No. 1 in senior class shares experiences, value of friends

As he completes his final high school year, Thomas Trautmann covers personal priorities, offers success strategies


Photo Courtesy of Thomas Trautmann

Adjusting the camera, senior Thomas Trautmann takes a picture with prosper alumni Brett Pierce, Jack Simonini, and senior Sam Simononi. Trautmann has been ranking No.1 in his class since freshman year. “Thomas is a good friend. He is loyal and always fun to be around,” Simonini said. “He’s always there for me when I need him. He is a good guy in general.”

His motivation

Looking at the loading circle pop up on his iPhone, senior Thomas Trautmann waits with his friends to view his transcript. Last year, as a junior, Trautmann ranked first in his class for the third time. Aiming for senior valedictorian this year, Trautmann continues to navigate and balance his academic goals while maintaining his personal life.

Four years ago, as Trautmann entered his freshman year, his older brother, Danny Trautmann, emphasized the importance of freshman year. 

“He told me that one thing that most people underestimate is the value of freshman year,” Trautmann said. “You really need to commit, study and try in all your classes. He told me that if you have the goal of being in the Top 10, you need to do all these things.”

Growing up hearing about his brothers’ intelligence, Trautmann said his motivation in his first year of high school was to prove himself to others. 

“One thing that always really bothered me was when I was growing up, people would often talk to me about how my brothers are so intelligent,” Trautmann said. “I always wanted to prove myself in that aspect. That was one of my main motivations my freshman year because I just wanted to be among them.” 

However, Trautmann soon realized his motivation wasn’t just to be like his brothers, but to also work toward his own goal. 

“As years went on, it stopped being about proving myself, but more for my own self-fulfillment,” Trautmann said. “People would say I try so hard in school. You can try just as much or you can try a little bit less, but it’s not about impressing other people. Simply, I set myself a goal and I want to complete that goal. If it takes this amount of effort to complete that goal, that’s what motivates me.”

What high school is about

As he spent time focusing on academics, Trautmann said he learned that balancing both school and personal life is important. 

“You definitely have to balance it out,” Trautmann said. “There have been times where I almost burned out, just because I haven’t been able to balance it. But then, I go hang out with friends and it definitely gets you through it. If you just devote your life only to school, high school is not going to be fun.”

Trautmann said he also believes that high school is about developing skills for the future. 

“I would say high school is honestly about friends and spending time with people,” Trautmann said. “I know that’s sort of weird coming from a kid who devoted most time to school, but there is value to working hard. High school is definitely a transition period to the future. I am working hard now so I can save money for the future, and I can build habits that would help me progress into the future career that I want to have.” 

Though he may focus on schoolwork, Trautmann said another important aspect of school is the value of friends. 

For a photo, during their freshman year, now seniors Bryce Kowalski, Sam Simonini, Grady Coker, Thomas Trautmann and Tyler Tremblay gather in the hallway. (Photo Courtesy of Thomas Trautmann)

“One thing I always made sure of is that no matter what, I don’t want to value school always above hanging out with friends because that’s just going to make high school miserable if you don’t really have anybody to spend time with,” Trautmann said. “Sometimes the best part of my day is just having a class with one of my buddies, and I can just talk and hang out with them. That’s always been a priority.”

Being on the high school soccer team since freshman year, Trautmann shared his experience with the sport and his teammates helped him get through school.

“The bulk of the friends I’ve made have been in soccer, and definitely without them I wouldn’t have been able to succeed as I do,” Trautmann said. “I have had my friend group since freshman year. They are the closest friends I’ve ever had, and without soccer, I would have never been able to make those friends.”

Senior Sam Simonini, who is also on the soccer team, said Trautmann has been a supportive friend.

“Thomas is a good friend. He is loyal and always fun to be around,” Simonini said. “He’s always there for me when I need him. He is a good guy in general.”

Advice to younger students

Just as his efforts during his freshman year paid off, Trautmann encourages other students to try hard in their first year of high school.

“If you are a freshman, you need to focus on school, and I know it’s very distracting because you have all these new things,” Trautmann said. “But, you have to develop yourself, and later, you will reap the rewards of that. Also, don’t be afraid to take AP classes, because in the long run, they help you way more in school and college.”

Being in the No. 1 academic position since freshman year, Trautmann shared his freshman year experience.

“Freshman year, I studied a lot more than I had to, and I definitely went a lot more ‘try hard.’ It was a lot of late nights,” Trautmann said. “Specifically, for Pre-AP Bio, I remember staying up until 3 a.m., studying for the test.”

Spending nights working, a study habit that Trautmann quickly developed was time management. 

“I tend to find a lot of free time, because one thing my brother told me was, ‘Don’t let gaps on Saturdays prevent you from getting stuff done ahead of time,'” Trautmann said. “If you have a day where you are not hanging out with your friends, then use the opportunity to get a little bit of work done on the assignment. That way, it opens up that time for you to go hang out with your friends.”

Sometimes the best part of my day is just having a class with one of my buddies, and I can just talk and hangout with them. That’s always been a priority.

— Thomas Trautmann

Trautmann also touched on collaboration being important. 

“Another thing that people often underestimate is collaboration,” Trautmann said. “I have had a ton of study groups, and it helped me a lot. You can explain things and help things out, just overall work with other people, and that will help you out a lot.”

Although he recommends putting efforts into schoolwork, Trautmann said the one goal he suggests is to be set in “one’s true interest.”

“I highly recommend going and reaching that goal, but if your heart’s not into it, then find something that your heart is into,” Trautmann said. “I may be best at school, but I’m sure there are athletes in the MPF on the football team that excel in that (athletics.) I’m sure they respect me for what I can do, and I definitely respect them for what they can do.”

Looking back at his accomplishments

As he reflects on his accomplishments, Trautmann said that he earned respect from others.

“Definitely very proud of them (his achievements.) One thing I do enjoy is just having that recognition, and I get a lot of respect for that,” Trautmann said. “People tend to validate your opinion in a lot of cases, but overall it’s (being No. 1 in his class) a great accomplishment that I’ve had.”

Thomas is an incredible student. He has a super fun personality, and he has a heart of gold. He is thoughtful, kind and will go above and beyond for the people he cares about. I hope everyone gets to see that side of Thomas.

— Emily Allen, AP Psychology teacher

Though his accomplishments brought him honor and recognition, Trautmann said unsubstantiated words were talked about him. 

“Sometimes the downside is that a lot of people would be envious of where I am at, so they will start making up excuses,” Trautmann said. “I have had things said about me that necessarily aren’t true, and they say I shouldn’t be where I’m at.”

Knowing how much he worked for everything he has accomplished, Trautmann said he ignores any rumors about himself.

“I tend to just tune those out because I would just think in my head that when we entered freshman year, we all had the same opportunity,” Trautmann said. “I didn’t have any advantage over anyone else. They didn’t have advantage over me. We all had the same thing, and I decided to put forth and use my talents. If people want to say negative things about me, that’s perfectly fine. I can’t control what they say, but I know who I am, and I know I’ve worked hard to get where I am.”

Trautmann shared his take on holding the No. 1 spot.

“I often try not to look down. I remember my freshman year. I didn’t want people to know just because I wanted to stay under the radar,” Trautmann said. “But, when you tell one person, they tell another, and eventually, it comes out. Many people would say they regret chasing this. I honestly don’t. I have my buddies, and I put a goal in mind, and I got to that goal, so I don’t really regret it.” 

Senior Sebastian Pena, who has known Trautmann since freshman year, spoke on his work ethic.

“Ever since I knew Thomas, he’s always been a really hard worker,” Pena said. “He’s always been there for me as a friend. He’s worked hard for everything that he’s accomplished. He deserves it. I believe that he is going to have a bright future ahead of him, and I wish the best for him.”

Addressing the expectations around him, Trautmann talked about his future plans.

“One thing that I’ve always wanted to value, a lot of my friends would say I should be applying to all these Ivy League schools,” Trautmann said. “But, I’ve always thought in my head that I would rather go to a smaller school, or not a prestigious school that can help pay things off for my parents.”

At last, Trautmann said he owed all his success to his parents.

“In the end, they are the reason that I have what I have today,” Trautmann said. “They are the reason for everything that I’ve been granted today. Any way that can pay them off, whether it be a one-year scholarship or hopefully full ride to a university, that’s the best. That’s the goal.”