From an early age Aubree Dinning’s parents noticed a disciplined, even diplomatic quality in their oldest daughter.
That unwavering determination has been a running theme throughout the Lake City High School valedictorian’s life, from her approach to school, where her stellar scholastic career will wrap with a whopping 4.6 grade-point average, to the various student council and National Honor Society posts Dinning’s held over the last four years. Someday, those who know Dinning say, those characteristics could very well shine on the world stage of international relations.
But perhaps that should come as no surprise from someone who during her childhood color-coordinated her crayons.
“She’s the complete package, which is the best way to say it,” said Nichole Thiel, the student council adviser at Lake City. “You name the qualities you want in a student, and she has them. She’s an excellent communicator, she has super-strong dedication; whereas some people have excuses why they didn’t get something done on time, she’s never late with her work. And through all that she’s learned to work with people to get things done.”
That, Thiel added, “is what makes her a phenomenal leader.”
Growing up in Coeur d’Alene, however, Dinning was more soft-spoken, and it took a long time to break from her bashfulness. “As a kid I was really shy,” the 18-year-old offered, sipping tea at a downtown coffee shop. “I’ve always kind of strived for perfection, and never really settled for anything less.”
That shyness belied an inner drive that had her setting her sights on ever loftier goals. For example, Dinning’s mom Sue Worman explained, she decided as a sixth-grader she wanted to be Associated Student Body president, and as a sophomore was certain she’d attend Duke University. Not only did Dinning serve on the student council throughout high school, where she traveled around the country as a state delegate of the National Student Council Conference, and as secretary of the National Honor Society, but she also presided over the student body this year and will be moving in the fall to North Carolina as a Blue Devil on an almost-full-ride scholarship.
In addition to those school activities, she filled some of her free time being a Pathfinder mentor to younger students and a discus thrower on the track team.
“She’s an overachiever, there’s no getting around that,” her mom said, adding that Dinning, the oldest of her three children, was such a strong-minded student that she never really asked for help with her homework. “She sets her standards and doesn’t accept anything less. She is just such a good kid … . Aubree visited Duke as a sophomore, she took it upon herself to make stuff happen, and that’s where she’s going.”
Her hard work as a student will translate well in the real world, according to those who know Dinning.
“This has been a truly outstanding class. They will contribute greatly as citizens in our community and our country,” wrote Principal John Brumley about the student body officers in a recent parent newsletter.
While school has always come first, Dinning said she has been able to put the books aside and just relax with friends. “There has been lots of stress at some points, but I do a pretty good job of balancing that with doing fun things, like hanging out with friends and watching movies.”
Asked what has been a standout memory from her four years at Lake City, Dinning only had to pause briefly before bringing up the Fight for the Fish duel against rival Coeur d’Alene High School. The annual battle pits the schools against one another in a panel-judged display of spirit and games for the esteemed trophy – a wooden fish.
“That’s one of my favorite things we did,” said the senior, who helped get the prize back from Coeur d’Alene High in the contest.
As for the future, Dinning plans on finding a career after college that will take her overseas, perhaps on goodwill missions. “I’d like to go into international politics or maybe as a diplomat, something like that. I’ve always wanted to travel. And I really like to be in charge and know what’s going on,” she said.
That role would suit her perfectly, said adviser Thiel. “I think she will make the U.S. look phenomenal and will be exceptional at whatever she chooses to do.”
Whatever she takes on, Dinning said that she just hopes to make a difference while living up to her potential. “I’d like to be remembered as having been a good daughter, friend, and making my family proud and using all the influence I’ve had to do good,” she said. And, she continued, “as having been a fun person to know, to have inspired someone or made a difference. I think that’s what everyone wants.”