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Family ties spur interest in the past

Elizabeth Rhondeau attends East High School.
Elizabeth Rhondeau attends East High School.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret Morning News

Second-place winner Elizabeth Rhondeau has a love for history and a curiosity about events in her loved ones' past.

Since she was young she always wanted to hear stories about her family's past and history that she can match with old pictures.

Rhondeau, who attends East High School, said it is her love for reading and writing that got her interested in learning about about all kinds of history. But her favorite stories are those of her family and a prime source for information about the past lives of her grandparents.

"I love the '40s-style glamour in those old photos and seeing my grandma all dressed up," said Rhondeau. "It just makes me want to know everything about that time."

But her big interest lies in her grandfather.

A series of small strokes have taken bits of her grandfather's memory over the years. However, she said, he has always had this quality about him of being able to talk to anyone about anything — something she wants to be able to do someday.

"He could start little playful conversations with anybody, and he has a saying that the prettiest girls always wear the ugliest shoes," Rhondeau said. "So then he would always tell girls, 'those are the ugliest shoes,' but it was a compliment."

She said her grandpa has always had a way with people — an innate connection that has yielded endless friendships.

"Everybody knows him, and at Christmastime he gets tons of Christmas cards from all over," said Rhondeau. "He has always just been a good example, especially with making friendships and holding onto those friendships."

She said the stories and history about her family are a part of who she is, and she never gets tired of learning about it.

"I think about my life, and I think about the memories I want to keep and tell my family and my children — I am just grateful that he is here and was able to tell me about what happened in his," Rhondeau said.

Rhondeau's mother, Susan, credits her daughter's writing talent to her love of reading. Her mother said at one time she even had to ground Rhondeau from books because she was reading too much.

But along with reading and writing Rhondeau also paints and plays the piano.

She is a member of the National Honors Society, Key Club, Science Club, seminary council and Defenders of Mother Earth.

Though she is not sure where she wants to go to college, Rhondeau plans to pursue English after graduation.