Balancing the “Best of Both Worlds” Valley’s Briley Corwin on Leading with Intention and Kindness

Valley High School knows 2024 graduate Briley Corwin best as the one covering school events and student news. Editor of the yearbook and secretary of communications for Student Council, Briley spent much of her high school career getting to know her school community and lifting up others instead of seeking the spotlight.

“I don’t think there’s a better representation of a place than the people,” she said. “There’s so much more to every student than you might know.”

Briley is uniquely positioned to look beyond initial impressions — a resident of Winterset, she strives to be an active community member there and at school.

I call myself a Hannah Montana — best of both worlds. — Briley Corwin

Briley’s interests were almost as wide-ranging as the Disney Channel character who led a double life as a pop star and a regular teen. In addition to Student Council and the yearbook, Briley was an honors student and competed on Valley’s swim team all four years of high school. At the same time, she worked as a lifeguard in her hometown, took part in Madison County 4-H, and spent time hiking and mushroom hunting with her family. Even with so many priorities to juggle, she focused on enjoying every moment of the past year.

Photos provided by Briley Corwin.
“I always told myself, ‘Don’t wish away your senior year,’” she said. “That’s something I’ve really been trying to live this year.”

Briley first enrolled with WDMCS as a kindergartner. After attending a daycare in West Des Moines, Briley’s family looked at different options to enroll her in school. They chose WDMCS because it worked for their family, and they felt it would afford Briley more opportunities as she got older. As Briley made friends and started taking advantage of those opportunities, she had chances to attend elsewhere, but she continued to choose WDMCS.

By the time senior year rolled around, Briley was involved in plenty of activities to keep from wishing the year away. She advanced into leadership positions on the yearbook and student council. Her student council experience also expanded beyond Valley —- she served as president of the Iowa Association of Student Councils (IASC) this past year. Her IASC position supported student councils around the state, and she organized and presented at a student council conference in the fall.

“I like to be intentional in what I do,” Briley said. “My parents always told me, ‘If you’re going to do something, you’re going to be in it.’”

She was similarly dedicated to her studies, putting together a three-part honors project that included a Hy-Vee internship, shadowing Valley’s accountant, and setting up a mock stock portfolio that earned a 26.5% return on investment — more than twice her original goal. Her honors project confirmed that business was what she wanted to focus on in college. She plans to attend the University of Iowa to study accounting and finance.

She approaches her future with humor but also drive and confidence. Briley achieved an associate’s degree from Des Moines Area Community College before graduating from Valley and plans to earn her bachelor’s degree in two years, then her master’s degree in four.

“She demands and commands respect,” Valley Principal David Maxwell said. “That is really what makes her who she is.”

Photos provided by Briley Corwin.

Briley practices the same intentionality in her personal life. She is conscious of the impact those closest to you can have and has curated a close circle of friends. She has a strong relationship with her family, especially her younger sister and mom, who she credits with modeling the benefit of long-lasting friendships and community. She has also sought out mentors at school, especially in yearbook adviser Janell Mikels and Honors mentor Jana Edwards.

“Briley is an amazing young lady,” Edwards said. “She is smart, dedicated, caring, and a true representative of our Valley students.”

With so many accomplishments and accolades, one might expect Briley’s advice for future Valley students to focus on time management or setting goals. Instead, her advice comes from the part of her that saw the benefit in building relationships and uplifting her community from behind the scenes:

If you can be anything, be kind. Nothing bad comes from being kind. — Briley Corwin