2024 Grad Section

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The class of 2024 is crossing the finish line.

This spring, 7,353 students from 61 schools in our region are graduating. For most of them, high school started with online or hybrid schedules. As COVID-19 restrictions eased, the students embraced the chance to belong. They reconnected with classmates and made new friends. They joined clubs and activities. Some stumbled on re-entry but found new classrooms or

schools where they could thrive. Their stories show strength, perseverance and ingenuity. The class of 2024 excelled – academically, artistically and athletically.

Now, they are ready for new challenges and adventures, heading off to college or the military, travel or jobs. As they work toward life goals, they will take with them the lessons they learned here.

Cheers to the class of 2024!


incredibly passionate and driven’

GPA,” Nakamura said. Gonzaga University has offered Compogno its Unity Scholarship, a full-ride award for the next school year. Her mother said it fulfilled Compogno’s dream.

Kaylinn Compogno has a leadership drive that is unmatched. However, it did not come easily.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, quarantines locked everyone away in their homes, causing a real struggle for teens who were re-entering regular school environments.

Learning how to interact with high school-age classmates can be a challenge without a pandemic.

But Compogno had an additional struggle that she had to overcome when she started at North Central High School.

“I went to a different high school than most of my friends from middle school. So that already (felt) like I didn’t have friends,” Compogno said.

Her freshman year started off with a hybrid learning environment, so community-building opportunities were almost entirely inaccessible.

“She had quite a bit of anxiety. So she struggled a little bit adjusting to the school,” said her mother, Nicole Compogno. “But by the end of sophomore year and beginning of junior year, she really began to flourish.”

Much of this adjustment took place with the extracurricular leadership opportunities that Compogno

was able to immerse herself in when hybrid learning ended.

Compogno has been a member of Shades, North Central’s multicultural club, since she was a freshman.

However, by her junior year, she had stepped into the vice president role.

This year, she was president.

“She was given that position because of her ability to be a leader in all aspects. She not only leads but she also follows, listens and guides,” said Shamerica Nakamura, the school community facilitator at North Central.

The years that Compogno was involved, Shades was responsible for many large events on campus, which forced her to be knowledgeable and involved in happenings within the school.

“My junior year, we took over the Martin Luther King Jr. Convention.

Leadership usually did that, but we took it over as a club, which was something really big for us. And then we just started doing different events from different cultures,” Compogno said.

Compogno has also consistently worked two jobs throughout her high school career.

“She works multiple jobs to help take care of her family while also maintaining AP classes and a high

“She has wanted to go to Gonzaga since she was little,” Compogno’s mother said. “I was a little bit nervous because she was talking about applying for schools farther away. For the first year or two I wanted her to be closer in case she ran into any issues. So I was happy to hear that she still wanted to go to GU.”

Compogno intends to study social justice at GU, with the hope of becoming a judge or having a job in social work.

“I want to study social work and maybe get my masters in (it) and then get licensed to be a political social worker,” Compogno said.

Compogno said she’ll miss the family feel of North Central most after graduation.

“I feel like it’s going to be hard to go from bleeding red and black to going to a completely different school and having to build up again,” Compogno said, referencing the school colors of NC.

This is not a worry that any of Compogno’s supporters have for her. Compogno’s mother said her daughter will thrive in college.

“She is so incredibly passionate and driven,” Nicole Compogno said. “She wants to change the world and she can do that.”

T2 • Wednesday • June 5, 2024 Special SecTion
Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Natalie-Marie Acheson Nicholas Adams Micaiah Aden Simon Ajen Rashid Al Karkhi Sulaf Al Saffar Kayden Allen Ana Alonzo Juarez Fatma Alrifai Mohammad Elham Amiri Alayla Anderson Charlie Anderson Ethan Anderson Jeremiah Anderson Zoe Anderson Hailey Andre’ Kiara Andrews Moieen Azizi Sawyer Bain Charles Bair Zoe Baldwin Bonney Talan Barclay Elizabeth Bartlett Lolur Batlok Gordon Battiest Isaac Bawden Silas Becker William Bellerud Ki Bench Shye Bentley Jacob Bernards Taylena Bigsmoke Christian Birchler Silas Blankenship Kiaze Bradford Seth Bromley Brooke Brookshire Kaylene Brown Grant Browning Aldin Buljubasic Sophiyah Camacho Matthew Campbell Elena Carter Mariah Carter Kaylee Castle Logan Cheney Sherwood Eowyn Chrisco Kellen Christophersen Brogan Clark Tyler Clark Wil Clark James Clement Hope Cline Kaylinn Compogno Spencer Connors Haven Copeland Sirena Coulter-Kress Cheyenne Cram Devin Cruse Savannah Crutchfield Eathen Currie James Cusick Jorge Darcia Ethan Davis Mya Dayley Jesse Delacruz Graysen Denlinger Emma Denny Cameron Dewey Viktoriia Dmitrichenko Samantha Downey Claire Duggan Josiah Dunn Savannah Durtler Maddix Dutton Jameson Ebaugh Neijak Elbon Montana Elder Tommy Elliott Hailee Emery Jacori Ervin Shalene Ervin Mae Esteria Arlen Everman Jones Blythe Fain Jameson Faloon Sincere Finney Vincent Flores Jane Fontana Irene Forte Jose Fuentes Zuniga David Furkalo Gavin Fyfe Joseph Gagne Avery Gannon Joshua Geddes Allison German Brendyn Giammona Julian Giammona Aaralynn Gilbert Jack Gillespie Elizabeth Go Summer Gonzalez Joselin Gonzalez Teran Brennen Gooch Julie Greiner Kaylee Guerrero Lea-Luisa Haefner Sufian Hamza Maddison Hankins Katelin Hansen Byrann Hareesha Jordis Harmer Ava Harnett Mya Harnett Ember Havner Noel Hawkins Jack Hawkinson Lariah Hayes Joshua Heimbigner Aubrey Hertel Ezra Hicks Robert Holmes Travis Horn Jaryn Humphries Justus Ingle Warren Jack Lucy Jackson Daniel Jaillet Reddy Jelke Joseph Jenkins Payton Jenkinson Kori Jericho Ilaisha Jieta Braydon Johnson Jaxon Johnson Merrick Jones Jelina Keju Kevin Kelley Jr. Jeremiah Kelly Matthew Kennedy Weston Keown Savanna Kernodle Elina Khadka Amelia Kirner Koby Klein Mackenzie Klingele Shaher Kohdamani Cody Kruse Michael Kuhen Abigail Kyle Roxiestarr LaBelle Emmanuel Lani Heather Lawrence Makenzie LeMay Makenzie Lebsack Starrlenna Ledeboer Hayden Lefferdink Jacob Lefferdink David Lentz Phoenix Level Liam Lindsey Danielle Little Miles Lund Mekalah Ma’ae Joel Malin Starr Malone Yvonne Manes Kayden Mapston Samantha Masiarek Kaysa Mateeff Halo Matte Sonia Mbarushimana Hope McCollom Gabe McCollum Kendal McGowan Jordan McNamara Amar Meric Storm Miller Skylar Millet Keira Moore Noah Moureaux Abbigail Muller Mercy Murphy Hadayat Mushwani Conor Nelson Kale Nissen Jasmine Nordhagen Abigail Nowaski Precious Obay-Sutch Chloe Olson Samantha Orellana Calvin Palm Isabella Palmer Liam Palos Samuel Parker Christian Parks Ryan Patrick Terri Patten Madelynn Patterson Quinton Pereira Alexis Powell Isaac Pratt Gracie Prior ShaeAnne Profant Emma Radmer Tshitez Rai Megan Rantamaki Brady Rapp Nathan Reich Adyleigha Revais Hannah Reyna Malia Richardson Felix Richmond Cayden Rima Olivia Rodriguez Alyna Rose Kennedy Rose Arayah Rosehill Elijah Rowley Shawna Ryder Abraham Sakuma Omid Salihe Justice Sams Antonio Sanchez Mardella Sanchez Evan Sand Hadil Sarkas Luke Schaff Marlee Schoeffler Ellie Schwartzenberger Millicent Searls Sanborn Chase Shepardson-Brandt Elany Simeon Leetah Six Kyleeia Smelcer Elizabeth Smitherman Paul Spagnotti Nova Sportsman David Stallcop Darius Stamps Brandon Stevens Brooke Suter Luckson Tambwe Brooklyn Taylor Cooper Tedesco Sophia Testa Biru Thang Chase Tharaldson Akiko Tibon Katelyn Tilton Tykeyon Tinney Callie Toney Shaelin Triebe Ashlen Tucker Juan Us Lopez Ryann Valley Gabriella Van Inwegen Arlis Vashon Toni Vaughn Kaya Velasquez Amrullah Wahedi Boden Wais Natasha Wallace Kyra Walt Carleigh Walters Noah Wanless Mohammad Waqas McKenzie White Toriah Whitney Elisa Wilbur Elijah Williams Gavin Woods Trey Workman Hattie Wright Tristan Zaragoza Ezri Zemke Graduation The North Central High School commencement will be at 11 a.m. June 8 at the Podium, 511 W. Joe Albi Way. Principal: Tami McCracken Summa cum laude: Micaiah Aden, Sawyer Bain, Samantha Downey, Thomas Elliott Jr., Arlen Everman Jones, Jordis Harmer, Ezra Hicks, Travis Horn, Samantha Masiarek, Samuel Parker, Marlee Schoeffler, Brooklyn Taylor, Callie Toney, Gabriella Van Inwegen and Noah Wanless NORTH CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL nORTH CenTRaL HIGH sCHOOL Extracurricular activities helped Kaylinn Compogno find her place at NC Central Valley 30 Cheney 26 Chesterton 29 Classical Christian 29 Coeur d’Alene 14 Coeur d’Alene Charter 23 The Community School 9 Deer Park 34 Deer Park Home Link 34 Dishman Hills 18 East Valley 28 East Valley Online 28 East Valley Parent Partnership 28 Ferris 6 Freeman 35 Genesis Prep 39 Gonzaga Prep 10 Innovation 37 Kootenai 37 Lake City 13 Lakeland 16 Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls) 33 Lakeside (Plummer-Worley) 39 Lewis and Clark 5 Liberty 10 Lumen 15 Map 4 Mead 22 Mead Learning Options 23 Medical Lake 27 Mica Peak 30 Mountain View 17 Mt. Spokane 21 New Vision 24 North Central 2 North Idaho Christian 35 Northwest Christian 36 Northwest Christian Homeschool 36 The Oaks 37 On Track 8 Post Falls 24 Pratt 8 Ridgeline 31 Riverside 9 Riverside Achievement 9 Riverside Independent Scholar 9 Rogers 3 Shadle Park 4 Spokane Valley 18 STEM at Spokane Valley Tech 32 St. George’s 25 St. Michael’s 16 TEC at Bryant 8 Three Springs 26 Timberlake 17 University 32 Upper Columbia 38 Valley Christian 38 Venture 14 West Valley 19 WIN Academy 27 IndeX
Kaylinn Compogno of North Central High School earned a Unity Scholarship to attend Gonzaga University.


Twins found community with Rogers’ Native Youth Advisory

Twins Pauline and Tommyhawk Bob may not look anything alike, but both have found cultural connection and a sense of purpose at Rogers High School.

Rogers’ alum Marty Whelshula, Native education support specialist, leads the school’s Native Youth Advisory, along with Levi Horn.

“It’s a new advisory,” Whelshula said. “We meet twice a week and provide cultural mentoring and activities.”

From drumming to making gourd rattles to a root-dig field trip, the advisory helps Native students celebrate their rich heritage.

“Rogers and North Central have the highest percentages of Native students,” Whelshula said. “There are 1,800 or more self-identified Native students in the district, representing 20-plus tribes.”

He’s enjoyed getting to know Pauline and Tommyhawk.

“They’re Coeur d’Alene tribal members,” he said. “You can’t miss him – he’s 6-8, and Pauline likes to boss him around.” Tommyhawk overcame serious health issues to maintain his GPA and his commitment to his education.

He missed a considerable amount of school but persevered and stayed on track for gradu -


“He’s a gentle giant and a unique young man,” Whelshula said.

A perforated appendix sidelined the soft-spoken Tommyhawk, who also goes by T.J.

“I was in the hospital for three months of my junior year,” he said. “I went septic three times.”

He was a chess club member and played basketball for three years, but his health issues nixed his court time.

“That was hard.”

So was all the work he had to do to catch up, but he dug in and got it done.

“I like history,” Tommyhawk said.

He also enjoyed a human body systems class.

“The teacher made it fun,” he said.

After receiving acceptance letters from both Washington State University and Central Washington University, Tommyhawk is weighing his options.

“I want to be an anthropologist,” he said.

Pauline, who is 12 minutes older than her brother, plans to attend Spokane Falls Community College to study early childhood education.

“We will be the first to go to college in our family,” she said.

For the past two years, she’s worked at Spo -

kane Falls Montessori.

“I love the Montessori method,” Pauline said. “I’ve seen how it makes kids more independent and able to speak for them.”

She loves working with preschoolers, and as a student with ADHD, seeing children learn in a supportive environment thrilled her.

“When I’m there, I can see what I’m doing is making a difference,” she said. “I found my calling.”

At Rogers, she excelled in math and English and especially enjoyed the culinary classes.

“I like baking and cooking, so that was fun!”

Both students appreciate the support the Native Youth Advisory has offered.

“It gives me a sense of community,” Tommyhawk said. “They get some of the references I say.”

His sister agreed.

“I got to smudge and drum. It’s given me a community of those similar to me and teachers who understand,” she said. “It fills me with joy.”

That’s exactly what Whelshula envisioned for Native students, and he sees a future filled with leadership opportunities for the twins.

“I can see them working with young people,” he said. “I always tell them, ‘I want to see you guys on council.’

“I’ve appreciated their honesty and curiosity.”

June 5, 2024 • Wednesday • T3 Special SecTion
opening a child care center supporting Native youth. Tommyhawk has overcome serious health issues to maintain his GPA and his commitment to his education. He spent a considerable amount of time out of school his junior year, but persevered and stayed on track for graduation. Both
are active participants in the Rogers High School Native Youth Advisory. ROGeRs HIGH sCHOOL Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Noora Abdulhadi Mariam Aboud Cynthia Aguila Conor Ahern Madina Akhmadjonov Marky Clainton Altura Lucas Anderson Mejen Aneo Ryan Aparicio AustonJelke Auston Josiah Babcock Renee Bailey Kyle Baird Gus Ballman Juliana Barclay Harmony Barker Jackson Belnap Pauline Bob Tommyhawk Bob Colby Bogle Aiden Bonnett Jordan Boren Dominic Bosley Tya Bourget Hailie Bradfish Versaun Bradshaw Donalda Brantley Ciaran Brock Taeya Brough Wallette Leeland Brown Zachary Brown Evangaline Brundage Madison Bucknell Mekhi Burgess Valens Byiringiro Madison Callaghan Serenity Carlile Destiny Carlson Aldair Carranza Bazan Christopher Case Amiya Chapman Salina Chiang Corduroy Childs Chloe Christensen Taylor Christensen Justylynn Clark Quentin Clark Quinton Clark Andrea Clayton Jelton Clement Emma Coleman Shannon Coleman Jose Contreras Araya Cosner Aidan Cotter Bailey Cottrill Yadira Covarrubias James Covington Benedetto Cozza Rory Crowell Angelica Cue-Leon Jack Curry Jommel Dalauta David Daly Toej Daniel Nathaniel Daniels Mercedes Davis DeVeja DeLong James Dehn Carl Del Moral Isaiah Delong Dakota Denison Anna Dentler Taylor Denton Bailey Dexter Gustavo Diaz Landa Gracie Dierks Daniel Doheny-Boyle Tara Dunham Ethan Edvalson Thomas Egger Lucas Eguez Preston Ellsworth Malak Fakhreddin Ishimayel Fidel Abigail Fisher Giovanni Fitchner-Gonzales Kiara Flores Jaedyn Foehringer Antonio Furfaro Steventy Galbandag Jr. Jesus GarDuno Anthony Garcia Gino Garcia Matthew Garcia Ashten Gardner Ajah Garza Elia Garza Jaye Giese Vernon Glass Chase Goldsmith Irvin Gomez Dylan Gonzales Hazel Goodman Solana Goodteacher Yelyzaveta Grankina-Shnepf Kayne Gregerson Christopher Grossnickle Michael Gunn Brijoshna Gurung Elias Gutierrez Karim Gutierrez Nathaniel Hansen Anna Belle Harbison Baylee Hardin Jadyss Harding Kai Harker Cherish Harmon Logan Harris Wyatt Hart Leora Hayes Raeanna Hayford Joseph Heine Isabelle Hendershott Corbin Henning Aaron Henthorn Shanalyn Heron Dellana Hill Kingston Hoag Lydia Hogan Katrina Holloway Ivan Holsinger Devin Holyfield Riley Horton Amirhossein Hosseini Dylan Howerton Keyeton Hubbard Brayden Hueter Tetiana Iarysheva Alison Jack Benson Jackson Aylah James Audrey Jardine Sebrina Jejon Jokbet Jesse Elson Jilok Rolina John Madison Johnson Sierra Johnson Willow Johnson Elaina Johnson-Love Trenton Kaesemeyer Amisa Kakonga Jak Kendle Aaron Kinsey Keagen Kittilstved Mohammad Klaib Aniqua Knott Tivao Knowles Mya Kolberg Maria Kravtsova Carson Krebs Abigail Kriger Tim Krukovich Tristyn LaSalle Cameron LaValley Jessy Lapchynski Audrey Lautermilch Danny Le Minh Triet Le Ian Leavitt Zebadiah Lebret Alexes Lee Justin Lehman Abel Lemus Kane Lemus Jayaira Lewis Hailee Liedle Kaylei Luttrell Seth Lyon Kyler Mangis Serenity Martinez Piper McCauley Vinzant McClary Tawnee McGee Chailynn McKee Dominick McMillan Paishance Mcwain Jayden Mell Carmelita Mendoza Mathew Mendoza Scott Merritt George Miller Purity Mines Diane Minezero Orlando Moore Jeilyn Moses Dieu Veut Mukunzi Alexander Munteanu Jacklynn Naisher Jaydalynn Nasset Aiyla Neher Owen Norden Gabriel Nyamai Devon O’Connor Elena Olmos Honey Sue Olvera Hamlet Rolin Olvera Hamlet Anasia Oya Jesiah Pace Miguel Pacheco-Torres Camille Paladino Cody Parata Emily Peabody Jonathan Penaloza-Gomez Nevin Pentland Adelyne Peterson Chase Peterson Joesph Peterson Bianca Pettis Nam Pham Zola Pimentel Dylan Pittman Challei Poitra Caitlyn Postelwait Seth Quast Adrian Ramngen Joshua Reed Josiah Reed Karson Rehm Madison Reichert Moon Reyburn Riley Rice Cathrine Riklon Meryanna Riklon-Belton Mercy Rilometo Adalayda Rios Mario Rocha Distance Rogers Isabella Rogers Izaiah Rowe Samara Rowe Mahsaa Sadat Jahzera Sanders Bailey Sanford Tailynn Santiago Brandon Sass Abdul Hasib Satar Hadia Satar Natalie Saumier Cole Scheele Patrick Schumacher O’Nilah Shaw Salma Silva Mejia Juliana Smith Landon Smith Tirza Smith Ana Solis Lyden Spray-Clayton Katie St. Pierre Rain Stack Kayleb Storm Maria Stovba Noah Strong Evvan Stuber Elijah Suryan Hayden Swanson Lilyan Taber Alima Tambwe Benjamen Taylor Evan Teague Angelina Teshome Mimi Thamniyomkul Isaac Timothy David Tong Abraham Tonkie Isabelle Tracy Brendan Troutman Elizabeth Tucker Amos Tupper Robby Turner McKenna Tuttle Jocelyn Twillegar Joseph Urann Carmen Vales Shaelyn Vanwinkle Kylah Vasquez-Ibarra Gage Vega Magdaline Vega Serena Vela Angelina Velikanova Hartman Warrick Kaden West Ezra White Rhamelle White Reign Wilkes Andrew Willett Hayley Williams Nathan Williams Alexis Williamson Emma Wilson Winter Wilson Maddison Woods Autumn Wright Toby Wright John Wyckoff Mark Yerebakan Joseph Young Cody Ziegler
Twins Pauline Bob and Tommyhawk Bob exhibit the relentless spirit of a John R. Rogers High School Pirate. For the past two years, Pauline has worked for Spokane Falls Montessori, and aspires to continue her work with early education,
Pauline and Tommyhawk
Graduation The Rogers High School commencement will be at 6 p.m. June 8 at the Podium, 511 W. Joe Albi Way. Principal: John Hammil Summa cum laude: David Tong, Gus Ballman and Donalda Brantley

‘The ultimate example of what it means to be a Highlander’

Lydia Shepherd decided to branch out and try new things at Shadle Park

Shadle Park High School counselor Stephanie Filippini captures the essence of senior Lydia Shepherd in a single sentence: “She is the ultimate example of what it means to be a Highlander!”

Shepherd’s high school experience has included an impressive array of activities: varsity cheer, tennis, leadership executive director, advanced drama and theater, Running Start and community-action group Generation Alive.

“Coming into high school,” Shepherd said, “I was definitely open to trying more new things. I learned in middle school how to branch out and get out of my comfort zone. When I was younger, I pretty much stuck to what I knew, but when I went to Salk I didn’t know many people, so I got involved to meet new people and make friends.” Among all her activities, Shepherd especially prizes leadership, cheer and Generation Alive.

“Our leadership class works closely with Shadle’s feeder schools, so there

are lots of volunteer opportunities. I’ve met lots of interesting people, including community leaders, and have learned about different styles of leadership. Generation Alive is very service-oriented, but also has taught me about the difficulty and value of fundraising. And cheer has been a way to stay physically active, build community, and have fun. We even got to compete at state this year and finished fourth in one of the events.”

“Lydia truly cares about the students at Shadle,” Filippini said. “She is dependable, hard-working, and respectful. Even while enrolled in Running Start at Spokane Falls this year, she chose to stay involved in advanced drama and had a major role in one of the plays.”

Shepherd is confident that the diversity of her experiences will help her when she heads to the University of Montana this fall to study computer science while also enrolled in the university’s Davidson Honors College. She has earned both Advanced Placement college credits from Shadle and Running Start community college credits, giving her a head start there.

“My family has traveled to Montana

a lot,” she said, “and I have always loved Missoula. It’s going to be way different for me and I will miss all my close friends, but I think that my most important relationships will carry on throughout my life.”

Shepherd and a high school friend who has also been involved in Generation Alive hope to bring that program to Missoula. GA is a highly rated nonprofit organization that raises money to buy and package food for those in need in the community. The program has helped her, she said, to work with others in an effective way that she hasn’t always experienced.

Shepherd sees herself continuing to take advantage of every opportunity her life offers.

“I try to live with the idea that there is no guarantee about tomorrow, so I want to make the most of the time that I have,” she said. “I have experienced some losses in the past few years, and that has helped me to realize how important it is to get to know people while you have them.”

The harmful effects of bullying go far beyond bumps or bruises. For Jazlynn Swanson, it stole her voice.

“I was pretty talkative until middle school,” she said.

Then the bullying started on the school bus – badgering, threats, intimidation. She tried to let adults know what was happening but she felt like no one heard her.

“I felt like I was being ignored, so I just stopped trying to stick up for myself.”

And she stopped talking.

Feeling utterly powerless, she started avoiding school, and her grades plummeted.

“I stopped going to school when a girl on the bus said she was going to get her dad to beat me up,” Swanson said. Then COVID-19 struck. At first, Swanson was happy to have an excuse to miss in-person school, but online learning wasn’t a good fit.

“I was depressed,” she said. “I isolated myself in my room. I didn’t care about anything. I just slept.”

But it was her freshman year, and soon it was time to return to classes at Lewis and Clark High School.

“Before I started in-person, I checked my grades,” Swanson said. “They were all F’s.”

On the first day back, she was too overwhelmed to make it inside the school. Making matters worse, all of her friends went to Rogers High School.

“Having no friends is really lonely,” she

said. “You can’t make friends when you don’t talk.”

That year, Swanson was diagnosed with debilitating anxiety and selective mutism.

“Sometimes I wanted to talk, but it felt like a lump in my throat, and I couldn’t speak,” she said. Her counselor at Lewis and Clark told her about Map High School, a specialized school for students dealing with mental illness, non-aggressive behavior, normal cognitive and communication levels, and who need an intensive setting. The capacity is 30 students.

“I thought I’d give it a try,” she said.

All students see a therapist at Map, and that one-on-one time helped Swanson feel safe.

“I started talking with my first therapist,” she said. “I felt heard. I felt like I could be myself here.”

Staff at the school watched the once silent student slowly blossom.

“She’s overcome a lot,” teacher Celena Breach said. “She’s worked hard on her mental health.”

A potentially derailing setback happened when her family was evicted from their home.

“Even when she experienced homelessness and food insecurity, she came to school,” Breach said. “She’s successfully completed some classes at NEWTech. She always puts her best foot forward.”

Swanson’s creative side emerged in this setting. She enjoys painting and took up crochet, making beautiful roses for students and staff, and her grades steadily improved.

“My teachers encouraged me,” she said.

“Last year I got B’s in science, history and sewing. I really liked that!”

Speaking up in class took time.

“My sixth-grade teacher yelled at me if I made the smallest mistake,” Swanson explained.

Initiating conversations with her peers came a bit easier.

“I’ve made more friends this year than in my whole high school!”

Breach is proud of the progress this student has made.

“She’s so talented,” Breach said, “and she’s genuinely kind and compassionate to others.”

Swanson is enrolled at Spokane Falls Community College and plans to study occupational therapy.

“I like working with all types of people and making them comfortable,” she said.

The fact that she’s graduating still amazes her.

“I’m graduating on time with my class!” she said. “I thought I’d be a dropout because school had been so hard.”

Her teacher envisions a bright future for Swanson.

“She’s motivated,” Breach said. “At first, we couldn’t get her to stand in front of the room and speak, but now she’s a leader in the classroom.”

After struggling to reclaim her voice, Swanson said the hard-fought lessons she’s learned are lasting.

“I’m not letting people make decisions for me that I don’t want,” she said. “I let those bullies dictate my life, and I’m not going to do that anymore. I won’t let people push me around.”

T4 • Wednesday • June 5, 2024 Special SecTion Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Teagan Adams Regino Albarado Resa Alcantar Patricia Amor Matthew Anderson Hannah Armstrong Martin Arquero Claire Bacon Ethan Badgett Austin Ballestrazze Christian Barrera Desiree Belew Mia Bell Ezekial Berkey Maylea Blackerby Caitin Blankenagel Mya Bollinger Ethan Bonner Kayleigh Bonnett Jace Booher Carter Brown Courtney Brown James Brown Jessica Brown Samantha Brown William Brown Grace Bull Aden Cabral Sophia Carney David Carter Marcus Carter Samantha Casey Haleigh Caslow Braeden Champion Daniel Chappell Alyssa Clark Gage Collins Katelyn Confer Emma Contois Tymathy Corey Kannon Cravens Abigahle Crimps Miranda Cubbage Savannah Dahl David Dame Claire Darlin Jalen Davis Evan DeAngelo Aidan DePue Spencer Deardorff Caezar Delgado Kendal Depner Julia Dias Damian Diaz Matheo Diaz Jamar Dickerson Erika Dickinson Trentan Dickinson Alexander Dimico Samuel Drew Billy Duff Aubrey Dunn Isabel Elliott Brennan Ellis Emri Enoch Shane Estes Madeleine Fillmore Abigail Flerchinger Madeline Flett Caleb Fowler Makenzie Francis Gabriel Frye Jaydin Gallagher Ethan Gallegos Genesis Gamero Enoch Gathecha Micaiah Godley Rosemary Gonzales Kayla Gray Connor Greer Evan Halseth Makayla Hambek Madison Hamilton Seth Hamilton Carson Hammond Nathyn Hansen Amber Hargrave Ryan Harris Jasmin Helgerson Jaidyn Heller Stella Helms Logan Henson Jacob Hernandez Carter Herres Noah Hert Cheyenne Hibdon George Hicks Kylie Hiner Charlotte Hite Jaydon Hogan Johnathan Hollingshed Kaleigh Hopkins Jacob Houtchens JaNese Howard Jarelle Howard Mercedes Howard Aryah Howell Todd Howells Tess Inman Caydnce Iseminger Christopher Jacobs Maryann John Garrett Johnson Isaiah Johnson Mekai Johnson Matthew Jonckers Chelsea Jones Logan Jones Rachel Jones Tajari Jones David Joosten Jakob Kent Sristi Khatri Jerryth Kilmer Hope King Theodore Kinne Jakob Kline Dallis Koch Jace Lagergren Jayden Laine Memphis Lake Hannah Lee Julia Licea Kyle Lintner Braydon Lissy Abraham Little Johnathan Logan Helene Lollis Anthony Lopez Arthur Lukin Devin Martin Nicole Martin Sophia Martin Thomas Martin Ethan Marvicsin Cole McAllister Mercedes McClelland Frankie McCoy Joseph Miller Reliance Morgan Calvin Morse Quinn Moses Noah Moulton Tyler Mullins Lilly Myron Tawoj Nangamine Kalani Neusse William Newell Brenna Nichols Eva Nielsen Jackson Noel Ashley Oehl Kendra Olea Kaleigh Olesen Jacob Orey Damian Ortiz Edward Pagelsdorf Kanani Park Tyler Pearson Jasmin Perkins Margaret Phillips Stefen Phillips Samuel Picicci Aiden Piper Ashlynn Piper Michael Pitts Benson Plaster Carter Poor James Potter McKenna Primm Bianca Procajlo Ryver Prumers Yzabella Quintana Tyee Raya Madeline Reihman Ahren Reinhardt Amelie Reynolds Crimson Rice Serenity Richardson Malaki Rocco Kennedy Rosemier Tyson Ruffin Jason Ryan Jessica Saari Lance Sagario Abigail Sanchez Marcela Sarantes Dajuan Savage Hailey Schaber Akayla Schaller Kira Schultz Bristol Scioly Amara Seaman Mya Serpinas Staven Shankle Anna Shaw Lydia Shepherd Riley Sherod Reani Shoaf Kiera Smallwood Jazmine Smith Jeffrey Smith Zachary Snell Abigail Stewart Aidan Taiji Amarah Talmage Elijah Thiry Mia Thompson Cole Thorpe Spencer Tollefson Charley Tonasket Wynter Torngren Dulce Torres Bao Tran Jameson Tucker Isabel Turcios Jocelyn Typhoon Lexxy Typhoon Alaina Utter Caleb Wade Nathan Waitt Madison Wallace Colleen Waltz Zachariah Walz Anessa Wampole Kailyn Warden Nathan Werfelmann Mya Westenskow Kamari Williams Sage Woolsey Nazarii Zhuk
The Shadle Park High School commencement will be at 2:30 p.m. June 8 at the Podium, 511 W. Joe Albi Way. Principal: Chris Dunn Summa cum laude: Claire Darlin
COURTESY Lydia Shepherd, of Shadle Park High School, will head to the University of Montana in the fall, where she plans to study computer science.
Jazlynn Swanson finds her voice, takes steps to help others
Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Honor Monroe Kiahna Soura Jazlynn Swanson Graduation The Map High School commencement will be at 10:30 a.m. June 7 at Map Schools, 2118 W. Garland Ave. Principal: David Crump MAP HIGH SCHOOL SHADLE PARK HIGH SCHOOL
COURTESY Jazlynn Swanson found a spot to blossom at Map High School.


Ella Wissing found a home in theater and filmmaking, and has helped other students succeed there as well

For Ella Wissing, the theater stage is more than a place to be seen.

“I think it’s the most honest way of expressing yourself, and showcasing empathy at its truest point,” said Wissing, a senior at Lewis and Clark High School.

“It really does make the world a better place when you understand what other people are going through,” Wissing said.

If that’s the case, Wissing has already done her part. She loves to act but derives even more joy from helping others succeed.

Wissing has performed at LC, Spokane Civic Theatre and other venues, but she’s also worked as a director, videographer, and currently serves as an officer for the Washington State Thespians, where she leads workshops and other events for students across the state.

She’s “giving voice to young students across the state and building community involvement,” said Greg Pschirrer, LC’s drama teacher.

She is also a filmmaker, and last year she earned a scholarship to the Anthony Quinn Foundation Prodigy Camp. When it was over, she earned high praise from the foundation for “drawing from a myriad of sources, such as songs, people, locations, and vivid mental images. Ella believes in the power of stories to provide solace, escape and connection, and she feels a deep calling to bring these narratives to life.”

Wissing will continue her work –though it hardly feels like it – this fall in the nationally ranked film program at Cal State University, Northridge. She already has a head start on her degree after taking community college classes in Spokane.

“My whole family (parents Erin and Jeremy and younger brother Eli) did theater,” said Wissing, who said she was captivated by age 6. “I really love storytelling in general, and theater is a way to express that.”

Wissing has appeared in numerous plays at LC and at Civic, where at age 11 she appeared in “A Christmas Story, the Musical.”

This year she played the lead in Lewis and Clark’s production of “Mean Girls.”

However, Wissing quickly appreciated the bigger picture, as seen through the eyes of the writer and director.

Transferring two years ago from Grace Alliance Christian School in Spokane Valley, she was a quick study at LC, Pschirrer said.

“She’s a very accomplished young woman, especially as a young filmmaker,” Pschirrer said. “I really appreciate that she has a unique voice and finds multiple ways of telling stories.”



The Lewis and Clark High School

commencement will be at 11 a.m. June 9 at the Podium, 511 W. Joe Albi Way Principal: Ivan Corley Summa cum laude: Sofia Alfaro, Varun Ambalavanan, Lily Antoniuk, Caroline Antush, Ellis Benson, Benjamin Branson, Bridger Cloninger, Asher Coleman, Avery Crotty, Eliza Dawley, Ali Dullanty, Emma Dwonch, Ryan Fahsholtz, Emily Foster, Noelle Fries, Ava Garr, Thomas Groza, Jillian Hatch, Lyric Hawk, Logan Henry, Autumn Hogan, Aramena Joos, Linnea Kishiyama, Anna Little, Sylvie Manz, Claire Miller, Inga Mitchell, Annalie Nachreiner, Allyson Nelson, Lilia Nicholson, Madeline Niemann, Sadie O’Rourke, Isabelle Parekh, Trevor Picanco, Andrew Pickering, Sydney Pike, Eleanor Plager, Madeline Rawlins, Mattison Resleff, Madison Rickel, Valentina Sanchez-Prieto, Grace Schneider, Emme Schumacher, Padmaja Senthil Kumar, Kathryn Sestero, Magdeline Sylling, Ryan Trudeau, Cole Van Hersett and Quercus Watters

June 5, 2024 • Wednesday • T5 Special SecTion
Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Louis Abrams Mataiah Achziger Grant Adams Ihisa Afani Anthony Aguilar Hayden Ainsworth Owen Ainsworth Rakan Alfandi Sofia Alfaro Asia Allen Noah Allen Simian Altine Varun Ambalavanan Kamryn Anderson Parker Anderson Matthew Andresen Esther Angell Lily Antoniuk Caroline Antush Tajunae Aragon Adellina Arch Jaida Archer Danielle Archuleta Audrey Asbjornsen Ruby Aune Samantha Autrey Dylan Baggett Henry Bahr Johnathan Baker Thomas Balestrino Mack Ballou Keegan Barkstrom Evangyleen Bartels Libby Bashaw Tatum Batten Julian Baumann Charis Bayley Lexie Bennett Ellis Benson Jack Berg Alex Berry Joshua Best Liam Blaylock Gavin Bohn Marjorie Bollenback Evelyn Bowles Nora Bowman Symarah Bowman Tyreiq Bradley Benjamin Branson Logan Brantner Yuan Brey Emily Brick Maddox Brierley Gabriel Brown Rebecca Brown Annabelle Bruzas Jaquan Bryant Alexis Butler Jack Butler Jacob Carlson Reggie Carter Alex Cervantes Ryan Chavez Colton Church Steven Clemens Herman Cline Bridger Cloninger Alem Coleman Asher Coleman Daniel Coleman Finn Coleman Mallary Coleman Garrett Conner Carmen Cordero Isaiah Cornelius Avery Crotty Thor Cunningham Chandra Curry Ellie D’Andre Parker D’Andre Kolya Dampf Ranson Daniel Holly Darby Taylor Darling Manu David Elijah Davis Kent Davis Eliza Dawley Nathaniel De Arment Ryan De Arment Mcartni De Ferrari-Walker Deano Dela Cruz Logan Delfosse Quintin Dempsey Keira Denton Nicholas Dhillon Elijah Dibble Jack Dingfield Eleanor Dinning Joseph Doerschlag Joshua Domrese Elijah Dordal Emerson Doubet Duran Downes Ella Duffy Ali Dullanty Emma Dwonch Jonah Eberle Noah Eddy Bruce Emch Alex Eti Katherine Evans Ryan Fahsholtz Frances Fakasiieiki Bailey Ferguson Hailey Ferguson Lee Fisher Josephine Flatt Quinnton Flores Emily Foster Alyssa French Coryn French Noelle Fries Madeleine Froese Nicholas Fulgaro Starlynn Fuller Ava Garr Jacob Garrett Robert Garton Victoria Gatewood Scarlett Gavelovskaya Grace Gehn Naomi Getchell Anthony Giangreco IV McKenzee Givas Thomas Glavin Jordan Gortner Hannah Goulding Abigail Graves Tristan Greiner Justin Gribov Thomas Groza Joe Gufsag Christian Guzman Mendez Vanessa Guzman Zaragoza Laila Haroun Braydon Harrington Maille Hart Zachary Harty Wilson Hash Andrew Haskell Jillian Hatch Vivian Havin Lyric Hawk Samantha Hawker Olerius Haynes Ortega Rebecca Henderson Lily Hendrick Logan Henry Lucy Heser Gabriel Hill Ethan Hockett Autumn Hogan Nathan Hokonson Eva Holland Isaiah Holt Olivia Hoppie Ava Horton Kobe Hosler-Austin Eden Howarth Joseph Hruban Eh Hta Lwui Htoo Mason Hubble Evangeline Hughes Nathanael Hunton Ayden Hurley Luke Hutchins Elizabeth Hyche Miriam Isaac Radek Janout Cooper Jeffries Luke Jessup Monica Jeur Julina Joel Adalene Johnson Sharen Jonathan Holly Jones Mikulas Jones Olivia Jones Tyler Jones Aramena Joos Asha Joseph Merveile Kalumuna Ben Kaneshige Kiya Kangas Kobusinge Kansime Kassa Jack Keeler Grace Kellogg Murphy Kettrick Lilyan Keyser Yevhen Khramenkov Elijah Kinder Donovan King Dylan Kinyon Linnea Kishiyama Jackson Klinger Abigail Klossner Brian Kohls Caleb Kostecka Radislov Kozlov Noah Kuhn Nathaniel Kuhner Ivan Kuts Cassidy Lage Noah Laitinen Phoenix Lamarche Telean Lanej Abigail Lassiter Lauren Lauder Benjamin Legard Collin Leland Georgia Lewis Olivia Lieuallen Kelden Littell Anna Little Darrion London Valerie Lopez Sophia Lundgren Coby Malino-Goldstein Kiernan Mannan Michael Mansilla Sylvie Manz Elise Mark Kira Marr Brodi Martin Roxy McBurns Allison McClure Maja McCoy Samaira McEachran Isaac McKen Jose Meza Lydia Mikaele Anna Miller Claire Miller Kayo Miller Kyle Mills Inga Mitchell Payman Mohmand Caleb Monasmith Brayden Moore David Morgan Electra Morse Nikita Motsar Evelyn Mujica Mia Mulvey Sydney Munson Paulo Murray Erellyn Murray-Madison Rogan Murrell Ibrahim Mutono Annalie Nachreiner Jennifer-Kate Nackos Seth Neill Allyson Nelson Isabella Newell Lilia Nicholson Forrest Nielson Madeline Niemann Mason Nollette Meagan Norris Sean Nuss Rowan O’Neil Sadie O’Rourke Sommer O’Rourke Gabriel Oestby Sofia Ogle Caden Osborne Kasiyah Osborne Wilma Ostermark Gwendolyn Owens Lucas Owens Kai Palmer-Plut Evelyn Papich Desmond Paquet Isabelle Parekh Phiney Parent Jack Paridon Micah Passmore Aidan Patterson Mu Paw Parker Perez Jett Peterson Mae Peterson Tucker Peterson Dakota Petrlich Trevor Picanco Andrew Pickering Sydney Pike Hazel Pimley Jackson Pincock Parker Pincock Samuel Pirch George Pirrie IV Eleanor Plager Anaiah Pleasant Ryan Poffenroth Cohen Pollock Madison Pollock Jordan Potter Dakota Powell Kenzie Pratt Ella Price Dzevad Prozorac Ava Pugh Aislynn Quimby Chelsie Quintanilla Zoe Beatrice Ramos Selemani Rashidi Madeline Rawlins Kemper Rayne Rowen Rayne Grace Reichard Adam Reilly Mattison Resleff Livia Ressa Miles Rhea Lily Rice Lillian Richards Madison Rickel Kauã Roberton Maxwell Roberts Sarah Robideaux Kjersten Roggenbauer Andrew Roy Reece Roy Ian Royter Emma Ruby Alice Rudders Noori Samiev Jameson Sanborn Valentina Sanchez-Prieto Karissa Sanderson Gage Savage Noah Scheidt Leo Schmidt Grace Schneider Chase Schuh Emme Schumacher Ian Schwartz Padmaja Senthil Kumar Kathryn Sestero Connor Shaw Declan Sheehan Richard Sherwood Ameerah Sims Anna Skaufel Colton Smith Iris Smith Zoë Smith Keilyn Snyder Cheyanne Sookma Brakken Sorenson Ellie Spedden Sophie Spedden Dorretta Spencer Katelyn Stachofsky Henry Staples Kendra Steinauer Isabelle Stevens Elliot Stewart Alexis Storey Jack Stowell Noah Stowell Jerrichalynn Stripedwolf Hlib Sudovtsev Joshua Sukin Miyo Sullivan Magdeline Sylling Christopher Tabert Luke Taidrik Leila Taitch Anakin Talkington Kai Tath Breña Taylor Jacob Teslow Andre Thacker Jakaiah Thomas Rose Thompson Evelina Tischenko Sam BaFou Touré Charles Trombold Ryan Trudeau Ozias Tumimana Forrest Ulrich Cole Van Hersett Maddox VanDyken Jack VanVoorhis Joseph Vandervert Myles Vanhoff Adrian Virabyan-Rainey Evander Volavka Emily Wade Jessie Wagner Natlee Wagner Chloe Walker Nathan Walstrom Jaden Walter Suzanne Ward Emily Wartinger Quercus Watters Annabelle Watts Karsten Weber Catherine Wehr Natalie Wenner Logan West Alexa Whitney Salena Whitson Mikaila Williams Emma Williamson Maxwell Wilson Ella Wissing Lily Word Kyle Worthy Anna Wren Delicia Wright Mahlie Young Anhelina Yuzepchuk Diego Zepeda Penelope Zimmer Brett Zimmerman
Ella Wissing, of Lewis and Clark High School, will study at Cal State University, Northridge, in the fall.



Za’Kayla Jones looks forward to continuing her work helping teenagers

Za’Kayla Jones hopes to return someday to Ferris High School and repay the school that has given her so much.

Then again, she already has.

In addition to her other activities at Ferris, the graduating senior is a charter member of the school’s Hope Squad, which works to help prevent teen suicide.

“There are some students who are going through some tough times,” said Jones, who has dealt firsthand with some of them at Ferris.

“I had a student come up to me and said she was suicidal and self-harming,” Jones said.

The student was referred to the Hope Squad advisers, who in turn worked with Ferris counselors. Eventually, the student was referred to a clinic.

The student later approached

Jones and “told me ‘Thank you so much,’ ” Jones said.

Ferris administrators, too, are grateful for Jones, Assistant Principal Andrew Lewis said.

“She has made a huge positive impact on our school that will outlast her time with us,” Lewis said. “And our greatest hope is that one day she will come back to work with us and keep making Ferris a better place for everyone.”

After a tough start, Jones has made the most of her five years in Spokane. She’s on the Ferris track team, but her first love is choral music.

“I love singing choir,” said Jones, who has performed at Ferris with the Canterbury Belles and in Symphonic Choir. “And I love singing solo but also the group. I also like to dance.”

However, Spokane initially struck a bad chord with Jones, who is Black, after she moved from New Jersey as an eighth-grader with her mother and two younger siblings.

“I’ve experienced a lot of racism,” Jones said. “When I’m going out with friends or doing something in public, I’ve had people say things to me.”

The experiences were difficult.

“I’ve had to work through that, but I’m only 17, so it’s hard,” Jones said. “All my struggles have been around race.”

However, Jones has reacted with maturity far beyond her years.

“I would say to people, ‘Just educate yourself.’ The reason people do or say certain things, is that they are not educated,” said Jones, who also is a member of the Black Student Union at Ferris.

Jones points out that not only Blacks, but Asian Americans, Hispanics and Pacific Islanders also “have made America.”

Jones plans to attend Eastern Washington University this fall and major in psychology. Her goal is to be a school counselor and fulfill her goal of educating others.

“I want to be the support, and be that faculty that kids can come to,” Jones said. “I want to be the person that some of the people at Ferris were for me.”


The Ferris High School commencement will be at 2:30 p.m. June 9 at the Podium, 511 W. Joe Albi Way.

Principal: John O’Dell

Summa cum laude: Levi Chisholm, Maia Cope, Conor DiPasquale, Benjamin Fritts, Nathan Haws, Miles Lewis, Izabela Maselko, Madison Matthews, Charles Meyersberg, Sarah Monkman, Aniketh Parlapalli, Emily Schreiber, Madeleine Schreiber, Anvi Sehgal, Eliana Starbuck, Addison Stewart, Sonja Toillion, Jace Walker and India Woodside FERRIS

T6 • Wednesday • June 5, 2024 Special SecTion
Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Isaac Aaron Landon Abernathy Levi Achenbach Aiden Ackerman Camy Adams Armin Alagic Conor Alexander Marya Alkadi Arianna Anderson Quinn Anderson Kadin Andrews Maija Angell Sophia Anguiano Golden Armstrong Nancy Attieh Elliott Attrill Baldeep Bains Sukhman Bains Jessica Balabanova Travis Bancroft Kaia Barnes Marti Barrett Zachariah Baumann Carter Bell Matthew Bernardi Luke Beuhl Aadarsh Bhandari Selyna Blackman Vivian Boston Kaitlyn Bozo Abigail Breckon Jayden Bridge-Allen Henry Briggs Jack Brough Johanna Buer Keirra Bustillo Roderick Byrd III Keyaree Cage Dominic Callori Aitana Carnero Arconada Logan Chambers Damion Champine Hammonds Harrison Chappell Stephen Chappell Orion Chase Andrew Chen Levi Chisholm Colten Chute Kyler Clauser Zackary Clay Riis Coan Cortez Coleman Maia Cope Rebecca Cordani Elisa Correa Brianna Crane Averie Crawford Landen Crist Haylee Crowther Hayden Crumley Tristan Curless Kayden Dale Madilyn Danaraj Justus Danielli Amar Dautovic Lilynn David Elise Davis Daniel Day Shayde Day Regan DeLeeuw Sophia DeLeon Anna d’Hulst Conor DiPasquale Pylyp Diachenko Nick Didenko Alayna Ditto Delani Dodge Hannah Dotson Dayton Doutre Braeden DuMontier Charlee Dunn Samantha Dunne Annika Dykeman Madison Edwards Morgan Edwards Shahed Fahad Owen Fassbender Henry Finkle James Fischer Tyla Fischer Julian Flores Jr. Paul Florianovich Alexis Flynn Osyrus Foren Knapp Stella Fortner Josie Foster Miranda Frady Benjamin Fritts Jameson Froderberg Devin From Dulce Galaviz-Lopez Lluvia Garcia Carranza Ryan Gentry Emma Gillespie Kaitlyn Gilliland Kyrylo Gontaryuk Abigaile Grager Mark Grechko Caleb Greenwood Isabelle Gregory Benjamin Griffith Seth Griffith Grayson Gross Danica Guevarra Grayson Guilliom Mia Guppy Kyla Gurkowski Dylan Hall Kaylee Hall Nevaeh Hampton Sky Hansen Ian Hanson Thia Hartz-Harper Zakaria Hashemi Nathan Haws Trenton Hazelbaker Nolan Heaton Miya Hemphill Jack Hendrickson Natalya Henkel Laura Henry Jane Heppler Marlena Hernandez Marlene Hernandez Hunter Higgins Elizabeth Hill Trayton Hill Keeton Hills Nathan Hines Eh Blumoo Hlaing Thu Zar Hlaing Steven Hollingsworth-Yepez La’Shon Horton William Houck Melody Hough Jack Howlett Inna Hrabovska December Htoo Vahla Huestis Ajla Huremovic Jayden Hurst Emma Hutchison Jack Irvine Ciara James Taylor Jensen Daniel Johnson Lily Johnson Mary Johnson Xavier Johnson Za’Kayla Jones Abigail Jones-Van Eyck Malaze Juma Thais Karahodzic Justin Karr Jr. Jack Kashork Bethany Kautenberger Saphyra Kerbs Samantha Kienholz Ryder Kincaid Megan Kofmehl Dylan Kolts Milana Koren Shea Kotlan Elizabeth Kozlov Stefhan Kozubenko Mia Kubicek Samantha Kuney Josie Kvinge-Hooper Brian Larios Haley LaRue Landon Lange Shaeann Latimer Anna Lavin Fareed Lawal Benson Laycock Merci Learned Peyton Lemmon Mischa Leno Emily Leonard Miles Lewis Colby Lingo Maddie Llewellyn Gavin Lockhoff Curtis Lowe Patrick Luby Octavia Lynch Nathan Lynd Luciano Madrid Barnabas Magori Thomas Mahler Aviel Malino-Goldstein Jonathan Malolo Emma Mannewitz Samuel Markham Deakin Marple Izabela Maselko Nolan Matheny Madison Matthews Win Maung Lainy McCabe Anna McCaig Dylan McCain Emma McClenny Hunter McCulley Destiny McCurdy Gavin McElreath Charles McIntire Kenzell McIntyre Terrance McIntyre Madison McLauchlin Samuel McMurtrey Simon McMynne Malachi McPherson Heidy Melton Kinghorn Isabelle Meredith-Boucher Yeva Meroshnik Carter Merritt Jaden Metz Maya Metzler Charles Meyersberg Katherine Michelbook Ethan Miller Hunter Mitchell Owen Moe Tru Moffitt Margarita Mogilny Sarah Monkman Ginevra Montoro Eh Dar Moo Lala Morris Josiah Morrow Anna Morse Trevor Morton Garrett Mosar Aaron Moua Christopher Moua Orion Munter Makaio Murphy Blake Murr Audrey Murray Kennadie Myers Riana Nauta Jack Neale Sophia Nguyen Nils Nilson Abebech Olivas Andrew Oliver Brayden Oliver Van Orenstein Mia Oty Brieana Pachorek Angela Packer Mariah Panagos Aniketh Parlapalli Rowan Patterson Kristina Pavlenko Nicole Pelland Elle Peters Abigayl Petersen Maximillian Petrie Brianna Pierce Marcus Plummer Dayami Portillo Reagan Puckett Autumn Pygott Jacob Ramsey Michael Reeves Kate Reser Ivy Reynolds Lindsey Rhodes Kierra Riley Alex Rilkoff Matthew Rogers Carter Round KR Rufes Fiona Russell Briver Rutledge Lay Kpaw Say Lauren Schartoff Emily Schreiber Madeleine Schreiber Cole Schroeder Derek Schweigert Kyle Schweigert Sean Scott Owen Seaborn Parker Sebo Anvi Sehgal Matthew Serpa Alannah Lorraine Shaw Finn Shaw Ranin Siddig Nicholas Simons Grant Singleton Paulina Siordia Mikhail Sirotinskii Ian Sison Dylan Skaife Colette Skojec Dylan Smith Kennedy Smith Kobe Smith DJ Snook Matthew Snow Paw Soe Sakorah Solano Zion Southern Skya Staeheli Charisse Stakley Taylor Stanley Eliana Starbuck Aaron Starr Darius Stephens Addison Stewart Vasyl Strus Mohammed Sulieman Ardis Sullivan Katelin Terry Jaxon Thomas Kevin Thomas Christine Thompson Haylee Tibbetts Olivia Tichey Sonja Toillion Sophia Toillion Taven Tollefson Huy Tran Kina Trowbridge Abilene Urbancic Artem Uss Cole Van Gordon Elliana VanDriel Camden Vanderhoof Skyler Vandouris Carmen Vilhauer Hannah Waggoner Laweh Wah Dylan Waldo Damari Walker Jace Walker Noah Warnica Brendan Washington Noah Weidauer Kai Werst Alix Weston Kailenn Westover Molly Wethered Vivian Wheatfall Thomas Wheatley Leo White Samantha White Cierra Williams Maya Williams Ethan Wilson Ian Wilson Katelyn Wilson Baylor Winicky Emily Woodall Ashlyn Woodbridge Isaac Woods India Woodside Brayden Worrell Isabel Wright Jahron Yarborough Cassandra Yates Mason Zigler
Za’Kayla Jones has been involved with choir, the track team, the Black Student Union and Hope Squad at Ferris.
June 5, 2024 • Wednesday • T7 Special SecTion Additional AP Scholars Magna Cum Laude (4.1-4.299 Weighted GPA for Seven Semesters) 2024 Sunday, June 9th, The Spokane Podium Maija Ann Angell Sophia E Anguiano Abigail Bess Breckon Jayden M Bridge-Allen Emily Schreiber*** Stephen Chappell** Keeton Elijah Hills* Nolan Clark Matheny* Owen Gray Seaborn* Huy K Tran* Charles Meyersberg Ankieth Sai Parlapalli** Charles R Meyersberg*** Sarah L Monkman* Madison Sophia Matthews Izabela Maselko* Maia Elisabeth Cope*** Conor S DiPasquale Benjamin LaSalle Fritts*** Nathan Grant Haws*** Miles E Lewis*** Levi R Chisholm* Eliana So�a Starbuck** Addison Luella Stewart*** Sonja Lee Toillion Jace Zachary Walker*** Anvi Sehgal*** Madeleine Schreiber*** Levi R Chisholm* Margarita Mogilny India Grace Woodside Elise Suzanne Davis Regan Terese DeLeeuw Anna Claire d’Hulst Madison A Edwards Owen Michael Fassbender Josie Rae Foster Devin Matthew From Emma Grace Gillespie Seth Harrison Griffith** Kyla Jay Gurkowski Jane Carol Heppler* Emma Rae Hutchison Haley Grace LaRue Emma Elizabeth Mannewitz Samuel Joseph Markham Anna M McCaig Owen David Moe Tru Russel Moffitt Maximillian Petrie Jacob H Ramsey* Kate E Reser Ian G Sison Colette Elizabeth Skojec Aaron Christian Starr Kevin Nguyen Thomas* Lluvia Itzel Garcia Carranza* Sophia Bleu Toillion* Hannah Christine Waggoner Samantha Heather White
Designed by Maia Cope

A quiet leader

Students, teachers know Knowlton will rise to challenges

When On Track Academy needed a student to go above and beyond for the school, Jasper Knowlton’s name often rose to top of his teachers’ lists.

More recently, Knowlton was among the students who spoke to a panel of former area high school principals during On Track’s accreditation process, teacher Jeremy Lenhartzen said. Knowlton is the president of On Track’s Gay-Straight Alliance Club and designed the T-shirts for his senior class retreat.

Knowlton also sits on the Spokane School Board as a student adviser, informing the board on what’s happening at his school and others across the district.

“He’s kind of got his fingers in all of these different areas of the school,” teacher Brita Gulseth said, “but he would never be the one to tell you about it unless you asked him.”

Knowlton, 18, said he got involved with the school board to directly advocate for On Track and bring more awareness to what the school does. Other priority issues for him include mental health as well as diversity and inclusivity in education, topics he broached with state representatives during a trip to Olympia in January alongside other Spokane high school students.

Knowlton, who has ADHD and autism, said he struggled with his mental health growing up. Knowlton was bullied in middle school for being queer, he said. Around that same time, Knowlton entered counseling when his father died by suicide, he said.

“There were a lot of times where I just felt so different from the other kids and I felt really alone, and I didn’t really understand why,” Knowlton said. “When I found out that I had autism and ADHD, it really helped me to understand that my brain was different from other people’s. It wasn’t a moral failure that I couldn’t do math or complete my assignments on time. It didn’t mean there was anything wrong with me. It just meant that I needed more help.”

Knowlton entered On Track Academy in 11th grade, having attended Innovation High School as a freshman virtually because of COVID-19 and North Central High School as a

sophomore. While he has not had an opportunity to apply for college yet, Knowlton said he would like to study graphic design.

“After a while of having to be strong and having to be resilient, I think I realized that I need to advocate for myself and I need to fight for myself,” he said. “I definitely struggled for a long time after that, but I feel like since I’ve been to On Track my junior and senior year, I feel like I’m really seen here and people really celebrate me and celebrate my differences instead of bullying me for them. That helps me feel more confident and (stronger) in being myself.”

Lenhartzen said he’s watched Knowlton come out of his shell and gain more confidence in his abilities during his time at On Track.

“Some of the adversity Jasper has struggled with in life has caused him to grow up a little quicker and be a little more mature than some of his

peers,” Lenhartzen said.

“I’d like to sit back and take all the credit for Jasper being awesome and amazing, but really, it was already there. He already had a lot of the skills. It was just giving him a place to feel safe and heard.”

As president of On Track’s GSA Club, Knowlton facilitated weekly events for members to blow off steam and also helped GSA students sign up for Eastern Washington University’s special Lavender Graduation, said teacher Brita Gulseth, the GSA adviser. Knowlton was also heavily involved in On Track’s Earth Day tree giveaway “from start to finish,” she said.

“He seems genuinely interested in what other students have to say. That kind of empathy is unique to him,” Gulseth said. “He’s just been this great advocate representing the student body. … He’s like a quiet leader. He leads from the back, which, to me, looks like true leadership.”


Sylas Garrettson helps others feel valued

Sometimes a noteworthy high school career adds up to more than the sum of its parts, and that’s certainly the case for the Enrichment Cooperative senior Sylas Garrettson.

Garrettson has attended TEC at Bryant since kindergarten and described it as a perfect fit, with its blend of a home-school program for elementary-age students, enrichment offerings in middle school, and mostly in-school courses at the high school level.

“It’s been a really fun school for me, with lots of great opportunities,” he said. “One of my favorite times was in elementary, when we attended TEC two days a week but didn’t have to sit in a classroom all the time. TEC offered me lots of creative arts where I could get my hands dirty, kind of playtime with direction, like LEGO engineering and baking classes.

“Middle school, half at home and half at school, was more about growing knowledge and was a bridge to the high school program, which is more self-directed and project-based. That led nicely into 11th- and 12th-grade options, which for me included Running Start, and I’ve spent my last two years at Eastern Washington University.”

Garrettson doesn’t see himself as anything special – “I don’t know why I was selected for this article,” he said – but his counselor, Sara Duval, and TEC’s teachers see things very differently.

“Sylas’ diverse interests, spanning from skiing to traveling and music, showcase his well-rounded nature and curiosity about the world around him,” Duval wrote. “His positive influence extends beyond his personal achievements, and he ensures that everyone around him feels valued and included within the school community.

“As a staff, we have immense pride in witnessing his evolution into a remarkable individual, poised for a bright future. We are so proud of him.”

Among Garrettson’s activities at TEC has been his participation in the performing arts group Musha Marimba, which plays marimba music primarily from Zimbabwe and southern Africa. He has been a member of the group for six years and was selected as a co-caption for his senior year.

Garrettson’s senior class at TEC includes only a handful of students, so the transition to college courses at EWU was a shock.

“One of my first classes had something like 200 people in it,” he said, “but after a while, I adjusted pretty quickly.”

As a full-time Running Start student for two years, Garrettson has completed most of his general requirements. He plans to take more psychology courses to pursue a career as a counselor or teen mental health therapist.

“I’ve always been interested in talking, listening and helping, and teens are at an age that needs a lot of help, developing into adults,” he said. “I plan on getting my master’s degree and maybe beyond that.”

Garrettson looked back at his time at TEC with appreciation.

“TEC gave me opportunities not only academically,” he said, “but also to chase after the other things I love. I have two years of college credits and I have been able to make big-picture plans to explore and figure out what comes next.”

T8 • Wednesday • June 5, 2024 Special SecTion
Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Stephanie Abrego Josey Abrell Lainee Adams Monica Adams Savannah Adams Joel Alanis Gloryann Alden Mayshala Allen Owen Anderson Zachary Anderton Abigail Armour Evan Austin Brodie Bagwell Rainier Baker-Zaragoza Bryce Banning Annabelle Barringer TaLeah Barrington Esmerelda Bautista Hillsman Inessa Bevzyuk Isabel Billieu Trinity Bingle Jadyn Black Sienna Booth Carter Boucher Zikiara Bourdon Winchester Dilan Bowers Ryesha Bracey-Cage Nate Bradick Ryan Bradley Sophia Bradley Alondra Bran Diaz Guadalupe Bran Hernandez Darek Bridges Madison Briet Riley Brockmier Kirsten Brough Briona Brown Christian Brown Kassody Brown Gage Burnham Jackson Burns Tessa Burnson Mahciah Campbell McKinzie Campbell Sofia Carter Sydney Castillo Ade Cha-Jua Alexis Chamness Kylee Chandler Alexis Charbonneau Natalia Chavez Ayden Christiansen Alexis Clark Gia Clark Kyler Clauser Ace Coates Laurali Coburn Marcell Cola Carmia Cole-Fuqua Sabine Colley Ashlynne Collins Clementine Collins Alexander Comello Kameron Conley Morrison Cooper Carley Costich Breanna Couch Brennen Countryman Katlynn Crain Quianah Cranford Curtis Crittenden Trista Cross Ja’von Crummity Jacob Curtis Elliot Daily Jace Darilek Sydney Davis Kamryn DeBusk Jazzmine DeChenne Abagail Denman Jayden Denny Amy Diep Ethan Dixon Joey Doerschlag Ciara Dorman Jadyn Dugger Trinity Dunn Devan Duval Dysin Duxbury Arlow Edwards Ashley Eirls Mia Ellenwood Layla Ellis Calvin Elmore Devon Elwood Daniel Empert Jayres Episom Braiden Eyre Landon Farley Aether Fitch Andy Focher Electra Foster Owen Friddle Jaxon Fried Annajayde Friedlander Braedan Fry Keyria Gardner Hayden Gartman Robert Garton Janessa George Caydence Gertlar Christian Giese Alessandra Gippetti Bella Giron Alexis Gittel-Russell Sarah “Dolly” Gonzales Ethan Goodman Zakkary Graham Grayson Granger Aires Grant Elaine Greenwalt Patrick Grenier Jamison Grew Henry Groenen Hunter Guinsler Ethan Hair Braiden Hall Hailey Hammel Bre Hansen Scarlett Harader Hannah Harter Courtney Harvey Teihya Hawkes Carter Hayes Nevaeh Heath Von Heilman Markluie Herman Nivea Hiett Bryce Hill Izzy Hill Micah Hilton Angelina Ho Hunter Holcomb Gage Hoppe Hunter Hotchkiss Hannah Huber Aliauna Humphries Serena Hutchinson Quentin Hutchison Sandrine Irakoze Alexandra Jackson Elijah Jackson Macie James Madison Jay Ren Jensen Kileha Johnson Sharen Jonathan Lucas Jones Mia Jones Sarah Jones Marie Justice Ryan Keller Liam Kelly Alexzander Kemano Liam Kierans Jillian Kiilehua Jasiah King Billy Kiosy Jasper Knowlton Mya Koontz Brayden Krautkraemer Chase Kyle Deandre Lawrence Hunter Lawson Kanayza Leeper Juan Lemus Magat Ben Lentz Camarrone Lewis Rielee Lindquist Caliel Lindsay Ian Lineback Robert Livingston IV Joanna Luna Jase Major Shy Tejah Mance Hailey Marcy Brayden Marier Kayvin Marshall Hallye Matherly Aiden McBride Chase McDonald Collin McGee Jacob McIntyre Trevor McKnight Jaren Medina Serenity Medrano Zander Mendez Barak Mendoza Lincoln Miller Jamiha Mills Joseph Mills Mako Milne Jesse Moehrle Dylan Moore Erwin Moreno Curtis Morgan Gabriel Muhs Chrissa Murray Mehdiyeh Nazari Shawn Nderi Matthias Nelsen Benjamin Nixon Madison Noll Samantha Nomee Hanna Oberdorfer Jacob Ohmann Mason Olson Sarah Oltman Sahara Opap Basil Orey Joey Otoupalik Emylee Otto Day JoJo Owens Savannah Owens Shawna Owens Cameron Parker Rosalina Partida Roselyn Partida Rowan Patterson Lucas Paxton Bella Pearson Ximena Perez-Cortez Aria Peterson Dustin Peterson Kole Petty Journey Pfeiffer Cash Pierce Luke Pierce December Plesek Leighlend Plybon Xzandra Pogue Jordan Poss Dannan Putzke Chloe Quaschnick Austin Quiggle Eric Radmer III Jacob Rafter Gavyn Ramos Tyler Rhoades Sara Rijon Marista Rios Sara Rios August Robertson Brayden Robinson Mateo Rogers Hailey Rojo Masai Rollins Magdalene Romak Isabella Ross Isaac Rouse Teighan Saiz Taren Schmidt Kerry Schultz Lavant Settles Ka Pru Shee Isabella Shirley Bug Shively Joshua Shkuratoff Octavia Simpson Tiarra Simpson Kaydin Sizemore Toretto Skeels Abagail Smith Alyssa Smith Aviana Smith Emma Smith Lillian Smith Logan Smith Tava Sorensen Grace Starkel Dayson Steve Savanna Stiglich Hayden Stonehouse Delani Stricklin Presley Sumner Maliyah Taylor Amare Thomas Ava Thomas Darrious Thomason Arawyn Thompson Konan Thornblade Kayla Tillett Emma Tomsha Mariah Toro Amara Treas Araya Truitt DeShawn Tsoumpas Leo Tyler David Ulloa Jeremiah Valenzuela Libby Vallon Ella Villarreal Adriana Washburn Jasmine Watson Rowan Weathers JaKiah Webb Tucker Weber Tommy Welliver Teddilynne Weston Branden Wheeler Damaris White Balian Williams Maliyah Williams Ethan Wilson Noelle “Ricky” Wilson Mackenzie Winchell Kawika Winchester Mykhal Woods Wachong Xiong Joaquin Zaugg Selena Zavala Zissimos Alexander Zissimatos
Jasper Knowlton, who entered On Track Academy as a junior, is a student adviser for the Spokane School Board.
The On Track Academy and Pratt Academy commencement will be at 6 p.m. June 9 at the Podium, 511 W. Joe Albi Way. Principal: Chris Burke Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Thomas Bennett Shea Brown Xoie Carey Hunter Craven August Greeman Herman Hadgu Airiana Hunt Marshall Hunter Noelia Juarez Haylee Kassner Helisanna Lebol Jazzlyn Matthews Khristian Osborne Chy Peterson Kayla Smith Jun Spotted Horse Ashton Weiland Mariloue Wonne Karli Wright
Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Ellis Archer Elijah Clark Adah Eschliman Sylas Garrettson Abigail Helm Kellan Lee Joshua Thomas Kaleb Thomas Quinton Thrasher Daniel Verduzco Sebastian Wert Graduation The TEC at Bryant commencement will be at 6 p.m. June 7 at Bryant Campus, 910 N. Ash St. Principal: Suzanne Smith
Sebastian Wert
for the next step TEC AT BRYANT
Sylas Garrettson, of the Enrichment Cooperative, says TEC at Bryant was the perfect fit for him growing up.
Bryant grad feels prepared

The Community School’s Austin Pierce operates with a service mindset

‘Wise beyond his years’

At the Community School, Austin Pierce is known for his positive and helpful attitude. His service mindset extends beyond the walls of the classroom.

“He operates from his heart,” said Jaci Rodgers, the Community School’s special education facilitator. “It’s just kind of his compass. It’s what guides him.

“He’s incredibly loyal. He’s just wise beyond his years, even though there’s an immaturity in there through the years,” Rodgers continued.

“There’s just something about Austin that’s super special and I believe it’s just a quality he was born with.” Pierce serves as a mentor for other students at the school and is always willing to offer a helping hand or check in on another student or teacher, said Ashlee King, counselor at the Community School.

“It feels great (to help people),” Pierce said. “I just like seeing people be happy.” Pierce’s kindness is something that defines his character, said Rodgers and King. His kindness and “quiet leadership” have helped him to gain con-

fidence in his four years at the Community School.

“He has a servant’s heart,” King said. “He really wants to be helpful. He wants to be a good friend. And he genuinely cares how you are.”

For the past few summers, Pierce has worked at a summer camp, and he regularly returns to his elementary school, Stevens Elementary, to volunteer and help the students during after-school programming. He wants to put a smile on people’s faces.

“It just feels amazing giving back,” Pierce said. “And with my elementary school, they did so much for me when I was younger because all my siblings went there except for one. I felt like it was my turn to give back to them and help them with anything and everything that I could.”

Pierce went on a mission trip last year to Mexico with his church, Liferoads Church. There, his service mindset allowed him to help the community.

“We went and built a concrete parking lot for the church so they have like a little play court-slash-parking lot,” Pierce said. “We also spent some time feeding the community in

different locations. It’s been an amazing experience with the church. They gave me so many opportunities that I haven’t even thought I would have had.”

The Community School is an alternative school where classes are integrated and project-based, with projects that connect to the community. Pierce was a student who found success in the “model of collaborative work teamwork” the school encourages, King said.

Pierce’s time at school did not come without its challenges. There was a time when he was not sure if he wanted to continue attending the Community School. His friends and teachers convinced him to stay.

“They’re just super great support teachers,” Pierce said of the staff at the Community School. “It’s nice to actually have teachers and feel like I’m actually recognized and that they can tell that I’m not doing OK.”

Pierce hopes to continue to bring smiles to people’s faces after he graduates from high school. He wants to go to school to become a diesel mechanic before one day becoming a physical education teacher.


Ashlee Gentry began hurdle training in middle school and has tackled her own life in much the same manner – one obstacle at a time.

Once living in a home filled with the by-products of addiction, Gentry has forged past these roadblocks, in part due to her focus on athletics and faith. She now hopes to pay forward the same gifts of encouragement and support she has received from others by working as a math teacher.

Taken under the wings of maternal grandparents Anne and Jim Gentry during her junior year of high school, Gentry is a go-getter who sets the bar high. “I like being involved in sports,” said Gentry, who volunteers at two Deer Park area churches while also serving as a leader for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, an organization that encourages good sportsmanship on and off the field.

“I try to just provide a safe place for Christians and even non-Christians to come together if they have questions or they want to talk about something,” she said. A multisport athlete, Gentry earned a position on the Riverside High School coed wrestling squad as a junior and managed the boys team as a senior.

“I loved it. I’ve never had brothers. I have five sisters. It was a hoot,” she said. “I really enjoyed the coaching. It just felt like a family and I knew I was welcome there.” Riverside teacher and coach Kris Daratha has been one of Gentry’s biggest cheerleaders, calling her a “pretty wonderful student.”

“She is super dedicated. It’s amazing to see when she sets her mind to something. She’s always going after it 110%,” Daratha said.

Proud grandma Anne Gentry spoke highly of them all.

“She’s captain of the track team. She was captain of the cross-country team … she’s a youth group leader … always giving back to a community.” Throughout her years at Riverside, Gentry also has been inspired by teacher Mary Ressa and coach Tyler Rohrman.

they were just going to help her flourish and succeed.

“They saw all of these strengths in this young woman. They saw all of her gifts and they weren’t going to let it slide,” Anne Gentry said. “They weren’t going to let her blame anybody else,

“It only takes one adult to save a kid.” Gentry plans to attend Grand Canyon University where she will major in education with a minor in ministry.

“The coaches and the teachers that I’ve had have just really been a huge impact on my life, that saving grace that I needed at that

point,” Gentry said. “For kids who are troubled, you don’t have that at home. You get to go to school and that’s your escape and that’s your hope, that teachers care enough for you … and they all cared enough for me.

“I couldn’t thank them all enough. I want to be able to make that kind of impact on people.”

The coaches and the teachers that I’ve had have just really been a huge impact on my life, that saving grace that I needed at that point.”

Ashlee Gentry

June 5, 2024 • Wednesday • T9 Special SecTion Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Jaden Arnold Avery Baker Timothy Blake Walter Bullock III Selena Carlsen Creeley Chanse Maxwell Craven Molly Dalton Elizabeth Day Annasti Devore Jordon Dixon Megan FitzGerald Devin Gibbs Austin Goll Hayden Graham Avery Hacker Howl Hall Jairus Heiman Jessica Jackson Isabella Jaggar Josephine Kahler Sophie Kuffel Colton Kurlo Olivia Maeckle Nickolas Maureaux Austin Pierce Karis Ross Lydia Schlazer Brady Schroeder Trent Shoemaker Spencer Walters Albert Wayne William Webb Zachary Welch Jack Young Graduation The Community School commencement will be at 4:30 p.m. June 9 at the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox, 1001 W. Sprague Ave. Principal: Cindy McMahon
COURTESY Austin Pierce has been a mentor at the Community School. THE COMMUNITY SCHOOL COURTESY
Christian Athletes. Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Erin Jasmine Abantao Ariel Ala Lilliahna Baker Kanyon Barnes Caelyn Beck Adan Berger Alec Biondo Austin Bithell Eleanor Brown Allison Burton-Fetters Charles Carroll Chey Case Ashlee Clauson Ryan Clayden Rylan Clements Zada Conroy Bionkah Craven Tristan Davis Katrina De Castro Logan Dell Jacob Dueck Cooper Eagle Tavish Ewing William Foust Jacob Gaffaney Ashlee Gentry Aric Goodman Landon Gordon Ethan Hathaway Ethan Heinecke Abigail Hepting Monroe Herbst Emma Ingraham Matthew Jackson Christopher James Creeann Jarman Emily Jenkins Christopher Jensen Derric Jones Stacy Kesti Blake Koesel Shyanne Lamb Allison Lapano Katie Lathrop Grace Lefler Tyler Lenz Naomi Lilly Hunter Locke Kaden Lundgren Mariah Mally Issiah Malmoe Brady Martin Josiah Martin Makayla Miller Shanlee Miller Alexander Mize Oliver Moeckel Maichoua Moua Emilie Nelson Gabrian Norton Emma Oergel Olivia Oergel Tyler Olsen Gabriel Palomino Noah Pebley Caitlyn Potter Dylan Primmer Brooks Proctor Antonio Ragains David Randolph Malia Reedy Lexie Repp Kylee Revel Javier Rovik Brooke Ruby Robert Schneider Landon Shannon Dalton-Michael ShepherdCampbell Jayden Shoemaker Logan Simon Demarae Smith Cade Spencer Jenna Staley Johnathan Supanchick Katelyn Tackitt Deakon Taylor Ryder-Lee Temple Connor Thedens Kaden Toner Jedidiah Turner Tia Vosahlo Grace Walcott Olivia Walcott Rayleana Webb Sierra Wentling Shaun Wilson McKinzie Winters Kaitlynn Witherell Thompson Nathan Zschoche Graduation The Riverside High School commencement will be at 6 p.m. June 7 at Riverside High School, 4120 E. Deer ParkMilan Road, Chattaroy. Principal: Clint Hull Valedictorian: Blake Koesel Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Giuliana Batt Austin Boegli Drake Britton Vevelina Burns Suri Crutchfield Destiny Gardner Allyson Gentry Sawyer Gray Joslyn Hansen Haley Harrison Coenn Holston Reece Holyoak Mayson Husfloen Jole Lyons Nicole Magdlin Olivia Martinez Haidyn Minick Hudson Nuvill Kaitlyn Rosenthal Bryce Scarpelli Jummar Suwaed Josie Swanberg Madison Swanson Wyatt Turner Braxton Welch Landen Whalen Graduation The Riverside Achievement Center commencement will be at 6 p.m. June 7 at Riverside High School, 4120 E. Deer ParkMilan Road, Chattaroy Principal: Clint Hull Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Jenna Bradfish Zachary Clark Matthew Dillon Bryce Eligio Easton Fietkau Carah Hart Sophia Hill Chief Knutsen Zoe Montgomery Henry Rice Bronson Sprague Kynlea Toner Graduation The Riverside Independent Scholar Program commencement will be at 6 p.m. June 7 at Riverside High School, 4120 E. Deer ParkMilan Road, Chattaroy. Director: Scott Frueh
Riverside High School grad Ashlee Gentry is a multisport athlete who volunteers at two Deer Park area churches and serves as a leader for the Fellowship of


On or off the field, Hugues Niyonyishu shows care for those around him

For Hugues Niyonyishu, a senior at Gonzaga Preparatory School, life has been a juggling act. In addition to his studies, Niyonyishu is involved in leadership opportunities and athletics, helps take care of his six younger siblings and works at his dad’s cleaning business.

Despite the busyness these responsibilities add to the senior’s workload, Niyonyishu said he takes pride in helping his family.

“It makes me feel great because I know how hard my parents have worked for me,” Niyonyishu said. “Any little way I can give back and help them out is important.”

When Niyonyishu crosses the stage at graduation, he will be the first in his family to graduate from a U.S. high school. Born in Tanzania, Niyonyishu lived in Kenya for much of his early childhood.

Niyonyishu’s mother, Esperance Abumukiza, said the family’s life in Kenya was not ideal. The family lived in a small studio apartment with no bathroom, and Abumukiza said the child care conditions were “poor” and dirty.

“It was just really hard,” Abumukiza said. “Life was hard.”

The family immigrated to the U.S. when Niyonyishu was 7 years old. Coming to the U.S. “was a little weird, a little nerve-wracking,” Niyonyishu said. “It was also exciting, coming to a new land, a new place of opportunity.”

During high school, Niyonyishu said he has taken advantage of that opportunity by getting involved in Margins, a service and justice organization. As part of this group, Niyonyishu traveled to Los Angeles in March, where he spent time learning about the criminal justice system and serving homeless individuals.

“Where we come from, we’ve experienced some of that poverty level,” Niyonyishu said. “Service and justice is giving back to those people who gave to you, because that’s how the world goes ’round.

The more people who give, the more opportunities there are for others. And it’s a trickling effect from generation to generation.”

In addition to his service efforts, Niyonyishu has been involved in basketball, wrestling and track. However, football has been his athletic focus. Having played all four years of high school, Niyonyishu said he enjoyed his position as a linebacker and taking a leadership role on the team.

“(I’ve learned) how to be a teammate and be someone people can look up to,” Niyonyishu said. “I’ve had to lead a lot of times and just be that bigger person inside the locker room and on the field.”

David McKenna, a math teacher and football coach at Gonzaga Prep, said Niyonyishu is a positive figure both in the classroom and on the field and that he is proud of the senior’s accomplishments.

“It’s just a privilege to be in as-

Marc Greenburg’s mantra? ‘Don’t ever give up’

In-person learning helped Liberty student excel in the classroom

The COVID pandemic made one thing perfectly clear to Liberty High School senior Marc Greenburg: Online academic instruction is not his strong suit.

Greenburg had attended the Enrichment Cooperative at the Bryant campus from kindergarten until his freshman year in high school, in September 2020. He was in classes there two days a week, and completed the rest of his lessons through traditional textbooks and assignments.

COVID changed everything, and TEC adopted a hybrid model for the 2020-21 school year, blending the classroom experience with Spokane Virtual Learning courses. That’s when Greenburg had his “uh-oh” moment.

“My grades had always been pretty good,” he said, “but in SVL I was getting D’s. It was really hard to get myself to do the work. Without firm deadlines, I didn’t feel the pressure to complete it, and my grades slipped pretty quickly.”

Transferring to Liberty was his parents’ idea, Greenburg said, but he was willing to try.

“There was no other way but up,” he said. “In the spring of my freshman year, I was not doing well, and it was getting worse. It felt pretty terrible when my grades fell. Going to Liberty was a big change, but I was open to it.” He already had friends there because he had participated in cross country and track at Liberty, and they were as excited as he was.

“Going to school five days a week, seven periods a day was a lot different from TEC, but it was way better for me,” he said. “Being in the classroom with my teachers made everything seem more important, and I was able to see the results of my work more quickly. My grades improved almost immediately.”

In addition to sports, Greenburg has participated in wind ensemble, marching band, pep band, and concert band at Liberty, all on percussion instruments. When he has time, he enjoys getting together with friends to play.

“Marc is a one-of-a-kind student who goes above and beyond expectations,” band instructor Morgan Pendon said. “He displays exceptional character, works hard, and makes everyone around him better. He came into Liberty with limited percussion experience, but he has become one of my most reliable players.”

He’s not certain of his plans beyond high school, but is leaning toward attending a trades program to become an electrician. What interests him about that field, he said, is learning how electrical systems work and how to install them. One thing that he knows for sure is that he wants to work with his hands. In that, he’s following his father’s lead – his dad is a carpenter.

He is thankful that the lessons he learned during the pandemic have prepared him for whatever comes next: “You should stay disciplined and motivated even when it seems that everything is against you. Don’t ever give up.”


The Liberty High School commencement was June 1 at

in Spangle. Principal:

Hugues Niyonyishu was born in Tanzania and raised in Kenya before moving to the United States.

sociation with him, I’ll be honest,” McKenna said. “I look at him as my own son. It gives me an amazing feeling that I can’t put into words.”

Abumukiza also said she is proud of her son.

“He loves his family, and he loves people around him,” Abumukiza said. “He loves to take care of others. That’s what makes me so proud.”

After graduation, Niyonyishu said he plans to attend the University of Washington to study business administration. He then hopes to go on to law school and pursue a career as a sports agent.

Niyonyishu said he is grateful for the support of his parents, teachers and mentors.

“I would just say thank you for everything you’ve done,” Niyonyishu said. “I appreciate it, and I hope to pay it forward.”

T10 • Wednesday • June 5, 2024 Special SecTion
Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Zayne Braun-Berggren Joseph Budde Thomas Domrese Krystal Embry Aylah Fife Katelund Finley Ellie Fisk Lincoln Foland Isaac Fuchs Marc Greenburg Grace Grumbly Elijah Gurske Madison Haas Aedan Hennington Kalli Hill Clae Holling Leila Howard Jackson Hymas Dylan Killstrom Ethan Kimball Colten Kroll Madison Lewis Abel McBride Quinn Morgan Izabella Myers Shimrith Nemnich Caleb Nollmeyer Marlon Powers Brooke Redder Caleb Schwartz Leo Selke Gunner Stephens Kariyah Strobel Cooper Thomas Griffin Turner Brandon Vinson Isaac Ward Trianna Widick Jackson Wilson
Marc Greenburg, of Liberty High School, found success with in-person learning after transferring.
Liberty High School, Liberty High
Aaron Fletcher Valedictorian:
Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Porter Anderson Minrui Andrews Leiu Argaw Liam Argaw Olivia Arnold Keira Ault Keagan Austin Julia Barr Macarena Barreto Velez De Villa Gillian Bears Jarrett Beaudry Lililan Bilbo Annabelle Blackmer Olivia Bonneau Logan Book William Boyd III Mylah Brelia-Garcia Isabella Breno Jubilee Brower Luke Brown Landon Bunn Zoe Burgis Bodie Burland Richard Callahan Anne Camp Thomas Camp Katherine Codd Dillon Dantzler Emma De Leon Kira Grace DeLuna Hunter Derr Owen Desimone Aidan Do Jason Do Westin Dominiak Valentin Dragomir Corinne Duchesne Courtney Dugger Madelyn Ellingson Peter Ellison Lilli Etter Chase Evans Alexander Ewers Colin Feryn Josephine Finley Maddie Finnegan Aayden Finnigan Camden Fletcher Carson Flynn Maya Fray Michael Funaro Paige Gamache Blaze Gapen Jacob Gehlen Michael Grant Nickolas Harrington Ronan Hatcher Matthew Herzog Fiona Hills Johnathan Hoffman Jack Holthaus Nicholas IndeminiCapri Abigail Itveldt Ryan Jackson Camille James Nicholas Janke Diya Jhutti Jaden Jones Ross Noah Jordan Colby Kelly Kaitlin Kelly Rosemary Kennar Caylee Kerr Tess Keyes Saveena Khahera Danielle Knutson Katherine Kovich Jacob Laessle Zoe Lake Gianluca Lambert Olivia Lathan Wyatt Lee Luke Lemberg Joseph Leone Bonita Licea Lukas Loney Ella Loomis Hayden Malone Stella Mazzer Kevin McArdle Silvers Colm McFetridge Peyton McIntyre Scott McIntyre Ashlynn McKlendin Sydney McLean Jacob Mitson Avery Moen Anna Moore Nikolas Mortvedt Maya Murakami Cameron Nichols Hugues Niyonyishu Elizabeth Nollette Madeleine Owen Cadence Paluch Cordelia Parker Jennilynn Peckham Jack Penders Kwynci Peters Audrey Powell Kylie Prater Christian Preti Corinna Quinton Zoey Rastall Sarah Ringland Ashley Rose Jenna Round Antonio Ruelas Madden Ruiz Andrew Sage Henry Sandberg Phoenix Sandbo Keagan Savage Ella Schumacher Alexander Scott Gracyn Scott Kathryn Shirley Ciera Shumaker Kacey Silva Bodie Stafford Kya Stanley James Stevenson Abigail Stewart Ayden Stretch Nicholas Sullivan Samantha Sweeney Brooke Swenhaugen Cora Thomas Sean Thompson Alexis Tobin Emiliano Torres Erik Tran Isabelle Twohy Sophia Twohy Carter Vaillancourt Seth VanDerGriend Carl van Loben Sels Dylan VanVoorhis Neal Virk Charlotte Wagstaff Noah Walker Lucas Wehr Cree Williams Kenedie Witherow Donara Yarde-Bush Preston Yim Graduation The Gonzaga Preparatory School commencement was June 2 at McCarthey Athletic Center, Gonzaga University, 801 N. Cincinnati St. Principal: Derek Duchesne Valedictorian: Christian Preti

THIS CLASS HAS BROUGHT JOY, HOPE, AND HONOR TO THE GONZAGA PREP COMMUNITY. They embody the characteristics of the Profile of the Graduate: open to


alive, committed to doing justice, and loving. They have generously given countless hours of service. Their successes reach beyond academics to fine arts, athletics, and service to each other and our younger students. There is joy in the accomplishments of our seniors and the hope we know they bring to this world. THE

June 5, 2024 • Wednesday • T11 Special SecTion Bodie Burland* Luke Brown** Richard Callahan Zoe Burgis** Anne Camp*
** Macarena Barreto Velez De Villa** Leiu Argaw
* Porter Anderson***
Annabelle Blackmer
Keira Ault
*** Minrui Andrews**
** William Boyd III** Gillian Bears* Olivia Arnold* Julia Barr** Liam Argaw*
Brower* Jarrett Beaudry* Logan Book Olivia Bonneau** Isabella Breno****
Bunn* Carson Flynn* Katherine Codd*** Madelyn Ellingson*** Kira Grace DeLuna** Maddie Finnegan** Hunter Derr Thomas Camp Paige Gamache*** Josephine Finley** Jason Do*** Camden Fletcher** Michael Funaro Emma De Leon Colin Feryn Maya Fray*
Lililan Bilbo
Dantzler Alexander Ewers** Aayden Finnigan Westin Dominiak* Owen Desimone**** Aidan Do** Courtney Dugger** Valentin Dragomir Corinne Duchesne** Lilli Etter*** Chase Evans Peter Ellison
****4.0 Students ***Summa cum laude 3.9 - 4.0 **Magna cum laude 3.6 - 3.89 *Cum laude 3.3 - 3.59 Blaze
engaged, religiously
Gapen Michael Grant* Jacob Gehlen
Nickolas Harrington
Camille James**
Nicholas Indemini-Capri** Abigail Itveldt** Jaden Jones Ross
ACADEMIES IN 22 STATES of our graduates go to college or military academies of those graduates attend four-year colleges. 93% 86%
Nicholas Janke Ryan Jackson
*** Diya
* Fiona Hills** Matthew Herzog* Jack
*** Ronan Hatcher** Johnathan Hoffman** Noah Jordan**


Lake City High School Principal

Deanne Clifford said recently that Luke Sharon is one of the most consequential student leaders she has ever worked with.

“He says what he believes, stands by his beliefs and does what he says he is going to do.” she said. “He shows up.”

Sharon, 18, has been involved in leadership roles throughout his education, but what perhaps sets him apart is his commitment to inclusion (“every voice counts,” he said) and understanding that getting a win can mean achieving a hard-fought-for compromise.

He thinks both big and small and how every action can impact some kind of community.

One of his most notable achievements at Lake City, of which there have been many, was his advocacy for mental health, which he said is under recognized as an issue among young adults. When his twin sister, Emma, had a mental health break, which she speaks openly about, her brother was inspired by her struggles and in awe of her recovery.

He led an effort to create an annual Mental Health Week at school, including readily available resources for students. With help from the Coeur d’Alene InterAct Club (affiliated with Rotary), he worked to bring to campus American Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, who has spoken about his own struggles with depression and anxiety. Sharon interviewed him at an assembly of 1,500 students and educators.

When students expressed dissatisfaction with the school district’s new dress code, as a member of the Student Advisory Board (made up of ABS presidents of Coeur d’Alene high schools), he helped lead a movement to modernize it. “We found things to agree on, learned from each other and came to a compromise,” Sharon said. “Not everything we wanted, but still good.”

On a smaller scale – but not to the people involved – when some students asked for partitions in the boys’ bathroom and wider doors in the stalls in the girls’ bathroom, he worked to make that happen, too. It all matters.

“He always seeks input from all stakeholders,” Clifford said.

Sharon’s list of involvements is long and varied, from being active in DECA and debate, working on voter registration and a host of other community- and school- based activities … including theater. He has performed with Lake City Playhouse and written a play, which had its debut at Lake City last month.

His parents (Melissa, a safety consultant for an international company, and David, who has multiple sclerosis) have long been involved in the community.

“They always told me that it’s not the money or the things, but the relationships you have,” he said. “That has always inspired me to be involved in some way.”

He remembers the significance of one particular Christmas when he was a boy. Tough economic circumstances meant there weren’t going to be Christmas presents for the four children that year. And then people came to the door with things for them. “Church people, people from community groups, neighbors. I particularly

recall a gallon jug of pennies,” Sharon said. “They came to help us.

“I want to be that person, the person who brings help.”

He will be attending American University in Washington, D.C., this

fall, made possible with grants and financial aid from the university. There he will be studying political science. He hopes to be a community organizer and then see where he goes from there.

“I know this sounds cheesy, but I really am interested in seeing how I can help make the world a better place,” he said. “I’d like to help the people feel they belong to a community, no matter where.”

June 5, 2024 • Wednesday • T13 Special SecTion
Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Lucille Adams Brooklyn Allen Isaih Allison Colton Altimus Alejandra Alvarez David Anderson Madison Anderson Trenton Anderson Zachary Anderson Ava Angell Kaylee Apolonio Emma Armstrong Haylie Armstrong Braydn Arrieta Ava Arrotta Maya Averill Brady Bailey Matthew Bailey Jr. Madison Bair Cameron Baker Sienna Ban Mason Barnes Ethan Baron Madalyn Barron David Bartlett Audrey Baydowicz Jalyssa Beach Sawyer Beach Kaydance Bean Evelyn Bennett Mason Bentley William Beyer Sophia Bishop Demi Blaylock Robert Blood Joseph Bonacci Ayden Bork Aspen Boykin Amanda Brausen Keelyn Brouse Cayden Brown Damon Brunty Avery Buchmann Dakota Budd-Fitzpatrick Callie Buffan Bella Burt Emmett Cahill Jaymen Campbell Keira Candler Connor Carmignani Piper Carothers Aspen Carrier Ella Casto Harley Cate Michael Chan Malachi Chapleski Peyton Cleveland-Shell Dessa Cole Cody Collins Luke Collins Madison Cook Elaina Cooper Taylor Corbeill Jocelyn Corrales Benjamin Crespo Emma Crews Brennan Crisp Corban Crossley Robert Cummins Alexander Currie Kamryn Curry Meshach Dahlstrom Jake Dannenberg Marcus Davis Preston DeMarre Cooper DeMars Mariah Deaton Brandon Decker Cody Diamond Charlie Dixon Beckham Dodge Bryant Donovan Izabella Douglas Shannon Doyle Chelsie Draper Maya Duce Emersen Duncan Caden Dutra Nicholas Duzet Harry Eddington Nathaniel Edmonds Cayci Engelbrecht Samantha Finley Hudson Ford Riley Ford Robert Ford Jackson Fowler Kaliah Frazey Shalamar Fresques Alex Fry Gabrielle Garasky Lila Garcia Elizabeth Gardner Bradley Gilmore Addison Glenn Bailey Glenn Jade Goodson Thomas Gower Steven Griffith Victoria Griffith Jack Guy Madison Halfhide-Burke Marivel Haller Samuel Hammeren Sean Hampton Trevor Haney Charles Harrison Gage Hathaway Noah Hawkins Elyse Hemenway Summer Hemenway Aidan Hendricks Gabrielle Henkle Natalie Herold Nathan Hewitt Everett Hill Taylor Hill Ethan Hinkle Michael Hisghman William Horner Taylor Hoskins Anna Howard Hazel Howard Jared Hurst Michael Hyland Emma Inwood Rebekah Ivey Sydney Jacobson Erik James Nolan Jarvis Makenzie Jester Sean Jimenez Ava Johnson Nevaeh Johnson Rylea Johnson Wyatt Johnson Alexandria Jones Henry Jones Jamison Jones Connor Jump Owen Karlinsey Tyson Karlinsey Ashley Kerns Parker King Alexis Kocer Kyle Krcma Valentyn Kuzyk Lash Laker George Lanigan Luke Lasher Braden Latscha Northstar Lawrence Cayden Lederman Karsyn Leffler Austin Leighton Ingrid Lepe-Macedo Luke Lesterhuis Blake Lewis Rebekah Liew-Nguyen Macie Lilyquist Malia Lindquist Benjamin Linford Joseph Liniger Dane Luciano-Desmith Emma Lund Nyah Lund Lily Lyon Austin Mahler Owen Markham Makenzee Martin Silence Martin Kiley Mason Timothy Matthews Carson Maurer Morgan McClintick Christopher McConnell Dax McConnell Kymberlee McCorkle Danica McCormick Madalyn McCormick Ayla McCrummen Rorie McDonough Sierra McEnany Liam McNamara Tyler McNeil Emily Medina Angie Mendoza Reese Merk Landon Miller Taylor Miller Connor Mitchell James Monroy Zurcher Karden Moore Mya Morisette Parker Morville Isabella Muehlhausen Rebecca Murdock Mekhi Murillo Trevin Murillo Henry Nace Juan Navarrete Fernandez Madison Nesbit Matthew Nesbit Braeden Newby Tristan Newey Matthew Nix Elias Oguma Aleena Olguin Aubrianna Ostafin Kylee Palmer Kamryn Peacock Devin Pearson Ethan Pearson Noah Penn Brynn Pfeiffer Jayden Pham Kamryn Pickford Michael Profumo Jasmine Quagliana Dominick Quigley Lia Ramey Matthew Ramsrud Emma Raymond Madalynn Reed Cooper Reese Virginia Reyes Athena Reynolds Christopher Reynolds Jaelynn Rhoden Brayden Ristic Liv Riviere Eli Robertson Luke Rodgers Samantha Rojo Austin Ross Rafael Rubio Pearl Sakaske Gavin Samayoa Shelby Sandford Jonathan Sanford Mateo Scappini Gavin Schoener Kieran Schwegel Acaja Lyn Scott Jillian Kate Scott Jacob Severns Mia Shanley Emma Sharon Luke Sharon Ty Shepard William Shepard Scott Slater Riley Smalley Chloe Smith Cooper Smith Talia Smith Tori Smith Kaiden Solomon Dawson Spindler Carter Stevenson Aidan Stewart Wesley Stiffler Cole Stoddard Paul Strobel Ivoree Sudol Izabella Swanson Jesse Taylor Johna Taylor Riley Taylor Durant Teague Josie Thompson Andrew Thorp Luke Thow Dillon Throckmorton Ryder Torgersen Mya Trejos Anne Trujillo Micaiah Turcotte Mackenzie Turner Zachary Turner Benjamin Valov-Deming Ethan Van Leuven Emma Vandenbussche Miranda Vargas Jacob Veare Noah Waddell Avery Waddington Shea Waldman Chase Walker Taylor Walker Eleanor Walsh Cayden Walstrom James Waters Sidnee Webb Byron Wessels Darbi West Michael Wiese Jessica Wilbanks Gabriella Williams Kansas Wilson Kyson Wilson Colter Wiltsie Hannah Wiltsie Grace Wolfe Daniel Yakovenko Timothy Yanes Kyleigh Youmans Sophia Zufelt Graduation The Lake City High School commencement will be at 11 a.m. June 8 at Timberwolf Football Stadium at Lake City High School, 6101 N. Ramsey Road, Coeur d’Alene. Principal: Deanne Clifford Valedictorians: Nathaniel Edmonds and Jesse Taylor
Luke Sharon worked to create a Mental Health Week at Lake City High School, including bringing Olympian Michael Phelps to the school to talk about his own struggles with anxiety and depression. LAKE CITY HIGH SCHOOL
Lake City’s Luke Sharon leads efforts to make
better for fellow classmates LaKe CITy
If I want everyone to bring their a-game, I have to do the same, even if I’m not in the mood that day.”
Aedan Reindel


After an early loss, Aedan Reindel finds strength in family, helping others

When Aedan Reindel was a year old, his mother, Tiffany Blumer, who was Post Falls’ city engineer at the time, was out riding motorcycles with her father when a tree fell on them, killing them both. Reindel, now 18, was then primarily raised by his grandmother, Linda Blumer, in Hayden. His father, Aaron Reindel, has always been present in his life and is the person who instilled in him a love for music, said the young man now about to graduate from Coeur d’Alene High School.

Still, it’s his grandmother who Reindel credits with “sacrificing so much so I have a life like other kids.” Now a retired office worker, his grandmother put her all into getting him to lacrosse events (even if they were several states away), checking his homework and even making sure he had a connection to his mother, by being sure to tell him stories of her life.

“If she could, my grandmother would wear a T-shirt with my name on it every day,” Reindel said, with obvious pride.

He played football and did track and cross county,

but then discovered lacrosse through a friend. He took off in the sport, playing on school and club teams and is currently his high school’s team captain. His leadership skills are noted by Carrie McGlohon, school counselor, who observed how he never puts himself in the spotlight, “but he deserves it.”

“I’ve learned about leadership by leading by example,” Reindel said. “If I want everyone to bring their A-game, I have to do the same, even if I’m not in the mood that day.”

He especially values the importance of family. Even though he lost his mother so young, he’s found ways to connect with her. He recently visited his mother’s former boss, who provided him with some books and papers of hers. There was also a whiteboard on which his mother had written some phrases and sayings. “When I saw her handwriting, I recognized it,” Reindel said. “I have the same handwriting.”

Reindel maintains a 4.0 GPA and takes all the dual-credit courses he can. And he works part time. He is an active participant in the DECA program and won three gold awards at DECA’s state competition, one of which was for his management of the school’s

annual blood drive. He has also been selected an Idaho Top Scholar.

He noted that living in North Idaho his whole life, it wasn’t until he traveled for lacrosse that his horizons began to widen – visiting upstate New York, Chicago and elsewhere. “I was so impressed with the beauty of diversity, not just racial, but lifestyles, foods, cultures, energy and pace, ethnicities,” he said. And as impressive as all that was, “it also renewed in me how much I appreciate waking up in the morning and seeing Canfield Mountain.”

He had always hoped to attend college, even though financial resources were limited, assuming he’d need to start out close to home. Still interested in experiencing different places, he learned about options and financial aid grants and scholarships, and last year started applying to schools all across the country, including Yale.

“Well, Yale didn’t happen,” he said, “but I was accepted at Baylor (in Waco, Texas) and hope to enroll there this fall.” He’ll major in biochemistry and, if all goes well, continue on to medical school, also at Baylor. He’d like to be an orthopedic surgeon.

“It’s probably cliché,” he said, “but I want to be a positive help to people.”

After realizing Venture was the right fit, Isaiah Butts got to work

Venture Academy senior Isaiah Butts is reluctant to talk about himself, but he certainly has a lot to say.

Butts graduated recently from Venture, an achievement that two years ago seemed like anything but a certainty after he was suspended for behavior issues for the last couple months of his sophomore year.

“I had to finish that year at Coeur d’Alene High School,” Butts said, “and I realized almost right away that was not where I wanted to be. I don’t think I did a single assignment while I was there, and I failed some classes because of that.

“I emailed the principal at Venture pleading to come back and she gave me another chance. But I knew there wouldn’t be any more chances if I messed up.”

Except for that brief interlude at Coeur d’Alene, Butts was at Venture for all four years of high school. By the beginning of his freshman year, he said, he had already attended many different schools while living with his parents and grandparents. The appeal of Venture was its size, because Butts didn’t like being around a lot of people, he said. “At Venture,” he said, “there’s always someone by your side helping you. I didn’t have that at CHS.”

Venture is a trimester program, so Butts was able to complete his junior

courses and also make up the ones he had failed. While Venture offers both online and in-person instruction, Butts was primarily in a regular classroom.

He is still not crazy about school, but realized the value of an education when he almost lost it. It helped, he said, that he met his girlfriend before junior year, and that she brought out the best in him, and the support that he received from faculty and staff was also encouraging.

Seeking to address his anger issues, Butts trained for a while in jiujitsu, which helped instill in him a sense of self-discipline. An injury put that on hold, but he said that he is hopeful that he is growing out of those issues.

His interests for a career after high school cover a wide range: teaching, commercial fishing, diesel technology, radiology, even underwater welding.

“I’m kind of stuck on how to decide what I want to do next,” he said, “but for now I just want to work and save some money. I would rather do that than go to school right now. My biggest challenge is going to be figuring out what I want to do long-term.”

He has become more self-sufficient recently, living on his own with his girlfriend and a cousin, and has a part-time warehouse job working 25-30 hours a week.

“Isaiah has overcome quite a bit to get where he is today,” said Venture instructor Lex Levy. “In the last couple years, he has really turned things around, worked very hard in his class-

es, and

He has a great attitude and has learned to face challenges head-on. We couldn’t be more proud.”

T14 • Wednesday • June 5, 2024 Special SecTion
COeuR d’aLene HIGH sCHOOL / VenTuRe aCadeMy
Aedan Reindel, of Coeur d’Alene High School, owes much of his success to his grandmother, the woman who raised him after his mother died when he was 1 year old.
great citizen
our school
got to Venture Academy, he was able to make up his missing credits and graduate. Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Talia Alvarado Lylah Anderson Jessica Arneson Alyzae Avery Faith Barich Dianna Bear Mandy Bolyard Alexzander Bostwick Makayla Brooks Isaiah Butts Erin Carton Morgan Casson David Catalone Makaela Collimore Kylie Cool Kianna Cornett Connor Couch Brady Craig Warren Cross Shelby Daily Trinity Daniels Avriee Darby Shelby Eddy Austin Emerson Carter Flink Ashlynn Grenon Skyler Halderman Madison Harris Dakota Hatfield Sierra Herbaugh Olivia Hinkle Azrielle Hoye Elaina Hoyt Noah Janson Sotiros Karis Rhiannon Lamere Hannah MacDonald Bo Maciosek Aaliyah Malay Luke May Hailey McFadden Isabella Miller Jace Montes-Dalton Jared Moore Bridget Murphy Hailyann Mydland Haidyn Parks Emily Quintero Walter Rohr Jasmine Ruffin Dreyden SandlinMichalak Brian Scholwinski Janelle Shaporda James Smalley Tyler Snyder Andrew Sweet Gracie Sweet Ramona Temple Kyren Umphenour Dominic Valero Spencer Vogt Harlee Walls Samantha Wilde Zachary Zareski Graduation The Venture Academy commencement will be at 6 p.m. June 6 at Venture Academy, 1619 N. Ninth St., Coeur d’Alene. Principal: Teresa Kaiser VENTURE ACADEMY
COURTESY Once Isaiah Butts

Dedicating her life to God

Sairsha Heaton plans to become a nun after graduation

St. Michael’s Academy senior Sairsha Heaton, inspired by the nuns who teach at her private Catholic school, has chosen to dedicate her life to God and become a nun after she graduates.

Heaton is the fourth of 10 children, all of whom have or are attending St. Michael’s, a traditional Roman Catholic school. “It’s a very Catholic school, taught by nuns and priests,” she said. Her teachers have been fun to learn from, Heaton said. “It’s just a great community,” she said. “I’ve always loved learning and loved going to school.”

Heaton’s time at the school hasn’t all been smooth sailing, though it wasn’t because of academics. Around fifth grade, she got sick. “I was super sick for about a year,” she said. “We didn’t know what was wrong.”

After many doctor visits, she ended up in the emergency room after losing 15 pounds in three days, while also suffering from bad headaches. Doctors couldn’t find anything and were about to send her home when her father put his foot down. “He kept insisting they do more tests,” she said.



The St. Michael’s

at Mount

8500 N. St. Michael’s Road. Principal: Sister Michael Marie

Valedictorian: Sairsha Heaton

When she was in sixth grade, Heaton learned she had Type 1 diabetes, which does not run in her family. She was sent home with test strips and did insulin injections as needed, but has since started using an insulin pump and a continuous glucose monitor.

Heaton said she believes she likely has had diabetes since very early in her life and believes that being undiagnosed for so long




Shelby Wear, 18, is a young woman who works hard to achieve her goals, and often hits her target … and then some.

She’s competitive and has loved sports since she was a child. She was always into soccer, joined her identical twin sister Hailley in cheer and, just for fun, thought she would give tennis a try.

The result? She is graduating from Rathdrum’s Lakeland High School as a four-year, three-sport athlete in soccer, cheer and tennis, something very hard to accomplish, said Lakeland principal Jimmy Hoffman. Her mother, Shani Wear, said her twin girls have always supported one another in competition, but have been most competitive against one another: “When they were in judo when they were younger and matched against the other, people stopped what they were doing to watch. It was something.”

So many things in Wear’s life revolve around sports. She loves swimming and beach volleyball, overcame some jitters to dive into snorkeling in Hawaii and has fun camping with the family. She also works part time.

She’s was determined to be a good scholar and, according to her mother, got her homework done before ever

made her diabetes worse. “That’s been a big part of my life,” she said. “I have great technology to help me out, but it is an ongoing struggle.”

Heaton has been involved in cross country for years and running is what helped tip her off that something was wrong. Her race results varied widely, going from a top five finish one week to a top 20 finish the next. “I had no idea what was going on and it was super frustrating,” she said.

An injury after her diagnosis led to knee surgery and a year off from racing, during which time she helped coach grade-school cross country. She said she runs because she enjoys it, not necessarily because she’s competitive. She said she’d like to participate in a Spartan race, which is a combination between a cross country race and an obstacle course.

Sister Michael Marie, a teacher at St. Michael’s, said Heaton is thoughtful and very aware of the people around her. She said she’s not surprised that Heaton would want to give back by becoming a nun. “It’s more of a steady, slow giving back and wanting to live your faith,” she said. “It’s not the usual choice that people choose, but I can’t say I’m totally surprised.”

When thinking about her future, Heaton


considered several different avenues. She works for a school-age summer child care program, so she considered working in child care. She also thought about going into a medical field or becoming a teacher. She consulted her mentors as well, and about six months ago she became certain that she wanted to join a convent.

“They encourage you to put thought and prayer into it,” she said. There are a lot of younger nuns in the convent at St. Michael’s and Heaton said she sees how happy and fulfilled they are. And if she chooses, she can still become a teacher later, Heaton said. “I love working with kids,” she said. “I love watching my teachers teach.”

having to be told to do so. She carries a 3.95 GPA and, as a recipient of the Idaho Top Scholar Award, will be attending North Idaho College on scholarship this fall. Plans are to study pre-med, with an eventual goal of going on to medical school.

She takes seriously the philosophy of you only live once and advises people not to be scared of new things. Or difficult things. And while it’s not unusual for a young woman to excel in sports, she does defy expectations there. When the cheer team is stunting (pyramids, throw-andcatch, etc.), it might be expected that she would be the flyer, the person tossed up into the air. But, no, her position is that of base, the person who throws and catches, holding most of the weight of the flyer.

“Well, I really am pretty strong,” said the slender, 5-foot, 2-inch-tall athlete, with a bit of a smile on her face. “But that doesn’t prevent me from getting hit during the stunt. A foot to the face is not uncommon.”

Hoffman said Wear always does the right thing, is a hard-working girl and a great leader in their building. “We are very proud of her.”

T16 • Wednesday • June 5, 2024 Special SecTion Lorna Rae Selby Mead High School | Class of 2024 CONGRA T U LATIONS
of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Ava Abel Christopher Cyr Ethan Emmans Nolan Gilbert Sairsha Heaton Gina Myers Anna Sitzenstock
Sairsha Heaton, of St. Michael’s Academy, learned she had diabetes in sixth grade.
12:30 p.m. June 1
Academy commencement will be at
St. Michael,
Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Ethan Abbott Dawson Allen Jack Allen Jasmin Allen Jasen Allstot Brianna Ames Dakota Andersen Connor Anderson Hayden Anundson Nolan Arredondo Angellina Artz Emma Avalos Paytin Baldridge Gabriele Barrett Malia Batman Victoria Benson Kate Bishop Kaden Bosworth Tyler Boyer Liam Bradford Florence Bruns Jordan Bucaroff Jackson Burlingame Hannah Burnham Alyssa Byrne Olivia Carrel Connor Carvajal Tristan Chamness Austin Chatterton Madison Cheney Hailey Clauson Randin Cleiman Derrick Clement Lucas Cole Julie Collins Alana Cook Kadin Cooke Jace Cooksey Abigail Cutberth Christian Davis Iren Davis Madeline Davis Gavriel DeLaLuna Charlie Dickerson Xay Dricketts Jeremiah Driscoll Allie Edwards Caitlin Eliuk Kayla Ells Raiston Ellwood Calvin Elmose Toby Emond Wyatt Emond Oliver Everett Kenton Ferguson Owen Forsman Baylee Frank Mackenzie Frank Jade Freitas Cooper Friddle Samantha Fuller Caroline Gallus Scott Glass Jordana Hageman Raleigh Halgren Alexandrea Hall Emalie Hardaway Marcus Harrell Logan Harris Madelynn Hasz Ella Haug Cole Heighway Destiny Hieronymus Evalie Hildesheim Brent Hill Riley Hill Alanna Hinkle Adeline Hobbs Arlen Holdahl Wyatt Holfeltz Kyla Holte Blaine Hoskins Katerra Housley Sky Hull Trevor Hutchison Paige Jameson Olivia Jeffries Erica Jensen Ciarra Jones Claire Kelley Kaitilyn Kelley Sawyer Kelly Bailey Kennedy Jack Kessel Lila Kiefer Colin Killian Coeli Knoll Gracie Kohoutek Matthew Koltas Zachary Kuenkler Jack Law Matthew Lawson Gavin Lins Jacob Ludwick Natascha Lyman Mckenna Macias Dylan Malcom Mia Marquez Emma Marshall Caleb Mason Logan McGee Ella McReynolds Ghezalynn Meloche Jesse Messerschmidt Payton Miller Elijah Minix Micah Minix Karson Mobbs Zane Moline Lincoln Nichols Tyler Norce Lakyla Norlander Isabella Paoli Austin Parks Michael Pearson Miles Peterson Treyton Quintana Myah Reichert Roan Reilly Alaina Rex Laynee Reynolds Nicolette Rivera Koen Rogers Benjamin Ryan Jude Sather Keira Sawyer Reilly Saxe Carder Scarcello Lucy Schenkenberger David Schubert Ethan Scott Devon Seeling Tucker Sitko Kevin Slover, JR Ethan Smith Jillian Smith Sarah Smith Jillian Snipes Westen Sobel-Schlewitz Kailyn Soenen Catalina Soper Leah Sphuler Payton Sterling Toby Tebbe Ella Terzulli Thomas Tesch Annika Thompson Heather Thompson Skyler Thompson Brayden Tirri Isabella Triplett Koehn Tunnell Mason Tuxill Kaydan Vollink Brody Walters Hailey Wear Shelby Wear Damian Weholt Ellie White Charlotte Wiebach Duke Williamson Rylee Wirth Lincoln Wood Regina Wright Gerald Yeahquo Zoee Young
Shelby Wear, of Lakeland High School, will attend North Idaho College next year on a scholarship, with the eventual goal of going to medical school.
Lakeland High School commencement will be at 7 p.m. June 5 at Real Life Ministries Auditorium, 1860 N. Cecil Road, Post Falls.
Jimmy Hoffman
Schenkenberger, Jack Allen, Benjamin Ryan and Kyla Holte
Shelby Wear won’t let a foot in the face keep her from her goals
sT. MICHaeL’s aCadeMy / LaKeLand HIGH sCHOOL


Vision impairment won’t keep Quin Conley from doing what he wants to do

A warm-faced affable young man, 18-year-old Quin Conley is preparing to graduate from Timberlake High School in Spirit Lake this month.

He’s a bit apprehensive about leaving because he’s found a wonderful and encouraging home there, where he is valued and has work to do – which is how he wants his life to continue.

Conley was born with optic nerve hypoplasia, causing significant visual impairment, and has persevered through an autism diagnosis to become an awesome and caring student who loves people, according to school counselor and teacher Casi Lupinacci.

He is the semi-official greeter of new students and escorts substitute teachers and guests to where they need to go in the school. And he is inquisitive about everyone he meets. He asks for permission, then politely inquires about their birthdays (including the year). And if the new people he meets don’t mind, he’ll ask, too, where they were born and what places they’ve visited –and perhaps most important, if they’ve ever ridden a subway. He is fascinated by trains, especially subways. Conley knows the birthdays of all the Timberlake teachers and staff and most of the students he’s talked with, and, should he encounter

anyone he’s met later on or someplace else, he’ll have retained the information.

Conley proudly shares that he loves travel, and with his family has visited 36 states, England and Canada. New York City and Atlanta are standouts for him because of their awesome subways, and he is looking forward to a family trip this summer to Holland and Belgium.

He states he is not one to let his vision troubles stop him from doing the things he wishes to do. He uses a magnifier when reading to stay current in his studies, with government and history being his favorite subjects. He works at a grocery store through the Idaho Commission for the Blind and has had other jobs, including a summer one where he met his girlfriend, who comes from French Polynesia.

He enjoys going to church, and he has 2,000 phone numbers in his phone. “Part of the Catholic religion is being prepared,” he said.

He does plan to continue his education at North Idaho College and hopes eventually to teach English overseas.

The next step in his list of goals accomplished is graduating and moving out into a wider and less-sheltered world, something which gives Conley a bit of pause. He understands that he’s “treated like royalty here.”

But he also observes, “I’m not going to let time and place stop me.”

Hard road leads toward optimism, a desire to serve

Mountain View Alternative

Lucas had every reason in the book to quit school. Instead, she took a hard look at herself, buckled down and earned her diploma almost a full year early.

Just during the past four years, Lucas lost her older brother and mother and was the victim of ongoing bullying. She has had ongoing medical issues stemming from a traumatic brain injury suffered in an automobile accident when she was 6 years old. Her grandfather died when she was in sixth grade. Depression has also been an issue for her.

So how did she keep going?

“My counselor (Kelli Aiken) and my teachers pushed me, even when I was depressed and wanted to drop out,” she said. “They encouraged me and told me how proud of me they were, even when I wasn’t proud of myself. During my junior year, I discovered that I was further along in school than I had thought, and that helped me to work harder.

and I don’t want to go back to that. I would think about where I could land if I stayed on the right path, and that I could succeed. But for a while I just wondered who was going to die next.”

Aiken said, “Areya’nna is an amazing young woman. She has persevered through devastating events that would derail most people. Her medical situation makes attending school difficult, but she came every day to complete all her coursework. She is a model for grit.”

Lucas had attended Rathdrum High School briefly before her brother’s death, but she was bullied and began acting out at school in reaction to that.

“I also knew that I didn’t want to go down my mom’s path. She was into drugs, especially after my brother died in a car accident at the beginning of my freshman year. He was her rock, and when he died she let go of everything. She died two years after that, and for a while my younger brother and I were homeless.

“I have tried to learn from my parents’ mistakes, because I think that everything in my past scares me

“I have no idea why I was bullied,” she said, “but I needed to take out my feelings somewhere and I started getting in trouble at school. That was when the principal thought that Mountain View would be a better choice.”

The transfer helped her to focus on moving forward, she said, and her grades improved. But then her mother died, and she moved three times in the next two years before landing with her aunt, where she helps care for her ailing grandmother.

“My future will start this fall,” she said. “I want to get a certificated nursing assistant license so that I am able to help other older people like my grandma. I want to serve people who are in senior care homes.

“I always thought of what I can do better,” she said. “I’ve been through a lot and I shut out lots of my friends after my brother and mom died, but I have a great support system in my family and my boyfriend.”

June 5, 2024 • Wednesday • T17 Special SecTion
Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Ashley Addington Jeremiah Alameda Grant Allaway Talize Anderson Walind Armijo-Vickers Deseree Atwood Jacob Barnhart Jake Bell Paysha Blankenship Christopher Braun Kaydence Brownsberger Alycia Cameron Madelyn Cardwell Quinlan Conley Candice Craddock Trevor Davis Francesca Delgado Morgan Dickinson Daniel Dorman Allilah Dykes Kirstyn Edelblute Ashara Evans Hannah Foster Jordan Franssen Matthew Fuentes Hunter Gardner Kimber Gillmore Madeline Glidden Emily Gosman Gracie Haeder Brayden Hanson Caylan Harshfield Vaughn Higgins Johnathon Hogue Ethan Howard Linley Howard Jacob Howell Xzavier Hoyt Carson Huston Hunter Johnson Mackenzie Johnson Ella Kepple Jaylean Kinney Maizee Krizenesky Cameron Krupp Nacree Kyllonen Cooper Lenz Hayden Line Molly Link Ezekiel Martin Daisy McCorkle Braden McDougall Lilly McKee Kurtsten McKellips Cazwell McKenzie Ireland McLean Ayden Meehan Cole Meidinger Trinity Micke Colton Moore Emma Nava Dylan Nelson Tommi Olphie Trinity Orrison Antonio Osorio Emilee Parker Zachary Paslay Acacia Pecor Henley Peightal Sidney Perry Lana Peters Andrew Pettibone Ashley Prey Aiden Pritchett Fallon Pryor Alyssa Radforth Summer Radkiewicz Christina Ramsdell Holden Rennich Xander Richardson Faith Robertson Caden Robinett Riley Rohrenbach Carlene Ross Zackeria Royce Luke Schell Isaiah Schultz Zachary Schultz Danika Sjolund Ayden Smith Benjamin Snel Kylee Sorensen Jayden Stensland Ember Techau Avery VanGundy Shane Walkden Logan Walsh Riley Walton Reagan Weaver Tyler Wendt Karsten West Casey Whaley Colson White Ashley Wilson Austin Wilson Isaiah Winkler Logan Wright Jacob Yetter
The Timberlake High School commencement was June 4 at Real Life Ministries, 1860 N. Cecil Road, Post Falls. Principal: Ryne Eberlin Valedictorian: Ashley Prey
Quin Conley, of Timberlake High School, hope to eventually teach English overseas.
High School senior Areya’nna
Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Ilizabeth Alexander Elijah Allen Taylor AndersHuntsman Elliott Andreassen Arianna Barbosa Aidian Caldwell Raif Carr Kaylee Carter Syringa Christiansen Jeremiah Couper Aeron Dahlke KayCee Davis Tyler Easley Jensen Elliott Noah Fagan Michael Goines Austin Hacker Austin Hedgpeth Avery Hill Devin Holland Samuel Houston Jr. Emma Hoyt Sawyer Kelly Braiden Little Areya’nna Lucas Emeri Lukey Brittany McGovern Mathew Meeks Breanna Messerer Gunnar Moffitt Reece Moore Gage Mueller Franchesca Patterson Maria Pilskalns Justin Rodriguez Jada Rounsville Eva Saldana Pegueros Kora Sawley Madelyn Smith Johnathan Steele Serenidy Storms Kellie Tanner Justin Teal Hunter Thomas Hunter Thorsen John Ventura Samuel West Kailani Williams Troy Wilson Terria Wiltsie Thomas Winters Graduation The Mountain View Alternative High School commencement was at 7 p.m. June 3 at Real Life Ministries – North Campus, 30447 N. Roughstock Road, Athol, Idaho. Principal: Paul Uzzi MOUNTAIN VIEW ALTERNATIVE HIGH SCHOOL TIMBERLAKE HIGH SCHOOL
Areya’nna Lucas

On the right track

For Samantha Vazquez, the future looks like Gonzaga, then law school

It was in a Dishman Hills High School history class that Samantha Vazquez first heard of the Chicano Movement, also known as El Movimiento.

Her teacher had written it on the board as one of the various movements she and her classmates could choose to study.

“We all actually got to pick our own civil rights movement that we wanted to do and I chose the Chicano rights movement,” Vazquez said.

Exploring the subject gave her a way to connect to her family background, something that had been difficult in the past. Growing up, her father’s addiction issues created distance among her relatives, and it left her without a natural exchange of family stories.

“Not getting to learn where you come from or why certain things are the way they are, definitely sucks,” Vazquez said.

What she learned about the movement struck a chord and left her with a new passion for understanding how society treats different groups of people.

“There were some students in Southern California, teachers told them, ‘Why even bother coming to school? Why do you show up?’ A lot of times to women they ask, ‘Why do you care? You’re going to end up pregnant and a housewife,’ or stuff like that where it was just like students were treated very unfairly. Teachers were very known for beating children at that point. And because it was Hispanic or (people of color) versus white people in Southern California,” Vazquez said.

Vazquez has always been one for mentorship and volunteering. She mentors elementary students in STAR Club in Millwood – the same program that offered her solace and mentorship as a

child. Now her passion for caring for her community has grown into a new sense of direction for her future field of study.

“Sam joined us at Dishman as a virtual student returning from the pandemic kind of lost,” said Gabriel Rose, dean of teaching and learning at Dishman Hills.

“Through our mentoring program she found a purpose for education and set her sights on a career path that would allow her to help people. She is attending Gonzaga in the fall with a plan to continue on to law school.”

It’s been a journey for Vazquez, and you would never know it with the confidence and self-possession she embodies as a senior.

“I struggled with mental health really bad when I was in my sophomore year of high school,” Vazquez said. “I ended up actually spending two weeks of my high school career in the hospital. Switching to Dishman, I was failing all of my classes and just felt like I couldn’t breathe. The weight of the world was on top of me. Dishman really held my hand while I got back up on my feet, and I’m graduating with straight A’s.”

When Vazquez isn’t volunteering or in school, she’s on the track riding BMX. She has a natural competitive side –this last season she suffered a cracked sternum, yet still refused to give up her chance to compete in finals.

“I had already paid all the money to be on the track so I said, screw it,” she said. “And they were so mad at me when I showed up to the track, but the EMTs had an oxygen tank on standby for me.”

Vazquez is Gold Cup No. 1 in the region, and ranks second in the state. The adrenaline of the competition aside, it’s the sense of community in BMX racing that matters most to her. Her team is called PAK, which stands for Parents and Kids, emphasizing the fact that many people

come together to support each racer.

What Vazquez looks forward to most after graduation is taking everything she has learned about law and putting it toward real world change. In the meantime, she’s making change through helping one

person at a time. Her favorite strategy?

A classic dad joke to help people laugh when they’re hurting.

“My favorite one is, what do you call a nervous dinosaur or an anxious dinosaur?

A nervous rex.”

After a rough start in school, Sammy Nielsen aims for a future in audio/video

Sammy Nielsen used to make a game of going to school and speaking as few words as possible, sometimes managing to keep it down in the single digits. Now, as he prepares to graduate from Spokane Valley High School, he chats easily about his passion projects and enjoys engaging his peers in conversation.

Nielsen grew up in the East Valley School District, but found himself unchallenged. He said he found the material easy and was often bored, which led to misbehavior.

“By the time I got to middle school, there were a lot of problems,” he said. In his last semester of eighth grade, he began attending City School.

“I didn’t talk to anyone,” he said. “I just wanted to get through the year.”

He’d recently been diagnosed as a Type 1 diabetic and with complex-PTSD. He describes being bullied when he was younger, but admits that he also made life hard for other students when he would get angry and lash out. He also had the wrong kind of friends, Nielsen said. Nielsen said he had a breakthrough moment where he realized he didn’t like himself as a person. The fall of his freshman year, Nielsen enrolled in Spokane Valley High School. On a whim, when he arrived at the new

school, he introduced himself by his middle name, Sammy.

“When I moved schools, I tried to change everything,” he said. Slowly. he came out of his shell, talking more and being involved more. Once careless about his grades, he began working harder.

Teacher Michelle Marsura remembers the transformation. She said he started out being happy with C’s even though

he knew he could earn an A in his classes with a little effort.

“He didn’t really care about school,” she said.

“Something switched his junior year. Now he’s very much one of the leaders of the school, formally and informally. He deserves it.”

Marsura said Nielsen is exceptionally responsible and kind. She was impressed by his project to restore a sound booth for


T18 • Wednesday • June 5, 2024 Special SecTion
Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Adian Al-Ameri Naynay Alvarez Zay Baker Daniela Barajas AJ Belton Randal Bergman Emily Bieber Camille Bise Timothy Blackwood Devynn Blake Ivan Blakslee Jessica Bliss Edyn Boyd Nathan Bryan Jared Bucceri Maggie Bush Grace Buterbaugh Shayla Candelaria Serenity Churchill Jalaina Clinton Brown Matthew Cooper Aryana Crane Ryan Crews Greyson Dawson Alicio Dominguez Mia Donais Emika Dzyuba Isaiah Elliott Metaya Eveland Mariana Figueroa Madison Fitzpatrick Gavin Fredeen Ryan Friedman Allana Galan Kaleese Gassman Rose Gibbs Jeffrey Gore Kilyn Grass Sarah Green Alexandria Gudgel William Hall Destini Harris Addy Hinnenkamp Skully Hobbs Cora Hohnstein Ava Hough Taylor Ivanoff Dawson Jacobs Reece Jones Skyler Jones James Joseph Dirk Karnitz Owen Keevy Zoe Killinger Aubreanna Lehto Myranda Lloyd Annabelle Marie Joseph Markel Marcus “JR” Marteze Trotter Alexander Mitchell Cole Mitchell Cherokee Monnin Aaron Muglia Brooklynn Nelsen Clate O’Neal Gregory Olson Coda Ostrander Blake Peterson Kaden Petree Maddy Pittman Abigail Poland R’Nazsha Pullom Era Raber Cherysh Rice Nevaeh Robinson Haidee Rodriguez-Cortez Ryver Rose Cole Rutherford Chloe Samek Rebecca Schmaltz Allie Schnakenberg Justin Scott Brayton Scribner Thomas Seavello Logan Smith Mia Smith Felicity Spreine Brock Surlow Jenessa Taylor Airiann Terpko Natalie Thomas Zay Thomas Lainee Trujillo Kay Trukositz Juna Tulensa Samantha Vazquez Ophelia Wagner Jordan Wanberg Zachary Weakly Ashley Webb Makenna Webb Maxwell Wehunt Sincere Whitright Dylan Williams Lynzy Wyatt Graduation The Dishman Hills High School commencement will be at 6 p.m. June 5 at the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox, 1001 W. Sprague Ave. Principal: Lauren House Valedictorian: Felicity Spreine
Samantha Vazquez, a Dishman Hills High School senior, looks forward to making real world changes. COURTESY Sammy Nielson of Spokane Valley High School helped get the school’s sound booth up and running. DISHMAN HILLS HIGH SCHOOL
Just the idea of getting paid to do something fun really made me want to keep doing it and start the business.”
Michael Liberg


Michael Liberg finds time to be a student and a business owner

Michael Liberg is an honor roll student at West Valley High School. He also is a small business owner in Spokane Valley.

“Hello, I’m Michael Liberg, a local high-schooler, entrepreneur, and owner-operator of Liberg Design, a woodworking and handyman company in Spokane Valley,” reads the about section on his company website, libergdesign.com.

Liberg’s interest in woodworking began when he was young, said his father, Brian Liberg.

“When he was little he liked to tinker around with things and figure out how things work,” Brian Liberg said. In elementary school, Liberg would make little things, like bird houses, with his grandfather.

When Liberg got into middle school, his grandfather died.

“I inherited most of his woodworking tools, so I started woodworking,” Liberg said. This got the attention of one of his teachers, who asked if he would make her a cutting board. So he did.

“It was pretty exciting and fun for somebody to want something that you built, and so that made me

Class of 2024

Expected to graduate are: Davyd Abdullaiev Brooklynn

want to keep going,” Liberg said. “Just the idea of getting paid to do something fun really made me want to keep doing it and start the business ... by sixth- or seventh-grade year I decided that it was fun enough to want to turn it into something serious.”

Since then Liberg has been doing odd jobs, like crafting cutting boards or mowing lawns for friends, family, teachers and strangers who saw his flyers at the Millwood gym he frequents.

When he has time outside of school, Liberg works on building his brand and his client base, and – now that he’s 18 – getting fully licensed.

“He’s amazing. He’s a real go-getter,” said Kevin Murphy, Liberg’s shop teacher. “He’s a young kid that wants to make this business and do it right.”

But when Murphy learned of Liberg’s plans to build a business a few years ago, he wasn’t so sure.

“I thought it was pretty aggressive for a young kid,” Murphy said. But after having him in class for a few years, he’s changed his mind.

“He’s going to make it happen,” Murphy said. “He is going to be very successful and it’s great to see that he is learning the skills he needs to get the job done.”

Still, Liberg isn’t putting all of his eggs in one


The West Valley High School commencement will be at 6:30 p.m. June 7 at the Podium, 511 W. Joe Albi Way.

Principal: Ryan Mulvey

Valedictorians: Adahlia Betts, Spencer Cerenzia, Preston Engeland, Derek Esvelt, Henry Lohstroh, Willow McLaughlin, Jamie McMurtery, Emily Pence and Caitlin Shimabukuro


Continued from 18

students to use for podcasts and other sound work.

He doesn’t mind making mistakes or getting things wrong, he just rolls with it and tries again, Marsura said.

“He’s bright, he’s diligent, he asks good questions,” she said.

Nielsen has long been interested in creating videos and doing audio work. He found a sound booth at the school and went to the principal to propose getting it up and running. His project was approved and it now sits in a room with a custom desk inside, ready

for use.

“My love for this is very nerdy and very niche,” he said. “Students love creating podcasts in here.” He has enjoyed his time at Spokane Valley High School, Nielsen said.

“I love our school so very much,” he said. “I love that we provide for anyone that comes to our door. I’m proud of the work that I’ve done and as far as I can tell, I’ve done pretty good.” Nielsen plans to continue to learn about video production and audio engineering and work as a video editor.

“It’s a whole new chapter,” he said of his future. “It’s a whole

basket. Even with the hours of work he puts into Liberg Design, he makes sure his academics get the attention they deserve.

“Nothing is 100% certain right now in my life. The business is awesome, and if it can take me where I want to go, I’d be really thankful. But college is a backup and I think doing bad, or not putting in the effort you can in high school, it would just be a waste,” he said.

Liberg will be a fully licensed general contractor when he graduates and he plans to become a licensed electrician as well.

“Right now my career path after high school would be to go into the electrician union and become a fully commercial electrician, but if the business were to blow up, I think I would go and get licensed as a residential electrician instead of a commercial,” he said. “I think having a career path like that is still my plan post high school.”

Murphy said he has enjoyed watching Liberg’s progress through high school.

“It’s real rewarding seeing someone, a young student, have a vision and actually do the things they need to do to get to it,” he said. “I can’t emphasize enough, he’s a great kid.”

June 5, 2024 • Wednesday • T19 Special SecTion
KATHY PLONKA/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW West Valley graduate Michael Liberg is photographed in his shop on May 21. He has started his own woodworking and handyman company called Liberg Design.
Adamson Nicole Aley Rylan Allen Kyndra Anderson Nolan Askew Madison Babcock Levi Barham Ian Barsness Devlin Beamis Rhyis Beech-Scott Tony Belko Adahlia Betts Conner Borum Kaleb Borum Angel Bristlin Adonis Brown Tyler Brustkern Tresa Bunch Kristen Casilac Spencer Cerenzia Brayden Chase Madyson Clardy Joshua Clark Ella Clutter Aidan Cousins Zachary Covington Ashlynn Cox Zayne Cox Toni Culp Paul Currie Harley Davis Chloe Deharo Donald Deline Benjamin Dexter Madison Draper Keenan Dunfield Kyla Duvanich Preston Engeland Derek Esvelt Shawna Evans Kristen Farrell Kayla Flock Jaiden Foland Jane Freedland Benjamin Fried Madison Gardner Esmond Gibbs Toby Graham Kylie Graupner Jaedyn Green Elijah Gunning Tyler Guzman Aneti Hakizamungu Brody Hart Garret Hawvermale Ellora Hebner Alexander Hein Landon Herrmann Isabel Hilsabeck Grace Hitt Jacob Hitt Abigail Hogberg Joslynn Holloway Jayme Horn Ashton Hoskinson Savannah Huffman Noah Hunt Camille Huntley Shylee Joe Jordan Johnston Kaylee Jolly Joseph Karnitz Lucas Kendall Austin Kessler Colton Kjelland Cohen Kreider Tony Lachenmaier Autumn Lashley Dylan Leblanc Tate LejaMeyer Matthew Liang Michael Liberg Nathan Lincks Gavin Lindor Aubrey Lobdell Mason Lochten Henry Lohstroh John Macall Chloe Matteson Verity McBlair Marie McCulloch Brennan McCurdy Bridey McFarland Lance McGlothin Mason McIntyre Willow McLaughlin Neena McManigal Tyler McMichael Jamie McMurtery Yordi Melendez Acosta Gavin Miller Tyson Mogan Amaya Monteon Ricardo Morales Parker Munns Thong Nguyen Kaydence Nixon Andrew O’Neal Easton O’Neal Maliya Olson Kelsey Orlando Brycen Palmer Bryndel Pargman Emily Pence Cyler Petruso Esther Pokhodun Ryan Powers Lily Raczykowski Miriam Ramirez Castillo Brenley Ramsey Sophia Raskell Rogyn Reeves Benjamin Reid Craig Reid Noah Reid Aiden Rose Shayla Rustad Matthew Sanders London Sargent Mckenzie Sargent Alexandrea Schaffer Chloe Schuman Janeille Scott Caitlin Shimabukuro Conner Shipman Kaden Silva Keason Silva Mylie Silver Tamia Skinner Mercedes Smelik Danielle Smith Ethan Smith Jasiah Taitt Anastacia Thompson Alexander Tinelli Titus Tinsley Logan Jenna Tomalo Jakob Underwood Logan Utecht Daphne Van Wey Paula Vargas Arenas Dina Vasyukhnevich Olivia Vlasman Heroshi Votava Paw Wah Kevin Waligora Sean Way Lucas Weinstock Jr. Isabella Wessner Parker Williams Quincy Williamson Genesis Willis Isaiah Wilson Lydia Wilson Aidan Wolfe Destiny Young
new book.”
Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Theo Afana Brooke Arballo Sandra Baker Luke Barbre Jayden Bettencourt Jessena Blount Victoria Bondarchuk Jacob Brophy Haydin Cassatt Ethan Cavazos Keylee Chaney Michael Chebotarev Bree Cook Joey Cummins Taylor Currier Ryder Deford Grace Fields Aliyah Forrester David Fredericksen Max Gillingham Larayia Glover Sophia Gunning Christopher Harding Edwin Harmon Braden Hazlett Jaclyn Kalivas Allen Kaskevics Joseph Kennedy Gracie Kennicutt Logan Kinswa Canon Knauss Genadiy Kopets Alex Lapin Harlie Laughlin Jade Leighton Renee Lewis Alyia Low William Luke Alexavier McClain Riker McCollum Cooper Medaris Joslyn Mitchem Viktor Mitrofanov Keoni Mix Tylor Monroy Blake Moore Daniel Moore Arrabella Muroya Sammy Nielsen Briana Noonan Austin Olinger Noah Pasols Adeijah Patrick Tylea Patrick Zoey Paulsen Avoni Pavlischak Kinsay Pegar Grace Phillips Jayda Pimsanguan Andrew Popov Taisiia Popova Gavin Pruitt Elijah Reynolds-Lewis Jesse Rick Pavlo Rudenko Timothy Ruegsegger Isabel Salmeron Cassie Scoles Roshawna-Lynn Smith Victoria Stilson Jasmine Swift Tyra Thomas Myah Vincent Angelina Viskova Stanley Ward Natalie Whalen Charity Wiberg Charlotte Wich Shireese Wiemer Brooklyn Witherell Iryna Yalovets Nathaniel Yerxa Alexander Zones Graduation The Spokane Valley High School commencement will be at 6 p.m. June 6 at Spokane Community College, Lair Auditorium, 1810 N. Greene St. Principal: Eric Jurasin Valedictorian: Harlie Laughlin

Caps O to New Beginnings!

Congratulations to the Spokane Community College and Spokane Falls Community College class of 2024. Meet four of our 2024 Graduates

Meagan is 1 of 5,828 students receiving her professional/technical degree Meagan Eirls

A.A.S. Mechanical Engineering Technology Spokane Community College

Jessica is graduating from 1 of 38 healthcare programs

Jessica Murphy B.A.S. Respiratory Care Spokane Community College

Jefferson is 1 in over 4,030 first-generation students


Taylor is 1 of 539 graduates focusing her future in fine arts Taylor Kuykendall

Whether you’re graduating in Spokane or at one of our rural campuses, we can’t wait to see you take the next step toward your future!

T20 • Wednesday • June 5, 2024 Special SecTion
A.A.S. Photography Spokane
Community College
Jefferson Julianot Rakotomalala, A.A. Business Administration Spokane
Community College

CLass OF 2024


From a childhood in his grandmother’s kitchen, Addison Keys shapes his goals

Mt. Spokane High School senior Addison Keys found his inspiration in his grandmother, who cooked dishes inspired by her Russian heritage. Keyes lived with his grandparents until he was 7, which gave him plenty of time to soak up his grandmother’s culinary skills. His grandmother was also influenced by Asian cuisine, since her mother had spent time in China after leaving Russia. “She was a good cook,” he said. “It was just something different every night. There were no repeats.”

Keys moved around a bit and spent time in Spokane Public Schools before moving to Mt. Spokane his sophomore year. That’s where he discovered Pro Start, a two-year culinary arts and restau-

rant management program for high school students. “I really got a lot of confidence from the Pro Start class there,” he said. “I really found my passion for cooking that I knew was always there, I just hadn’t used it.”

Students learn how to cook and earn their food handler permits, but they also learn the basics about the hospitality industry. Sometimes the students work in teams and take turns being the head chef, directing others in what to do.

“You learn a lot,” Keys said.

As part of the program, Keys had to find a two-year restaurant internship. He was interested in working at Kuni’s Thai Cuisine in north Spokane, but the restaurant didn’t participate in the Pro Start program. His teacher, Maureen Collins, reached out and persuaded the restaurant to join the pro -

gram and hire him on, Keys said.

“They’re all really great there, really nice people,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot there.”

Keys is about 800 hours into the 2,000-hour program, which he expects to complete next year. At the end he’ll be required to pass a skills test, which includes cooking for judges, in order to receive his journey level card.

Keys said he spends his time at Kuni’s doing everything from washing dishes to main dish prep. He’s also been in charge of cleaning and sanitizing, vegetable prep and plating dishes. “It’s back of house work,” he said.

Collins said it was clear from the beginning that Keys wanted a culinary career. “He’s very quiet, but he’s very goal driven,” she said. “He’s a perfectionist.”

She said Keys does best with sa-


The Mt. Spokane High School commencement will be at 5 p.m. June 7 at McCarthey Athletic Center, 801 N. Cincinnati St.

Principal: Chelsea Gallagher

Valedictorians: Livingston Bennett, Benjamin Bradley, Carter Brown, Sam Brown, Arabelle Bruner, Liliana Campos, Aslin Choi, Matthew Cong, Peyton Farnsworth, Aurora Guertin, Krista Hrycenko, Cameron Jansen, Cassie Jay, Benjamin Joireman, Breanna Koscielski, Braden Morris, Elise Osmun, Elizabeth Schneider, Blake Side, McKay Smith, Landon Weber and Laney Zimmerer

vory dishes, a term commonly used to refer to salty or spicy dishes, not sweet. “He does fantastic plating and sauces,” she said. Collins estimates that between 10% and 15% of her students will go on to have culinary careers. She recommends that students with a passion for the field pursue it, but only if they know what they’re getting into.

“It is a passion,” she said. “They have to have that passion. It is a lot of hard work.”

Keys said he plans to start Spokane Community College’s culinary program in the fall. Once he graduates from there, he’d like to travel the world, cooking as he goes.

“I’d like to experience different cultures and their food,” he said. “I could work in a restaurant hopefully anywhere I go.”

June 5, 2024 • Wednesday • T21 Special SecTion
Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Eric Agius Jess Albios Madison Alexander Joma Alington Trinity Allen Mustafa Alwattar Rebeca Amaro Ali Sina Amiri Ranny Amram Ayla Anderson Jacob Anderson Javan Anderson Alie Anei Ava Anyan Isabel Archdale Sierra Asay Rachelle Austin Honiya Azarpour Dawson Balcom Garrett Baldwin Mia Baldwin McKenna Baribault Kyleigh Barron Cameron Bass Audrianna Beach Robert Bell Livingston Bennett Nichole Benson Khloe Bergmann Nathaniel Bettencourt Peyton Bischoff Hope Blom Luke Blue Gabriel Bond Jacqueline Bonnett Mia Bontrager Allison Boone Ryen Borchers Karly Bowen Hailie Bowlen Dakota Boydston Sophia Braddock Benjamin Bradley Chris Bridge Seth Brooten Carter Brown Sam Brown Ava Brownell Arabelle Bruner Ainsley Buchanan Addison Burns Mason Bytnar Tevan Cales Eric Campbell Jacob Campbell Sarah Campbell Liliana Campos Olivia Cannon Jake Cappel Connor Carlen Zoe Carleton Sayler Carr Allie Chapman Aslin Choi Samuel Clark Dalija Claussen Elizabeth Clouse Kennedy Comstock Matthew Cong Zach Cornthwaite Dylane Costello Julia Costello Brooklynn Cousins Devin Cowart Tanner Crosby Lorelai Dale Andrew Dancer Parker Daniels Samuel Davidson Cooper Davis Jillian Davis Rai Davis-Raikes Mavis Dawes Bentley Deakins William DelPizzo Chase Demus Spencer Dery Coye Dickinson Cole Dillon Majd Dimyati Jeannie Divelbiss Ava Dreher Kamryn Ellis Kaydence Ellison Madison Emrey Micah Engh Molly Engh Gracen Farnsworth Peyton Farnsworth Ashley Farnworth Kai Ferrell Tristin Ferris-Fogle Jenna Fletcher Amaria Flewelling Brooklyn Frank Megan Freeman Liam Freibott Jackson Frickle Parker Gammon Mellina Garcia Allison Gardella Bode Gardner Katherine Gelhausen Austin Gibbs Stetson Gilbert Gabriel Giroux Emily Granado Grayden Greeson Patience Grey Madelyn Gubbe Aurora Guertin TJ Haberman Samuel Haddad Owen Halbig Emma Haney Callie Hansen Christian Hansen Ryker Hardy Austin Hartwig Kayla Hein Kaylee Henning Trey Henning Ellie Hernandez Molly Hieb Savannah Hinckley Michael Hochwalt Alyssa Hrycenko Krista Hrycenko Gabriella Hultman Conner Hyatt Kaleb Hymas Marlee Jacinto Jesse Janke Cameron Jansen Cassie Jay Makenzie Jensen Kasto Jesse Cole Johnson Jessica Johnson Lara Johnson Benjamin Joireman Samuel Jones Maddox Julien Avery Karol Autumn Kern Addison Keys Kaden Keyser Jordan Kezele Devonn Khaleel Joseph King Kaitlin Kingson Jena Kistler Norman Knapp Kali Koeller Neila Koerper-Williams Ramin Kohistani Julia Kolman Breanna Koscielski Ryan Lafferty Jack Lamonica Haden Land Morgan Larsen Jesiah Le Loralyn Lenz Kathryn Leo Brayden Lewis Baylie Long Jameson Lontz Aleia Lundberg Kaelin Magee Talan Main Claire Makortoff Serenity Marek Annie Marll Kayla Martin Aidan Matthews Evan McAdams Kyle McComb Tyler McCulloch Sydney McCullough Austin McDaneld Owen McGinnity Sierra McHenry Isaiah McKee Hunter McKellips Tyisha McKinzie Ella Melin Grace Merrel Wyatt Mildes Mason Miller Micaiah Miller Mason Moe Amanda Moffat Braden Morris Jackson Morris Conlin Moyer Cora Murray Daegn Murrell Ben Myers Andrew Naresh Allison Nelson Kyra Nelson Riley Nelson Gage Newman Samuel Newton Olivia Niblock Emilee Niewald Joseph Nixon Ryan Nolan Matthew Norman Brycee Nuxoll Kailee O’Dell Tristan Olson Elise Osmun William Ovnicek Jayce Palm Jacob Palmer Cooper Parks Davyd Patsukevych Gabriel Pauletto Kaden Peralta Kamryn Person Nevaeh Person Adelle Pilgrim Ella Plonske Cody Pollock William Porter Ezra Pounder Lilyana Purcell-Lee Kyla Quien Tristan Rabe Anise Ramirez Mason Ramot Andrew Rayment Arturo Rebuelta Cervantes Jackson Reijonen Brighton Rhys Ravenna Richards Lani Riggs Namo Rilometo Jakob Rissmann Jayleen Roadrik Prianny Roadrik Bailey Robert Riley Rodenbough Sarah Rodgers Derek Roe Bert Rogers Addison Romey Ian Ryder Matteo Saccomanno Alexander Saindon Tanner Sampson Weston Sanders Payton Sandvik Nathan Santos Gracie Schade Olivia Schadt Zachary Schadt Elizabeth Schneider Austin Schober Jayden Schuerman TJ Schuler Trevor Scott Matthew Sears Jr. Tayleigh Sebesta Maximilian Selden Austin Sevy Nate Sexton Riley Shaw Finley Sicilia Matthew Sicilia Blake Side Tyler Side Gabriel Singley Alia Smith Jamie Smith Joshua Smith McKay Smith McKenna Smith Shaelynn Smith Unique Sommers Gabriel Sorensen Mia Soyars Koda Spegal Zoe Stallings Brycelyn Stevens Madison Stojevich Taylor Stout Iris Sweatt CJ Taylor Travon Thibodeaux Keegan Thomas Makylah Thompson Jackson Tinney Taylor Toreson Elissa Toulou Jack Twenge Caden Vaughn Isabella Warner John Warren Aliya Washington Emma Watkins Ava Watson Thomas Weaver Landon Weber Ava Weishaar Autumn Welton Isadora West Luke White Rae Whitney Kelli Whittier Eli Whitworth Jordyn Williams Meagan Wilson Nicole Wilson Isaiah Wright Joel Yakely Aubrey Yarnell Korinn Young Keller Zangara Ayla Zernick Laney Zimmerer Lily Zwiesler
Mt. Spokane’s Addison Keys, who is an apprentice chef at Kuni’s Thai Cuisine, works to prepare a garlic black pepper chicken dish on May 21 in Spokane. MT. SPOKANE HIGH SCHOOL

A dedicated friend

Wyatt Thorleifson ‘leads because he wants to, not because he has to’

Athletic achievement.

Academic success.

Contribution to school life.

Impressive post-high school plans.

Schools often cite the above as reasons for nominating a student as an outstanding graduate. Mead High School’s Wyatt Thorleifson checks off everything on this list.

There’s just one thing missing: his good friend.

He’s known his buddy Grant Carroll since they played tackle football together in seventh grade, and when Carroll was diagnosed with cancer, Thorleifson stepped up to the plate.

“Grant had been having back pain for awhile,” Thorleifson said. “Then right after his 17th birthday, he texted, ‘I have cancer.’ ” Initially, Thorleifson didn’t worry.

“He’s a strong kid. I thought he’d be fine.”

But Carroll isn’t fine, and Thorleifson has been with him every step of the way.

In an April interview days before Carroll died at age 17, Thorleifson admitted, “It’s hard right now. Grant was just admitted to the hospital for probably the last time. I skipped school today to go see him.”

That dedication amazes counselor Mike Phillips.

“Wyatt spends 3 to 6 hours every day with the family,” Phillips said. “He’s been the intermediary between Grant’s mom and the school. He’s spearheaded fundraising efforts for them.”

For example, he wanted Carroll’s Christmas to be special, so he raised a little over $700 from friends and family to buy his friend a Star Wars Venator Lego set.

“Grant got a lot of Legos for Christmas,” he said, chuckling.

But he downplayed his efforts.

“I almost don’t like getting attention for this. He’s just my best friend. I do what I do because I love Grant,” he said. “He’s fighting for his life in the arena every day.”

Thorleifson, one of Mead’s valedictorians, played football, wrestled and participat-

ed in the school’s four-year pathway to engineering program. He’s received a congressional appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy.

“He’s a tremendous student and such a good human being,” Phillips said. “It’s a privilege for the Naval Academy to have him.” But it’s Thorleifson’s unwavering dedication to his friend that moves Phillips. He recalled a conversation he had with Thorleifson.

“It was 1 a.m., and Wyatt told Grant that he needed to go home and go to bed,” Phillips said. “Grant said, ‘Will you just stay?’ So, Wyatt grabbed a blanket and stayed on the floor next to his buddy.”

Nights were difficult for Carroll, and Thorleifson understands that.

“We’ve had hard conversations when he wakes up in the middle of the night,” he said. “But that time is priceless.”

Thorleifson said he enjoyed his time at Mead, whether he was training hard with his teammates for football and wrestling or creating a collapsible ski rack that moves from wall to vehicle for his engineering class.

He’s continuing his family’s tradition of military service.

“My dad was an officer in the Marine Corps, and my great-grandfather was a naval officer,” he said. “I’m pretty excited to be going to the Naval Academy. I’ll be with people who think the same way I do – I try to become the best version of myself as I can.”

Phillips has no doubt this student will soar.

“He’s a leader, and he doesn’t do it for attention,” Phillips said. “He leads because he wants to, not because he has to. Who knows? He could be a future rear admiral.”

As Thorleifson looks forward with anticipation, he reflects on what being present for Carroll and his family has taught him.

“It’s made me want to reprioritize my life and spend as much time as I can with the people I love,” he said. “Tomorrow’s not guaranteed for any of us.”


The Mead High School commencement will be at 8 p.m. June 7 at McCarthey Athletic Center, 801

N. Cincinnati St.

Principal: Kimberly Jensen

Valedictorians: Madison Allen, Mackenzie Baertlein, Savithri Bhat, Hudson Byrd, Carissa Cary, Allison Child, Gavin Clark, Charlotte Cullen, Alexandra Cummings, Isaac Deibel, Sydney DeWaide, Chase Dinges, Megan Doud, Liam Eastman, Mackenzie Ediger, Hudson Fritts, Teryn Gardner, Luke Hartvigsen, Xavier Hattenburg, Grace Howard, Kyla Hughes, Sean Kim, Alaina Koesel, Noah Leland, Grace Martinsen, Judah Miller, Cosette Mize Kuuttila, Maylie Nelson, Jaycee Oglesbee, Samantha Pierce, Pattyn Poindexter, Madden Raab, Charles Ring, Miles Rocholl, Zachary Schuler, Evan Shotwell, Reagan Silbar, Kayla Snow, Mia Speir, Weston Starley, Isabel Sterner, Carter Tabino, Masyn Thielman, Wyatt Thorleifson, Abigail Trotz, Orion VanLandingham, Sienna Wedekind, Richard Wells, Hope Westphal, Audrey Williams and Brielle Wilson

T22 • Wednesday • June 5, 2024 Special SecTion
Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Leyian Abuga Dylan Adams Evan Agidius Elyssa Aguilar Alizay Alamares Sulaiman Alhaj Sulaiman Lexani Allen Madison Allen Madeleine Ames Avrie Anderson Brady Anderson Wesley Anderson Joana Apetri Fundeanu Katelynne Arce Ellie Arlt Elizabeth Armstrong Jolie Armstrong Aharon Ask Gurshan Aulakh Kirran Austin Mackenzie Baertlein Keegan Bailey Cody Bain Chase Baker Samantha Ballard Nadia Banka William Barclay Conner Barker Adrianna Barker-Graham Sasha Barko David Barnes Mazie Barrington Carter Bayley Lilyana Beach Kayli Beasley Coen Beeson Ann Bennett Anna Benton Aiden Berdit Evan Berg Caleb Berry Jonas Beumer Savithri Bhat Jonathon “Ash” Blair Taylor Blake Skylend Blodgett Brooke Bloom Bobby Boomer Raegan Borg Bailey Boudreau Wyatt Braach Michael Brannon Izaiah Branson Olivia Brasch Kaila Brewster Leanna Brisan Elizabeth Brooks Campbell Brose Rylee Brower Maya Brown Nathan Brulotte Kaylil Bruna Elissa Bruner Noah Buchmann Lance Buell Aubrey Bunten Jacob Burdick Amelia Burland Benjamin Byers Hudson Byrd Ravenna Byrd Jesse Carpenter Grant Carroll Ben Carter Maiseyella Caruso Carissa Cary Malia Cassel Norah Cavanaugh Elayna Cheney Joseph Cheney Allison Child Daisha Christensen Megan Christensen Gavin Clark Apryl Collings Dylan Colson Isaac Compogno Ashlee Conley Baylie Conner Benjamin Coons Dominick Corley John Cortez Cameron Coulson Halee Croschere Charlotte Cullen Alexandra Cummings Miah Cyr Chloe Dalluge Luke Davenport Daphne Day Ty DeHaven Sydney DeWaide Isaac Deibel Alexander DiBartolo Carter Dinges Chase Dinges Franziska Djatej Tanlyn Donahoe Kyle Doran Megan Doud Ashlyn Dougall Yasmine Duranona Bo Durgan Megan Dutton Liam Eastman Mackenzie Ediger Addison Edmonson Jordan Edwards Caiden Egen Elijah Ehrmantrout Konary Ellis Levi Emch Robert Emery Felipe Facco William Farley Braden Farr Samantha Fay Jadyn Fessler Emerson Fleck Evelynn Forim Austin Frederick Natalie Fricano Hudson Fritts Ellie Fuchs Adrian Fudge Cavan Funkugub Connor Gallagher Madison Gallinger Jocelyn Gamache Teryn Gardner Tatum Gaspard Kendall Gaura Ciara Golden Gonzalo Gonet Karen Gonzales Joey Goodman Andrew Goss Talan Gould Emma Graffia Hayden Grant Carson Gravatt Hailey Gray Alesia Green Isabella Grorud Selah Gruen Noel Gunther Moritz Hach Joslin Hagen Anna Hajjar Deanna Haley Emmitt Hankal Reese Hanson Taylor Harris Jayden Harrison Luke Hartvigsen Xavier Hattenburg Kennedy Helm Jacob Hendrix Savannah Hidy Trinity Hilton Catherine Hoffman Eian Holmes-Selk Mason Hood Adriana Hoogendam Rebekah Hostetler Ayden Houston Grace Howard Jekiah Howell Sydney Huggins Kyla Hughes Jordyne Hunt Ryker Hurd Hasiba Ibrahimi Emma Ingalls Caden Isakson Collin Isakson Laila Ives Brayden Jelsing Alicia Jenkins LaiLa Jenson Caleb Johnson Haley Johnson Keenan Johnson Nathan Jolley Benjamin Juarez Anika Kappauf Addison Kiewert Sean Kim Alyssa Knight Sadie Knowlton Alaina Koesel Dennis Komarov Edward Kozhokaru Brayden LaBelle Hailey LaRocque Leilani LaRocque Kaitlyn Lambert Kyle Larsen Toby Lavelle Devin LeBlanc Noah Leland Lindsay Leo Emma Leon Alesia Levchenko Christopher Lewis Ethan Lewis Fionn Lewis Isaac Liles Emma Lindley Sarah Lines Kadmiel Lopez Sean Lovering Liam Lundin Keagan Lynch Dylan Lyons Kristopher Mach Jeanne Maldonado Sofia Mark Chloe Marquez Alisabethe Martinez Grace Martinsen Talan Mason Brandon Mattox Seneh McClure Jett McConnell Preston McDaniel Landen McElroy Ryann McGilvray Anwynn McLean Elliott McNamara Keely Meachem Lilly Mena Elaina Michelsen Paige Micklich Avery Miethe Lydia Mikkelsen Judah Miller Isaac Mitchell Cosette Mize Kuuttila Cressida Mize Kuuttila Cameron Moen Sierra Mollotte Sidiqullah Moltafet Mica Moore Samuel Moore Wyatt Moore Lucy Mower Ajla Mujanovic Chloe Mullins Dylan Murray Matthew Na Joshua Neiwert Maylie Nelson Roxanna Nelson Desmond Nguyen Kevin Nguyen Lillie Nichols Jaralyn Nickerson Mathias Nordstrom Ashley Ochoa Jaycee Oglesbee Ty Olds Abigail Oliphant Coby Olson Lucas Ordaz Amber Overman Jaden Palm Kade Paplinski Brooklyn Paradiso Olivia Patterson Olivia Paul Lillian Pegram Carson Penna Makayla Perry Lucas Pettit Christoff Phillips Samantha Pierce Logan Pipgras Angelina Pitini Pattyn Poindexter Isaac Pooler Kymberlie Prescott Darynn Pribe Ian Price Ruby Prince Nikolas Puletasi Madden Raab Conner Randall Nathan Ratcliffe Matthew Ray Alana Readicker Alison Readicker Bruce Redden Benjamin Rimmer Ella Rinck Charles Ring Emily Roberts Victoria Robertson Miles Rocholl Isaiah Rodriguez Aaron Rogers Faith Rohde Nicolas Rojas Nunez Kade Ronningen Antonio Russo Anna Ryan Sara Sadat Jacob Sadberry BreeAnn Sampson Tristan Sams Aleaha Sauer Wyatt Schaeck Hannah Schmick Adyn Schmitt Abbigail Schmutz Kevin Schug Zachary Schuler Henry Schumacher Kellan Schwab Ian Scott Lorna Selby Martina Serrano Rodriguez Dylan Sevey-Woods Lorent Shabani Frisco Shaw Tracy Shipley Evan Shotwell Tyler Shover Javad Sigari Reagan Silbar Abigail Sim AveMaria Simmons Trysten Sirmans Elijah Sletten Alexee Smith Braxton Smith Brynn Smith Michaela Smith Kayla Snow Billie Snyder Mia Speir Mariah Stanford Garrett Stansberry Weston Starley Cole Startin Tanner Startin Allison Steel Charlie Jo Stern Isabel Sterner Isaiah Stevens Clayton Stuart Mason Stull Anthony Swedyk Harley Swedyk Monica Ta Carter Tabino Jay Taylor Parker Taylor Theresa Taylor William Taylor Luke Tedrow Parker Thams Masyn Thielman Kaliana Thomas Wyatt Thorleifson Lenorah Thornton Lilly Thuswaldner Adia Torres Abigail Trotz Levi Tucker Zeydriel Turner Logan Uhlman Tristan Utley Timothy Vakulich Alizay Valdez Orion VanLandingham Colby Vandelac Anthony Vang Elle Vanning Gabriela Viana Froes da Silva Conor Vue Reese Walker Madilyn Ward Simon Ward Bruce Watson Sam Weaver Ty Webb Jackson Weber Sienna Wedekind Kye Welch Richard Wells Hope Westphal Grace Whipkey Glenn Whittekiend Benjamin Wilks Nathalie Wilks Audrey Williams Oliver Williams Brielle Wilson Elliot Wilson Anthony Winborne Sidney Wines Parker Wirth Samuel Wisenor Katelyn Wolf Max Workman Bethany Yarbro Aiden Yonek Spencer York Manuel Zackious Chloe Zheng Kenneth Zigarlick Jr. Kali Zollinger Jeremy Zuniga Evelyn Zwiesler
Wyatt Thorleifson, of Mead High School, will go to the U.S. Naval Academy next year. MEAD HIGH SCHOOL

‘A picture of resilience, service and diligence’

After struggling in elementary school, Annabel Flippen found a place to thrive

Born in China and adopted at 17 months by Marc and Tamara Flippen, Annabel Flippen faced challenges that would daunt many children.

“I had a cleft lip and palate,” she said. “I’ve had 12 surgeries.”

School was difficult for her.

“In elementary school, I struggled with many subjects – especially math and English,” Flippen said. “I had a difficult time pronouncing words because of my cleft palate.”

Those difficulties frustrated her and set her behind her peers. Her parents saw her innate intelligence and intervened, enrolling her at North Star, a homeschool partnership that now is part of Mead Learning Options.

And there, she began to shine.

“Annabel has been a picture of resilience, service, and diligence,” said Ginny Cronin, North Star director. “She joined our program as a special education student and is graduating as a Running Start student.”

Flippen said being in a multi-age environment allowed her to relax and settle into learning.

“When I came to North Star in second grade, I was able to get the help I needed,” she said. “I wasn’t the only one who struggled and needed to be taught differently.”

Cronin recalled the effort Flippen put in.

“Math was harder for her than language arts, but neither was easy,” Cronin said. “Annabel just put her head down and worked so hard.”

Feeling welcomed and accepted at North Star enabled Flippen to excel.

“The teachers and the students really get to know each other,” Flippen said.

“It’s a beautiful community that I get to be part of. I still enjoy going to school every day.”

Music offered her a joyous outlet.

“She joined our marimba band in fifth grade, and this year, she’s leading the class,” Cronin said. “We’ve invited her to teach marimba band next year. She’s very gentle and patient, but she’s strong – not a pushover.”

In seventh grade, she picked up the violin and joined the Spokane Youth Symphony.

“Music has had a huge impact on my life,” Flippen said. “I don’t think it will ever stop being part of my life.”

Academically, writing is her favorite subject, and she relished the opportunity to be a part of Running Start at Spokane Falls Community College, where she recently made the honor roll.

Cronin said Flippen plans to continue her education at Eastern Washington University with the goal of becoming an elementary teacher with an emphasis on music.

“I was afraid to ask for help,” Flippen said, reflecting on how her own experiences shaped her career goals. “I want to create relationships with students and

understand why they struggle. I want them to know that they can overcome difficulties.”

She has a message for that struggling second-grader she used to be.

“If I could go back, I’d tell her to keep pushing forward,” she said. “The end is going to be amazing.”

Cronin echoed that sentiment.

“Annabel has been a model of service and kindness at our school,” Cronin said. “I hope she ends up teaching for the Mead School District. She’ll make a great teacher, and we think the world of her.”


Eleanor Mroczko mixes AP classes and dedication to dance

With one chapter of her life closing by graduating from Coeur d’Alene Charter Academy, Eleanor Mroczko is ready for her next steps at the University of Idaho.

Even while attending a school as vigorous as CdA Charter, Mroczko took mostly AP classes to get as far ahead as possible.

“I don’t know why, but I decided to take a lot of AP classes, and that was a really big challenge to do that, but I got through it, and I really learned a lot from it,” she said.

Although the classes can be more intense, Mroczko has been attending Charter since sixth grade. The biggest challenge for her was the year COVID-19 hit and everything was in lockdown.

“It was really tough through the COVID years,” Lindsay Mroczko, Eleanor Mroczko’s mother, said. “It’s been a tough journey for these kids.

Sandy Midgley, a social studies and history teacher at Charter, is grateful to have had Mroczko as a student. Midgely describes her as “elegant, classy and fun” in her classroom and around the school.

“She takes tremendous care,” Midgley said. “She is meticulous about the work she turns in. It is always on time, if not early, but the difference is you will never know it. She never shows that she is obsessing about a grade or that she is trying to get yet one more point to increase her GPA. She is just genuinely hard working all the time.”

Mroczko’s family is also proud of how far she has come and what she has accomplished. Her mother has bittersweet feelings about watching her daughter go off to college.

“She is my second, and she is like my heart center child, so it is exciting to see her leave the nest,” Lindsay Mroczko said. Despite the schoolwork being more challenging, Mroczko has found that challenge has motivated her to get to this point. The environment at Charter is close-knit so students can create strong bonds.

“Charter is kind of a small school so you get close with everyone there and you can make a lot of memories at the events like dances,” Mroczko said. On top of Mroczko’s school work, she has also dedicated her past five years to dance, focusing on ballet, jazz and hip-hop.

“It took a lot of my time throughout high school,” Mroczko said. “Usually, like three times a week or more.” In August, Mroczko will enroll at UI, where she plans on majoring in global disease ecology. She hopes to head down the pre-veterinary path. For as long as she can remember, animals have always been a huge part of her life. Her family fosters older horses so they live out the rest of their lives naturally. Mroczko plans to do this for her career.

“We moved to Idaho and got a lot


of animals and I have always kind of loved animals and wanted to take care of them,” she said. Mroczko used to partake in rodeos and has been horseback riding for about nine years. Her family has two dogs, seven cats, 12 goats and two horses. Morczko hopes with this career she can keep animals as a focus in her life. “She is our hardest worker, whenever she sets her mind to something, she will set everything aside and she gets it done,” Lindsay Mroczko said. “She won’t go out if she has homework – that comes first – and it’s not us putting the rules on her. She puts them on herself.”

June 5, 2024 • Wednesday • T23 Special SecTion
Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Brooklyn Adams Abdulla AlHasani Raven Albee Matthias Beckford Andrew Bedryak Gianna Bell David Berro Jackson Bertholic Meghan Bertholic Olyvia Bissell Austin Blankenship Erin Blanton Ava Busch Elliette Collins Serenity Conger Tamia Cranston Kathleen Daley Joshua Daniels Andrew Dashiell Lilly Day Trista DeHart Clark Dunmore Elijah Erbeznik Colin Fairborn Sarai Finafrock Annabel Flippen KayLee Gariepy Trevor Gariepy Bradley Gleave Roland Harper Dominic Huffman Maddisyn Hulett Samson Hunter Valeria Iapara Mathias Ivey Maddox Julien Joseph Kobzar Kristina Konstantin Hailey Krick Alina Kutsar Canyon Larson Kennedy Mason Madelyn Maxwell Ryder Miles Mason Miller Dasha Nazarchuk Felix Nikulenko Chase Olson Brayden Pankey Chelsea Perez Madelyne Picard Yerus Rudolph Kody Schmidt Alec Sipko Jenna Stevens Rylan Strang Lucas Uhlenkott Sydney VanderMeer Corbyn VanderploegPackwood Kadence Whittle Hailee Willett Camdyn Williams Asterisk X Melanie Zelepukhin Rebecca Zgherea Gabriel Zsigo Graduation The Mead Learning Options commencement will be at 6 p.m. June 6 at Mt Spokane High School Theater, 6015 E. Mt. Spokane Park Drive. Principal: Nick Edwards Valedictorians: Colin Fairborn and Yerus Rudolph MEAD LEARNING OPTIONS
Annabel Flippen, of Mead Learning Options, wants to be an elementary school teacher. COURTESY
will enroll at the University of Idaho in August and plans to major in global disease ecology. Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Jessalynn Adams Emma Anderson Sebastian Baker Ariella Begalman Jack Bredeson Pius Bresee Claudia Campbell Mira Crawford Madeline Daigle Natal Davis Henry DePew Rylan Dixon Peyton Duffield Ava Duffy Emma Fisch Abigail Fitzgerald Zoe Flores Anna Foster Samuel Garn Porsche Gerdes Jackson Hermsmeyer Ella Jereczek Piper Judd Loretta Karvonen Emma Keith Joshua Lamb Samuel Lambert Ruby Larson Samuel Laster Stanley Luo Ethan Madrid Abigail Moehring Alexandria Montgomery Eleanor Mroczko Shaunessy Neirinckx Nolan Oyler Mariel Palmer-Kamprath Julia Peppin Katherine Reiswig Tytan Reynolds Jane Robinson Nathan Russell Alexa Sheppard Connor Smith Hailie Velasco Olivia Wheeler Felicia Wirth Graduation The Coeur d’Alene Charter Academy commencement was May 31 at Lake City Church, 6000 N. Ramsey Road, in Coeur d’Alene. Principal: Dan Nicklay Valedictorian: Abigail Moehring


As a child, Morgan Baker dreamed of becoming a basketball player. However, he had a bone coalition in both feet in middle school, ending his basketball career.

This is when he discovered his love for music.

“He’s always been into music. Music is his passion,” said Baker’s mother, Janelle Baillie. “As he has gotten better throughout the years, he has become more focused and attentive to his music.

“We get a lot of free concerts at home. He developed this plan in the last two years, but I have always known he would be an entertainer in some capacity.”

Allison Vanlandingham, Baker’s counselor at Post Falls High School, described how he is the heart and soul of the Post Falls band with the endless energy he provides. He is the captain of the school’s improvisation team and is an essential component of the school’s choir and band. Baker even founded the school’s drum

line during his junior year. There is no adviser for the drum line, so the musicians have to practice on their own time and ask permission from administration to put on a halftime show. The first drum line halftime show was put on at Post Falls’ homecoming football game in 2022. Baker has been training underclassmen to carry on the drum line tradition after he graduates in June. Then, Baker plans to attend the University of Idaho to pursue a degree in music business. He plans to join the marching band in college and “devote my life to music.”

Baker has always appreciated music, but did not realize it was his calling until after his foot surgeries.

“When I couldn’t play basketball anymore, I resorted to music and fell in love with it,” Baker said.

“It’s the perfect way for people to express their emotions. There are so many different ways to express love for music because it is a diverse art form.” Baker is proud to be a Post Falls Trojan.

“I really do believe Post Falls is the greatest school in the area because of the variety of opportunities the school offers,” Baker said. “During my sophomore year, I started getting out of my comfort zone, which was the best decision I ever made. Post Falls is a great safe space to try new things and feel welcome doing all of them.”

Baker’s innate passion for his school stands out in his role for a program called LINK, in which juniors and seniors sign up to mentor freshmen and help them adjust to high school. Baker has been a LINK leader for the past two years and mentors about 30 freshmen.

Baker was voted by his classmates to be homecoming king and is now a candidate for the prom court.

“He lives and breathes Post Falls High School. He is the epitome of a Post Falls Trojan,” Vanlandingham said. “I can not say enough positive things about him. I know he’s going to be successful because he’s just that type of go-getter person.

“He will be missed around the school.”


Isabella Martin overcame obstacles to reach graduation

Despite losing her mom her sophomore year due to COVID-19 and missing her entire sophomore year, Isabella Martin is still managing to graduate with her class this year at New Vision High School in Post Falls.

For Martin’s freshman year, she attended Post Falls High School and planned to do the same her sophomore year until the week before.

“During my sophomore year, my mother died the week before so I ended up dropping out that year,” she said. “I didn’t gain any credits that year so I had to make up three years of credits in two.” The loss of her mother was hard to overcome, however with the support of her family and New Vision, Martin has been able to get on the right track for finishing senior year. Martin has attended New Vision for her junior and senior years of high school.

“You don’t realize sometimes when you carry a lot of pain until you can start sharing and realize from another perspective how better your world is from where you’ve been,” said Richard Martin, Isabella’s father. Martin is taking three online classes on top of her regular classes to finish the school year with all the credits she needs to graduate.

Nick Groth, a teacher at New Vision, taught Martin in both study skills and speech class. Through Martin’s past two years at New Vision, Groth has seen her grow as a person and come out of her shell.

“She shows what the model student is,” he said.

“She came to us behind in credits and she worked her tail off to get caught up and graduate on time and she did.”

However, Martin credits a lot of her success to the school, the staff and the friendships she has made.

“When I first got there I didn’t know anyone and the teachers were very warm

and welcoming,” she said. Martin was able to form relationships that she will take with her in the next step in her life.

“It means everything, that’s kind of why any teacher gets into the career field, more so at an alternative school because they come to us and they’re behind on credits or life’s kind of dragging them down pretty hard,” Groth said. “To have someone take a year off with her circumstances, it’s pretty amazing to see someone that young graduate on time.”

After graduation, Martin plans on attending Paul Mitchell the School in Coeur d’Alene to get her cosmetology license. Once the course is completed, she hopes to build up her portfolio and name.

Martin has always had an interest in hair and makeup, so she is looking forward to pursuing it as a career.

“Ever since I was a little girl, I always watched my mom do her makeup and as I got older that’s actually how me and her bonded,” Martin said.

Richard Martin is extremely proud of his daughter and the growth she has made over the past few years. He describes everything she has managed to do as a “miracle” and is grateful she pushed herself to do it.

“I know that when I was her age I had no direction, it took me another 10 years to figure my profession out,” Richard Martin said. “The history that we’ve made to get through 18 years is really serious … It’s been a lot. Bella has turned a lot around.”

T24 • Wednesday • June 5, 2024 Special SecTion
COURTESY New Visions’s Isabella Martin plans to get her cosmetology license. Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Ashlyn Alverson Samantha Ball Sadie Blondell Shianne Bracamonte Kile Bradley Piper Broadsword Patrick Brown Joyceta Chacon Adrian Coates Rylan Colkins William Curtis Condie II Hailey Coughanour Alora Cox Ayden Devlin Cameron Echelberger Aidan Ehrmantraut Emily Ellis Sherry Elmer Mattie Etherington Lilly Glasser Ryenn Haskin Jacob Hicks Logan Himes Jose Ibarra Merrick Irvin Henry Jara Jr. Gianna Jenkins James Krickl Shylah LorentzenParker Aydan Lyons Isabella Martin Joshua McBurnett Caden Mendy Jesalyn Meyers Rocco Morse III Tayah Nelson Quinn Owens Kaitlyn Paine Lucian Parton Christopher Payton Shawn Pecor Lillyana Pettry Brian Pintor Salazar Travis Presley Evan Quiroz Evangeline SantiagoRosenberg Jeremy Schneider Aidan Talley Noah Tomlinson Jessica Waltermier Markey Wasson Lillian Wenzell Hannah Whan John Whatley Graduation The New Vision High School commencement will be at 7 p.m. June 6 at Post Falls High School auditorium, 2832 E. Poleline Ave., Post Falls. Principal: Dawn Mackesy
Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Abbey Aaseby Brandon Achziger Josephine Albaugh Kayden Allen Luke Allen Riley Allen Shaila Allen Lincoln Allred Christian Alvarez Samantha Anderson Steven Anderson Keelan Arnold Matthew Arnspiger Caiden Assels Jaxon Austin Samantha Bajorek Morgan Baker Makenzie Baldwin Jayden Barker Jeffrey Barnhart Veronica Bastedo Tylr Baumgarten Hunter Beck Balin Becker Ryne Behrens Kenzie Bennett Destini Benson Katherine Berg Alexis Betances Brandi Bisaro Samantha Blankenbaker Logan Blettner Tyler Bole Jack Bonville Dylan Boren Asher Bowie Gregory Bowman Katelyn Brantl Summer Braun Maddison Brazee Brooklynn Brennan Annika Brooks Keiran Brown Bryce Browning Shae Browning Lily Bruns Mathew Brustad Tevin Burns Hailee Bush Logan Byers Caden Calkins Ricky Campbell Vance Campbell Malaysia Cantin Kaitlyn Carmack Braxton Cerise Blake Christensen Zachery Clare Logan Clark Micah Clark Savanah Clenney Camron Cliff Tylor Coash Nevaeh Cole Sabrina Collins Brodyn Compton Hannah Conijn Randy Cook Ethan Covey Caleb Cox Cooper Craig Blair Crane McKenna Crenshaw Foxx Cullen Luke Curlee Gabriel Currie Veronica Curry Eden Dale Daniel Davoren Austin Deboer Jason Delaney Jacob Denney Alexis Depalma Gabriel Diamond Hannah Dobesh Kailie Draper Kayden Dubay Marcus Duke Kayleigh Dunlap Matthias Easlon Mica Easterly Olivia Eismann Robert Eloe Benjamin Engebretsen Aliah Escamilla McGavyn Estes Joshua Estrada David Faamau Kyler Face Charley Fish Natalie Fisher Ethan Fleischman Shane Flores Cameron Floyd Cassidy Ford Sienna Fortune Wyatt Frear Connor Freeson Tyler French Jonathan Fuqua Kaleb Gadley Kyndelle Galaviz-Hoehne Kellan Galgiani Spencer Gann Joely Gardiner Taylor Garrett Taycen Genatone Jackson George Cadalyn Getchius Byron Goertzen Merissa Goin Jennie Gonzales-Larson Alicia Gonzalez Daniel Goodmansen Corbin Goodwin Jon Goslin Jamison Greene Alexis Grieshaber Bryce Gunderson Ashlyn Gurney Aaron Haakinson Talan Hall Jessica Haller Emma Hansen Ezri Hansen Jaren Hansen Abigail Harms Hailey Harvey Sierra Hausen Alexander Helt Alorah Helt Isaiah Hiner Elijah Hitchcock Isaac Holding Peyton Hollenbeck Connor Holloway Jacob Holthaus Hunter Honshell Kinnith Hood Lauren Howlett Damian Huddleston Andrew Hudson Chloe Hudson Jordan Hughes Gregory Huisman Jace Humphrey Carson Hunter Boston Hutchens Makita Jacobs Hunter Jacobson Samuel Jennings Nathaniel Johnson Owen Johnson Zachary Johnson Jayla Joiner Kalena Jones Alexander Kaschube Madisen Kelley Karson Kelly Emma Kern Jackson Kiehn Dylan King Jack Kiss Brianna Kodak Destene Kottre-Martinez James Laker Alexis Lange Dakota Langevin Marley Larson Allee Lewey James Lewis Maximus Lickfold Kyndall Limesand McKenna Limesand Hailey Lindsey Jackson Linquist Christian Logan Brent Ludiker Riley Mahaffey Nicholas Martinez Shyanne Mason Marley Matson Mallory Mayabb William MazariegosMcBroom Hannah McCalmant Neil McCarthy Bella McDermott Kinlee McLean Brooklynn McNabb Heavenlie McNamee Brooklyn Mendonca Trinity Meurs Hayden Meyer Jaden Minkler Alex Mohne-Silva Matthew Moler McKenzie Montee Noah Monton Caitlyn Morgan Katelyn Moylan Miles Mugleston Kylie Munday Kadience Munsey Kaylee Murrill Hunter Nap Alexander Nay Kelsey Nelson Lauren Nelson Lila Nosler Vedder Nowlin Jacob Nunez Bryson O’Connell Jared Olsen Andrew Orsua Troy Ostlund Israel Owen Lillian Page Emma Parker Gabrielle Parker Gavin Parks Naomi Perry Mya Petersen Zoe Petersen Elizabeth Phillips Christopher Piippo Zoe Pommerening Dawson Pratt Tanner Pulliam Sultan Rafeeq Ellie Reardon Sophia Rebay Ashley Reed Jacob Reed Alliana Rider Brendon Riehart Evonie Rivera Dominic Roberts Derek Robinson Piper Rodkey Nolan Rogers Jack Ross Kayla Rouse Austin Rutherford Preston Sage Jenna Sarff Noah Schmidt Caden Schneider Aiden Shamion Makensy Shapiro Hunter Shellenbarger Kira Sherman Alexander Shields Kaylee Simmons Kadin Sims Sofia Smirnova Emerie Smith Justice Smith Quintin Smothers Jayden Solgonick Carson Sorensen Koen Spann Alexis Stephens Ryland Stephens Elery Sterling Alexander Stevens James Stoudt-Dale Judah Straub Nathan Stroud Jazlyn Stutheit Carson Sullivan Joseph Sylvestri Kate Taggart Nolan Taylor Cayleigh Theoret James Tolleson Aiden Tomlinson Oakland Traw Ayden Triana Kaylen Triana Lilly Tucker Macy Uemoto Anthony Van Lehn Claire Vander Werff Nolan Vaughan Jax Vernon Abigail Vetromile-Bauer Aubrianna Wall Makai Walton Kali Warner Cadence Warren Brooklynn Way Grace Weber Ashley Webster Makoa Weldon Noah Wells Kylie Wenner Ellia White Alisha Wilfong Maleah Wilhelm Gavin Winter Dylan Wolfe Hannah Woodford Jonah Wymer Autumn Young Drew Zeller Gabrielle Zichko Isaac Ziegler Raya Zirker
Morgan Baker, a leader and mentor at Post Falls High, plans to attend the University of Idaho.
The Post Falls High School commencement will be at 7 p.m. June 7 at Post Falls High School Arena, 2832 E. Poleline Road, Post Falls. Principal: Chris Sensel Valedictorians: Isaac Ziegler and Caden Schneider Morgan Baker’s love for music transcends high school band NEW VISION HIGH SCHOOL POST FALLS HIGH SCHOOL




As one of the top runners in the state, Ben Morales rose from 39th at the State 2B Cross Country Championships as a sophomore to third place as a junior and second place as a senior.

St. George’s distance coach, Rick Riley, couldn’t have predicted that meteoric rise.

“At the end of the middle school track season, Ben began working out and running with varsity kids,” Riley said. “He’s very focused and an extremely hard worker, but I wouldn’t have identified him as becoming as outstanding as he is.”

Morales said he tried “all the sports” in elementary school and started cross country and track in middle school, and then something just clicked.

“My freshman year, I realized I really loved running.”

And because he loved it, he became laser-focused on improving.

“I like the individual aspect,” Morales said. “It’s up to you to make your goals and see what happens.”

What happened is that he won the 1,600 race at the 2023 State 2B Track & Field Championships. He also ran a key leg in the Dragons’ 4x400 victory at state, helping St. George’s win its first state championship in boys track and field last year.

“Ben is driven by a remarkable work ethic,” Riley said. “Distance running is a 12-month-a-year sport if you want to excel at it.”

Morales wanted to excel for himself and his school.

“I love my team,” he said.

Riley said the student is such a fan of the sport that he attended world championship events as a spectator and introduced himself to the runners.

“He’s a student of the sport,” Riley said. “And Ben has excelled in the classroom, too.”

Morales is an International Baccalaureate diploma candidate and has attended St. George’s since kindergarten. He said his athletic endeavors provided a lasting life lesson.


“It helped me see the value in working hard.”

He’s enjoyed the small class sizes at St. George’s.

“We have a tight bond,” Morales said.

In addition, those smaller classes offered him the ability to form deeper connections with his instructors.

“I can talk to my teachers about anything,” he said.

In his free time, Morales enjoys hanging out with his friends and experiencing the outdoors. He also plays piano.

“I started piano in first grade,” he said. “I found an awesome teacher who let me play the songs I liked.”

COVID marked an end to piano lessons but not the end of his enjoyment.

“Now, I teach myself the songs I want to play.” Riley has appreciated this student’s drive and leadership.

“A lot of the work he has to do is solitary, but he’s a team leader in workouts,” Riley said. “He’s been a huge part of our team dynamic. I’m going to miss him a ton.”

Morales, a Canadian citizen, will at-

tend McGill University in Montreal this fall, where he plans to study psychology with an emphasis in behavioral neuroscience.

“McGill is one of the top 25 universities in the world – comparable to Harvard,” Riley said. Morales is looking forward to spread-

ing his wings as a McGill Redbird.

“They have a great running program, and I love Montreal,” he said. His coach is confident Morales will continue to excel.

“Ben has such incredible focus,” said Riley. “He’ll be successful at whatever he chooses to do.”

June 5, 2024 • Wednesday • T25 Special SecTion TeaganCanadyCassidyClellandBentleyEnglishCarsonFieldMasonFosterHeleneGirardXiaoKang(Kayden)Gu KatherineGunnTaliaHorstedGabinJolyAustinJulsenAshtanKrzyzanekSteelLindauerJaceMelville BenjaminMoralesSamMorrisLilyNosbaumHenriettaOsborneLilaRigsbyLaurenWestRobertWitmer CONGRATULATIONS TO SPOKANE’S INTERNATIONAL BACCALAUREATE CLASS OF 2024 SAINT GEORGE’S SCHOOL AWARDED OVER $5.7 MILLION IN MERIT AID & HEADED TO THESE COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES Inspiring the CONFIDENCE to serve and lead. Still accepting applications in Grades K-11 for the 2024-25 school year. Learn more at SGS.org
an athlete
a student, Ben Morales learned the benefits of hard work
Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Teagan Canady Cassidy Clelland Bentley English Carson Field Mason Foster Helene Girard XiaoKang Gu Katherine Gunn Talia Horsted Gabin Joly Austin Julsen Ashtan Krzyzanek Steel Lindauer Jace Melville Benjamin Morales Sam Morris Lily Nosbaum Henrietta Osborne Lila Rigsby Lauren West Robert Witmer
Ben Morales, of St. George’s School, will attend McGill University in the fall.
St. George’s School commencement was May 19 at St. George’s Graduation Lawn, 2929 W. Waikiki Road Principal: Nathan Lill

One small change made all the difference for Gage Nesheim

Sometimes, small changes in a student’s life turn out to be the biggest. That was certainly the case for Three Springs High School senior Gage Nesheim.

Gage was enrolled at Cheney High School for his freshman and sophomore years, but never felt completely comfortable.

“I just didn’t feel like Cheney was a great fit for me,” he said. “I don’t like being around a lot of people, and it was really crowded there.”

went home. I was doing OK, but when I looked at my transcript and saw my grades, I told myself that I needed to do more.

He finished his sophomore year at Cheney but had already begun talking with friends and family about Three Springs. A friend who had transferred to the alternative program suggested that he look at that option.

“I already had several friends at Three Springs,” Gage said, “so the transition was fine. At Cheney, I just stuck to myself, went to my classes and

“I wanted to be the best me, and I didn’t feel like that was possible at Cheney. There wasn’t really a point to what I was doing, and I decided to take advantage of a different opportunity. It took a couple months for me to adjust to the school and start making new friends, but after that it was easy for me.”

The move from Cheney to Three Springs wasn’t the only change in Nesheim’s life. With his parents’ approval, he moved from their home after sophomore year and has lived since then with a friend’s family. He continues to enjoy good relationships with both his mother and father, he said. Gage has blossomed at Three Springs, where he has taken charge of several community projects and is involved in yearbook production.

“Gage is a natural student leader who demonstrates those abilities throughout the school day and year,” said counselor Travis Weest. “He is a tough-love kind of friend who is always looking out for everyone’s best interest, and he challenges his friends to rise to their potential. He is kind and humble, and our community is stronger because of his contributions.”

About that tough-love approach?

“A lot of my friends don’t like doing their work,” Nesheim said, “and so I push them to do it. I don’t like to see people feel down about not passing, so I feel that if I can help I should. If I see anyone that needs help, I will always try to help as much as I can.”

He is unsure of his plans after he graduates. His family is urging him to go to college, he says, and he is interested in learning a trade. Regardless, he feels mostly prepared for whatever comes next. He knows that there are challenges ahead, but says he’s confident that he has developed the tools to be successful and has strong family support.




Callie Porter’s global adventures fueled a love for linguistics

Cheney High School senior and valedictorian Callie Potter has lived around the world, experiences that have ignited her love of language.

Potter was born in Pennsylvania but also spent several years living in Thailand, where her father was a teacher. She moved to Cheney in the third grade, and Potter still loves the idea of traveling and learning other languages. She’s in her fourth year of Spanish classes and is considering a career in linguistics.

“I just think language is really cool,” she said. “It’s just crazy to me that we can communicate in so many different ways.”

Potter wants to travel as an adult and said she believes that if she does, she should know at least a little bit of the language spoken where she’s visiting. She is currently considering what language she wants to start learning next.

Potter’s family came to Cheney after her father got a job teaching at Eastern Washington University. She’s kept busy in school, joining Key Club and High School Health Helpers. She’s also been a class officer since her sophomore year. Among her favorite activities, however, is running. She’s done cross country and the 800- and 1,600-meter races in track for four years.

“You get to be outside,” she said of running. “You can do it with your friends or you can do it by yourself, just a chance to get away from everything.”

Though on the surface Potter has lived the life of a typical high-achieving high school student, she suffered a major blow on her journey. Her mother was diagnosed with a type of melanoma that


The Cheney High School commencement will be at 7:30 p.m. June 6 at McCarthey Athletic Center, 801 N. Cincinnati St. Principal: Brett Hale Valedictorians: Keira Buck, Halley Doney, Colbie Monter, Dale Pasion, Callie Potter and Nolan Redder

spread to her brain, and she died during Potter’s sophomore year.

Potter said she struggled to keep going at times. “Sometimes school was a good distraction and sometimes school took a lot of energy,” she said.

Now that her three older sisters have left home, it’s just Potter and her father. Sometimes the quiet is hard to get used to. “My older sisters were quite talkative, so it’s different,” she said.

School counselor Tyler

Neely describes Potter as resilient in addition to being very kind. “She’s had to face things in high school that have been extremely difficult,” he said. She has also excelled in academics because she works hard and isn’t afraid to challenge herself, Neely said.

“She just has a willingness to want to learn,” he said.

Potter knows she wants to attend a liberal arts college.

While she is considering a focus on linguistics, she wants to explore her options. “I know a lot of people change their majors, so I’m not trying to be set in stone,” she said. She also hasn’t yet committed to a specific college.

“I applied to a lot,” she said. “Now I’m narrowing it down.”

T26 • Wednesday • June 5, 2024 Special SecTion
Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Spencer Aamodt Jayden Adams Mason Alderson Westin Allaire Aaliyah Anderson Sariah Anderson Camille Appere Johnathan Arger Joy Assonken Tanner Baber Olivia Bailey Jackson Barden Tailasha Bear Viktorya Bennett Jasmine Bigelow Lance Bigelow Ruby Bissell Ellie Blackner Ali Blake Johnson Jack Boggs Clayton Brown Pryscilla Brown Clara Browne Brennan Bruno Keira Buck Ryley Buckner Ray Buhle-Williamz Isabel Burke Tre-Anthony Burks-Jenkins Jennalee Burnett Colton Busby Jasmine Butler Brandon Campbell Lilyonna Cannon Elijah Carpenter Rodrigo Carpinteyro Braelynn Carruth Amy Castillo Olivia Chiasson Ethan Chlarson Rylee Church Gregory Chute Joseph Clausen Malitha Clement Jacob Cleveland Samuel Coffin Sophia Coffin Megan Collins Kerleen Compitay Hannah Cook Victor Cortes Zachary Cox Benjamin Crosby Brenna Cunningham Holly Darnold Jason Davila Taelor Deal Jay Delaughter Madylen Dennstaedt Makenna Denton Angelena Diomede Livia Doberman Halley Doney Tai Dotson Cole Douglas Aleksandr Drokin III Isabella Duran Bruce Egger Aidan Eichorst Luke Eichorst Kristin Emert Natalie Emery Lucas Endlish Sedona Ericson Grecia Espinosa Paige Evans Blake Every Trevor Ewert Haidyn Faltus Rafael Faria Trace Ferguson Michael Fetter Tess Fillmore Bethany Fisher Aiden Flanary Abigail Fleskes Atiyanna Flores Sawyer Flores Anthony Foote Trenten Franz Aiden Frazier Saul Fregoso Samuel Frenk Emily Gainer Luis Galvan Izick Garland Adrienne Garza Adrian George Haleigh Ghering Maxsym Goloborodko Mallari Gonzales Krystjin Gonzalez Makayla Gonzalez Serendipity Gooley Erin Greer Delanee Griffin Damian Guevara Eliana Gunderson James Guske Jasmin Gutierrez Kylee Hahn Amie Hall Serenity Hall Cody Hamilton Georgia Hansen Liriel Harrelson-Monk Selene Harrelson-Monk Arianna Hatch Madison Hekimian Eugene Hennequin Tate Heuschkel Zachary Higgins Abigail Hill Mariah Hill Riley Hilliard Ethaniel Holtan Lucas Hooe Miranda Hotchkiss Chris Houndonougbo Alex Hubbard Jeremiah Hubbard Quinn Hubbs Caleb Hummel Jayden Huntsman Bailey Huotari Tyrel Isreal Korey Iverson Aurora Jessel Macen Johnson Hayden Jorgensen Evan Ka’ahiki Kaitlynn Kaplan Taranpreet Kaur Tanner Kawazoe Branson Kennicutt Brian Kibet Serena Kienel Maryrose Kilei Amelia Killin Max Kiselev Kate Kissell Grace Klinkenberg Emily Knott Luke Koegler Jesse Kohn Logan Konrad Peter Koster Sydney Kovach Emily Kozhokaru Roman Kurakin Paige Lacey Kordell Laher Josiah Lathem Payton Laufenburger Cosmo Lengling Ivan Lepekhin Sophia Lichorobiec Carter Lincoln Sydney Lincoln Jayson Lindell Treyson Little Izzabella London Reena Loughery Rubie Loughery Jaidyn Low Julia Lucas Sebastian Lucas Piper Maddox Makenna Madison Connor Magalsky Yadriel Margraf Lincoln Marsh Braeden Marver Charles Mazurik Colbyn McCollim Jaishon McDonald Teagan McGee Zachary McGuffin CinQue McKinley Carter McPherson Matthew McRitchie Serenidy Merideth Trinity Meszler Tatyana Mihailishin McKell Mikieo Alexis Miller Lincoln Miller Natalie Miller Logan Mink Brady Mitchell Colbie Monter Layden Moore Ricki Moran Jorge Munoz-Zamora Emmeline Murray Brady Musgrave Amelia Nadalsky Akeisha Danielle Nocon Maurice Note Jovana Nozinic Ellerie O’Regan Ti’ani Oei Uchechukwu Ogbozor Denisse Opiyo Mia Orozco Marquina Haley Oswald Brooklynn Park Dale Timothy Pasion William Patel Yanna Pavlenko Madelyn Pearson Lilly Pheth Connor Pieratt Anita Piskun Karlee Pope Kendall Pope Kaileb Porter Callie Potter Angelica Prach Kennedy Prescott Brooke Pruett Riley Quaschnick Macy Rains Gizzell Ramos Alondra Rangel Maya Raymond Jackson Reagan Nolan Redder Samuel Rey Macey Richards Brody Richardson Alexander Richmond Wayne Richmond Myriam RiveraPerez Zoe RiveraPerez Korynn Roberts Ava Roettger Abilene Rose Tyler Rothmund Ruuta Rubeaua Alissa Rushing Jericho Ryan Evan Schaber Kaia Scheeter Ryan Scheib Hailey Schuerer Chloe Schultz Martin Schulz Jessica Sebesta Hannah Seyfried Gavin Sheehan Kaily Shuman Salem Shuman Fiona Siffing-Reyes Miles Simms Olivia Sissons Griffyn Smith Michael Smith Harper Sommers Ethan Stahler Alison Statzer Aubrey Stickney Evan Stinson Gabriella Stone Caden Straley Andrew Strawn Travis Strimback Benjamin Talarico Izabella Tarusova Marcel Taylor Teitinataake TebauRibataake Johnny Thomas Conor Thomsen Dillon Thoreson Marion Torlet Noah Torres River Tremblay-Kelly Siri Tripp Matthew Umland Haley VanNorman Tucker VanWormer Jessica Vasilyev Grace Vaughan Julia Vietzke Anne Vollerthun Peyton Wallace Michael Walsh Jonah Ward Ainsley Warren Trey Warren Destiny Wells Kaitlynn Westby Anastaica Westerlund Sonia Wheaton William Wheeldon Makenna Wieck Loren Wiley Adrienne Williams Lauren Williams Logan Wills Hailey Willyard Shyanne Wofford Samuel Woller Jerry Wood Alasdair Yaghtin Trinity Yaghtin Aiden Yajamin Brady Zapf Anne Zehr Amelia Zuniga
Callie Potter, of Cheney High School, wants time to explore her options before setting on a major. CHENEY HIGH SCHOOL
Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Ava Adams Cole Beeler Simon Belieu Jayda Berg Marisa Bustos Zachary Clark Brenda Davis Ryan Finner Brooklynn Garrison Tristan Grove Jocelyn Hill Robert Kalous Dominick Kunz Daniel LaValley Tegan Lee Jaydynn Marcotte Christian Marshall Kaleb Moree Gage Nesheim Elliot Trusty Fern Voorhis Christopher Weldon
Three Springs High School commencement will be at 6:30 p.m. June 7 at Eastern Washington University’s Hargreaves Hall, 616 Study Lane, Cheney. Principal: Catheleen Scott
Ryan Finner and Christopher Weldon

still have the memories’

Loss of family’s home in Gray fire didn’t derail Delaney Gunther’s year

The destruction of her Silver Lake family home in the Gray fire last August made senior year more difficult for Medical Lake High School’s Delaney Gunther.

She played basketball, participated in school clubs and worked to keep her grades up while living in a rented duplex. Her family is still working with its insurance company and has not started rebuilding, Gunther said. “We still have the property,” she said. “We still have the memories. We’ll make more.”

The family wasn’t home on the day they it nearly everything to the Gray fire. The Gunthers were on the East Coast checking out colleges and visiting family. The first they heard about the fire was a text about the evacuation from a friend. “She was walking our dog at the time,” Delaney said.

Another friend helped rescue the other family pets, much to Gunther’s relief.

“I was mostly freaking out about my animals,” she said. “We were in Buffalo for two days after the house burnt down.”

Although their shop survived, the house was gone.

“We had a few belongings we were able to salvage, but everything was basically gone,” she said. “I appreciate that I’m with everyone still.”

Gunther grew up in a military family and spent time in South Korea, Washington, D.C., and New Orleans. By the time she was in second grade, the family had settled in Medical Lake. Gunther has always been involved in school. Although she tried soccer and competed in cross country for two years, basketball has been her focus. Her skill was enough to earn

her a partial basketball scholarship to Walla Walla University.

As basketball coach Yeta Halloway describes it, Gunther was the “ringleader” behind persuading her team and school administrators to bring him on as the girls basketball coach this year. He had only coached boys teams and the retired Air Force veteran had a reputation as being stern, but Gunther believed he could help the team win.

Halloway was so impressed by her determination and drive that he gave her his “Player Award,” which is similar to a team MVP award, he said.

“She never missed a game, never missed a practice,” he said. “We won our first nine games and she had a huge part in that.”

Gunther has also been involved in ASB for the past four years, serving as executive officer this year. She has been in Future Business Leaders of America for four years and is vice president this year. She is also the president of Key Club and the vice president of the National Honor Society.

“It’s a lot, but when you have friends in those activities, it doesn’t feel like it’s work when you’re having fun with your friends,” she said.

Music also has been a constant for Gunther. She plays the alto sax and is in the jazz band. She said her choice of instrument dates to the time she lived in New Orleans.

“I’d mimic people playing the sax with my hands,” she said.

“When I got the opportunity to try it, I said ‘I can’t let this go.’ ” Gunther plans to study social work and psychology in college with the goal of becoming a social worker.

“I kind of want to help people who can’t get their voice out,” she said.


Jaydan Gier is ready to take off

WIN Academy graduation hopes to work as bush pilot in Alaska

Wherever WIN Academy senior Jaydan Gier lands in the future, chances are that he flew to get there.

Eager to get started on a career path that will prepare him to be a bush pilot in Alaska, Gier completed two years of high school in eight months after he transferred to WIN from Cheney High School, where his grades were only so-so and he was feeling a lack of connection with his courses, teachers and other students. According to its website, “WIN is a blended learning model that provides flexible courses for students, small classroom sizes, and continued 1-1 support with a teacher and school counselor.” For Gier, that meant a fully online program, including all lessons and exams. He met once a week with his counselor and teacher, who assisted him with any issues or concerns. He also attended NEWTech Prep, a career and technical education partnership located in Spokane.

“The work at Cheney was

monotonous for me,” Gier said, “and overall it wasn’t working. I was struggling in school, and my teachers, friends, and family all noticed it, and my counselor agreed that I needed something different. I wasn’t credit-deficient, but I wasn’t keeping up with my classes. About one quarter into my junior year, I realized that I wanted to start preparing for my future.

“I went into WIN intending to graduate early, so I hit the ground running as soon as I got there. I worked through my courses as fast as I could, and my teachers opened them up so that I could work ahead as far as I wanted to. It required me to be really organized, because there’s always a chance of falling behind. I set up my schedule to work two or three hours a day on school assignments. It was hard, but I was able to follow it.”

Gier took automotive technology at NEWTech, which he felt will move him toward his goal of becoming an airplane mechanic. He plans to move to Alaska after graduation, and hopes to secure a bush-pilot apprenticeship. It’s costly, he said, but his parents are supportive of his dream.

His interest in aviation, he said, started at 7 or 8 years old when he and his father would build small radio-controlled airplanes, and he knew then that he wanted a career as a pilot. His grandfather was stationed in Alaska during his Air Force

deployment and told Gier stories about bush pilots. As he got older, Gier began doing online research and recently traveled to Alaska, where he did a tour of airplane hangars and maintenance facilities. He hopes to take one more trip to



Principal: Kelly Niccolls

make housing and school or apprenticeship arrangements. As a backup, he secured Automotive Service

certification through NEWTech, and is qualified to work as an automotive technician.

His counselor at WIN, Elisabeth Roberts, said that she will miss Gier.

“I’m kind of bummed that he did two years of work this year and we

June 5, 2024 • Wednesday • T27 Special SecTion
Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Riley Anderson Tessa Appel Isabella Baca Kyler Bean Maryann Bell Emmeline Bergner Alexandria Bolles Abigail Brown Alexis Burket Madison Burns Norah Burris Jonas Burt Landon Canady Isaiah Castillo Domini Charon Levi Clapper Abigail Cole Sheehan Connors Milan Contreras Jamison Cook Joelle Daniels Dyson Davenport Sean Degnan Taylyn Delgado Skylar Devore Carter Dibartolo Brayden Dimick Azlynn Dow Ryan Edwards Andrew Firestone Micah Fisher Cassidy Fitzpatrick Natalie Flavel Hunter Flood Keenen Foutz Isabelle French Lillie Gold Jessa Gonzalez Jasper Grim Christian Gross Creed Gross Alex Grubaugh Delaney Gunther Evelyn Hall Jesse Hall Jayden Hamblin Caleb Hardison Dylan Harp Connor Harrington Emma Heinemann Joshua Henry Chloe Howell Kathryn Hughes Sativa Jackson Rebecca James Curtis Jones Tristin Jones Caleb Kelly Lily Killian Abigail Kubes Lindsay Kuster Julianna Laird Emma Langford Angelina Latimer Emily Lightfoot Ginny Lindley Charde’ Luat Hayden Luzier Ania Manzilla Michalyn McCollough Olivia McGreevy Logan Meyers Celina Mitchell Autum Molina Ty Moore Jolena Naccarato Finn O’Connor Chichetaram Okemgbo Taylor Oliver Chloe Osburn Brooklyn Peasley Kendrick Perkins Cody Petersen Caitlyn Petro Savannah Pla Salinger Raley Mavrick Rasmussen Brody Rector Bradley Reeves Kolten Reid Jacob Richter Kaylee Rivera Andrew Roberts Noah Robles Qwynton Rodriguez Kaden Rudy Luke Ruggiero Ethan Schwartz Kira Scott Riley Seigerman Tanner Sellers Addison Shaffer Elizabeth Slaughter Cidney Smith Garrit Smith Serenity Springer Ian Steege Rheese Stevens Shayley Taylor Jaylen Transue Dylan Turnbough Kobe Turnbough Deacon Vaught Alexander Watson Alannah Wetzel Kaylani White Kylie White Kayla Wiggins Roan Wilbur Kaitlyn Wiley Bianca Wishon Noah Womble
Delaney Gunther, of Medical Lake High School, was out of town with her family when the Gray fire destroyed their home. Friends were able to rescue the family pets.
The Medical Lake High School commencement will be at 5 p.m. June 6 at McCarthey Center at Gonzaga University, 801 N. Cincinnati St. Principal: Chris Spring Valedictorian: Caitlyn Petro
him around,” she
exceptional student,
positivity made other students
welcomed, noticed
valued. He’s
move on.”
won’t have
said. “He is truly an
and his
years’ worth of high
2024 Expected to graduate are: Alahna Armitage Blaike Clark Quincy Evans Jaydan Gier Melina Gilbert Malachy Harris Dennison Johnson Connor Lokot Belton Luther Jacob McCorkle Austin Probst Dyllan Strait Jamie-Lee Tancre Camaan Townsend John Yotma
Jaydan Gier of WIN Academy completed two school courses in about eight months.
Class of
Eastern Washington
WIN Academy commencement will be at 5 p.m. June
University’s Hargreaves Hall, 616 Study Lane,
MedICaL LaKe / WIn aCadeMy

Cooking up success

Adrian Brake found a place he could catch up and thrive at EV Parent Partnership and SCC

When Adrian Brake first started public school, he struggled to make progress because of an eye condition. With a lot of hard work, he’s graduating not only from the East Valley Parent Partnership homeschooling program, but he will also earn his associate degree from Spokane Community College’s culinary program through Running Start. Brake said he started out attending Otis Orchards Elementary, but by the time he was in third grade, he still couldn’t read well. “One of my eyes, while reading, it would click on and off and I couldn’t focus it to read,” he said.

His parents opted to homeschool him so he could learn at his own pace. He also had two years of physical therapy to train his eye to work properly. After that, it was all about making up ground.

“It took me until freshman year

until I was able to read at grade level with my peers,” he said. “I was able to make my own pace. After freshman year, I actually pushed myself harder.”

Counselor Mary-Hope Lakin said she remembers when Brake first arrived at the Parent Partnership.

“I remember his mom just in tears because she was afraid he would never pass the state test in English,” she said. “This was a great program for him because he struggled academically.” Brake worked so far ahead after his freshman year that he could have graduated early but instead opted to enroll in Running Start and take culinary classes at Spokane Community College. “I’ve always loved cooking, personally,” he said. “When I was little, I would help my mother in the kitchen.” Brake is a hard worker and a handson learner, Lakin said. It was a barista class the Parent Partnership program offers that gave him the push he needed to expand his culinary skills.

“That just really sparked his interest,” she said. Lakin was impressed by how well Brake did in SCC’s culinary program. “Last I heard, he was the only high school kid in that program,” she said.

Brake enjoys visiting Natural 20 Brewing Co., which is a Dungeons and Dragons fantasy-based bar with lots of game nights and special events. Brake said he would love to work there. “My parents actually got me into it,” he said of his love for Dungeons and Dragons. “They’ve been playing it for years.”

Brake said he enjoyed his time at the East Valley Parent Partnership. “The teachers are always amazing and super helpful,” he said. “I was always able to talk to them about really anything.”

Once he graduates with his high school diploma and his associate degree, Brake said he doesn’t see more college in his future. “I’m not the best with learning,” he said. “This is probably the last of college for me.”

His first goal is to get a job at a bar. Eventually he wants to become a mixologist and, in the future, own his own bar. He said he expects to stay in Spokane for a few years but wants to relocate to the West Side of the state.



Landon Darden, a desire to help has him eyeing a future in firefighting

Landon Darden said he had a tough start to his high school career. The cohort class structures employed at East Valley High School during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic were not particularly engaging to Darden, who skipped class as a result. But eventually Darden understood he’d have to get his grades up if he wanted to graduate.

“I started off on the wrong foot,” said Darden, 19, “but now, over the last three years, I’ve been pushing.”

That push has seen Darden come into his identity as a community-minded individual, according to EVHS faculty.

Darden said he’s since spoken with freshmen to impart the importance of attending class.

Along the way, Darden fostered a potential future in firefighting, with hopes of someday becoming a smokejumper.

Darden has spent the past two years taking firefighter courses at Spokane Valley Tech. Last summer, he was brought onto an engine crew with Alder Creek Firefighting, responding to wildfires in Okanogan County and Medical Lake, he said. Darden plans to rejoin the company this summer with hopes of enrolling in a fire academy in the near future.

“I’ve always wanted to help people. It’s just something I’ve always been passionate about,” Darden said. “We need more people like that in the world to make it good.”

Darden said one of his main takeaways from high school was a lesson he struggled with up until his senior year: “Be the person you want to be, not what others want you to be.”

Another takeaway was that the school’s staff and faculty are not “the bad guys” that some students believe them to be, he said. Rather, they are there to help.

Dave Rovick, college and career coordinator at EVHS, said Darden has never been nervous about engaging in conversations with faculty and other adults. Likewise, Rovick said Darden has been more career-minded than the average student and is always willing to help out.

“School hasn’t always been easy for him. I think being in the fire science program has kept him more focused,” Rovick said. “I think he’s willing to persevere. Even though he hasn’t, there were definitely moments where he could’ve given up for a lot of different reasons. I think he understands what it takes to get where he wants to go.”

Mariah Nepean, a counselor at EVHS, said she has watched Darden grow over the past four years into an individual who wants to help others feel included and supported.

“I think he just decided at one point who he wanted to be,” Nepean said. “One of the ways Landon copes with a variety of challenges is service to others. His teacher is the one who said this, but I would agree: She said he’s the first to volunteer his time and talent to help.”

“ Be the person you want to be, not what others want you to be.”
Landon Darden
T28 • Wednesday • June 5, 2024 Special SecTion
Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Abby Aldrich Olivia Amen Hunter Anderson Madisyn Anker Nicole Armellino Jonathan Arquitt Yaretzi Arroyo Jon Baxter Bentley Beal Juniper Beason Milana Belavus Jack Belfry Christopher Bertholic Ryan Bickle Levi Bocook Janessa Brandvold Bella Bridges Deja Bromley Donavan Brown Micah Burkhart Haili Byers Corey Cargill Jaysen Carter Tenzin Carter Tynan Carter Antonio Christensen Isabella Clemons Ethan Cloud Marleen Cristales Andrew Crossley Madalyn Dach Landon Darden Kaiden Davis Marissa Day Melanie Day Aiden Deaton Jarrett Dickinson Jersey Dorian Amira Drake Sabine Edal Sativa Edwards Holley Eller Macie Enevold Gabriel Erickson Daniel Escobar Isabella Escobar Ryan Ferris Jinx Flores-Navarrete Emilee Foster Gavin Froehlich Jake Gallagher Brandon Garvin Carmen Garzon Alonso Alonie Goodteacher Victoria Gotishan Brayden Governale Lujain Hameed Jack Hanson Vaughn Harbison Nehemiah Harry Jazmin Hassett Kaitlynn Hathaway Blake Hayes Olivia Henderson Serenity Hendricks Lakhya HiggelkeMcqueen Logan Hofstee Rachel Holloway Sage Holmes April Honer Maliah Horsley Breyona Hutchison Anakin Johnson Gavin Keeney Payten KintnerBurkhart Kellen Kirby Adam Kirk Auston LaVasseur Ranson Labin Tayla Lanphere Raleigh Larkin Jarett Larsen Keira Larson Cassandra Lim Chalee Lor Austin Manley Monte Marchand Cian Marcy Lilly Marko Payton Marks Riley Marquette Maniajah Martin Mercy Mata’U Luna Mattke Conner McGiveran Lawron Mckinzy-Welch Esperanza MendozaMattozzi Ajay Miller Amelia Miller Juan Morales Rylan Napier Evelina Nasco Titan Nesbitt Linh Ngo Jadyn Nolen Josue Padilla Espinoza Mercedes Palmen Marissa Paschall Kathleen Payne Quentin Payne Eric Perekopsky Daniela Perez Avy Phillpot Devin Pierce David Powers Kammron Ralston Kimberly Ramirez Arwen Ray Lavina Redthunder Caitlyn Rew Malachi Richardson Ari Ringsbye Broden Rogers Cadince Schertenleib Jack Selby Samuel Shevchenko Jayden Shull Jamison Smith Tavionna Smith Berlyn Stern Bella Stoner Jacee Stutsman Brayden Sullivan Lily Sullivan Nathanael James Tan Shylar Thompson Julina Tibon Ben Tiffany Meagan Trusty Chase Vanderostyne Kenneth Vanderpool Andy Vann Alex Vaughn Lucas Vinyard Daniel Vurno Skyler WernerAshpaugh Bryson White Luca White Kendall Wilkes Diezel Wilkinson Inara Wilson Venjamin Wright Donavan Wycoff Tyler Yost Jeremy Young Tatyana Zdanevskaia Isabella Zhuk Graduation The East Valley High School, East Valley Online Learning and East Valley Parent Partnership commencement will be at 7 p.m. June 10 at the Podium, 511 W. Joe Albi Way. EVHS principal: Ryan Arnold EV Online and Parent Partnership principal: Jabez Harlan EVHS valedictorians: Kaiden Davis, Logan Hofstee, Austin Manley, Linh Ngo and Jadyn Nolen EV Parent Partnership valedictorian: Nadia Christensen Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Titus Anderson Alix Bedow Tayten Blackwell Maksim Borodin Brady Boykin Antonio Christensen Gabriel Gibbs Adelyn Gothmann Calvin Griswold Jordan Hall Duke Hanson Rory Hodgen Ryan Honaker Jasper Jakobsen David Layne Madeleine Leppert Gemma Martin Quinn McKinney Alexis Murphy Grant Newby Lillyanne Turk Ryne Wagemann Maggie Walker Beau Wallace Brayden Windhorst Logan Zitek Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Adrian Brake Iliana Christensen Nadia Christensen Ariana Dow Ian Drysdale Owen Drysdale Clair Gauger Davyn Gertsch Joseph Graybill Kevin McIntosh Samantha Mottern Romen Rolls Kaleb Schimke
Landon Darden, of East Valley High School, worked on a fire crew last summer. COURTESY
Adrian Brake, of East Valley Parent Partnership, hopes to become a mixologist and someday own his own bar.
easT VaLLey HIGH sCHOOL / eV OnLIne LeaRnInG / eV PaRenT PaRTneRsHIP

Issac Mallahan has a ‘deep desire to know’

Isaac Mallahan has always been curious. From deconstructing how music is made to understanding how the combustion system of a car is built, the Chesterton Academy of Notre Dame senior has always looked at the world through an inquisitive lens.

Mallahan’s curiosity even posed a challenge to his mother, Cheri Mallahan, who homeschooled Mallahan through eighth grade. She had trouble staying on track with his curriculum given Mallahan’s relentless desire to ask questions and dive deep into every subject he studied.

“Anything he would learn, he would be obsessed with finding out more about whatever the subject was,” Cheri Mallahan said.

Mallahan’s curiosity and hunger for knowledge also stood out to David Mosley, a humanities teacher at Chesterton Academy of Notre Dame.

“He wants to know and understand what we’re talking about,” Mosley said. “Philosophy, theology, literature and history; it’s a deep desire to know, to understand what’s going on.”

Mallahan is a classically trained pianist, who has been playing piano for the past 10 years and enjoys composing and performing. He has competed at Musicfest Northwest, winning silver and gold medals. To Mallahan, hearing notes and chord progressions come together is a rewarding creative outlet that allows him a release during stressful times.

“I get emotional relief sometimes,” Mallahan said. “If I’m feeling stressed about whatever, I go and play the piano and just kind of zone out.” Mallahan not only uses his musical

talent for a creative and emotional outlet

but, according to Mosley, the young musician also shares his gift with others – one example of Mallahan’s leadership within the school.

“It would be very natural to go about the school day and see Isaac sitting at the piano and playing music and having some friends go around him and ask for songs to be played,” Mosley said.

The oldest of six boys, acting as a positive role model is nothing new to Mallahan. He also strives to be a good role model to his fellow classmates, especially given the newness of Chesterton Academy of Notre Dame. As a member of the first graduating class to have attended all four years at Chesterton, Mallahan said there was an expectation to be a role model and exhibit the school’s values.

“They always had an expectation for us to be responsible, especially for the underclassmen,” Mallahan said.

Within his school, Mallahan was active in cross country, music club and swing dance club. Mallahan also participated in his school’s drama productions and choir, which are required for all Chesterton students. While not initially comfortable with singing and performing, Mallahan said being encouraged to try new things helped him grow.

“Choir kind of forced me to be comfortable in my voice,” Mallahan said. “And so, I feel like that really helped me to grow as a person a lot and step out of my comfort zone.”

Wanting to further his understanding of the way systems work, Mallahan said he is deciding between Washington State University and Eastern Washington University, where he will be pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering with the potential to concentrate in aerospace engineering.

A solid foundation

Elizabeth Roberts created strong relationships at Classical Christian

Every parent wants their child to have a caring, tightly knit community for school. Elizabeth Roberts experienced that, having attended Classical Christian Academy since kindergarten.

She is nearing the end of her 13th year with her classmates. Roberts will graduate this spring with the other five seniors in her class. Her fellow seniors are among many lifelong friends Roberts has made while at Classical Christian. Roberts grew up very involved in the school, with her mother being her second-grade teacher and her uncle being an administrator.

“I grew up with a strong family foundation, and being in a small private school, I’ve had the opportunity to become really close with my classmates and teachers,” Roberts said. “I really love going to school here because of the relationships that I have.”

Her mother has always taught second grade during Elizabeth’s time at the school.

“She’s worked on trying her best in everything she does. She’s had some amazing teachers who have helped her work on growing academically and in her spiritual and biblical wisdom,” said Hannah Roberts, Elizabeth’s mother. “Her school has trained her not only in how to do things but how to think well. She thinks things through completely and efficiently.”

Roberts has fond memories of coming into her mother’s classroom and getting hugs from

all of the students. She has an excellent relationship with her family.

“She’s very joyful and easygoing,” Hannah Roberts said. “She’s easy to talk to, and she’s very passionate about what she loves.”

Roberts cherishes her friendships greatly. She also appreciates the quality of education she has received throughout her school years.

“I’ve had a very strong education in the world as well as in the Bible,” Roberts said. “Having a Christian school to go to has given me a solid foundation in my faith and helped me grow in my knowledge of Christ beyond what I normally would have gotten if I went to a public school. I now have a worldview from a lens of the Bible, and I can interpret the world in truth and in goodness and beauty.”

Classical Christian Academy provides a unique learning environment and prepares students for life after high school.

The junior high and high school is split into four houses. At the end of the school day each Monday, students meet with their houses and compete with the other houses.

The houses compete in academics, athleticism, art and more. The house that finishes the school year with the most points gets its name engraved on a plaque and a trophy. Each house has two leaders and Roberts is a leader for her house.

Roberts’ class recently took a senior trip to Italy and Germany, which was a quality bonding experience and one of Roberts’ favorite school memories. She is



grateful to have attended Classical Christian, but she says she is ready to graduate and begin the next chapter of her life.

She enjoys spending time in nature with her family and going on quiet walks. She also likes to crochet and spend time with her friends.

Roberts has always been passionate about children and enjoys mentoring and teaching them. She has volunteered in her church’s children’s ministry since she was 12 and has enjoyed spending countless hours babysitting. She spent last summer tutoring two children in handwriting, grammar and math and continued to do so during the school year.

Roberts says she developed her love for children through her younger brothers. She says her love for her brothers “sparked my love for raising kids.”

This passion has inspired her to pursue a career relating to raising children. Specifically, it has always been Roberts’ dream to open an orphanage in France and get involved in foster care to


The Classical Christian Academy commencement was May 31 at Coeur d’Alene Bible Church, 5350 N. Fourth St., in Coeur d’Alene.

Principal: Mel Korsmo

Valedictorian: Michael Bell

Class of 2024

Expected to graduate are:

Michael Bell

Evelyn Claridge Audrey Hoefling Leandra Norcini

Bridger Ricks Elizabeth Roberts

help raise the next generation.

Roberts understands how valuable one’s childhood is, so it felt like the correct path for her.

“Now that I can actually start putting my dream into practice and actually achieve it, it’s a little bit daunting, but I’ve done

a lot to prepare,” Roberts said. “I’m really excited to see how it’s going to turn out, but right now, I’m just trying to figure out how exactly to make it happen.”

Her immediate plan is to attend a missions college online while continuing to live at home and work to save money for after college.

“This college will help train me to go into areas with different cultures and to preach the gospel to everyone no matter what,” Roberts said. “The school offers a business degree, as well as a biblical studies degree, where you are learning how to run a business and how to make that prosper while also learning how to make it flourish for God.” Roberts is optimistic for the future and is excited about what the future holds.

“I’m so excited for college, even though it’s not going to be a normal college experience,” Roberts said. “Getting to grow up and spread my wings is something I’ve been looking forward to for a while. I’m really open to whatever the future brings.”

June 5, 2024 • Wednesday • T29 Special SecTion
Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: McKenna Arkoosh Rebecca Bucy Luke Casey Daniel Clute Taytem Collins Henry Conway Everett Dewing Benjamin Frostad Elizabeth Hoerner Anna Kittilstved Simon Leach Isaac Mallahan Maximilian Montowski Abigail Nicholls Thomas O’Neill Cyprian Patton Julia Petersen Katherine Ries Jacob Roberts Blake Schindler Nathan Schindler Maria Schug Marie-Claire Ukrainetz Joshua Willard Graduation The Chesterton Academy of Notre Dame commencement will be at 10 a.m. June 8 at Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes, 1115 W. Riverside Ave. Principal: Shane O’Doherty Valedictorians: McKenna Arkoosh and Katherine Ries
Isaac Mallahan, Chesterton Academy of Notre Dame seeks to understand how things work. COURTESY Elizabeth Roberts, of Classical Christian Academy, dreams of running an orphanage in France.
CHesTeRTOn aCadeMy OF nOTRe daMe / CLassICaL CHRIsTIan aCadeMy


Heading to Gonzaga University this fall, Danner Smith said he is prepared to fail.

That’s not to say he will, nor is it to say he wants to. On the contrary, while the 18-year-old hates to lose, Smtih said there are lessons in loss. High school taught him that.

“At this point, this is where I start to learn by failing,” Smith said.

“In college, I will make significant mistakes. I will probably do things I shouldn’t have, and I think that’s probably the biggest part of learning. I think that’s what makes that distinction between a kid and an adult. You start to make your own decisions, good and bad – and that’s kind of how you learn.”

Growing up, Smith’s family was focused on perfection with everything from grades to sports, he said. His upbringing helped forge his competitive drive that spurred him through his high school athletic career.

Smith was a regional champion wrestler and a Junior Olympics national decathlon qualifier. He participated in football and track all four years, though he dropped wrestling after his junior year partly due to lack of interest, he said. Not only that, but Smith said three sports plus volunteer work – whether through Valley Real Life Church or helping out with unified sports – ate into his time for other things, such as figuring out what he wanted to do for college.

Military service appealed to Smith as a way to give back “to the people who gave so much to me,” he said.

“It was more that I just felt like I owed it,” Smith said. “Not in a debt way, but I felt like it was my calling to serve and defend.”

At first, Smith was committed to the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado. Realizing he wanted more of a college life rather than a service

academy experience, however, Smith opted to apply for the Army ROTC program, through which he received a four-year scholarship.

Though Smith told his parents prior to committing to Gonzaga that there was a “zero percent” chance he was going there, a visit to see the ROTC program on campus won him over. Smith said he is looking into active duty, possibly special forces since that fits his skill set and competitive nature.

“I still wanted to be able to do ‘Danner things,’ essentially, and still live

that life of volunteering and being active in my church instead of being so involved in the military academy aspect so much that I couldn’t still be who I am,” he said.

Charles Bowden, Smith’s track coach, said Smith “embodies what sports are about” in that he embraces the challenges of competition while remaining balanced and good-natured.

“He is nice in a real way, and polite because he wants to be. That is what I admire about him the most,” Bowden said in an email. “None of that is at the expense of him being a


great athlete. Whether it is carrying the football on a scoring drive, or wrestling, or facing a new challenge in the pole vault – Danner is a true competitor. Just not at the expense of his character.”

Smith’s parents, Bradly and Megan Smith, described their son as a “silent leader” who leads by example.

“He’s a very, very quiet, awesome kid. He’s not that kid that a lot of people will see right off the bat,” Bradly Smith said. “He kind of sneaks up on you until you realize what he’s actually capable of.”

David Brogdon makes his peers feel welcomed

‘my door is always open’

When David Brogdon walked into Mica Peak High School near the beginning of his sophomore year for an interview with principal Kamiel Youseph, he had zero credits to show for his freshman year. Brogdon had struggled to stay motivated during middle school and the impact of online classes during the COVID-19 pandemic only made things worse. When in-person classes resumed his attendance was lacking.

“I basically dropped out at this point but unofficially,” he said.

Three years and a new school later, Brogdon will graduate from Mica Peak High School this month as an ASB and school board representative whose extracurriculars include DECA, Key Club and theater, and with more than enough credits to go around.

“He’s got a lot of leadership type roles at Mica Peak,” Youseph said. “He’s just hard-working on all levels and just really kind and sincere.”

At his previous school, Brogdon “chose the wrong group of kids to hang out with and, by association, he was viewed as being one of those kids,” Brogdon’s mother Tabitha Gonzales said.

“The teachers decided that David was a certain type of student and because of the attitude that David had perceived from the teachers, he lost interest in school,” she said.

Brogdon felt unwelcome, like a burden, he said.

When Brogdon transferred to Mica Peak, his attitude toward school changed and as he adjusted to the new school, he became more and more involved in the school’s community.

“There’s times where he’ll work late, but he’ll still be at school and if we have a community event, he’s up front cheering everyone on,” Youseph said. At Mica Peak, Brogdon said, “I have only felt supported and cared for. I have passed all my classes since attending here with nothing lower than a few Bs.”

Now, with his involvement in school events and clubs, Brogdon works to ensure other students feel at home.

“I now try to be the person who is supportive and outgoing and make sure that others know it’s OK to be themselves and that my door is always open,” he said. “I want to help make what made this school so special and helpful to me as welcoming and as equally amazing to my classmates and the future students.”

Youseph said he does a great job at this.

“He’s just got this warm sense about him that makes people feel welcomed,” he said.

In addition to his load of extracurriculars, Brogdon works 40-plus hours per week as a manager at Taco Bell. His key to juggling school, work and extracurriculars is effective time management, Brogdon said.

Brogdon isn’t sure where he will go after high school, “but I know I have plenty of doors open.” His options include beginning a career in electric equipment maintenance, the medical field or attending the University of Washington.

Though Brogdon isn’t sure of his post-secondary plan yet, he knows who he wants to be as a person.

“I know that I want to continue giving back to the communities I am a part of,” he said. “I want to make a difference and support and work for the people around me and uplift them.”

T30 • Wednesday • June 5, 2024 Special SecTion
Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Dominic Abrams Ayden Ackerly William Adamson Elizabeth Aguilar-Gomez Genavee Aguon Amira Al-Hamadani Carter Albertson Salina Alexander Bryce Amouroux Lucas Anderson Rebekah Anderton Lucine Atamian Connor Babbitt Birdie Bachman Aaron Bailey Thomas Barmer Desiree Barter Izeah Barth Ethan Bauer Marissa Baum Zoey Baxter Jacob Bellar Caytlyn Bindrum Adrianna Bittman Madelyn Blackhart Hayden Blake Natalie Blue Ayliana Blum Zackery Borthwick Tyra Bowdon Italia Bradford Devonte Bragg Gabriella Brown Rhegan Browne Rori Brunt Porter Burgoyne Ethan Bush Kali Byczek Ashley Canez Luke Carlon Jazmin Carlson Zachary Cash Kaylee Chapin Jonah Chapman Kay Clark Isabella Collier Irie Cook Bailey Couey Sage Cramer Jackson Croshaw Dakota Crowe Carson Dahl Kora Daines Amanda Davis Moni Davis Riley Davis Mark Davydenko Levi Decker Grace Dierks Preston Do Quan Do MaryLu Duarte Samantha Dumaw Edith Dunn Nathan Edvalson Gabrielle Espinoza Landon Essl Bryn Etzel Christian Evans Vivian Evans Kaiden Everett Zakiyius Fairchild Deakin Fenton Melia Ferraro Brody Foeller Christy Folsom James Folsom Isabella Fontana Taylor Foss Elijah Foster Ava Fotheringham Reagan Frates Quinlan Frei Trevor Gailley Cooper Gallegos Ava Gannon Olivia Geldien Cheyanne Germano Reagan Gibbons Michael Gmeiner Paige Gonzalez Andrew Gray Emma Groff Sequoia Guesford Pedro Guevara Camacho Abella Gutierrez Jacob Gutierrez Rebecca Gutierrez Brandon Gutzwiler Gabriella Haigh Andrew Haney Ethan Hansen Alexa Harnett Kaelynn Harrington Lucy He Amelia Hendricks Aliese Henneberg Diego Hernandez De Los Santos Juilian Herrera Dakota Hibdon Emma Hilbrich Trevor Hollen Hunter Holman Lauren Huettl Latrell Hughes-Farmer Willow Huguenin Daniel Imes Olivia Ingersoll Darren Jack Emilia Jacob Paris Johns Sarah Johns MariaJose Jolon Abby Jones Aeson Jordan Apostolos Karatzas Peyton Keck Corina Kidwell Olivia Kneese Leo Knight Nolan Koch Alysia Kostecka Abdallah Karmh Ruvim Kravtsov Cade Krestian Liliana Kubas Julia LaVelle Gustavo Landa-Perea Gavin Lang Kalem Lang Jason Lankford Alivia Lanphere Tanner Laramie Owen Larson Addison Lathan Carson Layden Tanner LeBaron Alicea Lemley Jaycee Liu Takamasa Loeak Adriana Lopez Maddox Lopez Trevor Lougy Widjine Louis Juste Jobie Lynch Sadie Macdonald Ryan Mack Reese Mackie Erin Madrian Terran Manson Jaelyn Marsh Arianna Martinez Clover Mayer-McLaughlin Declan McCandless Kimberly McCartney Emma McCombs Molly McGovern Connor McKerrow Elias McKinney Norah McLaughlin Bryson McMahon Zoe McManus Lucas McReynolds Uriel Menez Carpinteyro Lilian Miller Nevaeh Miller Vivian Miller Dax Mirabelli-Marvel Mason Molnar Caleb Monrroy Alexis Mooney Isaac Moore Sofia Morales Cole Mortensen Tyler Moua Nathaniel Mourning Branden Munn Jeff Muriuki Dana Nguyen Jacob Nicholls Aiden Nichols Lily Nielsen Cole Nix Danielle Njagi Lindsey Noakes Jocelyn Nostrant Wren Olson Leslie Orellana Paige Overly Kaidyn Owen Kaleigh Oyler Neal Pan Caden Paske Hayden Paventy Elianna Peck Paul Phillips Ezekiel Pimms Hayden Pixler Taylor Portugal Nathaniel Poshusta Brianna Potack Jody Potratz Cyan Powell Blake Preugschat Marilyn Price Kaden Pulliam Ralin Purnell Sasha Rassley Hannah Reed-Clark Bo Reisenauer Carlie Ritzius Isaiah Rivera Ashton Robinson Gerardo Rosas Caden Salter Savana Sandall Trey Schmaltz Alex Schneidmiller Allie Scott Finn Scott Breauna Serbantez Dibas Shah Trishna Shah Kalle Shelby Carson Shields Makenna Shields Andy Shumway Mackenzie Siguaw Jackson Sipes Elliot Small Canyon Smith Danner Smith Emma Smith Katherine Snell Lauren Sprunk William Stacey Michael Stenfors Kiara Stevens Tessa Stockman Tanner Stretch Kevin Suncin Grace Surina Valentina Susina Caden Taggart Carter Tanner Daphne Tanner Aidan Thach Payton Theis Lauren Thuo Keyrose Tibon Dominic Tisdale Megan Tomlinson Hadley Treadwell Darren Triber Jackson Tucker Bennett Tyler Hailey Ulrick Dennis Ulyanchuk Jaydin Van Winkle Makena VanEtten Aly Vanderpool Riley Vanhouten Tyson Vargas Mia Vigil Isaac Warnick Kyler Wasley Max Wehunt Alex White Piper Wilcox Austin Wildman Mason Wilkinson Aiden Winings Ayden Wood Ruby Rie Yamagishi Reagan Young Bianca Zeman
Danner Smith, of Central Valley High School, will attend Gonzaga University on an Army ROTC scholarship.
The Central Valley High School commencement will be at 8:30 a.m. June 8 at McCarthey Athletic Center, 801 N. Cincinnati St. Principal: Katie Louie Valedictorian: Lucy He
Mica Peak High School. Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Andy Anderson Whitley Anderson Savannah Beason Jacob Bollman Jayelynn Bonner Ashton Briggs David Brogdon Jameson Carr Angelina Cortez Trevor Davis Jade Deel Guinevere Durrant Shea-Lea Flowers Jayce Gibbs Jasmine Glessner Josie Godwin Issy Hance Aaron Hook Connar Houdashelt Tyler Jackson Kate Kauffman Avurie Kopp Tanner Lish Nichi Lopes Ren Luckey Madelyn Lutes Indigo Marvin Kaida Mittler Talon Mork Kayleah Richey Ana-Jean Robinson Tiago Rosen Alexa Southerly Sage Streifel Katelyn Thoren Isaiah Vick Olivia Wahl Brittany Weeks Kiersten Zarcone Graduation The Mica Peak High School commencement will be at 6 p.m. June 6 at Ridgeline High School, 20150 E. Country Vista Drive, Liberty Lake. Principal: Kamiel Youseph MICA PEAK HIGH SCHOOL
David Brogdon turned his high school career around by transferring to
Military service appeals to Danner Smith as a way to give back CenTRaL VaLLey HIGH sCHOOL / MICa PeaK HIGH sCHOOL


Kharma Gentry kept busy to connect with her community and overcome instability at home

“The best thing I can say is get involved and make an effort to be optimistic in all that you’re doing at school.”

These no-nonsense words of advice come straight from lived experience. At Ridgeline High School, “involved” would be an understatement to describe Kharma Gentry.

Gentry is in color guard in the marching band. She also plays the trumpet. She’s the co-founder and current president of a podcast club, although she says she doesn’t get the chance to listen to a lot of podcasts on her schedule. She interviews members across the community from students, teachers and superintendents to members of the Lands Council.

She loves to write – sometimes horror stories. She knows she wants to be a creative writer no matter what else she does in her career. Some of her favorite subjects are psychology and sociology (and how they work together), but she also has a passion for computer science – she codes for fun.

Gentry wasn’t always the most outgoing but that began to change as she entered her freshman year. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, her entire first year of high school was online.

“It was hard to be social in that sense, but it was a good transitioning period where I could start talking to people without needing to have those face-to-face interactions,”

Gentry said.

She made it her goal to become more social throughout high school and she wanted the opportunity to meet people, so she set about joining clubs and school activities.

Keeping busy was an essential tool for Gentry, not just for connecting to her community, but also for dealing with instability at home. Throughout the first three years of high school, Gentry faced regular relocations to the homes of various family members and friends.

“My primary way of coping with all the stress and all of the instability that was going on at home was always to throw myself into school,” Gentry said.

In her junior year, she made the decision to seek a more stable housing situation and live independently from her parents.

Gentry also has a younger sister, and it was through her trusted science teacher that they connected with Renee Brubaker. The teacher approached the Brubaker household because of their experience hosting international exchange students.

“She reached out to us to ask if we had ever been open to taking in a student from the school, not an exchange student. We had never, because we didn’t know that was something to do,” Brubaker said.

After an initial meeting, the sisters moved in with the Brubaker family and have been there for nearly a year. It’s been a year of getting to know one another, building trust and adjusting to life in a safe environment. This includes exploring new opportunities for emotional processing.

“Renee is just the most


understanding person and just sits there and listens and lets me just cry and panic. … And that ’s something that just having a safe home to do that in has really helped me with,”

Gentry said.

Gentry wants to share her experience of homelessness because she wants more people to know that it can


The Ridgeline High School commencement will be at 3:30 p.m. June 8 at McCarthey Athletic Center, 801 N. Cincinnati St. Principal: Jesse Hardt

Valedictorian: Paige Van Buren

happen, in sometimes nearly invisible ways, to young people like her.

“I believe I still technically classify as homeless in the sense of I’m not living with a relative,” she said.

After her years cultivating relationships and clubs at Ridgeline, soon Gentry will expand her community even

further at Washington State University. With so many passions and interests to choose from, she hasn’t chosen her major just yet. First, Gentry says, she is teaching herself to cook.

“I am super excited to just meet a new group of people,” she said, “get some fresh minds, all that kind of stuff.”

June 5, 2024 • Wednesday • T31 Special SecTion
Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Ayden Aberasturi Jaden Adamson Paige Alexander Keaton Allen Tanner Allred Easton Amend Nick Anderson Vincent Aparicio Cody Aronson Dominic Arrotta Brooke Ashworth Kate Atwood Grace Ayer Michael Bartholomew Peyton Basnaw Lilli Beecher Noah Bigner D’Angelo Blodgett Joshua Boott Rosen Braid Mason Bray Claire Bresko Leideionche Brown Savannah Brumwell Tristan Brutschy Ruby Bryntesen Connor Bucknell Reese Burgus Zachary Burke Campbell Burns Kyndal Butcher Ella Butler Preston Butler Brady Cardon Taylor Cardon Gabriel Carpinteyro Elyvia Carter Margaret Carvo Kaia Chan August Chapman Dakota Chesher Danika Clark Parker Clevenger Ariel Cline Wyatt Cline Logan Common Ainsley Conn Raymond Connolly Avery Daley Bella Darling Braeden Davis Caitlynn Davis Sean Daw Isabella DeLaRosa Damien DeRaedt Gabriella Delrosario Anna Denney Kyle Dickeson Kevin Dopkins Kyler Doud Shawn Durfee Isabella Dziak Grace Edmondson Eric Eldred Lilian Elser Kianna Engel Faith Evans Ryan Eyre Peter Fassler Lily Fedak Kaitlyn Fee Luke Ferguson Braxton Ferraro Katherine Figueroa-Lopez Nathan Fitzpatrick Emma Fleming Cameron Fontaine Maurice Foster Mason Fouty John Fox Anabelle Frazier Brinley Freeman Luke Freeman Hannah Fuller Caden Gail Merrick Galeener Emiliano Garcia Charles Gauvin Kharma Gentry Trevor Germany Brooklynn Giblette Brayden Gilbertson Owen Gingras Christian Gonsalves Nicholas Goode Alexey Gordey Jaden Green Braxton Grimes Lauren Gundlach Mark Hammonds Kendal Haneke Jadeyn Hansel Tobias Hardesty Braydon Harris Neala Hart Georgia Hartman Revyn Hartman Brooklyn Hartshorn Connor Harvey Madison Hayes AJ Haynie Braylon Helm-Renz Julianne Hemphill Landen Hernandez James Hesler Makayla Hickman Colton Hoagburg Alexis Hochberg Kaylie Hogan Nathan Holmquist Payten Hooper Madison Hormel Aada Hovinmaeki Sydney Hoy Howard Hull Mia Hunt Oleksandr Husak Madelyn Hutyler Maycie Hymas Carolynn Jackson Madelynn Jeakins Hunter Jermyn Joshua Jernberg Anna Jespersen Cecily Johns Emily Johnson Seth Johnson Anna Johnston Kaden Jones Regan Jones Abbie Kahete Emmanuel Kaliba Jashanpreet Kang Kale Kardonsky Eli Kemple MacKenzee King David Kirichenko Josiah Klontz Jaylee Knoll Ryan Koppenhaver Samuel Koschalk Liliya Kravtsova Katherine Kuhl Tyler LaFuente Luke Lancaster Kole LeGrant Caytlyn Lee Angel Liwanag Austin Looper Edward Lozier Jason Lozko Alyson Luckey Kyle Lux Mason Lytle Noah Mabry Race Maes Taras Malyshevskiy Bridget Marchelli Justice Markham Abigail Marquez Lily Martin Trey Martin Arlette Martinez Avery Mason Kody Mathews Anthony Maxfield Aiden McArdle AJ McCurdy Hilena McDaniel Alma McDonald Quinn McGreevy Riley McGuffin Lola McKay Ande McLean Brady Means Brody Melton Adolfo Mendoza Gage Merrill Emily Miles Hailey Mills Luke Milne Elena Miribung Mia Moen Elle Moore Ari Mowrey Bella Mueller Riley Murray Serhii Mykytiuk Jaiden Nagra Brody Nelson Grayson Nendel Gracie Newell Chance Nichols-Harris Ethan Noble Joey Norton Isaac Nunez Maxwell O’Brien Trinity Oliver Gavin Olson Zachary Olson Micah Ormand Camryn Ostermann Isaac Paine Zander Palm Allison Pegram Ariyana Pelkie Luke Pell Cruz Pena Michael Pennestri Michael Perry Lukas Peterson Alexis Phillips Bryce Pierce Briana Pearl Pires Mackenzie Pitts Victoria Popov Aundrea Prefontaine Landen Quesnell Nicholas Rahm Madison Ramos Eliette Ramsey Taylor Rasmussen Cameron Rehkow Jilly Reyes Aeneas Richardson Elly Richardson Emma Richardson Cade Rickard Griffyn Rider Emma Ringeling William Roberts Anaya Robinson Kolby Roche Caleb Role Zachary Role Jacob Sachtjen Ian Sadlowski Elise Sandberg Hailey Sanders Hanna Sanders Lachlan Sandford Riley Sauer Carter Savage Brooklyn Schafer Kayleigh Schelin Tyson Schroeder-Ramsey Noah Schulke Deakon Sell Sanjana Sharma Logan Sherrill Brodey Shimp Cayden Shinneman Gavin Shoemaker Travis Shoemaker Jack Shumaker Lucy Siebert Jayce Simmet Sahil Singh Grace Skaugstad Kahrin Skinner Brysen Smith Rose Smith Tanner Smith Jayden Snyder Kyle Speare Sada Sponberg Mackenzie Sternod Brennan Stevenson Avery Stewart Emily Stewart Kyler Stoddard Perrin Strickler Ella Swain Ian Szymanski Laci Tarmann Zachariah Taylor Shawn Terebessy Caden Thompson Malachi Thompson Griffin Thorpe Denzel Tinkoi Vaughn Totka Peyton Travis Albert Trejbal Khaleah Trotter Kaycie Urbiha Isaiah Vakaloloma Paige Van Buren Griffin Vargas Duncan Vittetoe Olivia Warrick Iliana Wenz Joshua Wick Orion Wilson Carter Wodelman Ayden Wood Cosette Young Preslie Young Zachary Zarecor
Kharma Gentry, of Ridgeline High School, has overcome homelessness to become a force for good in her community.


Elizabeth Ophardt leaves lasting mark on school, community

Long after she’s begun attending West Point, Elizabeth Ophardt’s impact on University High School and the surrounding community will be going strong.

Ophardt’s high school career began during COVID-19, and she felt isolated as one of the few students who tried to retrieve textbooks from school and had their camera on during Zoom classes.

She began making up for lost time sophomore year. She joined Junior ROTC and the National Honor Society and participated in marching band and chamber orchestra, an audition-based small group. Ophardt plays cello and performed in the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox lobby with the chamber orchestra before a symphony concert her junior year.

She also ran track and field, participated in the drama program for a year, was in ASB and took multiple Advanced Placement courses.

“I mostly wanted to do as much as I could in what time that I had there because I feel like I got robbed my freshman year,” she said. “I wanted to do everything. I signed up for everything I could.”

Ophardt also participated in Unified soccer, which pairs athletes with and without intellectual and/or developmental disabilities .

“It’s something I will remember forever,” she said. Ophardt had played soccer for years, “so getting to play again and helping others play was really, really cool.”

Ophardt created the Parade of Lights, a mental health awareness and suicide prevention parade, as part of her Gold Award, the highest achievement in Girl Scouts. Last year, the parade’s third, featured 25 participants and around 3,000 spectators.

“That will continue on,” Elizabeth’s mother Jennifer Ophardt said. “It’s become a local tradition that a lot of people are grateful for.”

Ophardt has especially thrived in JROTC. She initially joined because she heard the

program would be a stepping stone to a military career. She was pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn’t all military related and also focused on things like leadership .

“We’re here simply to help motivate young people to become better citizens,” said Bill Bialozor, University High’s JROTC teacher. “We teach them about leadership, community service, being better communicators and stewards of our community, working together as a team. Team building is a huge part of what we do, and it’s applicable in any vocation out there post-high school.”

In her senior year, Ophardt has held the role of battalion commander, the highest rank in the program. This year happened to be one during which the program received an accreditation inspection. With Ophardt’s guidance, the University High JROTC received a score higher than 95%, marking them as a distinguished honor unit.

Another of her roles included the S-7 position, which involved being in charge of promotion and recruitment. In this role, Ophardt created a website and social media presence for the program.

“She’s been the guiding beacon of light for the past four years,” Bialozor said.

Ophardt is staying busy up until – and including – graduation. Before the end of the year, she’ll participate in the JROTC Cadet Leadership Challenge at Spokane Community College, where she and the rest of the team will work on things like rappelling and land navigation. She also commanded the JROTC program last month in the Lilac Parade.

At her graduation ceremony, Ophardt will help set up, perform with the orchestra and participate in the JROTC color guard, all before receiving her diploma.

Then, it’s off to West Point in New York. Ophardt received the congressional nomination to the academy from Rep. Cathy McMorris Rogers and could leave as soon as late June.

“This girl can’t be held down,” Jennifer Ophardt said. “She’s going to go places, so I’m very proud of her.”

Her JROTC leaders echoed the sentiment.

“Any accolades due to that young woman are by her doing and her own hand,” Bialozor said. “Certainly that’s what we look for in the future leaders of our country, the talents and skills that she already possesses, so all credit goes to her. She allowed us to walk on the path alongside her for a little while.”


The University High School commencement will be at noon June 8 at McCarthey Athletic Center, 801 N. Cincinnati St. Principal: Robert Bartlett

Valedictorian: Ellery Peterson

Podcasting his future

Interviews lead Jacob Cloward to take a gap year, test options

Twenty bright blue information signs line pathways at Orchard Park in Liberty Lake. The metal stands were produced by students at Spokane Valley Tech, where Jacob Cloward served as project manager for the ambitious project.

His two summer internships at Boeing, in Everett, came in handy as he led his team.

“The city of Liberty Lake asked us to design these story stands,” Cloward said. “We turned the class into a manufacturing assembly line.” Before this endeavor, he’d made a Rube Goldberg machine-style toaster and partnered with another student to make a portable sanitation station.

“I got to do some crazy projects,” Cloward said.

Tricia Campbell, interim principal at STEM Academy at Spokane Valley Tech, said this student has been a pleasure to have at the school.

“He’s a really bright star,” she said.

While he enjoyed the hands-on activities, Cloward said his time as a Boeing intern revealed what he liked even more – people.

“Before I could talk, I was grabbing screwdrivers and tearing things apart,” Cloward said. “But my real

The STEM Academy at Spokane Valley Tech commencement will be at 6 p.m. June 7 at Ridgeline High School Theatre, 20150 E. Country Vista Drive, Liberty Lake.

Principal: Tricia Campbell

Valedictorian: Ethan Swatzell

passion is the people side of things –the operation side.” He came to Spokane Valley Tech as a sophomore, and at first he struggled because most of his friends attended University High School, but soon Cloward acclimated to the smaller school.

“I know everyone in my class by name,” he said. Campbell enjoyed watching Cloward shine.

“He’s kind and engaging with students and staff,” she said. “He’s gregarious and positive.”

She noted that in addition to his achievements at SVT, Cloward attended Running Start at Spokane Community College during his junior and senior years. He’s also worked part-time at Roller Valley for the past three years. And he steps up to the plate when needed.

“He made a video ad for our school with another student,” Campbell said.

Cloward recalled the last-minute project.

“The guy doing the video got injured and couldn’t do it,” he said.

“It took 40 people and three weeks to get it done.”

He’s comfortable with people, and this year, he found a new way to hone that skill.

“Jacob started a podcast with another student (Austin Hania) to interview local professionals as he tries to figure out what he wants to do after high school,” Campbell said. “He’s using this podcast to learn from others about their career choices, business endeavors and personal passions that led them to where they are today.”

“Dollar Store Intellectuals” is available on Spotify.

“We wanted to find out more information on jobs that are out there,” Cloward said. “We want to learn.”

From the founder of Pool World to a commercial banker at Washington Trust, the podcast focuses on the differing paths individuals follow to achieve success in the business world.

The interviews have helped Cloward narrow down his options

enough to realize he’d like more time before he chooses between trade school, a four-year university, or launching his own enterprise.

“I’m drawn to the entrepreneurial side of things,” he said. “I’m going to take a gap year to try different things. The future is so open!” Campbell agreed.

“I don’t really know what’s in store for him,” she said. “There are so many things he could succeed at. Jacob represents everything we want a STEM student to experience here.”

“The future is so open – I’m excited!” Cloward said.

T32 • Wednesday • June 5, 2024 Special SecTion
Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: London Aaron Makena Ailie Hadil Al Zaki Conner Albrecht Jason Albrecht Antonio Allen Kason Amity Ashton Anderson Shiloh Angel Isaac Anjolok Brisa AragonOcampo Oryan Arquette William Arquette Ryan Atkinson Carson Avery Oswaldo Avila Caden Awbery Emma Ayers Jordan Bailey Moses Bane Esmeray Basden Summer Bates Icesis Bauer Issabelle Beach MyKenzi Beckley Lauren Berry Rachelle Bird Justin Bishop Jayden Bisquera Alexis Blahuczyn Natalie Blair Aaron Boden Ryan Boland Lynneigh Bradley Alexis Broden Cooper Brummett Brooke Brunett Talynn Bruno David Bucklin Connor Bush Brandon Butler Landon Caldwell Lainey Calvary Aubree Carpenter Isaac Carpinteyro Olivia Cassie Benjamin Caulford Gideon Chagnon Haylee Chandler Zita Chapman Gabriella Charbonneau Mercedes Chitwood Callie Christensen Lindsey Church Angela Ciferri Isabella Claeson Luke Clarke Chase Comella Dominic Comer Luke Conrad Matthew Conrad Jordan Cook Connor Cormier Naomi Cornett Tiana Corson Alexandra Coursey Wyatt Crosby Gravis Cruz Hayden Dahlstrom Taylor Daines Devony Damiano Andrea Daniel Mackenzie Davis Fern DePew Haley DeVelbiss Wyatt DeVelbiss Marissa Deonier Noah Diaz Logan Dingfield Talan Dunbar Avery Dunham Andrew Eaton Tayler Elliott Samuel Emtman Isabella Eva Ty Felker Jett Fernandez Allie Ferrin Ashley Fierst Eden Finley Gavin Fishburn Cohen Fisher Matthew Fisher Seth Fitzgerald Kereena Flaherty Mya Fleck-Glander Kaydence Forth Addison Fountain Nicholas Franklin Astrid Froge Kendyll Fry Jayna Fuher Rachel Gadd Gavin Geiger Robert Gilholm Talisa Gilrein Donovan Giusti Brayden Godfrey Mackenzie Goodwin William Gooler Colby Gorrell Madalynn Gregerson Karen Gronenthal McKenzie Hagen Mason Hatch Carlee Hegsted Gabriel Heimbigner Allison Hendricks Elsie Hess Nyla Hess Jeffrey Higham Andrew Hoadley Braylen Hoagland Emily Hoffman Zachary Hogsett-Aurand Coral Horst Josie Horton Jaymes Hoskins Kaidyn Howard Avery Hudson Clarissa Hughes Sarah Impecoven Jaydin Ingalls Yuka Ishibashi Daylene Isley Audra Isnhower Daniel Ivory Victoria Javier Julianna Jeross Emilee Johnson Emily Johnson Daniel Jones Laina Jones Rayne Jones Zavier Jones Issabelle Joplin Charles Jordan Julianna Joy Chanler Kaelin ShaDae Kennedy Alexis Kerker Miklos Kicska Cadence King-Booth Alexandria Kinley Tiffany Knapp Mallory Knutson Roman Korneichuk Riley Krumbah Jacob Kushnerchuk Owen Lakey Jared Lambright Olivia Lease Dylan Lee Isabella Lefler Claudia Lemus Jayden Lindquist Tanner Lindsey Natalie Lingow Ella Lippoldt Jasmine Lopez Kaitlyn Loss Gabriel Lowman Dominick Lucas Matthew Mallonee Maliyah Mann Audrey Marcel Britney Marshall Bryce Martin Franky Martinez Jeremiah Matheny Liam Mathews Jad Mawas Cameron Mayfield Tayvin McDonald Sabina McLeod Anna McMulkin Madeline Meeker Diego Mejia Jacob Meldrum Audrey Micek Makena Milam White Jacob Miles Austin Mindermann Sarah Mindermann Maddilyn Miner Angil Minnihan Susana Minor Alex Mirelez Ayce Mondragon Justus Moody Brandon Moore Nick Morgan Abby Moua Chloe Myers Marissa Naone Abigail Nelson Dmytro Nikitenko Irene Nixon Logan Noble Iain O’Quinn Emily “Bo” Oien Bjorn Olson Elizabeth Ophardt David Osborn Lillian Pasco Dominic Pendergrass Bethany Peters Ellery Peterson Gisel Piedra Braxton Powell Anna QuinteroCastaneda Tyson Quirk Kaden Randolph-Luedke Kane Rider Aubrey Roberts Grace Roberts Melea Robinson Waylon Romero Braeden Rowland Shania Rucker-Porter Karyna Ryzhkova Arian Sabawon Anthony Sale Jeremy SanNicolas Jonathan Sanchez Ryker Sanders Emma Satran Michael Scalf David Schulz Brayden Schwab Adam Sessions Savana Severson Oliver Sherette Aryanna Sherwin Logan Sherwood Ericka Shores Ryan Shumway Cooper Sides Natalie Singer Shane Skidmore Makayla Skinner Madeleine Smart Jayden Smith Kyle Smith Peyton Smith Savanna Smith Jackson Smitham Kai Solis Hailey Sorrell Samuel Spedick Avery Spiering Esperanza Sprague Riley Staton-Pruchnic Tyler Stavenjord Grant Stephens Salome Stetten Pigasse Everett Stinson Sierrah Stone Rebekka Swim Aaron Tarbart Adonyah Thurman Logan Tibbetts Jasmine Titsworth Patricia Torchio Paul Torman Logan Trautman Katie Travis Jake Trefry Jordyn Turner Pearl Turner Cade Ueland Isaiah Uzeta Isabella Valdez Amelia Valenzuela Dominick Victor Annaliese Vogel Haley Walker Tristin Walker Jayden Walsh Alyssa Ward Drake Ward Ella Ward Braelynn Ware Samuel Wasley Abigaile Watkins Hailey Weddington Hailee White David Whiteman Delaney Williams Sebastian Williams Sydney Wilson Emma Wineinger Emelya Wiykovics Caleb Wolcott Allen Wolfe Richard Wolfe Myles Wyatt Clara Yang Kaspar Yoshihara Abigail Zachary Marcus Zielfelder
Elizabeth Ophardt, of University High School, joined JROTC her sophomore year and will be attending West Point in the fall.
COURTESY Jacob Cloward, of STEM Academy at Spokane Valley Tech, launched a podcast with a fellow student to interview local professionals to learn from their career choices. Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Lucille Beadle Kenneth Blycker Karis Bokma Alicia Brooks Morgan Cavanagh Jacob Cloward Kaelan Conroy Sabrie Culver Sara Cunningham Nicholas Danzer Jakihas Davis Peter Erickson Nicholas Espana Morgan Facer Aiden Hall Austin Hania Quinn Henderson Aidan Hoag Walker Jones Logan Kennedy Daniel Kuropatko Chance Lalonde Alexander Madden Jaxon McArthur James McConnell Logan McMaster Lucy Moore Isaac Parker Logan Roal Christian Sander Logan Schreifer Egan Scofield Caine Sonko Terranne SpessardAuckerman Abigail Staneart Jordyn Stuart Ethan Swatzell Tobias Townley Mathew Wasson Vincent WesterlundFloyd Bradyn White-Hall

enjoy stepping out of my comfort zone’

Emilee Vincent eyes chemical engineering at Cornell

As an 11-year-old on the brink of middle school, Emilee Vincent suffered a devastating loss: Her mom died of breast cancer.

“She was the kindest person ever. She was my role model,” Vincent said. Vincent did her best to emulate her mom – she cared for her two younger sisters.

“At first, I just pushed my feelings and grief down,” she said. “I had to parent my sisters and make sure they were going to be OK.”

Others noticed her dedication.

“Emilee took care of her family in the way only a big sister can,” said Nicole Kidder-Perry, college specialist at Lakeside High School. “It was a sad thing for the entire community when her mother passed. It’s a small community. We all know each other.”

Vincent’s entry to high school proved less than ideal.

“My first year was COVID. I felt so bored!” she said. “So, the next year, I did it all – ASB, drama club, Science Bowl, Knowledge Bowl.” She not only participated – she excelled.

“At Lakeside High School, Emilee Vincent’s departure leaves a profound void. Her dynamic presence and unwavering commitment to excellence have left an indelible mark on our community,” Principal Brent Osborne said. “As an integral member of Destination Imagination and Knowledge Bowl teams, Emilee’s intellectual prowess and creative ingenuity consistently propelled her teams to success. Her leadership within the ASB has been equally remarkable, inspiring peers with her vision and dedication to enhancing school life.”

This year, Vincent served as ASB president – a role she relished.

“I like being able to have a voice,” she said. “I like talking to the administration for fellow students.”

Her leadership ability crossed over into the arts.

“I directed ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ this year. It was the first play I’d ever directed,” Vincent said. “I did have to step in and perform when someone got sick, but I enjoy stepping out of my comfort zone.” Science is within her comfort zone.


“It’s my favorite subject. I enjoyed Science (Bowl) and Knowledge Bowl, and testing what I know, and learning more.”

She put her scientific acumen to the test by participating in Destination Imagination, in which teams of students solve open-ended, STEAM-focused challenges and present their solutions at tournaments.

“Lakeside is very competitive in Destination Imagination, and Emilee has done it for seven years,” Kidder-Perry said. “Our team competed at state this year.”

Vincent also excelled in Spanish and was awarded the Seal of Biliteracy.

“It’s a certification that means she’s fluent,” Kidder-Perry said.

She’ll soon enter the rarefied atmosphere of Ivy League academia. She’ll be attending Cornell University in the fall.

“I’ve always wanted to go to an Ivy League school,” Vincent said. “Cornell and Yale have the best engineering programs, but I fell in love with the Cornell campus and felt like it was for me.”

Kidder-Perry was delighted when Vincent was accepted.

“Cornell is an early-admission school,” she said. “Emilee put all her eggs in one basket.”

Chemistry enthralls her, so she plans to study chemical engineering. She’s eager to embrace the challenges ahead.

“I’ve lived in Nine Mile Falls my whole life and there’s not enough diversity,” Vincent said. “I’m looking forward to meeting new types of people.”

Kidder-Perry has no doubt this

student will continue to

“Emilee is serious and determined – her potential is completely unlimited.”

As Vincent prepares to spread her wings, she can’t help but wonder what her mom would think.

“I’d like to think she’d be really proud.”

June 5, 2024 • Wednesday • T33 Special SecTion
Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Allyson Armond Braden Barnes Fintan Belair Zoey Bell Hunter Ben-Judah Jayden Berge Ryder Berghoff Michael Bischel Alexander Blackmon Danielle Blume Benjamin Bolles Abigail Boykin Erin Brecto Chase Campbell Taylor Cardon Audrey Carroll Adam Compau Evan Cothern Madison Cummings Rylee Darnold Brenner Dart Frank Disparte Gracie Duncan Paige Edwards-Kevin Liam England Autumn Eveland Aleksandra Eyler Bradlee Ferrell Mackenzie Finley Katelyn French Grayce Fuller Jesse Garbe Jalen Garcia Eisley Gardella Abigail Gedicke Kaitlyn Gibson Allison Goeske Amber Golding Shane Grady Zeshawn Griffin Avery Haff Alyssa Hammond Helina Hansen Hannah Harper Violet Harreld Camille Hatch Lily Holman David Hughes Sims Johnson Caleb Kakuda Tyler Karl Kaitlyn Larson Katje Leal Brooklin Leale Cassidy Lenard Cadence Lorenz Gracie Maier Sasha Marks Aubrey Mayer Liam McCartney Conner McGivern Tristen McNeely Zackary Meharg Oz Melzer Calvin Mikkelsen Christopher Miller Evan Myers Chase Nelson David Nelson Kyla Newton Phoebe Oakley Amanuel Orth Benson Osborne Sadahiro Patterson Abigail Pearson Luke Pedersen Theodore Pinckard Franzcine Poelzl Alexzander Reid Dylan Rodney Jonathan Rogers Kaden Rogers Joseph Rossetti Brian Rowe-House Reid Ruberg David Schimmels III Owen Schmidt Meliah Servatius Janai Sewell Liam Shintaffer-Hamilton Noah Shintaffer-Hamilton Gage Sicam Kaylin Smeltzer Loudon Smith Lexi Stanger-Ludlam Ethan Stueckle Kathryne Sturm Beckham Swanson Hannah Talley Sawyer Tannehill Matthew Taylor Ayanna Tobeck Paige Trudeau Thomas Valdez III Ian Van De Bogert Connor Vandervert Emilee Vincent Summer Watters Bailey Weinberger Jade West Breanna Weyl Jaden White Abagail Williams Camilla Williams Ava Wilson Skylar Winger Alicia Zinnerman
The Lakeside High School commencement will be at 7 p.m. June 7 at Fox Theater, 1001 W. Sprague Ave. Principal: Brent Osborn Valedictorians: Oz Melzer, Calvin Mikkelsen and Emilee Vincent
Emilee Vincent, of Lakeside High School, will attend Cornell University.


The Deer Park High School commencement will be at 1 p.m. June 8 at Deer Park High School Main Gymnasium, 800 S. Weber Road, Deer Park.

Principal: Joe Feist

Valedictorians: Braylon Dean, Sasha Freibott and Austin Read

Sara Haynes has sampled it all

Senior took advantage of program’s diverse offerings

If the Deer Park Home Link Program had a throwback slogan, it might be “Variety is the spice of life.” And the perfect spokesperson for that would be senior Sara Haynes. Haynes started at Home Link in third grade and has loved it ever since, taking advantage of every possible enrichment and extracurricular activity while also completing all the traditional academic core subjects.

“We live in Tumtum,” she said, “and it’s so far away from schools I wouldn’t be able to try the things I’ve done at Home Link. I’ve done karate, dance, gymnastics, cooking, piano and sewing. We’re able to take as many as 10 courses a semester, so here I’ve been able to try everything I wanted to try in one place. Home Link brings in parents and community members who specialize in specific areas.” Home Link provides a curriculum library giving homeschool parents numerous instructional resources. Students typically attend Home Link two days a week, with a hybrid instructional model that may include traditional textbook instruction, online work or a combination. Academic courses are full-year,




Can-do attitude

Braylon Dean isn’t sure where the road will lead, but he knows he’s on the right path

Deer Park High School senior Braylon Dean gets right to the point.

“I’m very goal-oriented,” he said. “When I see something I want, I go and get it. In sports and in the classroom, it’s important to me to get things done quickly and get them done correctly.”

Dean credits his can-do attitude to his family and also to the many moves they’ve made, living in Texas, Arizona, Maryland and, finally, Washington.

“Both my parents are hard workers,” he said, “and we’ve lived all over the country. I fell in love with sports early, and I found that they helped me to find friends and adapt socially to new situations. If you move often and don’t go after things, you’re gonna be lonely and life will be harder. You need to take advantage of every new opportunity.”

At Deer Park, Dean was a two-sport athlete, a 4.0 student, and an ASB officer. His first love is baseball, where he was a three-year varsity starter for the Stags.

“I love to get out to the diamond, whether it’s having my dad pitch to me or with my buddies. It’s my safe place, where I can relax and escape if things aren’t going right. Baseball is a game that brings you down to earth, and humbles you quickly. As a catcher, I love running the show and being a leader on the team.”

While Dean values the lessons that his frequent moves taught him, he’s also happy to have settled in Deer Park,

where his family has lived for the past eight years.

“I think being here for a longer time has helped me to build long-lasting relationships,” he said. “Moving can make you guarded, because you don’t know when you’re going to leave next. Here, I’ve been able to stretch my social circle, be more involved, and be a bigger part of everything.”

Brandy Barton has had Dean as a student for four years as his instructor in three science courses and ASB leadership.

“Braylon has exhibited excellence in everything he does,” she wrote. “He goes above and beyond to understand course content and uses his knowledge to help his peers. He is a positive role model, reflective, and an inspiration to others. He is a one-of-a-kind student.” Dean isn’t sure where next fall will find him, as he awaits college baseball opportunities. One thing he does know is that his career goal is a Ph.D. in pharmaceutical science. One of his aunts is a pharmacist, and Dean hopes to work his way from retail to commercial and eventually to research and management.

“I don’t know what will come next for me,” Dean said, “but even if I’m uncertain about that, I will trust the process. I know that if I make educated decisions and control what I can control, I will be able to put myself in the places I want to be. Whatever decision I make, it will be the best for me, and I trust that everything will work out.”

while electives are for one semester. Haynes has also been involved in drama since her freshman year, although during her senior year, her participation has been limited because of her Running Start schedule. So instead of performing in this semester’s

musical production, she is the stage manager for “Into the Woods.”

In addition to her coursework, Haynes volunteers with younger students in the program, helping as an instructional assistant in sewing and arts/crafts classes.

“Sara is hardworking, motivated, and organized,” wrote Home Link program coordinator Laurie Otteson, “and she has a heart for kindness and service. Her integrity and character make her a most valuable student.”

“The best thing about Home Link is that everybody knows everybody,” Haynes said. “That makes it easier to build connections with other kids and with teachers that would be more difficult in a regular school. I’m a really social person, and I’m way more social at Home Link than I would have been in another school. I take classes with a cross-section of students of all different ages.”

Haynes will attend Eastern Washington University in the fall, working to finish her prerequisites for the dental hygiene degree program. That career first caught her attention in her biology class, which included a week of study and observation of options in the dental field. She also was able to job-shadow a family friend who works as a

hygienist. She has only been able to attend Home Link one period a week during her senior year, by the end of which she will have completed 35 quarter credits (seven courses) of university work. And even as a homeschool

student for most of her school years, she is looking forward to EWU. “I’m a little bit nervous,” she said, “but that’s only because the people in my classes will be older. I’m actually more excited than nervous”

T34 • Wednesday • June 5, 2024 Special SecTion
Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Emma Adams Elizabeth Addison Melody Adrian Riffe Akramoff Hunter Alexander Kainoah Almeida Elijah Barnette Evan Barrett Decader Bird Priya-Faith Blanche Daemon Blough Liam Bogle Selah Bonner Maddison Brady Jada Brinlee Jenna Brossard Samuel Brown Gabrielle Cassels Kaleb Chilbeck Ethan Cohrs Calob Collett Brianna Crist Peyton Culverhouse Kyla Dally Kaylee Daniels Nathan Davis Braylon Dean Ellie Deaton Alayna Demir Eternity Doney Shelby Dyer Aaron Eastman Jessica Erickson Jacob Fausti Lilly Ferguson Roger Fleishour Elizabeth Fogal Brooklynn Forbes Wade Forbes Sasha Freibott Danny Gertsch Michael Gilbert Lilly Gillihan Cayden Goms Zoey Greer Bergen Grissom Jacob Guptil Sarah Hammond Colton Harmon Braydin Harper Archimedes Helm Kelsie Hill Mateo Hilts Samara Honshiko Caleb Horn Jared House Brandon Howard Skylen Howard Natalie Huber Jackson Huston Jessica Irwin Perla Islas–Searcey Cory Jacobs Wyatt Joyce Kaidyn Kemper Anders Keplinger Zoey Krous Espyn Lagao Paige Lajeunesse Gracie Landfried Tanner Lane Savana Larimer Joseph Lee Lars Lehto Samuel Leonard Sarah Lester Ashley Lindstrom Gracie Lockhart Tyler Logan Vianne Longly Logan Lowery Domanik Loy Kaylynn Lyons Dina Mahir Shealyn Maki Tyler Marrocco Amara Marshall Damon Martin Mia Martin Zayden McCalister Liam McIntire Ripley McNab Piper McWhorter Miguel Miller Philip Miller Brock Mitchell Marajade Moore Dylan Moxcey Lillian Nelson Bryon Newby Summer Niemela Paige O’Neill Joshua Osberg Aaron Payne Cloey Pope Robyn Porter Corbin Pullins Kemper Rapp John Ray Austin Read Carter Rich Kamryn Jane Riese Eligh Sabo Dominic Sarmiento Annelina Sarquilla Logan Scarola Garrett Schak Conner Schertenleib Ashton Schluter Lucas Schulz Brett Simonson Drew Simonson Maxwell Simonson Wyatt Smithson Zaine Stoddard-Buffan Payton Strassenberg Malakai Suitor Miley Sutton Sarah Sutton Caleb Swafford Ava Thew Jayla Todd Maya Tucker Baylee Turnidge Mason Valenzuela Ava Van Veen Mollie Waddell Carl Waldron-Jackson Daniel Ware Landyn Washburn Peyton Watkins Aeryana Weldon Genasea Westman Payton White Jeremiah Willden Andria Wright John Yingst Morgan Ylitalo Emily Yoas Anna York Samuel Zavala
Braylon Dean, of Deer Park High School, plans to play baseball in college and eventually become a pharmacist. COURTESY Sara Haynes, Deer Park Home Link grad is looking forward to attending Eastern Washington University in the fall.
graduate are: Celeste Bidwell Williams Marcus Blakely Elizabeth Byrd Robert Carpenter Evelyn ChavezCorral Isaac Davis Adam Evans Lucas Glenn Sara Haynes Kaden Hoffman Braeden Justesen Jedidiah Kaeding Josiah Kaiser Colm KaneChristensen Josiah Knox Christian LaPoint Lily Lea Maliyana Lennartz Julie McBride Anthony Meeks Tevin Murlin Jaret Niemela Mahki Saens Trevor Shupe Julie Sprague Teagan Tobeck Alyson VanderMey Caleb Ziehnert
Class of 2024
Deer Park Home Link
will be at 7 p.m. June 7 at Deer Park High School, 800 S. Weber Road, Deer Park. Principal:

‘Extremely genuine, very inquisitive’

Mari Hirayama has embodied leadership and excellence in her time at Freeman

For Freeman High School graduating senior Mari Hirayama, excellence means helping everyone else feel just a little bit better. Sometimes that means getting her hands dirty.

Hirayama is a leader or member in seemingly every club and activity at Freeman, including National Honor Society, marching and pep bands and the Conservation Club.

The last group was founded only last year but was overdue, said Hirayama, who has helped organize outdoor hikes “for kids who otherwise wouldn’t be able to go,” and cleaning trash on the highway.

The group also has raised awareness by setting up a trash can near the cafeteria “to teach kids about composting,” Hirayama said.

That part of the project has been a mixed success, Hirayama acknowledged. But the seed has been planted, and the attitudes of some students transformed. For all of the above, the Freeman community can thank Hirayama, who also finds time to teach music to Freeman sixth-graders. For as long as her teachers and classmates can remember, Hirayama has been making a difference.

“Mari ... is magnetic, and she brings people together,” Freeman Principal Jeff Smith said. “And she doesn’t have to be super verbal or rah-rah in front of everybody.”

Hirayama’s leadership shines in the marching band, where she is on center snare drum.

“When she is in the line, everybody knows that everything will be OK,” band director James Jydstrup said. Hirayama also embodies excellence in her own right. She’s been accepted at the University of Washington, where she will major in economics while pursuing minors in political science and music.

One day Hirayama hopes to work abroad in an American foreign embassy. And if that’s in Asia, she already has a head start with a knowledge of Japanese.

However, Hirayama isn’t coasting to the finish line. In April she won a first-place award in Ethics at the Future Business Leaders of America conference in Spokane. Earlier this year she was Freeman’s representative in fine arts in the Spokane Scholars Foundation program.

Perhaps Hirayama’s wide range of interests stem from what she calls an “interesting” family. Raised in a multigenerational household, she is an only child who lived with her parents, Alan and Jill Hirayama, grandparents, and an aunt and uncle and their three children.

“We had three different generations, which was different and cool,” Hirayama said.

Moving to Freeman from Spokane as a middle-schooler, Hirayama acknowledged that she was something of an introvert.

“But Mr. (Jydstrup) helped me come out of my shell, to not only apply myself but also become a leader,” Hirayama said.

Repaying the compliment, Jydstrup calls Hirayama “one of those students who demands perfection and works toward it every day.”

To Smith, her best attributes are her “quiet strength. She’s also extremely genuine, very inquisitive and very mature. She also maintains a sharp focus for her future and is definitely a responsible achiever as well.”



The Freeman High School commencement will be at 1 p.m. June 8 at Freeman High School gymnasium, 14626 S. Jackson Road, Rockford.

Principal: Jeff Smith

Valedictorians: Dallin Cotton and Mari Hirayama

Ellie Bailey perseveres to find her path

When it comes to perseverance, Elianna “Ellie” Bailey could write a book. She writes it every day in how she’s living her life. As the North Idaho Christian High School student says herself, she has been ill as long as she can remember, and the medicines she needs to take to deal with those illnesses make her feel sickly. And yet, as teacher Jennifer Scott observed, “you wouldn’t know it, even having her in the classroom.” In addition to coping with such things as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, migraines and Graves disease (an autoimmune disorder), among others, throughout her 19 years, Bailey said when she was a baby, she had an adverse reaction to a vaccination and lost her ability to speak. She suffered from selective mutism until she was 4. She was also unable to read until she turned 11. Growing up in a Christian family, while she was upset with God for a time and not OK with her situation, she came to realize that being mad at God was not the way forward. With the support of her parents (Sarah, communi-


The North Idaho Christian School commencement will be at 1 p.m. June 8 at North Idaho Christian School, 251 W. Miles Ave., Hayden. Principal: Paulette O’Neal Valedictorian: Symone Pilgrim

cations director at Candlelight Christian Fellowship, and Kent, a bailiff and retired military) and that of her church, she came to understand she had gifts to share. She decided to not let her illnesses get her stuck. “I didn’t want to be known as just the girl with chronic health issues.”

“My mother, who is the smartest person I know, told me that, sure, I can feel sick and do nothing, or go and be active,” Bailey said. “I’ll still feel sick, but at least I’ll be out there doing something.”

She now likes to hike and explore outdoors, paint and be involved in some school activities. As her teacher said: “There are no excuses with her. When she puts her mind to something, she gives it her all.” Bailey said the biggest gift of sickness is having empathy for others. She has been able to help

another girl with chronic health issues by way of conversation and listening, and she tries to educate others about the added dimension of being able to do the work that’s expected when you don’t feel well.

“A lot of young people especially don’t understand that, but are open to learning,” she added. Bailey traveled with her church to Israel last year and is taking a class trip to Belize this spring. It has been a revelation to her to experience other cultures and witness people with differences find ways to live and work together, while acknowledging that it doesn’t always work smoothly. Accepting and working together with others different than yourself has inspired her to attend North Idaho College this fall, then transfer to the University of Idaho’s international studies program and eventually become an immigration attorney.

As to why that specialty, she commented that she wants everyone to be safe, and that where she feels there is bias against people from elsewhere, she wants them to be treated legally and fairly. “No one should face discrimination because they are different or not what the majority around them are used to being around.”

June 5, 2024 • Wednesday • T35 Special SecTion
study economics, political science and music
Washington. Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Ethan Aldendorf Logan Allen Nicholas Baker Jesse Barthuly Ethan Bowen Hannah Burgan Kamyn Claunch Brandon Cochran Brooklynn Cook Dallin Cotton Easton Crites Ethan Denmark Megan Flaig Kharee Folsom Sage Gilbert Makenzie Goode Judah Gray Ethan Hernandez Mari Hirayama Haylee Hueser-Neeson Sarah Jensen Sophia Jensen Corbin Johnson Duncan Jordan Karina Kopets Lena Kopp Halie Lacher Baird Leavy Dennis Mackleit Vance Mangelson Elle Marshall Michael McCormick Nicklaus McLaughlin Peter Minick Chloe Myers Lilly Nelson Jonah Orndorff Hailey Pierson Barrett Poulsen Aspen Racicot Bodie Ramsey Zane Redding Luca Risse Kanoa Rogan Malia Sandborn Charlie Schafer Katherine Schneider Jared Seal Ava Semprimoznik Chase Smith Emily Thieren Elana Thompson Ian Watson Elise Watts Luke Whitaker Joshua Wigen Draesyn Williams Raven Wright
Hirayama, of Freeman High School, plans to at the University of
Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Elianna Bailey Mollee Brennan Lydia Burkart Evelyn Dane Rebekah DeSchryver Daniel Dzick Olivia Johnson Danica Kelly Jaden Moore Hudson Orr Symone Pilgrim Caden Smith Maggie Thomas
Bailey, of North Idaho Christian School, has a goal of becoming an immigration lawyer. NORTH IDAHO CHRISTIAN SCHOOL

‘The spirit of an overcomer’

Stacy finds roots in faith and family after early struggles in childhood

Jatarra Stacy got a rough start, but that hasn’t deterred her from moving forward.

“I was born into a broken home,” she said. “My mom had an affair with my dad’s best friend. She told everyone I was jaundiced because she didn’t want anyone to know I was Black.”

That wasn’t the only lie she heard from her mother.

“I remember being in the car with my parents, and they were putting things into their arms. They told me they were diabetic,” Stacy said. “I later found out (her mother had) been using drugs since she was 14.”

When she told a teacher what she’d seen, Child Protective Services intervened, and Stacy and her younger siblings were sent to live with her grandparents.

Her mother relinquished her parental rights when Stacy was 8, and she and her siblings were adopted by their grandparents. There, they found a safe and loving place to grow.

“She never showed up for visitation,” Stacy said. “I didn’t hear from my mom till I was 13.”

The family moved from Chewelah to Spokane, and Stacy enrolled at Northwest Christian Schools.

“I had to grow to like the school,” she said. “At first, I was resentful because I resented everything at the time.”

Gradually, she began to understand the gift that she’d been given – a stable home and a welcoming school family.

“Jatarra has something I admire in people – resilience and fortitude,” said Northwest Christian High School art teacher Deborah Sinclair. “Rather than having a victim mindset, she has the spirit of an overcomer.”

Sinclair said Stacy participated in the cheer team and has been socially and academically successful while maintaining after-school employment.

But more than that, Sinclair appreciates this student’s heart for others.

“She looks for the disenfranchised. She uses her own hurts and sorrows to reach out to others,”

Sinclair said. “Her faith journey has been a part of that. She carries the Jesus message, which is there is no condemnation.”

That’s not to say Stacy hasn’t struggled.

Her grandfather died in 2022.

“He had prostate cancer and died in my living room,” she said. “He was my father figure. It’s been really hard. I haven’t given myself time to think or grieve.”

Recently, the emotional toll

caught up with her. Stacy suffers from migraines and sinus tachycardia, a regular cardiac rhythm in which the heart beats faster than normal.

“I’ve missed a lot of school this year,” she said. “It’s stress and anxiety kinds of things. I’ve always had to be the strong one and take care of my two younger siblings.”

Despite her heartache, her empathy impressed the staff at NWC.

For Stacy, it’s simple – she understands pain.

“I get it. I understand. I hate seeing people hurt,” she said. “I do everything I can to let them know they’re not alone.”

Her compassion and connection to others bodes well for her career interest in the mental health care field. She’s planning to take a gap year, and then possibly attend George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon.

“She’s someone to keep an eye on. She would excel anywhere you put her,” Sinclair said. “The love and investment of her grandparents have set her up for success.”

But how Stacy sees success may be different than how others picture it. What she wants more than anything is something many take for granted.

“I really want to start my own family and be a wife and mom,” she said. “I want to give myself the life I wasn’t given.”

Samantha Mayberry doesn’t shy away from a challenge

For 10 years, Samantha “Sam” Mayberry has held her own, stopping shots in the net as a goalie in the fast-paced, hard-hitting world of ice hockey.

And until this year, she played on all-boys teams.

“My dad grew up playing hockey, and I got the skating bug super young,” she said.

At 7, she tried gymnastics, but as soon as she stepped onto the ice and started chasing a puck, she was hooked.

“I really like skating,” Mayberry said. “I hate running, and hockey is the only sport that doesn’t have running.”

She’s always been home-schooled and began attending the Northwest Christian Homeschool program in eighth grade.

“I’m super extroverted and not a homebody, so it’s been great,” she said.

The flexible schedule worked well with the time demands of upper-level hockey.

“I have hockey every night and travel every weekend,” Mayberry said. “I enjoy being independent with homework. I can make my own schedule and go at my own pace.”

Teacher Melodie Workman said Mayberry is in the classroom once or twice a week, and she’s enjoyed getting to know her.

“She’s an excellent student who rises to any challenge,” Workman said. “Students listen to her. She’s a vocal leader in the classroom.”

Mayberry would have loved to have her voice heard on the rink, as well, but all too often, her male teammates ignored or bullied her.

At first, she relished the challenge.

“It’s fun to compete with guys,” Mayberry said. “I play goalie, a high-pressure position, but I don’t have to worry about getting hit.”

Her enjoyment began to wane as she moved up through the ranks.

“I was the only girl on the team,” she said. “Goalies get a lot more heat than other positions. It’s a bad recipe when you’re the outsider.”

Mayberry said that her teammates only spoke to her when they were displeased. She persevered, but enduring the bullying wasn’t easy.

“It was really hard,” she said. “Eventually, I realized they are stupid and immature – that’s when I started to be more successful. I concentrated on my position and ignored them.”

That didn’t surprise Workman.

“If you ever tell her she can’t do something, that it’s outside her ability, she will rise to the occasion,” Workman said. “She will do it.”

The stress began to wear on Mayberry, and last year, she joined an all-girls team out of Boise.

“I miss the competition level with boys,” she said. “They shoot harder and skate faster.”

But the trade-off proved exhilarating. After years of being ignored, she said, “It was weird to be spoken to by the girls on my team!”

The lessons she learned about trusting herself and being her own cheering section still resonate.

“Don’t be afraid. Trust in the work you put in,” said Mayberry. “Don’t play to prove yourself to others. Play for yourself – it’s more fun!”

Her spirited self-confidence will be missed at NWC Homeschool.

“I’ll miss her heart. She’s such an authentic character,” Workman said.

Mayberry plans to attend Grand Canyon University and is looking forward to the college experience, but her career goal may seem incongruent with the rough and tumble sport she’s played for 10 years.

“I’m very girly,” she said. “I love doing hair and I’m interested in a career in cosmetology.”

Her teacher sees Mayberry rising to the top of whatever she pursues.

“I picture her leading something – working in the community,” said Workman. “Whatever it is, look out! She’s going to be great at what she does.”

T36 • Wednesday • June 5, 2024 Special SecTion
Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Jacob Bell Brooklyn Bowman Angela Bozin Jeron Brown Charissa Carey Matthew Cordis Georgia Crockett Parker Farr Elijah Friedly Brynlee Frost Savannah Gassaway Kailin Haffner Jaxson Hamilton Ayden Hardenbrook Daniel Harrington Gabriel Hastings Lauren Heinrich Sarah House Aaron Hudspeth Alexandre Jimenez Ethan Jones Naomi Knight Danek Lyerla Megan Maystrovich Emmett McLaughlin Juliana Michael Taylor Middaugh Benjamin Murphy Aspen Rose Rademacher Gabriel Roth Titus Spuler Jatarra Stacy Chloe Stelly Emma Tibbetts Casey Trautman Ryan Waters Asher West Lucas Whitney Jacob Wilson Zachariah Wing Samuel Young Kasha Zornes Graduation The Northwest Christian Schools commencement will be at 1 p.m. June 8 at Turning Point Open Bible Church, 11911 N. Division St. Principal: Scott Ferguson Valedictorians: Lauren Heinrich, Sarah House, Gabriel Roth, Brynlee Frost and Charissa Carey Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Nathan Jones Samantha Mayberry Joel Phillips Kathryn Roberts Graduation The Northwest Christian Homeschool Program commencement will be at 2 p.m. May 18 at Crossover Church, 16825 N. Newport Highway. Principal: Ruth Wagley Valedictorian: Kathryn Roberts
Samantha Mayberry learned about high-pressure situations between the pipes as a hockey goalie. COURTESY
Jatarra Stacy, of Northwest Christian School, has developed a keen sense of compassion and caring for others.

No longer coasting along

An honors class helped Tayevius Allen realize ‘I can do hard things’

When senior Tayevius Allen found himself sleepwalking through his first two years at Innovation High School, all it took to turn his life around was a wake-up call from English teacher Jeremy TeGrotenhuis.

From that lackluster beginning, Allen has progressed into an Innovation all-star who is enrolled in the International Baccalaureate program, is ASB president and a founding member of the Black Student Union and Outdoor Leadership Academy groups. He also wrestles for Rogers High School.

“Jeremy knew my work ethic was poor,” Allen said, “but he saw my potential and knew that I was capable. It started when he put me in 10th grade honors English. It took a while to take hold, but I got the best grade in the class, and I realized then that I can do hard things.”

Allen had previously been enrolled at PRIDE Prep, which like Innovation is a free public charter school, but hadn’t really applied himself in a way that tapped the potential that TeGrotenhuis observed. So what happened?

“There was a point where I looked at my family and the people around me, and it wasn’t an environment that was really encouraging to going on to higher education. My freshman year was the COVID year, too, and so I didn’t really get the experience of what Innovation offers, and was just kind of coasting along.

“But I have always been open to new friends and new expe-

riences, and the student-teacher dynamic at Innovation is what makes it different from a regular high school. Classes are pretty small, and the relationship with teachers is friendlier. It’s not all textbooks and taking notes.”

Allen attended Lidgerwood during elementary school, and says he had disciplinary and behavior issues there, identifying himself as a “slow learner” in those years. He improved at PRIDE Prep, where the smaller school and project-based curriculum helped him.

After an uneventful first couple years at Innovation, his turnaround included not only improved grades but increased involvement in activities.

“I was probably more open to physical challenges before the last couple years,” he said, “but my teachers and mentors have encouraged me in other directions too, and I have been able to keep up with coursework.”

Allen will attend Washington State University in the fall, majoring in electrical engineering. Because of his IB program at Innovation, he will enter with several college credits.

“Tayevius has grown from a student who was happy with C’s to pushing himself in everything that he does,” TeGrotenhuis said. “He was clearly a very smart kid earlier in high school, and I’m so proud of him for how far he’s come.”

“Because of the small class sizes at Innovation,” Allen said, “my teachers have been able to recognize when I’m struggling, and they help me to push through. Their encouragement has helped me to prove to myself that I am intelligent.”


Josten McEachran enjoys seeing the results of his work

Of all the qualities that make outstanding graduates noteworthy, humility is one of the least celebrated. But that’s why Josten McEachran is unique.

On the eve of a trip to Mexico to visit his grandfather, McEachran thought for a moment about why he was the Oaks Classical Christian Academy selection for a senior profile. And came up empty.

“I’m not sure why they would have picked me,” he said. “I’m not the best student. I try to be a friendly guy. And I was chosen by teachers to give a toast at Protocol (described on the school’s website as ‘an evening of truth, goodness, and beauty’).”

Beyond that, though, he described a school experience heavy on commitment, on being fully invested in the activities that attracted him and upon giving back to the school, students, and faculty. One of his favorite – and least favorite –courses was rhetoric.

that McEachran did a standout job of playing both witness roles.

“In Mock Trial, you don’t just get to act,” he said. “You also have to be cross-examined as the witness, and know the roles inside and out. Josten is a hard worker and an amazing teammate. He keeps everyone laughing, and it was a huge blessing having him on the team.”

McEachran also participated in choral music at the Oaks but – typical for him –discounted his contribution.

“I had a love-hate relationship with rhetoric,” he said. “I loved the fact that I can look at something and build an argument on either side of it. During my junior and senior years, I participated in Mock Trial, and this year we won first place at districts and finished fifth at state.

“I was a witness on both sides of a case, so I had to research about 100 pages of information on the case. I really enjoyed the acting side of Mock Trial and being a witness. I don’t think that I want to be a lawyer, but because of Mock Trial I’ve been way more interested in our legal system, and I even did my senior thesis on American government.” Scott Welch, his Mock Trial coach, said

“I guess I could say that I helped keep the tenor section afloat,” he said. “Until I was about 13, I had a decent voice but no passion, but as I have become more of a leader at school, I saw that there weren’t many guys who loved singing, and I ended up having a drive for it and trying really hard.”

He may not see himself as a role model, but describes an attitude and behavior that certainly would reflect the qualities associated with servant leadership.

“When I was much younger at the Oaks,” he said, “I saw the seniors as scary and as people who didn’t want to talk to younger students. So I’ve tried to make an effort to connect with (people in) grades other than my own and to avoid the personal bubble that it’s easy to get into.”

McEachran has worked the past two summers for a landscaping company, where he said he enjoys seeing the results of his work, even driving around Spokane occasionally to observe the finished product. As far as the future, he’ll attend community college next fall and eventually study computer science at Eastern Washington University, on his way to a career in cybersecurity or video editing.

June 5, 2024 • Wednesday • T37 Special SecTion
Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Tucker Albaugh Taylore Alent John Allen Tayevius Allen Aryn Bassen Gracie Beitey Jackson Boniface Josie Boone Jayaunni Bracey Kaidence Casteel Sydnie Cleveland Mia Clinard Abigale Crigger Savannah Culbert Johnny Davis Edith Dewolf Xavier Dodson James Domitrovich Damien Double Taylor Franks Dominic Gagnon Blake Hammers Roan Hansen Robert Jones Christian Keyes Mason Kirby Jacob Kotsala Octavia Krogstad Nevaeh Krumm-Duby Michel Lancette Leona Lantz Chase Larson Zeke Larson David Lentes Amelia Lewis Yvette Lopez Makinzy Luthy Tatum Meyer Brogan Mitchell Shalay Moore Atiana Peltier Kaden Pinyo Daymien Reno-Kane Ryan Rohrscheib Sakai Rushing Chloe Ryno Tirzo Sanchez Sebastian Serr Joshua Sombke Zoe Sutton-Mulenex Catherine Thomas Alexander Tsonetokoy Aalyah Vornheder Owen Williams Nehemiah Witt Emma Wood Johnathen Wrixon Graduation The Innovation High School commencement will be at 6 p.m. June 7 at Riverside Place, 1110 W. Riverside Ave. Principal: Sara Kennedy Valedictorian: Catherine Thomas INNOVATION HIGH SCHOOL Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Keira Bohannon Emma DeBoer Riley Dunsmore Jayden Hammons Blake John Gavin Tiller Graduation The Kootenai High School commencement will be at 1 p.m. June 8 at Kootenai High School gymnasium, 13030 E. O’Gara Road, Harrison. Principal: Nolan Kerby Valedictorian: Emma DeBoer
Tayevius Allen, of Innovation High School, plans to study electrical engineering and Washington State University.
COURTESY Oaks grad Josten McEachran plans to attend community college ahead of university. Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Rebekah Bursese Isabella Carter Noah Clark Kathryn DeRuyter Jason Fox Amelia Garriques Izak Hall Lucy Jones Morgan Kahabka Ethan King Micah Lundberg Josten McEachran Courtney Nelson Ethan Reade Isaac Rickert Olivia Schnell Samuel Schurter MingMei Szymanowski Matthew Tallman Gwenyth Tate Almar Tishenko Caleb Van Horn Davy Williams Graduation The Oaks Classical Christian Academy commencement will be at 7 p.m. June 14 at the Oaks Classical Christian Academy, 11711 E. 24th Ave., Spokane Valley. Principal: Charlie Dowers Valedictorian: Isabella Carter THE OAKS CLASSICAL CHRISTIAN ACADEMY InnOVaTIOn HIGH sCHOOL / THe OaKs / KOOTenaI HIGH sCHOOL



Valley Christian senior Carilynn White spends a lot of her spare time on a horse and has been competing in Western dressage since the fifth grade. She hopes to turn her passion into a career by becoming a dressage instructor.

White has been attending Valley Christian for years, partly because her father teaches there. But White said she’s also there because she likes getting a Christian education, where she can pursue God and an education at the same time.

She started riding in the third grade and quickly transitioned to small, local competitions at the fairgrounds. The word dressage means training, and Western dressage is all about the training of the horse and rider, White said.

“You take tests to see what you and your horse have learned,” she said.

White rides at Relational Riding Academy, which uses donated and rescued horses. Although White has spent nearly her entire life on horseback, she doesn’t own a horse. She’s the barn’s “catch” rider, White said. “I ride whatever they put in front of me,” she said.

As riders get more advanced, they are usually assigned a particular horse, White said. She has mostly competed with a quarter horse named Scarlet, though she also rides an American Warmblood named Wonder. “I think my instructor plans on me showing both this year,” she said.

White completes in the handful of live Western dressage shows available in Washington each year,

often only two or three. Other competitions are virtual, with riders submitting unedited video of the required elements. “Dressage tests are basically patterns,” she said. “You get a reader that tells you what to do.”

White previously competed at Level 2 and has attended national and world championship competitions, where she has placed in the top 10 in her category several times. This year, she has advanced to Level 3 in Western dressage, where the “big names” compete, White said.

Although she likes competing, what she likes more is how riders support each other, White said. “I like that people come together,” she said. “You can make friends from all over. I like doing my best on my horse and I like the atmosphere around it.”

Teacher Jessica Kenlein-Burns said White has impressed her with her conscientiousness and thoroughness in the classroom. “She’s very determined and very responsible,” Kenlein-Burns said. “She has a very dry sense of humor.” Kenlein-Burns said she’s aware of White’s work in the show ring but confesses she doesn’t know much about dressage. “I just know she’s really good at it,” she said. White said she has considered continuing her education to earn a degree in equine management and/or business, but she hasn’t made a decision yet. “Right now, college and I are undecided,” she said. The one thing she is certain about is her desire to become a dressage instructor. “I’ve already taught little kids at beginner level, and that’s a lot of fun,” she said.

In journey from Honduras to Spangle, empathy has guided Sofia Pinell

During a global pandemic, Ana Sofia Pinell navigated a new world away from her parents in the search for better academic opportunities. In that search, she has discovered herself through her experiences at Upper Columbia Academy and helped others along the way.

In 2021 at the age of 15, Pinell left her home in Honduras and joined her brother, Cesar, at UCA. Her brother had left Honduras two years prior.

“It was hard at first, the loneliness,” she said. Her brother said “when Sofie showed up, it was hard for her, because she didn’t have her family. She had me, and that was it.” Despite the hardship, she persisted. Something that helped her was being able to stay true to herself. Pinell said that her sophomore year was one of her best years because she “came as I was.” That, she said, is “one of the greatest things you can do when you go to a new place.”

Her devotion and hard work did not go unnoticed by one of her teachers, Rachell Riffell.

“Sofia’s dedication to scholastics and her ability to overcome obstacles is admirable,” Riffell said. With the help of roommates,

she began to feel more comfort-

able. She said that she had a lot of little experiences that brought her joy in unexpected ways.

“From my roommate, I started branching out with other people, and knowing more girls in dorms,” Pinell said. “It was a great experience because I became more independent and more organized, more responsible.”

She has taken classes like pottery, anatomy and physiology, and dual-credit classes to fulfill both high school and college requirements. Pottery, she said, was one of her favorites.

That growth in confidence and independence has helped her as a resident assistant for the past two years. As an RA, Pinnell is responsible for setting up activities and checking in with other girls in her dorm. She said that it has been one of her greatest experiences because she has been able to connect with her dormmates in meaningful ways.

“Last year, I would go around and talk to the girls, and make connections with them,” Pinell said.

As an RA she is also a trusted listener for her peers.

She said, that “they can have someone to go talk to, or just feel cared for and loved.”

Her empathetic nature has been evident since childhood.

“Sofia was always attached to her family. She was always really close to them. She always wanted to know where each one of us was. She needed to know that we were safe, and she needed to know that we were in a good environment,” her mother, Claudia Milagros, said.

After graduation, Pinell plans to go home to Honduras for the summer and be with her family. Then, she will attend college to prepare for a career in medicine, either as a labor and delivery nurse assistant, a gynecologist, or an X-ray technician.

Her interest in caring for women through labor and delivery was piqued through hearing stories from one of her mom’s friends. Her experiences in her anatomy and physiology class also opened open her eyes to the medical field.

“I just like really learning about it. It was easy for me to learn the muscles and learn the bones. It’s very interactive. It doesn’t bring me stress,” Pinell said. “It brings me joy.”

Her time at UCA has helped her grow and connect with others. Now, as she graduates high school, her family knows that whatever the future holds for her, Sofia will be successful.

Her brother said, “there is nothing that’s going to stop Sofie. I know that.”


T38 • Wednesday • June 5, 2024 Special SecTion
Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Micah Alvarado Christian Barela Ethan Barker Alivia Bell Aaron Boggess Sadie Bowen Felicity Broome Caleb Brower Angelina Buursma Megan Christensen Elise Colburn Sarah Cole Nathan Coon Annaliese Craik Isaac Dant Lily Dietrich Tanner Duffy Hailey Fischer Victoria Frias Jonathan Haeger Levi Hardy Logan Henneberg Ava Herzberg William Heyden-Seaton Ethan Hickok Owen Hickok Grace Judge Chelysse Kakumba Megyn Larson Iann Lasher Joseph Lee Ava Lennon Maddox Mack Filippo Manta Katie McCoon Kian McCormick Kyler McCulloch Joseph Mercill Jaden Michaelis Shawn Moller Rio Moore Alana Nash Christopher Nelson Peyton Oliver Eric Olson Susanna Olson Kale Patzer Angela Pielaet Ana Sofia Pinell Annelise Ranette Spencer Rich Jason Roberts Madilynn Rose Danerose Mae Sanford Hailey Schmid Frida Silva Sanchez Kailianne Smart Bella Smith Larissa Smith Seoyun Son Alissa Stafford Kevin Stathem Nolan Stout Nathan Sutherland Madison Threadgill Connor Turner Claire Twigg Jack Vogel Brock White Andrew Willett Luke Williams Elijah Wines Eden Won Daniel Wright Tyler Young
Ana Sofia Pinell followed her brother to Upper Columbia Academy.
at the Upper Columbia gymnasium, 3025 E. Spangle Waverly Road, Spangle. Principal: The Rev. Jeff Deming
The Upper Columbia Academy commencement
June 2
Level 3 competition
Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Justin Abdallah Katie Bellus Mia Carrano Isabella Clark Lauren Fields Caleb Fine Ruby Floch Jacoby Hansen Jacob Hecker Simon Hill Liliya Hopson Megan Hopson Daylene Isley Eliana Jeffrey Tatiana Kutsar Nathan Moore Noah Rose Ariahna Thomas Carilynn White Graduation The Valley Christian commencement was June 1 at Genesis Church Sanctuary at Valley Christian, 10212 E. Ninth Ave., Spokane Valley. Principal: Robert Chadduck
Isabella Clark
Carilynn White, of Valley Christian School, advanced to in Western dressage this year. Competitions are both in person and virtual.
success in Western dressage has her hoping to become an instructor VALLEY CHRISTIAN SCHOOL UPPER COLUMBIA ACADEMY VaLLey CHRIsTIan sCHOOL / uPPeR COLuMBIa aCadeMy


Family struggles threaten to derail Brutis SiJohn, but don’t succeed

Brutis SiJohn can do hard things.

Faced with frequent challenges at home during his four years at Lakeside High School, SiJohn emerged as an honor roll student, star basketball player and, in the words of one Lakeside instructor, the type of student that all teachers love to have in class.

But back to the beginning. During the fall of 2020 – the start of his freshman year – SiJohn’s father was imprisoned, and Brutis was sidetracked in more ways than one.

Instruction for much of that school year was online as COVID shut down in-person programs, and SiJohn found it hard to focus on his lessons, frequently failing to log in and complete his assignments.

“I’m not an online learner,” he said, “and I was skipping my classes, and not trying even when I was there. A lot of my not caring was around what happened with my dad.”

SiJohn rebounded during the third trimester that year, making an immediate turnaround when schools opened their doors, and sophomore year he made the honor roll for all three trimesters. Then tragedy struck.

SiJohn and his two brothers – one older, one younger – had lived with their grandfather for as long as he can remember, but near the beginning of his junior year, his grandpa died, and his life was in turmoil once again.

The boys stayed with their grandmother briefly, and were able to remain in Tribal Housing because his older brother was 18 and served as guardian to the other two, but it was tough going, to say the least.

“We wanted to stay where we were in our house,” he said, “but sometimes during the year we couldn’t pay the bills or even turn up the heat. Our grandma and some of our friends helped us with bills and food, but it was hard to get up and go to school. Lots of times we were late, and my grades weren’t failing, but they weren’t very good.”

At the beginning of his senior year, his older brother moved to Montana for college, and SiJohn moved back into his grandmother’s house, where things improved with her guidance and homecooked meals every night.

“Senior year has been my best and my favorite year,” he said. “Waking up, going to school, playing basketball, and hanging out with my friends, I got to be a kid again. I even started playing golf this spring. High school has been really fun this year.

“Brutis is a first-team all-star,” said PE teacher Jim Giulio. “He not only has a strong work ethic, but pushes all his classmates and friends to strive for greatness. He motivates others around him to do better and be better. He is a true leader in every sense of the word.”

SiJohn isn’t sure what awaits him in the fall, but is interested in studying kinesiology in college. If he chooses to join his brother at Salish Kootenai College, he plans to play basketball there, but otherwise is interested in Lewis-Clark State. Wherever he lands, he’s confident that he can handle almost any challenge, because he has had plenty of practice.



High school is usually when things get tough for students, but their time at Genesis Preparatory Academy was a relative breeze for twins Lyndsey and Mary Meerdink after the mountains they had to climb in childhood. Lyndsey and Mary were born alongside three other siblings at 24 weeks and three days. Of the quintuplets, Lyndsey and Mary were the only two who survived infancy. Mary and Lyndsey, both born weighing just over a pound, spent three and four months in the NICU, respectively.

Angela Meerdink, Lyndsey and Mary’s mother, recalls watching their oxygen levels rise and fall countless times during their stay in the neonatal intensive care unit. The girls didn’t walk until they were 2 and had feeding tubes until they were 4. They both also underwent a fundoplication, a surgical procedure involving tying the stomach around the esophagus to help with acid reflux.

“Their early life pretty much revolved around feeding and therapies to get them to eat,” Meerdink said.

Though Lyndsey and Mary were born prematurely, their parents decided to keep them at their grade level in school instead of holding them back a year.

“They had a lot of catching up to do, but we felt like they did a good job,” Meerdink said. “By the time they got to high school, we felt like they had caught up.”

They’ve more than caught up, said Jessica Whaley, Genesis



Mary Meerdink tackle the hard work early

Prep’s director of student services and athletic director. Whaley taught both girls science their junior year and coached Lyndsey in basketball.

“They’re both very quiet girls but very studious,” she said.

“They are very polite and respectful, they come in and do exactly what they’re supposed to do, engage well with their peers. ... The type of students you don’t have to worry about.

“I think in general, both of them have grown in ... confidence not only in their schoolwork but in who they are. I’m proud of them for that.”

In school, Lyndsey enjoys math and Bible study, while Mary likes government class. Outside of school, Lyndsey likes to mountain bike and take part in her church youth group, while Mary likes to spend time with friends and go to the gym. Both girls have jobs – Mary at Safeway and Lyndsey at Papa Murphy’s.

In the final month of school, Lyndsey and Mary are both looking back at standout moments from high school and looking ahead to future endeavors.

Lyndsey fondly recalls the high school camp Genesis Prep hosts at Camp Lutherhaven during which students and staff bond at the beginning of the year, while Mary remembers the times she got to spend with friends going off campus to get drinks at a nearby church. Looking ahead to the end of the year, both girls are excited to earn certificates from Kootenai Technical Education Campus in Rathdrum alongside their high

school diplomas. Lyndsey will be a certified nursing assistant, while Mary will earn a medical assistant certificate. After high school, Lyndsey plans to attend Grand Canyon University in Phoenix to study nursing. She’s excited to go, but mom Angela has some anxiety about her being away from home.

“I know it’s going be tough, but I think it’ll be a really good opportunity for her,” she said.

Mary will stay closer to home, attending North Idaho College.

When asked what she plans to study, Mary said, “I’m not totally sure yet. Maybe ultrasound tech.” Mary said she and Lyndsey feel

good about being at separate colleges and likely will make plans to visit one another during breaks in the school year. With their high school careers nearly at an end, Angela can’t help but think back to Lyndsey and Mary’s time in the NICU. She said she’s so proud of the girls, who she calls little miracles, and how far they’ve come.

“As a mom watching them

June 5, 2024 • Wednesday • T39 Special SecTion
Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Kyra Baldwin Devin Beebe Terrance Biles Blaze Callahan Maryah Erickson Mateya Espinoza Garcia Issaiah Flores Qwincy Hall Justin Liam Hendrickx St’Sha Howard Tyde Howard Beau Jones Jonathon Jordan Joshua Kee Jr. Destiny Lowley Shyree Lowley Dayzsha Lozon Chantell Luke Lucky Matt Millard Brighten Trail MooreMullins Tsones Nomee Ryan O’Dell Ethan Peterson Lucas Pluff Martina Rivera Kenya Sanford Kylee Shot with Arrow Brutis SiJohn Roman Smith IdaMay Sperber Mystin Spotted Horse Danielle Vassar Jaden Weaselhead Dah-Yiit’I-Hi White Meyha Wienclaw
“Senior year has been my best and my favorite year,” said Brutis SiJohn, of Lakeside High School.
The Lakeside High School commencement was June 1 at Miller Court, 1255 E St. in Plummer, Idaho. Principal: Jennifer Hall Valedictorian: Martina Rivera
from where they came from to where they are today,
couldn’t have ever asked for more,”
never thought in a million years they would turn out as well as they have; a huge answer to prayer, a huge blessing.”
she said. “I
different schools next year.
Lyndsey and Mary Meerdink will head
University in Phoenix while
Class of 2024 Expected to graduate are: Evan Burton Christian Cherry Karah Clevenger Preston Deese Sydney Elford Caleb Elliott Garrett Farrell Rachel Forrester Daniel Fryling Beau Garwood Shayla Hill Trace Hilleary Jason Holden Robert Jones Jr. Chiara Lehman Sophie Martin Brayden McGinley Lyndsey Meerdink Mary Meerdink Abbey Meyer Gabriel Missamore Caleb Ogle Rylee Ogle Kaden Quast Jillian Russworm Sebastian Salguero Mykal Sheldon-Hernandez Charlotte Stephens Ben Tucker James Wood Katie Yount Graduation The Genesis Preparatory Academy commencement was June 3 at Real Life Ministries, 1860 N. Cecil Road, Post Falls. Principal: Scott Ferguson Valedictorians: Karah Clevenger GENESIS PREPARATORY ACADEMY
Lyndsey, left, plans to attend Grand Canyon Mary will go to North Idaho College.
T40 • Wednesday • June 5, 2024 Special SecTion Here for good.™ Insured by NCUA. (509) 326.1954 | stcu.org C ongrats class of ‘24. Here’s a secret about real life: No one knows what they’re doing. That should encourage you. Why? Even the most impressive CEOs, professors, and tradespeople are still just figuring things out.

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