EVERYONE ENDS UP HAPPY. “Maybe life is good and everyone ends up happy,” this quote by Zach Bryan  helps Dakota Gillig remember to focus on all the good things in his life, and to continue trying to make the world a happier place with his bright smile and contagious laugh. Dakota Christian Gillig was born on February 11, 2005 to parents Jami and Jarrod Gillig. Dakota has one younger sister, Kinsley. Dakota’s parents have impacted his life the most, and his dad has taught him many life lessons and skills to help him be successful in not only his career, but also as a person. Dakota’s mom taught him how to be kind and show others grace, especially when it’s hard. Both of his parents have supported all of his passions and have encouraged him to pursue all of his dreams, no matter how big or small.

Throughout high school, Dakota has participated in Art Club, All School Play, FFA, and FCA for four years; FFA officer and Golf for three years; NHS for two years; Mustang Tough, FBLA representative, and class representative for one year. Outside of school Dakota is an active member of Wide Awake 4-H Club. 4-H has taught Dakota about dedication and how to handle many different responsibilities. With only one semester left, Dakota encourages underclassmen to see everything through to the end. “Throughout life you will face challenges and difficulties, it’s easy to feel defeated and want to give up. It’s important to start what you finish even when you want to quit.” 

Dakota made so many unforgettable memories at Valley Heights and will cherish many of them for the rest of his life. Gillig said, “My favorite memory is way back in seventh grade. I was five feet six inches tall, my buddies lifted me up so I could hang on the basketball rim. It sounds silly, but it showed me that my friends will always be there to help me accomplish all my goals.”

Dakota is well known for his intricate sculptures and his involvement in various clubs. Though Dakota is well known in the Valley Heights community, there are many things people don’t know about him. Dakota was born in Texas and has lived in numerous places throughout his life, including Hereford, Texas; Ontario, Canada; Plainview, Texas; Schuyler, Nebraska; and Blue Rapids, Kansas. Gillig has moved many times, and finds comfort spending time with his family and friends. He enjoys going home to his family each day, especially when they’re having steak for dinner. Dakota’s ideal Friday night includes going on “adventures” with his friends and driving around. In the car Dakota enjoys listening to music, and you can always catch him listening to Crooked Teeth by Zach Bryan. 

After highschool, Dakota plans on attending Kansas State University to major in Construction Science and Management. Mrs. Manley suggests Dakota continues to work hard, and to take on every challenge life throws at him. “Dakota really has a good plan for his life, and he works hard to accomplish his dreams everyday. He has an incredible ability to relate to his peers, and he has made Valley Heights a positive place over the last four years. He is always smiling in the hallways, and cracking jokes to his friends,” said Mrs. Manley stated. Dakota has big goals and a plan to obtain them, and in the future he plans on starting a family and opening a construction business. “After I leave Valley Heights, I hope I can be remembered as someone who has a kind heart and a bright, beaming smile,” said Dakota.

Article by Khloe Gunn