I enjoy all parts of it and get the most out of things when I give them all I can. It feels good to try my best at what I do. I want to be as good as I can be."

She draws inspiration from her family. Her mother is a Certified Public Accountant. Her father owns a painting business. Both are college graduates who fostered their daughter's interest in education. They used to time her as she ran around the block.

"I played soccer and basketball when I was younger but I was too clumsy and uncoordinated for those sports," Fisher said. "I was more interested in running. I like the idea of bettering my time. Running gives me a natural feeling, a sense of freedom."

Like most high schools today, York doesn't rank its students according to grade-point average and doesn't select a valedictorian or salutatorian for graduation. So how do you know if you are the No. 1 student in your class? How do you compete against yourself?

"I don't know if it is a competition," Fisher said. "I just enjoy learning. I know I have done the best I could. To me, it isn't a competition but I can be happy if I know I have done my best. I don't like it when people compare their grades to each other.

"It isn't about being No. 1. I want to challenge myself. It doesn't matter if I am No. 1 or No. 2. I know other students who have higher grade-point averages and have taken more Advance Placement classes than I have. But I just want to challenge myself to be the best I can be."

But she has a flaw. There is something she can't do that bothers the slide rule out of her. She has no sense of direction. She can run around an oval track or follow a cross-country trail. But put her in a car and cross your fingers. OnStar was invented with her in mind.

"I can't get around my hometown. I have lived in Elmhurst for 10 years and I get confused on one-way streets and the downtown area," she said. "It would be nice to figure out where I'm going. Before I leave the house to go to the mall, I look up the directions and write it down step-by-step.

"I get lost all the time. A friend and I were going to the forest preserve to do volunteer work. The forest preserve is 30 minutes away. It took two hours to get there and everyone had gone home."

That however isn't included on her resume but everything else is. And it is more than enough to earn a spot among 13 male and 13 females who were selected from over 450 nominees to the Illinois High School Association's 2012-13 All-State All-Academic Team.

They will be honored at a recognition banquet on April 15 at the Double Tree Hotel in Bloomington.

Fisher promises she won't drive alone.