Lily Van Steenberg, the Medomak Valley High School valedictorian, plans to attend the U.S. Naval Academy next year.

She’s independent yet she likes order. She’s drawn to the complexity of mechanical engineering yet she appreciates boats and the water for the simplicity.

“It’s very easy to see cause and effect, and … everything has to be very clear on a boat,” Van Steenberg said in an interview. “There’s very little politicking involved. You know who is above you and you know who is beneath you. That’s part of the draw for the military for me as well.”

The senior from Union has been in the SAD 40 district since sixth grade. Her parents are Greg Ricciardi and Ingrid Van Steenberg.

AP physics is her favorite class because it’s a small class and she’s interested in the material. Her favorite teachers include physics teacher Brad Robbins and AP calculus teacher Neil Payson. She’s also taking AP English. Her grade point average is 4.49.

How did she achieve that success?

“I remember things well,” Van Steenberg said. “I’m mathematically-brained so stuff like calc and physics is easier.”

In her first year at Annapolis, she will be known as a plebe. “It’s a challenge and I wanted to serve,” Van Steenberg said. “It seemed a really good education.”

She was accepted to the U.S. Naval Academy in January, but it took some time to make her college choice. She considered the Coast Guard Academy, the Merchant Marine Academy and Maine Maritime Academy.

Students at the Naval Academy declare their majors at the end of their first semester. “I’m undecided between naval architecture and mechanical engineering,” Van Steenberg said.

Naval architecture is “designing boats, studying how all the different systems on a boat interact and how to combat the wear and tear at sea.”

After completing school at the Naval Academy, she will be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Navy. She will have a service commitment of five years as a navy officer.

“After that, if I decide to hand in my commission, I’d like to sail on tall ships for a while more,” Van Steenberg said. “Eventually I’d like to end up in the Merchant Marine.”

Van Steenberg started sailing when she was 6 or 7 years old. She worked on schooners out of Rockland during the summers since she started high school. She worked on Victory Chimes for three summers and did an apprenticeship on Nathaniel Bowditch for two weeks.

During the summer, she used to join her dad at work at Journey’s End Marina. “I used to follow him around, hang out on boats all day,” Van Steenberg said.

She was also on a rowing team through Station Maine. She said some memorable moments of high school have been with the rowing team. “This year and last year I was the coxswain for my team and this year I was also the captain and did most of the training,” Van Steenberg said.

She started using Facebook in her sophomore year. She said social networking hasn’t changed students’ social lives, but it has changed the way people communicate.

“It’s a big procrastination tool,” Van Steenberg said. “Sometimes I have Facebook up while I’m doing homework, which probably isn’t the best thing. On the other hand, it makes it easy to get in touch with people. So if you have questions or you missed a homework assignment it can be helpful in that regard.”

As valedictorian, Van Steenberg will stand at the podium on graduation day, June 8, and offer words of wisdom to classmates, parents and community members.

“The biggest thing is just doing your work,” Van Steenberg said. “Something my dad told me before I went into high school was to find something beside school that you could focus on that you were actually really interested in. It helped me a lot. It was boats for me. It just helps keep a balance to not get too stressed about school.”