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May 31, 2020

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15 minutes with Jordan Cluts

From BHS to NASA

Interviewed by Liz Gordon-Hancock
The class of 2019 graduated on May 25 at Bluffton High School's 138th commencement. As part of their send off, we look back to past BHS valedictorians for a little encouragement and perspective.

The Icon caught up with Jordan Cluts, who was valedictorian of the class of 2008.

What advice do you have for the BHS graduates of 2019? What would you tell your newly-graduated self, as you left the high school building after graduation day?
I would want new graduates to know that life after high school is an awesome but double-edged sword. The new freedom that comes with college and careers is one of the joys of life, but at the same time, that freedom means that life is not laid out for you. Each person has to find the motivation that keeps them moving... the drive that they use to get through the parts of life that aren’t so fun: actually attending college courses, paying bills, doing the drudge work at one's job (even a job you love!). Figure out what makes those seem easy and worthwhile and you’ll be able to push through to whatever goal you have set.

What activities were you involved in as a BHS student? Feel free to include all your extra-curricular activities, even if they're from church or other organizations, not just school.
I was a member of the Academic Team, Jazz Band, Marching Band, String Orchestra, JV Soccer Team, National Honor Society, and an active member of the First Mennonite Church youth group. I also attended Boys State.

What of the above were your favorite(s)? Why was it your favorite?  Are you still doing any part of that activity now?
Academic Team was certainly my favorite! The collaborative problem solving while competing against another team is really entertaining. Sadly I’m not aware of any adult quiz bowl leagues but I do occasionally go to a trivia night with friends.

What was your least favorite class from high school?
Not the entire class but the dissection portion of Biology was very much not my forte. I’d much rather take a look at the worms, crabs, and other animals from a comfortable distance!

What achievement(s), if anything, are you most proud of from your high school career? Were you part of a winning sports team?
I’m very proud of having continued my family tradition of attending Boys State (a week-long summer program for high school juniors that simulates the state government in great detail, from the local level all the way to the governorship). Both of my parents as well as several other family members were alumni. It was a great opportunity to learn about how our government really works and the challenges faced by communities and states to plan, budget, and execute our democracy.

Did you get the academic award for any classes?
I received the academic award for one class, if I recall correctly. Most of the time the classes I did well in I also cracked enough jokes to annoy my teachers!

Did you just survive gym class or did you thrive there?
“Survive” is a strong word. I did manage to avoid any major injuries, despite my best efforts.

Where are you now? Did you go to college, what did you study, what do you do for a living, etc? Married? Kids?
I studied Aerospace Engineering at Case Western Reserve University. I then attended The Ohio State University where I received a PhD in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering. Now I am a Research Associate at the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland Ohio where I do research into noise generated by aircraft during flight in an attempt to better understand and reduce that noise.

Please note, Cluts was one of seven valedictorians from the class of 2008.