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SPECIAL SECTION, SUNDAY, MAY 15, 2011

Best & Brightest 2011

Inside Arts ...........................................................................3-4 Athletics...................................................................5-6 Business Skills .........................................................7-8 Civics .........................................................................9-11 Computers & Technology.....................................12-13 English & Literature..............................................14-15 Journalism .............................................................16-17 Foreign Languages ...............................................19-21 Mathematics........................................................22-24 Music ....................................................................25-27 Performing Arts ...................................................29-31 Science & Environment .....................................32-34 Community Service ............................................35-37 OUR TEAM Event Coordinator – Rachel Pugh

Photographers – Charlotte Bar-

Project Coordinator – Anne Woelfel

tizek, Aimee Dilger, Don Carey,

Writer - Janine Ungvarsky

Bill Tarutis, Clark Van Orden,

Designer – Lindsey Jones

Pete G. Wilcox, S. John Wilkin

Letter from the COORDINATOR The Times Leader’s 17th Annual Best & Brightest celebrates area high school seniors for their accomplishments inside and outside the classroom. Top-ranking students compete for first place in the following 13 categories: Arts, Athletics, Business Skills, Civics, Computers & Technology, English & Literature, Mathematics, Music, Foreign Languages, Journalism, Performing Arts, Service to the Community and Science & Environment. There are 2 rounds of judging. The first round of judging is composed of employees from The Times Leader who meet and narrow it

Congratulations

Best & Brightest Students of the Class of 2011

down to the top 3 – 5 finalists based on the students’ applications. The second round of judging consists of an interview conducted by professionals from the community who select the winner. The students are honored within the pages of The Times Leader’s Best & Brightest special edition as well as at an annual awards ceremony. These high school seniors are honored to celebrate the outstanding achievements of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s young scholars. The Times Leader is proud to present the Best & Brightest of 2011.

RACHEL A. PUGH

Vice President of Marketing, The Times Leader; General Manager, Weekender

The Beauty of Natural Hearing...

A Dream Come True for Deidre Downs

Miss America 2005 Former Miss America 2005 Deidre Downs, now studying to be a pediatrician, knows firsthand what it’s like to live d with a hearing loss. As a child she compensated for her hearing loss but felt isolated. Today her solution is a hearing ng device that fits behind her ears and is nearly invisible. “Wearing hearing aids again gave me the ability to better participate in life, school, and friends,” says Downs. Whether due to the normal aging process, excessive noise, genetic defect, or some other reason, one in 10 Americans tod today has a hearing loss.

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If you feel that you or a loved one is experiencing hearing loss call Asby & Zeigler Audiology Associates for an appointment at either of their convenient locations.

403 Third Ave., Kingston | 714-2656 • 1132 Memorial Hwy., Dallas | 675-8113 www.asbyzeigler.com


SPECIAL SECTION, SUNDAY, MAY 15, 2011

Best & Brightest 2011 - ART

AIMEE DILGER/THE TIMES LEADER

When he’s not creating art, Wyoming Seminary senior Neil Mattern often studies chess to hone the skills that made him Junior State Co-Champion in the Pennsylvania Scholastic Chess Tournament.

ART APPRECIATION Wyoming Seminary’s Mattern feels art should be for everyone

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While working as a lifeguard at the Kingston Municipal Pool in his hometown, Mattern came up with a unique way to bring a little art to the pool: a sidewalk chalk competition. “I don’t really know what gave me the idea but I thought it would be a fun idea to try. Although we have had other competitions at our pool, we have never had an art-based project and I thought it would be interesting to bring art into a space that does not usually showcase art,” he said. After getting approval from the

pool manager, he plotted out the division of the pool deck and sidewalks for drawing spaces and bought enough chalk to inspire the sidewalk artists. Mattern made another contribution to the project in the form of a large mural on the pool deck – a chalk rendition of a young girl drawing on the ground – that served as an advertisement for the project that has evolved into an annual event at the pool. “Unfortunately, it rained the next day and washed away the drawing,” he said. “But I think it’s neat that they hold the contest

every year now.” And while he can happily use his talent to draw attention to a kids’ competition, Mattern is even more skilled in the fine arts. He’s studied both art and photography and won numerous awards in juried art shows. One of his charcoal drawings will be published in a book later this year. Mattern explained how his work was selected for that honor. “It’s a series of books called Strokes of Genius,” he said. “It See MATTERN, Page 18

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hen Neil Mattern says that art is a skill meant to be shared, he’s not just talking about those grand masters’ paintings hanging in museums. Sure, the Wyoming Seminary senior appreciates them and even aspires to have his work join them some day. But he also believes in sharing his talent in a more accessible way. His creative use of his artistic talent to encourage the talents of others made Mattern Best & Brightest in Art.


SPECIAL SECTION, SUNDAY, MAY 15, 2011

Best & Brightest 2011 - ART Loren Schott

Schott hones fine art of promotions

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f you’ve ever seen the “Night at the Museum” movies, you can imagine the chaos and comedy involved in trying to direct all those actors through their scenes. Now imagine trying to do that with high school students – when you’re a student yourself. Imagine coordinating all the details, from handmade tickets to costumes to museum “exhibits,” and you’ll have some idea of the lengths to which Hazleton Area High School’s Loren Schott will go for the sake of promoting art. The high school’s take on the popular movie involves students creating their own versions of the works of grand masters and creating funny yet educational exhibits to go along with them. In two years, Schott went from acting as a substitute statue to a tour guide and then to assistant to the art teacher in charge. It meant everything from hand-designing and writing out 800 tickets for the event to helping other students finish their “masterpieces” in time for the event. She spent hours a day for months on end on the project, but said the cause was worth it.

“That cause was and forever will be, to keep art alive, growing and taught,” Schott said. A WVIA Artist of the Week and National Honor Society member, Schott also excels in swimming and has accumulated more than 1,000 points during her career with Hazleton’s swim team. The Drums resident plans to attend either Susquehanna University or Penn State University at University Park to pursue a career in graphic design. And someday, she dreams of using the skills she learned coordinating Night at the Museum to run other large fundraising events.

Rachel Specht

Specht helps others find self expression

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he’s created art with pencils and markers, pastels and newspapers, metal and even musical instruments, but it’s her passion for helping others appreciate and make their own art forms that makes Rachel Specht stand out. During her last year at Berwick Area Senior High School, and in addition to her own course work, Specht is serving as an assistant to her art teacher. She helps with tasks such as setting out supplies and arranging hallway art displays. She also serves as a tutor to underclassmen, helping them as they work out their own ways of artistic expression. By helping these students, Specht is getting a taste of her future career as an art teacher. That’s not the only way Specht shares her skills, however. The student her guidance counselor calls “the perfect storm of academic and athletic ability” excels in the classroom, in track and field and as a cheerleader. She has shared abilities honed as captain of the cheerleading squad to work with young

Delilah VanGorder

VanGorder’s got art in her heart

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elilah VanGorder certainly can create traditional drawings and works of art, well enough to be recognized as a WVIA Artist of the Week. But it’s in the more utilitarian expressions of her artistic talent that she really finds her niche.

The Lake-Lehman High School student helped paint sets for the school’s presentation of the Wizard of Oz and handled other artistic talents such as the makeup for key characters like the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion. VanGorder also put her creativity to the test creating costumes for some of the characters. She also helped plan and coordinate an art show held in a Back Mountain church last fall, an effort that included designing advertising flyers and creating her own works of art to be displayed. “My friend and I chose this project because of our passion for art and a desire to give people a place to exhibit the work they have done in whatever medium they please,” VanGorder said.

An honor student, VanGorder has also spent part of her high school career involved in volunteer work for organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and the Luzerne County Fair. But it is art that has captivated her heart, so much so that she plans a career using her drawing talents for designing everything from clothing to video games. “My career goals include becoming a 2D character designer for a company that produces video games,” VanGorder said. “I’ve been drawing ever since I could hold a pencil and was introduced to video games at a young age…this is definitely the driving force behind my decision of going into the Game Art and Design program at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.”

cheerleaders in camps designed to help them improve their skills. And she put her organizational and artistic abilities to the test when she helped plan the prom for the class of 2009, making the night a memorable one for the class that graduated ahead of her. Along the way in her high school career, Specht also found time to write for the school paper, take part in Future Business Leaders of America competitions and serve as class secretary and an officer in the women’s chorus. The Berwick resident plans to attend either Kutztown or Millersville University.


SPECIAL SECTION, SUNDAY, MAY 15, 2011

Best & Brightest 2011 - ATHLETICS

AIMEE DILGER/THE TIMES LEADER

Lauren Skudalski has captained both the field hockey and basketball teams at Wyoming Seminary. The senior plans to attend Columbia University in New York to study pre-medicine and play field hockey.

COMMANDING THE FIELD

Skudalski uses natural athletic talent to earn starting positions

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While she came on strong on Seminary’s lacrosse field just a short time after she transferred from Dallas High School, it’s while playing field hockey and basketball that Skudalski really shines. She’s captained both teams and helped lead the field hockey team to two state championships, a district championship and three conference championships, all while earning recognition for her own play from all-star, all-state and all-

academic committees. And during Skudalski’s time on the basketball team, Wyoming Seminary won its first and second conference championships and Skudalski was ranked among the top scorers in the conference and named Division IV most valuable player and Player of the Year. Ironically, Skudalski didn’t start out to be an athlete. “I started playing basketball because my little brother was playing.

When he signed up, he was my inspiration to try it,” she said. “And I played field hockey because my best friend made me. I never started out to play two sports.” Though she excels in all three sports, Skudalski does have a favorite: field hockey. “When I play field hockey, I don’t have to think about it,” she said. “It comes to me naturally and it just See SKUDALSKI, Page 18

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efore arriving at Wyoming Seminary, Lauren Skudalski had never held a lacrosse stick. It took her only three games to earn a starting position – and that’s far from her biggest athletic accomplishment. Her natural ability and dedication made Skudalski Best & Brightest in Athletics.


SPECIAL SECTION, SUNDAY, MAY 15, 2011

Best & Brightest 2011 - ATHLETICS Selena Adamshick

It’s game on – all the time – for Adamshick

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ometimes it’s the accomplishments on the field or court that define an athlete’s success, and sometimes it’s the obstacles the athlete overcomes. For Lake-Lehman High School’s Selena Adamshick, it’s both. Adamshick was named a basketball Division 2 All-star and MVP not once but three times, and was named to the Super Seven and Elite Eight teams twice. She was the first player to be named to the allstate team and scored more than1,000 rebounds and 1,500 points in her career. But that’s just one sport. Adamshick is also a letter winner and three-time all-star in field hockey and made the all-star team in soccer as well. She’s dabbled in other sports as well, playing ice hockey and baseball, taking part in a triathlon, lifting weights and enjoying recreational swimming, jet skiing, wakeboarding, water skiing, kayaking and water tubing. And she managed to fit all this into an athletic career shortened by major injuries: a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her knee and a broken leg. “Each time, I could have given up,” Adamshick

said, “but I fought through the pain to get stronger to play sports again.” Her dedication to athletics is so complete that even her volunteer activities focus on sports. She helped organize a Polar Bear Plunge and raised more than $4,300 for the American Cancer Society as well as a three on three basketball tournament that raised more than $1,000 that benefited a cancer patient. Someday, Adamshick wants to help instill that same work ethic and love of the game into other young athletes by serving as a high school basketball coach. In the meantime, however, she plans to attend Millersville University in Lancaster to play basketball.

Shelley Black

Black blasts toward athletic success

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t’s an experience only a few lucky people get to have: opening a box full of red, white and blue warmups, bearing the familiar Stars and Stripes – the official uniform of an athlete representing the United States in America in international competition. Shelley Black has had that unique pleasure. Black was part of the USA Junior National Track and Field team and competed in Osaka, Japan earlier this year. The James M. Coughlin track standout took third place in the 60-meter hurdles. “On the day of the competition I wasn’t really that nervous, just excited,” Black said. “I knew I was running against the best competition in the world, so I went into the meet with an attitude to just do my best, and I did. I ran my best time and came in third.” It was the most recent in a series of significant accomplishments for Black, who consistently medals in district- and state-level competitions. She’s the District 2 record-holder in 100 and 300 meter hurdles, the long jump and the triple jump. She was first team all-state in the 100 and 300 meter hurdles and the PIAA state

champion in the same two events, making her the first female athlete in Coughlin’s history to win a state title. As if that weren’t enough, both Gatorade and the Pennsylvania Track and Field Coaches’ Association named her the Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year for 2010. And somehow, she still found time to captain the field hockey team to two district championships and earn academic all-star status for herself. Black will attend Penn State University at University Park.

Michael Papi

Papi on deck for a standout career

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f the New York Yankees are any judge of athletic talent, Michael Papi has got it. The renowned pro franchise selected the Tunkhannock Area High School standout to participate in the 2010 East Coast Pro Showcase in Florida and the 2010 Area Code Games in California, programs for the country’s top 200 high school ball players. He was also selected as the top prospect by Perfect Game USA at the 2010 Sunshine Northeast Baseball Showcase and currently holds the showcase’s record for outfield velocity at 94 miles per hour. Papi was also invited to the Perfect Game USA National Invitational Showcase held at Tropicana Field in Tampa and named to the showcase’s top prospect team and featured in an article in Baseball America as a result of his performance. These are just some highlights of the young star’s career, which also includes participation in nationally ranked youth baseball teams and serving as co-captain and MVP of the Tunkhannock Tiger’s baseball

team, winners of conference, division and district championships. And while Papi was verbally committed to play college baseball while he was only a junior, he could have just as easily played hoops. As a member of the Tiger’s basketball team, he led the Wyoming Valley Conference in regular season 3-pointers and was in the top five in scoring and foul shooting percentages. An honor roll student and winner of regional competitions with the Future Business Leaders of America, Papi will attend University of Virginia where he will continue his quest to become a professional baseball player or own a sports-related business.


Business SMARTS

Love of business helped Petsuck win national award

SPECIAL SECTION, SUNDAY, MAY 15, 2011

Best & Brightest 2011 - BUSINESS SKILLS

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early everyone had an opinion of the government bailouts of the big automakers. But how many people do you know who could back up those opinions with facts, figures and sound business principles well enough to impress a panel of experts? Now, how many of those people were just high school juniors at the time? Alexandra Petsuck did all that, and that’s why she’s Best & Brightest in Business Skills.

At last year’s Future Business Leaders of America national conference, Petsuck brought home a national championship for Hazleton Area High School with her sound and rational defense of the bailout. It was outstanding recognition for her skills but only one of many examples of how Petsuck has shown herself to be an emerging business leader. “I’m just very interested in how everything in the world revolves around business and I really like that,” she said. It was an interest that began with some basic business classes such as accounting early in high school, and led to competition with FBLA. Petsuck’s first efforts were in public speaking, a business-related skill to be sure, but not limited to business use. Still, the ability she demonstrated in that led to her being chosen to compete in emerging business issues. It’s an event where competitors take and defend a position on a contemporary issue, such as the automaker bailouts issue that led to the national championship. And Petsuck and her team accomplished that even though they didn’t agree with the position they presented. “We argued for the bailouts,

but our team had stronger feelings for the negative side,” she said. “But sometimes, you have to persuade people a different way no matter what you think, and we were able to sway the judges to our view.” “Being able to win nationals was absolutely my biggest high school accomplishment, my proudest moment, my most memorable moment.” But it wasn’t the only high spot of her high school career. Besides earning other regional and state awards from FBLA, Petsuck was selected to participate in the elite Pennsylvania School for Global Entrepreneurship, a five-week program that brings talented teens from all over the globe together to refine their business skills. “My business teacher suggested I apply,” Petsuck said. She did, and was one of 5,000 applicants from all over the world in competition for 70 spots. Petsuck was one of the lucky ones who got to go. “It was amazing,” she said. “There were small classes in so many business issues and we got to see the global aspect of busiSee PETSUCK, Page 18

PETE G. WILCOX/THE TIMES LEADER

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Alexandra Petsuck brought home a national championship for Hazleton Area High School at last year’s Future Business Leaders of America national conference.


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Best & Brightest 2011 - BUSINESS SKILLS Brandon Harding

Harding already down to business

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here’s book learning and then there is the kind of learning one gets by actually doing. When it comes to Business Skills, Brandon Harding has both. During his time at Dallas High School, Harding has racked up numerous awards for his business acumen from the Future Business Leaders of America competitions at both the regional and state level.

He also received a scholarship to attend Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week, a seven-day camp where he practices marketing strategies, advertising campaigns, budgets and stock offerings. But he has also gained practical experience in the business world through processing receivables, invoices, payroll and taxes for his father’s freight brokerage business. “Anytime I work with numbers, it is rewarding for me,” Harding said. “I have gained a great understanding of the trials and tribulations of owning your own business through this experience.” Beyond business, Harding has also excelled in the

swimming pool. As Dallas’ team captain, he’s earned district championships, holds eight district medals, two school and four pool records, qualified for state level competition. Harding also won nine Keystone State Game medals and was named the Most Outstanding Male Athlete at the 2010 games. He’ll take both his swimming skills and business ability to Lehigh University, where he’ll swim for the Division I team and tackle the five-year chemical engineering/ Masters of business administration program. “Engineering and business administration are two degrees that go well together,” said Harding, who hopes to someday start his own engineering company.

Sara Lynn

Lynn prepares for business of health care

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edicine is all about business these days, and few high school students know that as well as Sara Lynn. The Berwick Area senior knows that the business skills she’s developed in high school will go well with her planned career as a physician’s assistant. She’s learned from watching how her mom, a hospital-based microbiologist, has had to use business management skills as supervisor of her department.

“I believe that with President Obama’s health care plan, medicine and business skills will go hand in hand,” Lynn said. She’s got a head start on acquiring those skills, too, having won first place in the Future Business Leaders of America regional competition in health care administration. It was an achievement that qualified her for state-level competition. Even as a teenager, Lynn has found many other uses for the skills usually thought of as for use in business, from her service as class president to yearbook business manager to work with charities such as Junior Red Cross. Her leadership and business skills have helped her school’s student council and other groups coordinate holiday meals for

senior citizens, track donations of money and blankets for local children, keep the prom on budget, find the most appropriate site for the class senior trip and contribute to raising more than $30,000 in three years to fund activities for this year’s graduating class. In between earning National Honor Society-caliber grades and participating in numerous volunteer activities, Lynn worked in time to become a star tennis player, with state titles in singles and doubles and numerous district and all-star credentials to add to her resume. Lynn has been accepted into the King’s College physician’s assistant program.

Kathryn Tressa

Tressa combines love of business, fashion

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hen Kathryn Tressa walks into a clothing store, she sees possibilities. Not just potential outfits for herself, but possibilities for how to display and market those clothes, possibilities for her own future. A three-year member of Wyoming Valley West’s award-winning Future Business Leaders of America club, Tressa has won her own share of FBLA accolades and qualified twice to go to state competition.

She’s also been part of the first place team at the Wilkes Entrepreneurial Experience, where her group completed a business plan for a start-up business and presented it to a panel of experts. Combining proven business skills with her passion for fashion, the honor student has set her sights on a career that will engage both: becoming a buyer or marketing manager for a New York designer or clothing store. “I not only enjoy buying clothes, but I adore looking at all of the new styles and trends and creating my own looks from them,” Tressa said. “I love clothing and fashion, as well as business, and

this career path combines the two in a way I am excited to explore…I feel this is a realistic career goal…because I have many of the skills necessary for it.” In addition to business skills, Tressa is also a capable journalist and serves as sports editor of both the school newspaper and yearbook. She is active in her church and has also served as a volunteer for local organizations like Valley Santa and Wyoming Valley Children’s Association. Tressa plans to attend Philadelphia University, where she will major in fashion merchandising with a minor in marketing.


SPECIAL SECTION, SUNDAY, MAY 15, 2011

Best & Brightest 2011 - CIVICS

BILL TARUTIS/FOR THE TIMES LEADER

Gabrielle Richards plans to attend St. Joseph’s University to major in business.

A FLAIR FOR SPEECH There’s no debating Richards’ prowess in front of an audience

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As a member of the E.L. Meyers High School speech and debate team, Richards spends many of her weekends competing in extemporaneous commentary. Daunting as the task might seem, Richards is often the event champion. She’s racked up honors at tournaments at Harvard and St. Joseph’s University and has won the National Catholic Forensic League National Championship. Whether at a tournament out of the area or the Martin Luther King, Jr. Speech and Debate tournament held annually at Meyers, Richards repeatedly wows the judges with her abilities. And while most people list public speaking as their number one fear, Richards relishes the opportunity to address a crowd. She’s won recognition for her prowess in speech & de-

bate events like student congress, public forum debate and policy debate, all of which require her to have not only the knowledge of current events and policies to prepare the speech, but the ability to quickly and concisely package that information and the poise and flair to deliver it better than anyone else. She’s also transferred her abilities over to competition with the Future Business Leaders of America, earning awards at the local and state level and the right to participate in the state conference. A win is almost a given for her now, but it wasn’t always that way, she said. “I wasn’t always as confident,” Richards said, and she noted that her earliest efforts in speech and debate centered on pre-written speeches.

“As I started to get more involved in speech and debate I started doing more activities that required me to think on my feet as opposed to reading something I prepared, to be able to pull information from everything that I read and remember,” she said. “I love using the resources in my brain instead of something in front of me, and being able to have a conversation with people about what is going on in Libya.” Some high school activities enrich students during their academic careers but don’t really translate well to life outside of school. Richards said that’s not the case with the skills she’s developed in her five year speech and debate career. “This will help me in every part of See RICHARDS, Page 18

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ere’s the scene: you walk into a room, pick an envelope and find a topic such as, “Sports vs. Arts – a Budget Dilemma,” or “Homes --Too Big, Too Small or Just Right.” Now you have 30 minutes to write and rehearse a five-minute speech, which you will then present to a panel that will judge not only what you say but how you say it. If you haven’t fainted yet, welcome to a typical Saturday in Gabrielle Richards’ life. Her mastery of key political and social issues and ability to present them with style and confidence made her Best & Brightest in Civics.


SPECIAL SECTION, SUNDAY, MAY 15, 2011

Best & Brightest 2011 - CIVICS Omeed Firouzi

Firouzi’s political star is rising

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unning for class office is often the only firsthand experience a high school student has with an election campaign, and Omeed Firouzi has that: he’s president of Wyoming Seminary’s Class of 2011. He’s also student body vice president, president of the Junior Statesmen of America club, executive of the student activities committee, and for good measure, was head delegate of the Model United Nations.

But Firouzi also has accomplished something few other high school students have: he orchestrated the recent successful re-election campaign for State Representative Phyllis Mundy. “This work was incredibly exciting, enlightening and enjoyable,” said Firouzi of his full-time work as Mundy’s campaign manager. He spent months designing the campaign’s message and literature, organizing polling, door-to-door canvassing and coordinating volunteer efforts. Firouzi scheduled Mundy’s personal appearances, delivered speeches in her support, helped her prep for debates, updated her social media and planned fundraisers, all of which culminated in her reelection. And he loved every minute of it.

Thomas Hogan

History is in Hogan’s future

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homas Hogan knows the influence a teacher can have on a student. His own teachers at Holy Redeemer High School have opened his eyes to the way our laws and how we are governed shape us as a country and as a people. It’s why he’s sure of his future goal: to be a high school history teacher.

“This is my goal because I want to be able to reach my students and really influence their lives to see how the past impacts our lives today,” Hogan said. “I also want to teach history to show how laws and rights have shaped the world we live in today, and why those laws are or were in place.” Throughout his high school career, Hogan has seized opportunities to help him prepare for that future as a teacher. He’s lived out the history he will someday teach as a participant in the National Presidential Youth Inauguration Conference, and observed the importance of our local past through projects such as designing a map and serving as a

guide for a walking tour of Plymouth through the Plymouth Historical Society. He’s also begun work on his classroom skills through his service as a Life Scout with the Boy Scouts of America, a role that requires him to serve as a Senior Patrol Leader. “I like leading my troop and teaching younger Scouts in my troop the skills I learned when I began Boy Scouts,” Hogan said. “I use the time I teach the Scouts in my troop to form a teaching style, which will aid me in my future career goals.” Hogan is considering Marywood University, King’s College, Gettysburg College and the University of Notre Dame.

“In the end,” Firouzi said, “all of this work was tremendously rewarding and helped further my desire and footing in the field of politics.” It also earned him another unique honor: Firouzi was named the top high school politico and one of the top 30 rising political stars under 30 by PoliticsPA.com. “I was the youngest individual among the website’s list of 30 rising political Pennsylvania stars,” he said. And while he hasn’t settled on a college, Firouzi knows what he wants to do with his life. “I hope to serve others in my community in a public capacity in the future, preferably in elected office or as an attorney defending the rights of individuals,” he said.


Robert Kost

Service is Key for Kost

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olunteering for community service projects takes a certain level of commitment; volunteering to lead community service projects takes that civic responsibility to another level. But that’s what Robert Kost did when he sought to go beyond service to the community served by the Hanover Area Junior-Senior High School’s Key Club and ran for district office in the organization. As Lieutenant Governor and District Trustee of Division 15 South for Key Club International, Kost took a leadership role in his school’s community service projects as well as six other Wyoming Valley Key Clubs. He also promoted some of the organization’s projects on a state level. One such project was Caitlin’s Smiles, a Pennsylvania-based charity that distributes hand-decorated bags of small toys and goodies to seriously ill and hospitalized children. In collaboration with other District Trustees from across the state, Kost helped raise awareness of the organization through efforts such as internet articles on Key Club websites and monthly newsletters. In part through Kost’s efforts, Key Clubs across the state raised $40,000 to bring smiles to the

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Best & Brightest 2011 - CIVICS

faces of sick children. His work with the Key Club isn’t Kost’s only effort to improve and serve his community, however. He is also holds the office of secretary/ treasurer with the school’s Leo Club, founded and served as the first president of the Spanish club and is a volunteer at his church. All these activities have fueled Kost’s interest in government and politics, especially seeing the connection between America’s past and the events experienced today. He’s also developed an avid interest in finance, and his experience shadowing a stockbroker led him to create his own stock portfolio. Kost hasn’t made his college selection yet, but he plans to study finance with an eye towards a master’s degree.

Samantha Snyder

Snyder raises bar for others

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amantha Snyder has some idea of what she’s getting into when says she wants to be a lawyer. Still in her senior year at Crestwood High School, Snyder already is experiencing the day-to-day life in a legal office through an internship with a local law firm. But Snyder has also learned something else: that making an impact means more than what you do for a living. walk even more,” she said. “I have learned how everyone can make a difference.” Snyder has an effect on the tennis court as team captain. She’s also a Wendy’s High School Heisman school winner and has earned awards for speech and debate. She’s also found time to support a myriad of other causes ranging from Valley Santa to the soup kitchen to the local library, all while taking college courses through dual enrollment and maintaining grades worthy of membership in two honor societies. While she hasn’t settled on a college, Snyder is confident she will someday own her own law firm.

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One of her favorite ways to make a difference is the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. Snyder worked last year’s Relay and personally stayed for the entire 24-hour event working the concession stand, selling products, promoting events for other teams and walking more than 26 miles – farther than a marathon. But that wasn’t enough to suit Snyder. She’s working with her school’s student government to raise money through a spaghetti dinner, team T-shirt sales and a Clue raffle. And, of course, she’ll be there the day of the Relay again. “Like (last year), I plan on staying the entire 24 hours and I’m determined to


SPECIAL SECTION, SUNDAY, MAY 15, 2011

Best & Brightest 2011 - COMPUTERS & TECHNOLOGY

PETE G. WILCOX/THE TIMES LEADER

Jacob Daniels is leaning towards attending Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, where he will pursue a degree in mechanical engineering.

HIGH-TECH TINKER

Daniels zeal for technology leads him to projects big and small

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ost people go through life happy to enjoy using the technology around them. Not Jacob Daniels, though. Whether it’s a motion sensor, microwave or player piano, Daniels needs to know how it works. That drive is what made Daniels Best & Brightest in Computers & Technology.

It’s a zeal that drives both the work and personal life of the MMI Preparatory School student. From his job at Medico Industries assembling “Talking Kones,” a high-tech safety device with a motion detector and user-recordable message that can announce customizable warnings, to the restoration of a 1920s player piano that contains no electronics at all, Daniels surrounds himself with technology of all sorts. “I’m never really satisfied with a superficial explanation of how things

work,” he said. “I like to examine common household items to determine how they work. I look at things and try to figure out how it works and why it works the way it works. I might even take apart something like an old phone without many moving parts, just to see if I can figure out how it worked.” Daniels and his dad have been working on restoring an old player piano that hasn’t worked in more than 60 years. “I had to get special fabric, cotton with a rubber layer on it so it’s air tight,

because the piano works on a vacuum,” he said. “And I needed special leather for the gaskets, but the only companies that sell it only sell to professional restorers, so I called one near Bloomsburg and got him to send some to me.” After more than 50 hours of handson work and countless hours spend reading, researching and tracking down supplies, Daniels said he and his father were nearly finished. See DANIELS, Page 13


DANIELS

Karisa Calvitti

Nothing’s too technical for Calvitti

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or Karisa Calvitti, working “behind-the-scenes” in television or film would be a dream come true. As a member of the Wyoming Area Secondary Center’s “Warrior Audio Visual Entertainment” club, she’s learned to love the technical side of the industry and appreciate its role in telling a story.

“Storytelling is a big part of editing,” she said. “That’s why I love being an editor. Yes, the directors and writers make the storyline, but it is the editor in the end who gets to string everything together and actually ‘tell’ the story.” Calvitti has mastered the skills well enough to have already produced videos that won awards from the Pennsylvania Key Club District Convention and the Luzerne Intermediate Unite 18 Computer Fair. She also lent her talents to produce videos that were sold as fundraisers for school clubs and charities. What makes her accomplishments more amazing is that Calvitti is self-taught. When she began working with the audio visual club, she was given a Mac

computer and very little instruction. Driven by desire to edit and working largely on her own, Calvitti taught herself how to navigate both the computer hardware and the editing software. “I just love entertaining people through my work,” she said. Video editing is a huge part of her life and incorporated into many of her other interests such as the Key Club, but other interests capture her attention as well. She’s participated in Wyoming Area’s active drama club, working both behind-the-scenes and on stage. And she’s been a life-long participant in Girl Scouts and currently serves as a camp counselor at the same camp she once attended as a child. Calvitti plans to attend Lycoming College.

Sergey Ivanov

Computer programs Ivanov’s future

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f you ever need to know the optimal DirectX Flexible Vertex Format for rendering at high frequencies, just check with Sergey Ivanov. The Wyoming Seminary student tested that very thing as project for the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science, and won first prize at the regional and state level. for some engineering or computer science profession where I could oversee, work on and test prototypes,” he said. In the meantime, Ivanov is putting his technological skills to good use helping with a computer literacy program at a local senior center, a project that involved collecting old computers from businesses and refurbishing them for use at the center. He’s acquired other skills as well, including organization and leadership skills he’s developed through organizing and managing a chess club that recently raised enough money to join the United States Chess Federation. Ivanov plans to begin his college career early and will begin taking courses at Penn State University at University Park this summer.

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And if you need a compilerbased language analyzer that interprets text and outputs interpretive information filtered for the user’s preference, well, that’s this year’s project. It’s all part of Ivanov’s immersion into the world of computers and technology, and in his case includes all manner of computer- programming projects. Things that might as well be a foreign language to most people are part of everyday life in his world. The DirectX project arose after he studied the 3D rendering technology and wondered about the optimal hardware for processing and efficiency. It’s a curiosity that will serve him well as he pursues a career involving some sort of technology. “I plan on working in a team

“If the piano works, I’ll feel very accomplished that I was able to take something old and fix it like that,” he said. Beyond the satisfaction of understanding how existing technology works, Daniels thrives on the opportunity to explore future uses and applications, to play a part in what’s next. He’s been a member of the school’s robotics team since its inception six years ago and now serves as its captain. “I love being involved with Bot Ball,” he said. “It ties together the programming and building sides of technology to make a robot that can actually do a specific task.” He said the club’s most recent task was building a robot that could deal with an oil spill, a very timely task. And while his team came in sixth and was eliminated from advancing in competition, Daniel has won state and regional awards for computer science projects entered into Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science competitions as well as a school award in Java programming. Daniels has also served as a volunteer instructor at MMI Summer Camps, where he instructed campers and helped with activities in the robotics and physics camps. Despite his passion for computers and technology, Daniels found time to excel in other areas as well, participating in drama, Mock Trial, Future Business Leaders of America. He’s also been an active volunteer with the Butler Valley Nursing Home, where he helped with fundraisers, entertained residents at the holidays, prettied up the grounds with flowers and just visited with residents. Daniels is leaning towards attending Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, where he will pursue a degree in mechanical engineering and a career in robotics. “I would love to be working for a company where I can tinker with things and design things and then they would be built,” he said. “I’d just love to be in research and development for technology.”

SPECIAL SECTION, SUNDAY, MAY 15, 2011

Best & Brightest 2011 - COMPUTERS & TECHNOLOGY


SPECIAL SECTION, SUNDAY, MAY 15, 2011

Best & Brightest 2011 - ENGLISH & LITERATURE

S. JOHN WILKIN/THE TIMES LEADER

Caitlin Vitale plans to attend Misericordia University and pursue a Master’s degree in speech-language pathology.

WRITING HER OWN STORY Vitale hopes to use love of communication in speech pathology career

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nce upon a time, Caitlin Vitale’s parents read their little girl stories before they tucked her into bed for the night. It wasn’t long before Vitale was reading more stories after her parents said goodnight. The stories grew longer and the number of books she read mounted, making the Wyoming Area Secondary School student a marathon reader by the time she won the fourth grade reading contest.

“We had this contest where you had to read a book of at least 80 pages, then fill out a short book report that told about the story and what your favorite part of it was,” Vitale said. “For every 80 pages you read, you got a sticker on a chart. You had to get at least two stickers a month, but pretty soon, I was doing more.” Vitale read way more, slowed down only by the need to stop and do those little book reports. She soon read her way to the most stickers on the chart and earned a gift certificate to Barnes & Noble. “Of course, I went right out and bought more books,” she said with a laugh.

“That was a major turning point for me and my love of books,” Vitale said. “I finally had an excuse to read as much as I wanted, and after that year, I didn’t need an excuse anymore.” That love of reading stayed and in later elementary years, Vitale would go back to visit that fourth grade teacher and check out the number of stickers that year’s class was earning. Eventually, her love of reading flowed naturally into a love of writing as well. Vitale said her elementary teachers had the class write and illustrate their own stories, then sent them away to be bound into books. That experience taught Vitale

more than just how to write, it taught her that the way she lived her life was her own story. So far, Vitale’s life story includes serving as president of the National Honor Society. It records her participation in student council, film club and journalism club, and tells of her accomplishments on the field hockey and soccer fields. Her story also includes a new passion that arose from -- what else? – a book. This one was a Christmas gift entitled “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.” It was an appropriate gift for someone who likes experiencing both the See VITALE, Page 15


Joseph Hornak

Power found in music, words

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ike many students with a passion for English & Literature, Joseph Hornak plans to write a book someday. But in this case, the MMI Preparatory School student is planning on using his literary skills to support his other interests.

Hornak, who plans to study physical therapy, also loves music. He plans to incorporate his future career, his favorite leisure time activity and the skills he honed in English and literature classes to develop an innovative way to treat people’s injuries. “When I’m at the piano, the keys are my pencil and the melodies are a universal language that anyone can speak.” “Using music with medicine has been done before, except I’ll also be writing my own music,” he said. And he plans on writing something else as well. “Ideally,” Hornak said, “I would like to write a book about audio therapy, a term I coined for the process of in-

Rebecca Anne Richards

Richards appreciates the influence of written word

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ebecca Anne Richards knows the power of a good book. She’s read plenty of them in her years at Holy Redeemer High School, and said she’s always felt a deep connection to the printed word. “Reading is allowing oneself to question her deepest beliefs and to form intense connections with those characters that best embody what the reader sees or wishes to see in herself,” she said. to good use in a variety of other classes, earning 20 school academic excellence awards during her high school career, including four in English and writing courses. In addition to her outstanding scholarship, Richards is a student leader, and all-star cheerleader, an accomplished dancer, a singer, an actress, a tutor and a very active volunteer in her school and community.

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book and movie version of a work that’s adapted for the screen, a practice Vitale began after she saw the first Harry Potter movie. “I saw the first movie before I read the book, and then I wanted to read all the books and see the movies. I enjoyed doing that and started doing it with other books,” she said. “I like to see how they interpreted it for the movie, how it matches up against the book. What it comes down to is I really enjoy a good movie, so this has been a great hobby for me.” Vitale also makes time for her life story to include a place that has always been special to her, the West Pittston Library. Vitale started there as a part-time volunteer and spent last summer as a paid employee. “I do whatever they need done, from putting on covers to reorganizing the fiction room,” she said. “It’s a really good atmosphere and I love seeing the kids run around with books. I also helped with the children’s reading program, which I loved when I was a kid. The library has done a lot more for me than I’ve done for it.” Next year, her story will expand to include the tale of how Vitale will pursue a Master’s degree in speech-language pathology at Misericordia University. It’s a career choice that began with a senior project shadowing a speech pathologist working with children. “I loved it from the first day with the kids in their sessions trying to work on sounds,” she said. “I got to come back two weeks later and see the same kids, and the progress was just amazing. I just knew I could spend the rest of my life helping people communicate. I can still work with language and the words that I love, but I’ll be helping people. It will never get old.” And Vitale maintains she will always be an author. “Being an author isn’t just for people who want their work published,” she said. “Everyone is, in their own way, an author. We aren’t writing chapters for a book, we are writing chapters for our lives…I hope my own story will make an impact on the lives of others.”

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“It is one of my primary goals in life to one day pen and publish a novel. I dream of someday evoking the emotions I have felt while reading within others.” Richards has already taken steps to make that dream a reality through several college-level courses in writing and participation in the school yearbook and literary magazine. And she’s put her writing skills

corporating my musical abilities with my interest in physically healing injuries.” Hornak’s other activities have played a role in inspiring that interest. He’s a midfielder in soccer and was playing shortstop when his team won its first playoff game in 30 years. Hornak has also been a volunteer basketball and baseball coach for church and community youth sports and, through Junior Leadership Wilkes-Barre, took part in organizing a charity basketball tournament to benefit Make-AWish. Hornak said that while physical therapy will be his major in college, he will minor in English. He is considering University of Pittsburgh, Duke University and Boston University.

VITALE

SPECIAL SECTION, SUNDAY, MAY 15, 2011

Best & Brightest 2011 - ENGLISH & LITERATURE


SPECIAL SECTION, SUNDAY, MAY 15, 2011

Best & Brightest 2011 - JOURNALISM

CLARK VAN ORDEN/THE TIMES LEADER

Matthew Morgis has interviewed such artists as Lewis Black and the band Yellowcard while working for newspapers The Weekender and Go Lackawanna.

A CAREER IN MOTION Internship led Morgis to paid entertainment journalism experience

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alfway through Academic English I early in his career at Crestwood High School, Matthew Morgis realized he had found his passion in life: communications. Not too long after that he was a published journalist and well on the way to his dream career. His demonstrated skill writing for the local media made Morgis Best & Brightest in Journalism.

Once he turned 16, Morgis went looking for a job. A job shadowing experience at The Weekender really intrigued him, so he approached the paper. “They didn’t have any openings for a high school kid with no experience, but they offered me an internship and said I’d get to write some stories, so I took it,” he said. While serving as an intern for the arts and entertainment newspaper, Morgis not only wrote feature stories and reviews, he helped organize events for the paper and represented The Weekender at concerts and other community events. The work ethic and

writing ability he demonstrated there lead to the opportunity to become a paid correspondent for Go Lackawanna, where he continues to write art and entertainment stories. Along the way, he’s had the opportunity to interview several performers on his own personal favorites list, and to earn some accolades along the way. Morgis interviewed comedian Lewis Black and the band Yellowcard. “It was just unbelievable,” he said of the interview experience. “I was nervous leading up to the interviews but during it, it was just work. Afterwards I was nervous again, when I was writing the stories. I did not want to screw it up

at all. I wanted it accurate with no discrepancies, my best work.” That extra attention paid off. Morgis conducted the interviews by phone, and after seeing the articles, neither Black nor the band could believe the interviewer was still in high school. But there was more than just praise, he said. “Yellowcard called me backstage at their concert and gave me an autographed copy of my article. It was amazing,” he said. It was the highlight to date of a career path for which Morgis almost See MORGIS, Page 18


Rebecca Farrell

Farrell’s byline makes a difference

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very journalist hopes his or her words will have an impact, inform people or move them to action. Before she’s graduated from Lake-Lehman High School, Rebecca Farrell has seen work with her byline do all three. Farrell dreams of being an elementary teacher, so she’s one of 10 students in the school’s new Future Educators course, where she gets a firsthand taste of the career she’s chosen. Drawing on her experience and love of the class, Farrell wrote a story about it for the Citizens’ Voice. After the story was read in school, a total of 38 students have inquired about registering for next year, nearly four times this year’s enrollment. It’s just part of the way Farrell has used her journalistic skills to inform her classmates about school happenings. Last year, Lake-Lehman didn’t have a school paper, and that didn’t sit well with Farrell. Determined to make sure this year was different, she worked hard with the whole newspaper team to put out several editions. Farrell, who serves as managing

SPECIAL SECTION, SUNDAY, MAY 15, 2011

Best & Brightest 2011 - JOURNALISM

editor, helped the staff overcome all obstacles to get the paper published. When she wasn’t pouring her effort into the paper, Farrell played volleyball and studied dance at the Back Mountain Dance Studio. She attributes her time dancing to helping her overcome shyness and become comfortable in front of a group, something that will serve her well as she attends Bloomsburg University and pursues a career as a teacher. But she doesn’t plan on leaving journalism completely behind. “Besides teaching math and science,” she said, “I plan to use my journalism skills to help children develop a good sense and love of writing.”

Brianna Wise

Love of writing took root early for Wise

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rianna Wise started dabbling in journalism while she was still in grade school, so it was natural for her to join the staff of the school newspaper when she started at Wyoming Seminary. Wise started her freshman year as a writer and ended it as copy editor. to be a successful journalist. Her participation in opportunities like the Model United Nations and student activities shows that she’s already developing the feel for the events around her in the world. Along the way, Wise also made time to combine another of her passions – dance – with a way to help people in need. Through her involvement with Ballet Northeast, she coordinated and publicized the “Kans for Klara” canned food drive during the studio’s annual production of The Nutcracker, collecting hundreds of cans of food that were delivered to a local shelter. It’s a project Wise hopes continues next year when she attends the S.I. Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University.

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In her sophomore year, her byline started appearing in the Citizens’ Voice as a student correspondent, and she assumed the duties of arts and entertainment editor for the school paper. By her junior year, she was editor-in chief, a position she continues to hold as graduation approaches. “I plan on having a future in journalism,” Wise said, noting that she also hopes to do a lot of traveling in her future. “Combining my love for journalism with my goal of traveling would truly be my dream job.” A member of the Cum Laude Society and recipient of gold and Summa Cum Laude awards for her performance on the National Latin Exam, Wise has demonstrated the intellect needed


SPECIAL SECTION, SUNDAY, MAY 15, 2011 PAGE 18

Best & Brightest 2011

MATTERN

PETSUCK

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features drawings from around the world that are sent in for consideration and the best ones are chosen for publication.” Mattern’s published work is a portrait in charcoal, a medium he has used often. “Charcoal is how I was taught,” he said. “The idea is if you’re good enough at drawing, you can move into painting more easily. And I feel it did exactly that. It improved my skills.” Mattern may come by those skills naturally. His mother is an artist and an art teacher, and the family’s shared interest in art was recently featured in Independent magazine. While he always had exposure to art, Mattern said he just started studying seriously about seven years ago. “But I always had an interest, I always had art classes and I always had endless stacks of paper available,” he said. Making good use of his natural skills, his training and all that paper, Mattern has had his work displayed in several juried shows at both the local and regional level, including a show at the Roberson Museum in Binghamton, the Lincoln Park Center for the Performance Arts and Wilkes-Barre’s Fine Arts Fiesta. His preferred medium is oil painting. “I don’t follow the style of any one person,” Mattern said. “I’m inspired by many of the great artists of the past and the present. Their accomplishments are supreme. I love figurative art – the human figure and portraits and works that make people look convincing. It’s such a highly skilled form of art to make figures look real.” When he’s not creating art, Mattern often studies chess to hone the skills that made him Junior State Co-Champion in the Pennsylvania Scholastic Chess Tournament. “I love chess. It keeps my mind active and it’s something that I’ve always been good at. It’s something that I want to keep doing for the rest of my life, something that will never get old for me,” he said. He plans to attend the Rochester Institute of Technology as an illustration major and pursue a career as an artist. “Certainly it would be amazing to have work displayed in a world- class museum. That would be a great achievement,” he said. “In some ways, that’s the goal, to be a success like that. But the goal is also to produce good art. Some day, I hope to be producing that kind of art, but it doesn’t really matter as long as I’m pursuing a career as a professional artist.”

ness. That’s when I said one day I really want to major in international business management.” While business is her passion, Petsuck found time to participate in a number of other activities as well. She served as a student board of directors member of Serento Gardens and as the avocation project chair for Junior Leadership Hazleton Class of 2009-10 and loaned her skills to organizing volunteer activities for Hazleteens. Even with the time and effort put into these activities, Petsuck found time to maintain grades worthy of both the National Honor Society and the National Spanish Honor

MORGIS Continued from Page 16

seemed destined. “I’ve always been a fan of music,” he said. “Writing about music is where I belong.” But just as his move from intern to paid journalist shows, Morgis is not content to just achieve a goal and settle there. There are other celebrities he’d like to interview, like Taylor Swift and Blink-182 bassist and vocalist Mark Hoppus. Someday, he’d like to write for Rolling Stone magazine. “I love advancing on to bigger and better things and tak-

Society and earn letters in track and field and cross country. Her leadership skills extended to serving as captain of the cross country team and qualifying for district and state level competition. And yet both passions – business and running – were new loves Petsuck discovered in high school. “At first, I had pretty much no idea what I was interested in doing. I would definitely recommend doing your research and trying things to find what you truly want to do.” Petsuck is following her own advice when it comes to researching choices. She is considering the excellent business programs at Simmons College and Suffolk University, both in Massachusetts, and St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia before settling on her next academic home. Petsuck does plan on studying business and hopes to have the opportunity to study abroad.

ing on new challenges,” he said. And that has played out in other jobs Morgis has held, as a sales and marketing associate for a fitness center, an audio engineer for a production company that specializes in music and theater performances and as street team manager for Eleanor Rigby’s, a local music venue. He’s also played a major role in several benefit concerts where he handled everything from arranging the venue, booking the talent, arranging for services like sound systems, insurance, flights and accommodations and promoting the events. One event, a concert featuring both local and national

SKUDALSKI Continued from Page 5

feels like the right place to be every day.” Field hockey was also responsible for her proudest athletic accomplishment to date: her first state championship in 2008. “The feeling I had when that buzzer went off can never be replaced,” she said. “The first time getting that gold medal around your neck – it was just, ‘Wow, we did it!’” The team went on to win a second state title, and Skudalski was justifiably proud of her role in that accomplishment. “When I was in my freshman year at Dallas, I had to work hard to earn a spot on the team. I earned a starting position in my first year and that was an accomplishment,” she said. “Then I changed to Sem and I had to start all over to establish myself as a strong player and earn a position on the team and a leadership position.” Looking back on her successful transi-

talent and held at the Woodlands, took Morgis more than seven months to plan and raised more than $4,000 for Rett syndrome research. “Promoting shows was my first attempt to get into the entertainment industry, and it was a lot harder than you would think,” he said. Despite the challenges and difficulties, Morgis plans on running another concert this summer, before he heads to Temple University. “Someday I hope to be working in a big city working with big name bands, either writing about them or writing for them,” he said. “I’m very thankful for the opportunities I’ve had. It’s all been a blast.”

tion and stellar high school sports career, Skudalski had some words of advice for younger athletes. “I’d tell them it’s going to be tough. There’s a lot of time juggling to get in practices and schoolwork and still have time to eat and sleep properly to be your best,” she said. “And I’d tell them that if you’re going to put yourself in two sports, make sure you commit yourself. When you play, you aren’t just representing yourself out there, you’re representing your team and you’re representing your school. You have to be committed.” For all her commitment on the field and court, what she’s done in sports is only one small part of what Skudalski has accomplished in her time in high school. A member of the Cum Laude honor society, she’s also won several school scholarships. And even before she ever took a stick to a ball or shot her first free throw, music was a part of Skudalski’s life. She started violin lessons at seven years of age and is now the third violin head chair in the school orches-

RICHARDS Continued from Page 9

my life,” she said. I can talk without stuttering or saying ‘um,’ and that’s something very valuable to me. I can have a conversation with anyone about anything and be confident doing it, and that’s something I value more than the trophies and awards.” There were other benefits. “We traveled all over Pennsylvania and the East Coast for tournaments and that’s when you really bond with your teammates. That’s when you become family,” Richards said. “You would go to Philadelphia for a weekend tournament with the team and come back best friends. And I loved going to Boston for the Harvard tournaments. The history in Boston is incredible and every year, we would do something different to learn the history. It was a learning experience and an eye opening experience, too. It’s something Richards will miss next year when she goes to St. Joseph’s University to major in business. “Their business school is one of the best in the country,” she said. “They also have a great speech and debate program. I look forward to not only making new friends and joining a new speech and debate team and creating a new family, but just having the chance to do things on my own, to be independent.” Richards has dreams beyond her time at St. Joseph’s as well. “I’d love to go to law school, but I can see myself in the marketing department of a company or as a journalist for the New York Times,” she said, “but I know one thing: I will be in New York City. I love the atmosphere. It just never ends.” tra. She’s also taken part in the school string ensemble and chorale. Despite her love of the sweet, classical sounds of the violin, Skudalski said her favorite kind of music is rap. “I just love rap,” she said. “I like music that talks about sports and putting in all your effort. Before every single game in every sport this year, I listened to ‘Unstoppable’ by Drake. It puts me in the right mindset, and since I’m a musician the beat gets in my head and gets me through every game. No matter what I’m doing, music defines who I am.” Skudalski will be further refining who she is as she continues her academic and athletic career next year. She plans to attend Columbia University in New York to study pre-medicine and play field hockey. “I’m looking forward to entering a whole new world in New York City,” she said. “It’s Ivy League, and that will be a whole new level of academics and a whole new level of athletics, and I’m looking forward to that because I love a challenge!”


SPECIAL SECTION, SUNDAY, MAY 15, 2011

Best & Brightest 2011 - FOREIGN LANGUAGE

PETE G. WILCOX/THE TIMES LEADER

Jackeline Torres is fluent in Spanish and on the way to becoming fluent in French as well. The Hazleton Area High School student plans to attend King’s College.

A FRENCH FASCINATION

Love of a romantic language pushed Torres to master her curriculum

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Torres said she loves the time spent in Honors French IV not only because she gets to study the language but because the curriculum includes the culture, way of life, traditions and holidays of the French people. “We learn about the other countries in the world that speak French. It fascinates me,” she said. “I was first introduced to French when I was in eighth grade. I knew I wanted to learn a language other than Spanish. I didn’t want to take the easy way out,” said Torres, who is Hispanic and fluent in Spanish. The French teacher explained the curriculum to her and showed her

the textbook, and Torres was hooked. “It was all so fascinating to me, the language, the culture, all of it,” she said. “And I loved listening to the teacher speak it, the way it flowed so nicely. I wanted to be her speaking French like that right away.” It wasn’t long before Torres was on her way to meeting that goal. “I feel like I soak up the language like a sponge,” she said. “My Spanish background definitely helps because of the similarities, but at the same time, it can be difficult because everything comes out with a Spanish inflection.”

Torres credits her teachers with making French easy for her and her classmates to master. “They have little songs to make it fun, and things stick in your mind because the teachers make it as easy as possible,” she said. Still, she wishes the education system made it even easier for kids to learn languages. “I wish they would teach languages early, when we’re younger, because that’s when it’s easiest to learn. I work as a babysitter at the YMCA, and when you teach the kids something just once, they rememSee TORRES, Page 28

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ackeline Torres said there is one reason she was nominated for Best & Brightest in the Foreign Languages category. It’s also the reason she was chosen as Best & Brightest in Foreign Languages. “I absolutely love learning the French language,” the Hazleton Area High School student said. “It is such a beautiful and romantic language. The way all the words flow like a calming melody is truly amazing to me.”


SPECIAL SECTION, SUNDAY, MAY 15, 2011

Best & Brightest 2011 - FOREIGN LANGUAGE Cicely Hazell

Hazell on familiar terms with language

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ne day, Cicely Hazell wanted to read a really good book. In English. The problem was, she was in France, studying abroad for a year in the middle of her high school career at Wyoming Seminary. The search for that book led her to the Franco-American Institute and an unusual months-long experience.

The institute librarian invited Hazell to read to the children in English, and she did, introducing the youngsters to classics like Goodnight Moon and Corduroy. Before long, Hazell and some other students expanded their involvement to sharing uniquely American holidays such as Halloween and Thanksgiving. “It was a rewarding experience,” Hazell said. “I got to spread my culture in a foreign country and be rewarded with a child thrilled with a Halloween face-painting.” Hazell had some special credentials for her overseas experience. Before coming to Wyoming Seminary, she was a student in a French immersion school, studying all her subjects exclusively in French. Along the way, she also studied Russian, devel-

Amanda Lara

Lara learns through teaching

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ometimes the best way to learn is to teach others. That’s what Amanda Lara discovered when she took on the task of helping nine migrant children improve their English language skills. The MMI Preparatory School student was part of a Migrant Education program through the Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit, serving as a full time summer tutor. “Working as a peer tutor has been the greatest experience of my life to date,” Lara said. She noted that not only did she love the feeling of helping the children improve their skills and adjust to the constant moving that is part of their young lives, but she knows they helped her as well. “The children inadvertently helped me learn so much about myself this summer,” Lara said. “They would correct my grammatical errors, improving my Spanish skills, enforcing my passion for the Spanish language.” Though she is the child of Mexican parents and grew up with Spanish spoken in her household, Lara said she never learned the grammar skills and finer

points of the language. She made the commitment to study proper Spanish in school and enhance her skills, and she did it so well that she’s repeatedly won awards for her proficiency. Lara has also won recognition for her participation in Future Business Leaders of America and Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science competitions, and is part of the yearbook staff. She plays soccer and has managed both the soccer and cross country teams. Next year, Lara will attend either Penn State University, Emerson College in Boston or Arcadia University to major in journalism and use her writing and knowledge of Spanish to enrich lives with knowledge.

oping proficiency in both languages, something that was surely a factor in her school nominating her for Best & Brightest in the foreign languages category. But Hazell said she thinks there’s another reason she was considered. “I believe I was nominated for my love of languages,” she said. “Not only do I seek to speak and learn a language, but I also seek to understand a language and the culture that it is a part of.” Hazell hasn’t yet chosen a college, but she knows she wants to work as curator in an art museum. “I would like to be especially wonderful if I could do this in a foreign country and be able to use utilize my language skills,” she said.


Samantha Martin

Martin shares love of language

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or Samantha Martin, choosing her favorite class during her career at Holy Redeemer High School is easy: it’s the Honors French 4 class she has this year. “We are expected to speak exclusively in French. This has helped me tremendously in advancing my knowledge of the French language,” Martin explained.

“The class involves viewing classic French movies and reading French novels in their original form. In this way, we are exposed to French culture first-hand in an enjoyable and familiar setting.” It may be her longest direct exposure to the language and culture of France, but it’s not her only experience. Martin has been lucky enough to travel to Paris twice, honing both her skills and her understanding of the French way of life. Back home, Martin draws on that experience to help other students and prospective students come to appreciate the French and their culture by giving presentations during school open houses. Her proficiency in the subject has earned her recognition in

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Le Grand Concours French contest and within her school as well. She serves as co-president of the French club, but still finds time to participate in activities like Junior Leadership Wilkes-Barre, the school chorus and musicals and the literary magazine. Martin has also taken Irish step dancing lessons for thirteen years and for the last two, has also taught classes to newer students. She’s also a devoted mentor through the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program. “(My little sister) has shown me that I am so blessed in my life and that I have so much that I can share,” Martin said. She plans to attend the University of Pennsylvania and pursue a career in international business.

Brianna Winter

Mission work speaks to Winter

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eniors often graduate from high school determined to make the world a better place, but Brianna Winter has already done that – twice. In 2009 and 2010, the Berwick Area Senior High student traveled to Guatemala on a week-long mission trip. She and her mission team stayed at a Christian school called Mi Refugio, where very few people spoke English.

Winter spent her time working with the children in gym class and making crafts while teaching them some basic English words and phrases. Breakfast and lunch brought opportunities to socialize and chances to bridge the cultural and social gaps between the children and the missionaries. The trip also included side trips to San Pedro and the city dump to see the living conditions experienced by the children at the school, as well as a chance to see and tour Antigua. “It was an absolutely wonderful experience,” said Winter. “In many ways, the students helped me more than I helped them.”

Back at school, she enjoys studying Spanish and is proficient enough to be eligible for Advanced Placement Spanish. She also qualified for Advanced Placement English and Calculus and is a member of the National Honor Society. Winter excels on the athletic field as well. She’s captained the field hockey team for two years and was named most valuable player and most valuable offensive player. Her softball career earned her recognition as the Times Leader Utility Player in 2009 and the Golden Ball award for her determination and passion on the field. Next year, Winter will attend Penn State University at University Park. PAGE 21


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PETE G. WILCOX/THE TIMES LEADER

Noah Long plans to attend Bloomsburg University and then Penn State to achieve a five-year advanced degree in engineering.

FINDING SIMPLE SOLUTIONS Long says numbers have helped him interpret his life goals

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or Noah Long, it always seems to be about the numbers. “It’s how I interpret things and I guess it’s my way of relating. It’s been who I’ve been my whole life,” he said. And it’s what made the Berwick High School student Best & Brightest in Mathematics. Take his Eagle Scout project, for instance. To the people at Christ Episcopal Church in Berwick, it was about remodeling their church nursery. Long’s description of his accomplishment is full of numbers.

There’s the new six foot by four foot by two foot cubby holder he built and the brand new changing table he bought to replace their undersized two foot by three foot table. Long reports the more than 64 hours of work he logged on site, the 287 man hours spent in total by volunteers who helped paint the room with three to four coats of yellow and green paint, the 17 hours spent selling 216 donuts to raise funds and the $691 he was able to donate to the church. “I love math and I’ve been really gifted in math ever since I was in second grade,” Long said. He explained that all the secondgrade classes at his school participated in a math competition. Every

Friday, all the classes gathered in one room to compete. “We were sent up to the board and we would solve math problems as fast as we could. Whoever solved it fastest got a point, and whoever got the most points got a prize,” Long said. He doesn’t remember what the prize was, but he does remember winning them over and over again. “I went up against everyone and I never actually lost,” Long Said. “My teacher told me, ‘I’m honored to have you as a student,’ because my math skills were just through the roof.” That’s not just idle boasting. Berwick calculus teacher Michelle Kimbell said her students routinely

turn to Long for help. “He understands the material to the degree that he can describe solutions in ways that other students can understand, not only the advance level that he analyzes situations,” Kimbell said. His Advanced Placement Calculus AB teacher agrees. “Noah often teaches me a different way of solving a problem,” said Victoria Witner. Long can’t say why math that stymies and frustrates others comes so easily to him. “I simply understand it,” he said. And that holds true with even the most challenging math he can tackSee LONG, Page 23


Katelyn Arcelay

Arcelay intrigued by numbers

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omething as simple as glancing at the clock can get Katelyn Arcelay’s mind racing through the mathematical possibilities.

“I stare at a set of numbers and think of different ways to divide, multiply, add and subtract them,” the GAR Memorial High School student said. “My favorite class would have to be math, hands down.” Arcelay said she especially loves the Advanced Placement Calculus class she’s taking this year. “It’s the first math class that I’ve ever been challenged in,” she said. “I can’t just sit back and relax. I actually have to work. That is why I love it.” Arcelay doesn’t mind work hard at all of her school work, though, and it shows in her grades. She’s maintained a near-perfect grade point average and is part of the National Honor Society. And she’s also an active part of her class, serving as class secretary, cheerleader and homecoming queen. She was

Ami Patel

Strength in numbers for Patel

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t’s hard to tell in which Best & Brightest category Crestwood High School’s Ami Patel should be. She’s won awards in science, is part of the National French Honor Society, co-captains the school tennis team, has been an active community volunteer and has taken part in student government activities. minute math or science project to a panel of judges. Patel has done that tree times, well enough to earn first and second place honors in regional competition and advance to state-level competition. Add in her honor roll grades and membership in the University of Pittsburgh Health Care Scholars Academy National Honor Society, and Patel would seem to be very well prepared for her career of choice in medicine. “I want to work in a children’s hospital in Miami, Florida…and then open up my own practice,” she said. Patel will begin her quest for that goal by attending either Drexel University, University of Scranton or Penn State University at University Park.

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le. “My favorite subject is trigonometry,” he said. “I love the challenge. When you are taking derivatives and integrating them, that’s the part most people dread, and you add physics and create a problem that takes a full page to do, that makes it juicy. That makes it a real challenge.” The ability to relish the challenge is something that carries over to other classes, and Long has earned grades worthy of the National Honor Society and earned the Kiwanis Club Student of the Month award. It’s also earned him leadership roles with the Boy Scouts as a senior patrol leader and junior assistant scoutmaster, as well the job of ecology and conservation instructor at Camp Lavigne. It’s work he enjoys, especially when he’s teaching science to Cub Scouts. “I like working with kids,” he said. “I like the smiles on their kids’ faces. I would work for free to see the smiles on the kids’ faces when they run across that bridge ready for adventure.” His experiences with the camp and as a junior scout leader have convinced Long that as he goes forward in life, he will continue his involvement with Scouting even as he pursues his career. His love of mathematics and the skills he’s developed from his years in school and Scouting have led Long to consider a career in either mechanical or nuclear engineering. He plans to attend Bloomsburg University and then Penn State to achieve a five-year advanced degree in engineering. “Right now, nuclear engineering seems to be what is screaming my name. I would be using a lot of physics, a lot of math and science and I think I would succeed and it will make my life better and give me joy,” Long said. “I see myself being a nuclear engineer, maybe at someplace like the PPL power plant and maybe being a scoutmaster for Troop 22, staying active in Scouting and given back to the community for what they gave to me,” he said.

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But when it came down to choosing, Patel asked her teachers to help her identify her greatest strength. “I was told that mathematics would be the best category for me,” Patel said, “because it is my strongest and most favorite subject.” Patel likes math well enough to spend her leisure time preparing for and participating in mathematics competitions. Throughout her high school career, she has taken part in day-long competitions sponsored by the Pennsylvania Math League, Marywood University and Wilkes University, as well as the American Math Competition. Then there was the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science, where competitors present a ten

chosen to be a cheerleader in the annual UNICO football game as well. She can also claim music as a talent and has been part of GAR’s well-respected small group chorus that is often chosen to sing at school events and in the community. Arcelay also reaches out to help the community through various walk-a-thons and has been part of the walk to benefit the cancer resource center Candy’s Place for three years. It’s something she does on behalf of the grandmother she lost to cancer. “If I couldn’t help my grandma, why not help others?” she said. Arcelay will have plenty of opportunities to help others in the future as she attends the University of the Sciences at Philadelphia to pursue a career as a surgeon.

LONG

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Best & Brightest 2011 - MATHEMATICS Danielle Phillips

Phillips love of learning is infinite

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earning is important in Danielle Phillips’ family. Even before she attended Holy Redeemer High School, Phillips saw her parents learning new things all the time. “They show me that learning doesn’t only happen in school, but throughout life,” Phillips said. “They have a love for learning that I am attaining more and more every day.”

That love of knowledge has expanded to the point where Phillips is considering a career as a teacher, and she’s already had a chance to practice sharing her expertise in her favorite subject: math. Knowing her prowess at all things mathematical and the way she helped classmates with difficult concepts, one of Phillips’ teachers asked her to do some one-on-one tutoring with a struggling student. Phillips found she loved the challenge. “I love to explain math to her in ways she can understand and improve her grades,” she said. “The feeling of accomplishment is incomparable.” She hopes to have that feeling again someday, teaching in a college class-

room. But first, Phillips is going to tackle studying a very challenging branch of math -- actuarial science. If her high school accomplishments are any indication, Phillips should do well. The National Honor Society scholar has earned regional and state recognition in the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science and taken part in Junior Leadership Wilkes-Barre. She’s captained a travel soccer team and been part of the school’s soccer, field hockey and track & field teams while still making time to volunteer frequently at her church. Phillips plans to attend the Smeal College of Business at Penn State University at University Park.

Timothy Yurish

For Yurish, no problem’s too tough

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here is very little Timothy Yurish likes as much as a challenge, whether it’s taking on a new bike trail or tracking down interesting articles about science, math and technology. And that, says the MMI Preparatory School student, is what he loves about mathematics, especially calculus.

“I love solving math problems,” Yurish said. “I am constantly trying to figure out new ways to solve problems…the more difficult something is, the more dedicated I become to solving it, and calculus, with its challenges and intense math, has got me very dedicated.” If past experience is any indication, Yurish’s dedication will pay off. He has received the Rensselaer Medal for his achievements in math and science, earned the highest score in the Bucknell Math Contest, and advanced to state competition in the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science. But Yurish doesn’t just enjoy scholarship for the sake of grades. He really likes the challenge of applying what he’s learned, using his math

skills to investigate real-world applications. It’s what he did to earn the highest rank offered by Boy Scouts of America, Eagle Scout. For his Eagle project, Yurish opted to design and build a patio at the Freeland Senior Center. “Measuring and putting in the patio involved a significant amount of math in order to make the whole patio the correct proportions and the sand and stone the correct volume,” Yurish said. The project was a success, like most of the challenges Yurish has faced to date. Next year, he’ll take on a new challenge: earning a Master’s degree in chemical engineering.


Marching

TO A WIN Gallagher organized choirs and snared gig of a lifetime

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egan Gallagher knows the joy of singing as part of a choir. She’s been president of the Berwick Area High School choir and manager of its select choir, the Modernaires. So when it was time to choose a Girl Scouts of America Gold Award project, it came as no surprise that she chose to organize a choir – two actually. Add in other awards such as getting chosen to be part of a select marching band for a national football bowl game, and it’s easy to see why Gallagher is Best & Brightest in Music.

The idea for her Gold Award project came while Gallagher was touring a college music department. “The music director was talking about community choirs and wind ensembles, and I thought a community choir would be a good project for my Gold Award,” she said. Gallagher organized an adult and a youth choir made up of middle-school-age kids, coordinating practice times and sites, arranging for music and accompaniment and rehearsing until they were ready to perform. It was a daunting challenge for someone still in high school. “Some of the people were kind of nervous because they had never been in a choir,” Gallagher said. “And I was nervous, because I had led a band before as a band major but I never led a choir. But we were excited about it. I borrowed music and since they weren’t all experienced singers, I made sure that all the

pieces were in English. “We had some gospel music, some church pieces, some lyrical and folk songs, a mixture. It was a lot of work, but it gave me insight into what it is like to teach.” Her favorite moments, Gallagher said, came when a song the choir was rehearsing for long hours finally started to come together. “When it started coming together and getting good and you could add dynamics and phrasing, that’s the moment I loved,” she said. In some ways, Gallagher spent much of her life preparing to lead those choirs. Gallagher took her first piano lesson in fourth grade and her first clarinet lesson in sixth grade and has since added saxophone to the mix. Her vocal and instrumental skills have earned her multiple appearances at Pennsylvania Music Educators Association music band, chorus, orSee GALLAGHER, Page 28

PETE G. WILCOX/THE TIMES LEADER

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Megan Gallagher plans to attend Slippery Rock University to study music education.


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Molly Allen

Allen hits high note with a joyful voice

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or Molly Allen, the ultimate achievement would be to take the stage at the Metropolitan Opera House. If how often you perform has anything to do with getting there, the Wyoming Seminary soprano is a shoo-in.

She’s performed far and wide with the school’s Madrigal Singers and the chorale, in addition to singing in the Christ United Methodist Church Choir. For each of three years, she’s been selected by audition to be part of the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association music festivals, and she’s twice won the Margaret and Nicholas Healy Young Artists’ Vocal Competition. Allen also has taken part in Wyoming Seminary’s Performing Arts Institute for the past four years and in school musical theater productions for the past two years. She frequently sings at weddings and funerals and has sung the national anthem for community events as well. Her music-related talent isn’t restricted to her voice, either.

Julia Kundratic

Music main ingredient for Kundratic

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o Julia Kundratic, a life without music is a life half lived. And this Holy Redeemer High School student is living life full tilt. She’s captain of the girls tennis team, an honor-roll student and was named the 2010 Northeast Fair Queen, but her life is so filled with music it’s hard to see how she has time for anything else.

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The soprano I section leader for her school chorus, member of the Royals Singers and a cantor for church liturgies and assemblies, Kundratic has also been chosen by audition to be part of the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association district and regional chorus. She’s had roles in four school musical productions and is part of the Catholic Choral Society of Northeastern Pennsylvania, too. Kundratic has also studied numerous musical instruments, beginning with violin when she was just in kindergarten. She’s studied trumpet and takes piano lessons but also has taught herself how to play guitar, ukulele and harmonica.

“I love to play my guitar and teach myself to play other instruments,” Kundratic said. “Learning songs and techniques is one of my favorite ways to relax and just enjoy my free time. … It is a privilege to be able to practice, learn and analyze music on a daily basis, no matter the extent of my musical training.” And even though her career choice doesn’t directly include music – she plans to pursue a degree in engineering from Temple University – Kundratic said music will always be part of her life. “I would like to minor in music theory in college,” she said, “and be able to write music and teach private lessons in addition to my primary career.”

Allen has danced with the school’s dance company for the past two years and was part of the Emerald Isle Irish Step Dancers. But it is through her voice that Allen experiences her greatest joy. “If I had an entire day without responsibilities, I would spend it singing with my friends,” she said. “Singing makes me feel relaxed. … It takes me away to a special place that makes me never want to come back to reality.” And though it is fun, Allen takes music seriously. She spent most of the past winter auditioning at colleges and must wait for decisions on her auditions before she can make her college selection, but Allen plans to get a master’s degree in music theory and vocal performance.


Kelcie Lushefski

Lushefski lives to share her music

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here isn’t much Kelcie Lushefski likes as much as playing guitar. “If I had no responsibilities for an entire day, I would spend my time putting on concerts for my family, friends and neighbors,” the Greater Nanticoke Area High School student said.

“Playing the guitar is a passion of mine and something I would like to share with the world…I love performing whenever I can.” It’s a passion that started when she was 13 and has grown to be a major focus of her life outside of school. But that’s not to say that Lushefski isn’t active in school as well. Her musical interests are fulfilled through participation in the school chorus, but she’s also treasurer of the National Honor Society, vice president of Interact Club and an active member of student council. Lushefski is an All-American Scholar and was nominated to Who’s Who Among American High School Students and Youth Salute. She’s also taken part in the Miss Teen Pennsylvania pageant, earning fi-

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nalist status and awards for being photogenic and for casual wear modeling. Lushefski also makes volunteer work a priority and helped with a very successful Toys For Tots campaign organized by the student council and National Honor Society. The project netted more than 1,500 toys and money to make the holidays brighter for area youngsters. “From my involvement in this project, I learned that helping those who are less fortunate is one of the most important things anyone could ever do,” Lushefski said. She plans to continue helping others by attending either Penn State Wilkes-Barre, King’s College or Wilkes University and pursuing a career in cardiothoracic surgery.

Eric Evan Petterson II

Practice makes perfect for Petterson

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ric Evan Petterson II takes his piano playing very seriously and has always wanted to be good at it – though how he judges that has changed a little in the years since the Marian Catholic High School student first sat on a piano bench. “When I was 5 years old,” Petterson said, “my piano teacher asked me why I wanted to take piano lessons. I told her that I want to play piano on stage, and I want everyone to clap for me. He puts all that practice to use as an accompanist to Rock Music Ministry, in community theater performances and for plays and events at school, though Petterson sometimes leaves his piano behind to sing tenor in the school chorus or act in a play. Outside of school, Petterson is active in his church youth group, serves as a cantor and has participated in a mission trip to Dominican Republic. He also studies martial arts and volunteers at the local public library. Petterson plans to attend Marywood University in Scranton.

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"To this day, I keep the same ambition, but in addition, I want to educate others so that they may have the same inspiration that I had, along with the same clear ideas and priorities that I had.” Petterson’s dedication to perfecting his keyboard skills is so intense that he said he often keeps his friends waiting. “I will not leave my piano until I have fixed all the mistakes within a particular passage,” he said. “I am grateful to have such good friends that are willing to wait for me to finish practicing without leaving me behind.”


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chestra and jazz chorus festivals and she’s been part of the Columbia County Band and Jazz Band and the Columbia-Montour County Chorus. Her ability to lead a musical group was honed through her experience as a drum major, which earned her several awards from the George N. Parks Drum Major Academy and Tournament of Bands competitions. But there is another accomplishment that Gallagher considers her greatest: selection as one of 125 musicians and one of only 13 clarinetists to perform a field show for the Army All-American Games in San Antonio last January. “My band director saw an ad about this and decided to nominate me,” Gallagher said. The process involved sending in videos of her playing music, marching and interviews, plus a long application form. She sent in the application in April and had to wait until July to find out if she had been selected. “The notification comes by email, and I was at camp and got the email on my phone,” she recalled. “I was so

excited.” But she couldn’t tell anyone – the organizers wanted to formally induct her into the “Class of 2010” at a special assembly at her school. That wasn’t until October, and Gallagher had to keep her secret until then. She did get her music, though, and a special device called a drill pad to use for practice. “It’s like a Dance Dance Revolution dance pad for a game, but you hook it up to the computer and use it to practice the marching drills,” she said. “You had to practice and you had to send in videos to show that you were practicing. If you got there in January and you didn’t know the drill or the music well enough, you got sent home, and I didn’t want to get sent home.” Gallagher didn’t get sent home, and she had the experience of a lifetime performing in the Alamodome before a huge crowd. “When we saw the video, it was just crazy that we were able to do this amazing performance with just 22 hours of rehearsal,” she said. Gallagher will take that experience with her when she attends Slippery Rock University. She plans to continue sharing her love for and expertise in music by studying music education at Slippery Rock University.

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ber it so much easier than older kids. That’s why when I have a family, I want to start teaching them another language very early, and not just French or Spanish, but other languages as well.” She may not have started learning French early, but it’s still something Torres has mastered well enough to earn membership in the National French Honor Society, to go along with her membership in the National Honor Society. And while French has captured her heart, Torres’ high school career has been made up of much more than language study. She has served as president of the science club and treasurer of the ecology club and is a graduate of Junior Leadership Hazleton, where she served as president of a special project to assist the Hazleton Animal Shelter. The project involved assessing the needs of the shelter and finding a way to help them meet some of those needs. “When we talked to them, they told us their dryer was broken and they needed one to dry the bedding and blankets and towels when they are washed,” Torres said.

On a cold November day just before Thanksgiving, Torres and her group stood outside the local Wal-mart asking store patrons for donations. They raised more than $1,000 to buy the dryer, along with other contributions of food, bedding, toys and cleaning supplies for the shelter. “We were on the local news because of it,” Torres said, “but what I thought was the nicest part was the way that the Hazleton community came together to help the animals. I was very proud of the community.” Torres would like others to learn from that pride. She’d also like to encourage other Hispanic students to accept the challenge of learning a language like French. “When I walk into French class, there aren’t a lot of people like me taking a chance on another language,” she said. “I may not be as fluent as I’d like, and I may not be perfect, but I can do it, and I know I’ll always carry it with me, and they can do it, too.” Torres will take on another challenge for the sake of the French language as well. The physicians-assistant curriculum at King’s College that she’s chosen doesn’t allow enough time for her to take French during the year. For the love of the language, she’ll spend her summers studying French.


At home on

STAGE Top performer Urbanski sparkles when dancing

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he already spends more than 15 hours a week at the Joan Harris Centre taking lessons in ballet, tap and jazz, but that wasn’t enough for Amanda Urbanski. After 15 years taking hours of classes each week, she recently became a full teacher at the school. Her total immersion into the art of dance made the Holy Redeemer High School student Best & Brightest in Performing Arts.

Urbanski was just 3 years old when she first put on a leotard. “My brother and sister did sports, but my parents signed me up for dance,” she said. And she said videos of her early performances prove she loved it from the start. “You can just tell I had a blast on stage,” she said, “and when my parents asked if I wanted to play soccer, I said no, I want to dance. The feeling I have when I’m dancing is indescribable. It’s just second nature to me now. I love the feeling, I love how many emotions you can express through dance, I just love everything about it.” That passion has allowed Urbanski to excel at her art more than enough to move to a new level: just as someone first taught her, Urbanski teaches kids ages 5 through 10 the basics of ballet and tap dancing and helps them prepare for the five annual shows the centre holds. She’s only the second high school student allowed to fill that role at the school. “Because I am doing what I love, I couldn’t ask for a better job,” Urbanski said. “I don’t know what I enjoy more: taking classes or teaching their

classes, it’s so fun to be around them.” The kids are in good hands, too. Besides her hours and hours in the dance studio refining her skills, Urbanski has taken part in summer dance intensives and has choreographed liturgical dances for the “Light the Fire” summer youth rally held at Misericordia University. She has also danced in the “Great Russian Nutcracker” and “Swan Lake” and taken master’s classes with prima ballerinas from the Moscow Ballet. But according to Urbanski, the highlight of her career so far has been the lead parts she’s landed in two local ballet productions. “Landing the lead role in ‘Puss in Boots’ when I was a sophomore was my first major ballet role. It was a challenge,” she said. “You’re taught to be prim and proper and light on your feet, and now you have to get into ‘cat’ mode. But as it progressed, I got more confidence in acting on stage. It was my favorite memory in dancing because of the final calls, See URBANSKI, Page 38

DON CAREY/THE TIMES LEADER

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Amanda Urbanski teaches children ages 5 through 10 the basics of ballet and tap dancing and helps them prepare for the five annual shows the Joan Harris Centre holds.


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Best & Brightest 2011 - PERFORMING ARTS Meghan Hourigan

Hourigan finds voice while performing

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hough Meghan Hourigan has acted in numerous plays and musicals during her years at Wyoming Seminary, it was a student performance at the Wilkes Conservatory that showed her that theater has the power to make a difference. During a summer acting class, Hourigan and her classmates found themselves troubled by intolerance in society. After much research and work, they collaborated on an original work called Coexist, which dealt with issues as wide-ranging as gay rights and eating disorders and made the case for promoting diversity and acceptance. Hourigan’s part included delivering a monologue while portraying a physically disabled girl, and audiences were curious about how she could portray someone so different from herself. “I told them that the key to understanding others was not to try to become them, but to realize that all human beings experience discrimination at some point in their lives,” Hourigan said.

Katie Joyce

Joyce is dedicated to dance

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atie Joyce has attended many St. Patrick’s Day parades over the years, but she rarely stands around watching when the bands go by. Instead, the Pittston Area Senior High School student is someone people line the streets to see. For the past 14 years, Joyce has been an Irish Step dancer.

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She started with the Irish Cultural Society and currently is part of the Crossmolina School of Irish Dance. Her hard work over more than three quarters of her life has led Joyce to the role of junior choreographer and teacher for the beginning dancers. “Showing the beginners team work and how dedication pays off is the best reward,” Joyce said. Though a devoted dancer, Joyce puts her leadership skills to work in other ways, most notably as a junior counselor at Troop N Camp Cadet, a program at Penn State Hazleton Campus for youths ages 12 to 15 interested in learning the skills of a law enforcement officer. During the week-long camp, she rises

at 6 a.m. with the other counselors and cadets to start a day of exercise, presentations and lots and lots of marching. “This can be the most hectic week of my summer,” Joyce said, “but the expressions of accomplishment the kids have at the graduation ceremony are all worth it.” Her four-year association with Camp Cadet won’t turn into a career in law enforcement, but Joyce said the experience will be useful as she pursues her career. She plans to attend Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania to major in communications and seek a career in broadcast journalism.

It’s that eye-opening aspect of theater that Hourigan said appeals to her the most, and what leads her to spend hours preparing for plays and musicals. Her experience includes fourweek training programs at New York University and years of acting, dancing and singing lessons, along with participation in the Performing Arts Institute. She’s had roles in almost 20 musicals and more than 10 plays, and has even served as assistant director for a student performance at Wyoming Seminary. Hourigan intends to make performance part of her life after she attends college for musical theater or acting. “I hope for a future in which I can … help others to discover the same freedom in performing that I have,” she said.


Courtney Prozeralik

Prozeralik has stage presence

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ourtney Prozeralik thrives on being on stage, but it wasn’t always that way. She recalls a day her first year at Hanover Area Junior-Senior High School when she was scared to enter the spotlight.

Prozeralik wanted to be on the school dance team, but that meant she would have to audition. Shy and reserved, the seventh grader loathed the idea of taking the stage alone before the judges, but somehow, she summoned the courage. “Once I broke through my fear of being judged by others, I fell in love with performing,” said Prozeralik, who went on to audition for drama, chorus and band spots. “Because I found the courage to do this, my entire high school career was changed.” In the years since then, Prozeralik has landed roles in school musicals, performed with an auditionsonly chamber choir and the Pennsylvania Music Educators district and regional choruses and been selected by audition to sing in Mo-

zart’s Requiem Mass, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass and Handel’s Messiah Mass. She even initiated a women’s chorus, conducting all the rehearsals and working with the singers to make sure they all knew their parts. Prozeralik has also put her performing talents to work as a Sunday School teacher and member of her church choir, and through benefit cabarets for a variety of local and national causes. And, of course, she dances with the dance team, the same one for which she once was afraid to try out. Prozeralik knows the courage and self-confidence she’s developed from that first scary tryout will go with her as she attends University of the Sciences in Philadelphia to major in microbiology and pursue a degree in cytotechnology.

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Best & Brightest 2011 - PERFORMING ARTS

Jillian Puhalla

Theater’s the thing for Puhalla

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illian Puhalla loves the way she can reach out and influence someone through the performing arts, so much so that she doesn’t just perform whenever she can, she makes sure others can, too. After months of work that involved recruiting, auditioning and rehearsing the cast, planning the show and gathering art and a way to display it, the show raised more than $1,000 for the local arts community. It was a highlight in a performing arts career that began when Puhalla was just 8 years old and has continued to include opportunities to share the stage with television stars Joyce DeWitt and David Canary as well as Broadway actor and director Austin Pendleton. She’s taken part in special workshops at Wyoming Seminary and in Boston, and each experience has solidified her career choice: to act, direct, write, stage manage and even teach performing arts. “I want to completely immerse myself in the world of performing arts,” Puhalla said.

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As an honor student, athlete and member of school activities such as Future Business Leaders of America, Science Olympiad and WVIA Scholastic Scrimmage, Puhalla was chosen as Wyoming Valley West High School’s representative to Junior Leadership Wilkes-Barre. Each Leadership class selects several community service projects on which to work, and Puhalla and a friend immediately thought of the local theater companies. “We saw how much the local arts community was struggling and we wanted to give back to something that has given so much to us our entire lives,” she said. Puhalla made her successful case for a musical revue and art show to benefit The Little Theater of Wilkes-Barre, Arts YOUniverse and The Music Box Playhouse.


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Best & Brightest 2011 - SCIENCE & ENVIRONMENT

AIMEE DILGER/THE TIMES LEADER

Carly Sokach plans to play field hockey and study biology at University of Pennsylvania.

SPRINGBOARD TO FUTURE

Sokach’s love of science stems from young diagnosis of Crohn’s

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acing a medical challenge makes some people withdrawn. But Carly Sokach went on the offensive, combining her interest in science with efforts to combat the disease that disrupted her life. Turning what could have been a roadblock into a springboard to her future career made Sokach Best & Brightest in Science & Environment.

In seventh grade, Sokach was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory condition that affects the gastrointestinal tract. “It was a bittersweet moment,” Sokach said, “because I thought it was going to be something much, much worse. But being diagnosed with a condition my family and I never heard about was scary and having to take medication when I wasn’t sure what it was going to do to my body was scary. But my physicians were very supportive and I got through that.” By eighth grade, Sokach’s condi-

tion was in remission and she jumped into action. “I became determined to combine my love of medicine with my desire to discover the unknown cause and cure of Crohn’s disease,” she said. “Throughout my eighthgrade year, I launched a series of letter campaigns to convince U.S. Congress members to support a bill granting research funding to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America.” Then, during her sophomore year at Wyoming Seminary, she assumed a leadership role with the

medical club and seized the opportunity to educate her classmates about Crohn’s while raising money to fight it. The club ran a concession stand at home basketball games, and sold rubber bracelets that showed support for the cause. “At the concession stand, we provided pamphlets and informational material to educate students and faculty on Crohn’s,” she said. “I also designed shirts with a former Crohn’s slogan, ‘Got Guts?’ along See SOKACH, Page 38


Sarah Brozena

Brozena trains scientific eye on world

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f you’re ever unfortunate enough to fall ill or have an accident, you’re going to want someone like Sarah Brozena around.

Long before she reached her senior year at Wyoming Valley West High School, Brozena was American Red Cross certified in life-guarding, first aid, administering emergency oxygen, blood borne pathogens training, cardiopulmonary resuscitation and automated defibrillator use for the professional rescuer and water safety instruction. Brozena sees all of these as the application of one of her favorite subjects, science. “I have come to realize that science is involved in everything I do,” said the winner of multiple district and meet medals in swimming. “Principles of physics such as velocity and acceleration are an important part of swimming. Biology also plays a role in swimming through heart rates, muscular strength and much more… I believe that science can be viewed and learned about in things that would not normally be thought of as scientific.”

That ability to see science all around her has helped Brozena succeed in competition with the Luzerne County Envirothon and the Northeast Regional Science Olympiad, both of which she’s participated in throughout her high school career. She’s also tested her knowledge as captain of the Junior Engineering Technical Society competition team and the WVIA Scholastic Scrimmage team. A member of the Medical Profession Explorer Post, Brozena has also taken advantage of opportunities to tour the radiology department at the Thomas P. Saxton Medical Pavilion and the surgery, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, pathology and anesthesiology departments of the Wilkes-Barre General Hospital. All of this experience helped her land a guaranteed seat in the six-year doctor of pharmacy program at Wilkes University, where she’ll start classes in the fall.

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Best & Brightest 2011 - SCIENCE & ENVIRONMENT

Alexandra Chapin

Chapin embraces inner ‘science nerd’

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lexandra Chapin, agrees with the adage that looks can be deceiving. “I may not look like a ‘science nerd’, but I am on the inside,” said the Berwick Area Senior High School student. blood drives and worked to benefit the medical world through significant involvement in fundraisers for breast cancer and Third World polio eradication. Chapin also had the chance to take part in the National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine at Johns Hopkins University, where she developed a case study and researched solutions. “I am so very grateful that I was accepted to attend and able to learn such valuable lifelong lessons,” she said. Somehow, she also finds time to indulge a few hobbies, such as photography and enjoying nature while biking and hiking. Next year, Chapin will attend Drexel University in Philadelphia. “My career aspirations are to become a genetic research scientist,” she said.

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The fact that she’s class president, secretary of Interact Club and a member of the Future Business Leaders of America, as well as on the yearbook and newspaper staffs, the track and field team and the field hockey team might throw you off a bit. And then there’s her election to the homecoming court, her involvement with the prom committee and her work with special- needs children. But she’s also tackled a number of advanced science courses and taken advantage of an independent study mentoring opportunity in psychiatry, which required her to interact with medical professionals and then present a paper on what she learned. Chapin took part in a job shadowing opportunity in dermatology and threw herself into realworld interactions with the medical field through volunteer work at


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Best & Brightest 2011 - SCIENCE & ENVIRONMENT Pierce Donovan

Donovan ready to channel energy

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he world may someday be a cleaner, safer place because of Pierce Donovan. When he leaves Dallas High School behind, he wants to help study the matter that makes up the world and find new and better forms of energy.

“One day, I want to work at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research,” said Donovan, referring to the collaborative research center on the border of France and Switzerland and home to a giant particle accelerator known as the Large Hadron Collider. “I want to participate in ground-breaking discoveries in particle and theoretical physics that will redefine what we call the laws of nature. I’d also like to participate in research and development towards an efficient form of alternate energy. I would really like to hinder pollution and help conserve what’s left of our natural resources.” Donovan is already well-prepared for that path. He’s participated in and placed well in numerous competitions that test his knowledge of math, technology and computers, such Junior

Letitia Warunek

Whiz Warunek finds her passion

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pplying what she learned in the classroom to other settings has sealed Letitia Warunek’s love of science. “Involving myself outside the classroom was one of the best things I have done for myself because it made me realize how much I really like the sciences,” said the Pittston Area High School senior.

In addition to excelling in her classroom studies, especially those involving science, Warunek has stretched herself by taking the American Chemical Society test and attending the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth to study chemistry. She used what she learned to take part in events through Science Olympiad, Envirothon, the Brain Bee Competition and the Greenhouse Project. Despite her immersion in the sciences, Warunek made time to be involved in a number of other activities. She captained both the swim and tennis teams and competed at the district level in both sports. She’s has

won medals competing with the Emerald Isle Step Dancers. And she’s been an active volunteer for a number of causes, including the Pittston Pediatric Clinic. Warunek combined her love of step dancing and her passion for helping the pediatric clinic to arrange a fundraiser for the clinic called Dance a Jig for the Pediatric Clinic. “This project made me realize there are so many people in need, and you can do something as extravagant as planning a show or as simple as volunteering your time to help,” she said. Warunek will attend Wilkes University next year to study pharmacy.

Engineering Technical Society and Knowledge Bowl, all while achieving a straight-A average. He’s also achieved certification in Certiport Internet and Computing Core skills. And he’s already learned that one person can make a difference. Last summer, Donovan volunteered at the Back Mountain Food Pantry. From the first day, when he single-handedly sorted through more than 500 pounds of food through lifting and loading bags of food into the cars of those in need to picking up loads of food from other sites to helping renovate the food pantry, Donovan did all he could. “I am really proud of the work that I accomplished,” Donovan said. He plans to attend Penn State University Park, Lehigh University or Rochester Institute of Technology.


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Best & Brightest 2011 - COMMUNITY SERVICE

CHARLOTTE BARTIZEK/FOR THE TIMES LEADER

Courtney Sult plans to study speech-language pathology at Bloomsburg University.

A LIFELONG COMMITMENT

Sult logged more than 2,000 hours volunteering while at Lake-Lehman

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“I have grown as a person and become more humble from all the experiences volunteering have given me,” Sult said. She’s had plenty of experiences, too, beginning with her nomination to represent her school as an ambassador to the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Seminar – affectionately referred to as HOBY. Sult credits that seminar with “kick-starting” her love of volunteering. Participants are required to complete a certain number of hours of service after attending the seminar and Sult logged more than 270 hours that

first year, earning the President’s Volunteer Service Award. And while HOBY may have sparked Sult’s interest in volunteering, it wasn’t her first experience with it. She was already a veteran of service through efforts like walk-a-thons, United Way Day of Caring, Trick-orTreating for UNICEF and working with the preschool classes at her church. After the seminar, though, her volunteer hours soared as Sult tackled events ranging from a kids’ carnival at the Lake-Noxen Elementary School, the United

Way “Tire Toss” and the BONTON Community Day fundraiser. She also returned to the HOBY seminar as a member of Team Alumni and was put in charge of the girls’ dorm as well as a project to raise money for the seminar. In addition, Sult was named co-chair of the Northeast Pennsylvania Alumni Group, putting her in charge of advising her peers about their service projects, encouraging other alumni to volunteer and helping alumni See SULT, Page 38

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or most any graduating senior, high school highlights include a favorite class or prom night or an award won while representing the school. When Courtney Sult leaves Lake-Lehman High School, she’ll have all those to look back on, but none of them will be the memory she cherishes the most. Sult will remember her hours of volunteering – all 2,000 plus of them – as her personal highlight. Her dedication to giving her time to others made Sult Best & Brightest in Community Service.


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Best & Brightest 2011 - COMMUNITY SERVICE Linnae Homza

Homza’s efforts filled with enthusiasm

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innae Homza’s volunteer efforts at Wyoming Area Secondary Center and in the community fill more than two full typed pages. Yet it’s not the volume of what she’s done that is impressive; rather, it is the level of enthusiasm she has brought to each of those projects.

Descriptions of her efforts are peppered with phrases such as “I enjoy spending my time …” and “I like to….” They include not only what part she played, but a clear understanding of the needs of others and hint at her awareness of the need for even more service. “I believe it is important to lend a hand to those who may not be as fortunate as I am, and give them … a sense of fellowship,” she said. Homza has spearheaded efforts to help many organizations and assumed leadership at both the school and state level in Key Club. For her efforts to support and sustain the service-oriented mission of Key Club, Homza was recognized as a Distinguished Pennsylvania Key Club Vice-President,

Ronald Klepadlo

Klepadlo determined to make a difference

R

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onald Klepadlo knows that one person can make a difference. It’s not a lesson he learned in a Wyoming Area Secondary Center classroom. It’s a lesson he learned from his Gram. Klepadlo’s watched his grandmother, Madeline Casey, continue to help others even as she battled the cancer that eventually claimed her life.

“The week before her passing, she was at the church helping with the pasties fundraiser as she has always done in the past,” he said. “She left many, including myself, with the knowledge that one person can make a difference.” Klepadlo has done just that through a long list of volunteer service projects both in and out of school. He’s served as the chairperson and coordinator for a 3-on-3 basketball tournament to raise money for a 2-year-old heart patient, collected food for pantries, supported Ryan’s Run and Caitlin’s Smiles, taught religious education classes and vacation Bible school and taken part in a Guitar Hero tournament to benefit a an ill teacher.

He’s also volunteered at the Wyoming Area’s Foreign Language Academy, a summer program that gives elementary students a taste of the language, food and culture of Spain and France. It was a service project that fit nicely with one of Klepadlo’s other passions: Spanish. “I enjoy learning the language, customs and culture of Spain,” said Klepadlo, who had a chance to visit that country last summer. Though he hasn’t yet chosen a college, Klepadlo does know what he plans to study. “I plan on majoring in Spanish and education and hope I can inspire as much interest in another culture as I have gained,” he said.

a Key Club Member of the Month and a Kiwanis Student of the Month. In her senior year, she was voted president of the school’s Key Club for her tireless work on behalf of Relay for Life and other fundraisers and service projects. Whether it’s making handmade cards for sick children through the Caitlin’s Smiles project, helping a friend with a Girl Scout Gold Award project, “Trick or Treating” for UNICEF, bowling on behalf of Big Brothers/Big Sisters or working a concession stand for her church, Homza is quick to say “yes,” and ready to offer enthusiastic help. She plans to continue making a difference in people’s lives by pursuing a career in medicine.


Morgan McGrane

McGrane leads by example

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organ McGrane has spent much time during her years at Wyoming Valley West High School fueling her passion for raising money and awareness. Whether it’s participating in existing events such as walks for the cancer resource center Candy’s Place, organizing a dress drive or donating her hair to Locks of Love, McGrane is likely to lend her time and skills.

One of the organizations she volunteers for the most has great personal significance to her. At the age of 10, McGrane became ill with fevers and pain. It took nearly a month before the condition was identified as systemic onset juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. After her diagnosis, McGrane said there was one place where she felt normal. It was Camp JRA, a special summer camp for kids with rheumatic diseases. After a few years as a camper, McGrane started giving back by serving as a counselor-in-training, helping younger campers. She took on a project to raise funds to send kids to the camp and raise awareness about juvenile arthritis.

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Best & Brightest 2011 - COMMUNITY SERVICE

Her project was to field a team to participate in the Jingle Bell Run, and Arthritis Foundation fundraiser. McGrane used her personal experiences to explain to her classmates and teachers that even children can get arthritis. McGrane was named the honorary “hero” for the event and led her team to become both the “most festive” and the overall team winner for the walk, raising more than $2,500. “My time and effort has hopefully made people see that millions of children are benefiting from their generous donations and time,” she said. McGrane plans to attend Temple University to pursue a doctorate in physical therapy.

Erin Ryan

Ryan answers the call to serve

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rin Ryan is confident she knows why she is here. It’s not just to captain the Holy Redeemer High School swim team or serve as a page and campaign worker for a state senator, or to have already fulfilled one of her dreams when she traveled to Europe last summer. makeup and cell phones, but Ryan didn’t mind. “This mission trip, along with its sacrifices, turned out to be the best decision I ever made,” she said. “I learned that life is not about me, but about the duty I have to use my talents to help as many people as I can in any way I can.” Another way Ryan used her talents was through founding the 5K Walk/ Run to Benefit Pancreatic Cancer. Inspired by learning that the disease that claimed her grandfather gets little in the way of attention and funding, Ryan started what has become an annual event raising both funds and attention for the disease. Ryan intends to major in English and pre-law studies and become a lawyer.

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“I believe I have a calling to serve others,” Ryan said, “and I feel most at peace when I know I have made a positive impact in some way … Service is the axis around which my life rotates.” She’s volunteered for Generation to Generation, a local organization dedicated to encouraging inter-generational relationships, and served as a volunteer at her church, teaching religious education classes. Ryan also participated in a mission service trip sponsored by the Diocese of Scranton, spending two weeks in St. Louis helping elderly, homeless and poverty stricken residents improve their lives. It meant leaving behind even the most basic “necessities” like


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Best & Brightest 2011

SULT Continued from Page 35

keep track of their volunteer hours. Along the way, Sult was also involved in Lake-Lehman’s Key Club and, in her senior year, she was named club president. Under her leadership, the club took part in fundraisers for Kiwanis, helped with the WVIA TV membership drive, packed boxes of food at the Weinberg Food Bank and raised money and other donations for numerous other charities. But the crowning achievement of Sult’s volunteerism to date was the coordination of the very first ever local walk to benefit a little-known condition called childhood apraxia of speech. Apraxia of speech means that while the child has all the physical components needed to speak, something goes wrong when they try to get the words out. “It’s like when a stroke patient can’t speak,” Sult explained. “They know how

URBANSKI Continued from Page 29

the way everyone applauded, all the smiles and seeing everyone enjoy my hard work. My next lead role in ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarves’ was easier. I figured if I can be a cat, I can do anything.” There are some roles Urbanski would still like to tackle, too. “I always wanted to audition for Broadway,” she said. “I think that would be neat and amazing to do. And I always wanted to be the lead swan in ‘Swan Lake,’ too.” When she’s not dancing, Urbanski enjoys typical teen pursuits like going to the movies or spending time with family and friends. And though dancing takes much of her time, she does make time to help with volunteer work to benefit senior citizens, from everyday activities like working puzzles, making crafts or just talking to serving a special Christmas lunch. She al-

to talk, but the muscles, the mouth and the brain don’t connect.” There was one donation she really wanted, one that required a 10-page application and a lot of luck to get. Her effort eventually reaped results with an email subject line that read: “Request Approved.” The email was from Walt Disney World and Sult, a high school student organizing a walk for a virtually unknown speech disorder, had landed a donation of four oneday hopper passes to the Disney theme parks, valued at more than $500. All in all, Sult’s efforts raised $6,772 for the Apraxia of Speech Association. “There is nothing more gratifying than knowing you made an impact on the lives of others,” she said. She plans on making the event an annual one, continuing even as she attends Bloomsburg University to study speech-language pathology. “I want to come home from work every day knowing I helped someone and they will have a better life because of something I did for them,” Sult said. “Most people say all good things must come to an end, but I’m just getting started.” so takes part in efforts to help the homeless and to help girls of limited means afford a prom dress. All this, combined with her National Honor Society-worthy grades and volunteer work with her school and church, have prepared Urbanski for her next challenge: pursuing a Master’s degree in dance therapy or dance education. She hasn’t settled on a college yet but said she loves the dance programs offered at DeSales University and Muhlenberg University, both in Allentown, Goucher College in Maryland and Wilkes University, and is confident any of them will let her achieve her goals. “It gives me great satisfaction to know that I am going to follow my dreams and continue to do what I love most and have spent most of my life doing,” Urbanski said. “I feel blessed to have been given this talent and am going to try my best to continue to touch people’s lives through dance. I hope to always have the art of dancing as part of my life. I just can’t see myself without dance.”

SOKACH Continued from Page 32

with the Wyoming Seminary flame and ‘I support the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America,’ on the back. In three months, the group raised more than $1,300. Her efforts didn’t end with the fundraiser. Sokach said she has continued her letter drives to educate both state and federal legislators and encourage them to fund research for Crohn’s and related conditions, and she’s captained teams walking in local awareness walks sponsored by CCFA. The Crohn’s fundraiser was a practical application of all the science Sokach has mastered over the years. She won the Bausch & Lomb Honorary Science Award and several school scholarships for students who excel in the sciences. She aced the AP biology exam, too. “I love the life sciences, and biology has always been my favorite subject. I love how such complex organisms and systems come from such simple building blocks,” Sokach said. That fascination led her to plan a future in medicine. “I’ve always been interested in medicine. That interest came from my aunt,” Sokach said. “She’s a general practitioner and I’ve always looked up to her and liked seeing her in action at her office.

And my mom is a registered nurse, so I’ve always been around medicine.” An experience with Wyoming Seminary’s medical club cinched the deal and helped Sokach decide on her future specialty, too. “I’m looking to be a cardiothoracic surgeon, and that’s because of an ‘aha!’ moment I had in freshman year with medical club,” she said. “A cardiothoracic surgeon visited and he brought a deer heart with him to let us trace the basic anatomy. I put on gloves and held that heart and I was completely amazed and fascinated at the same time. That’s when I knew.” Even with all her background and experience, science is far from Sokach’s only area of mastery. She’s placed as high as first in the region and 10th in the nation in the National French Contest and won Maxima Cum Laude recognition in the National Latin Exam. She’s also won recognition on the softball field and as a field hockey goalkeeper, including district and state championships. “Field hockey is my release,” she said. “Because of my Crohn’s, my stress level has to be managed. Field hockey lets me stay active, do something I love and it’s two or three hours after school where I don’t have to worry about anything else. And the team atmosphere is absolutely amazing. I love it.” Sokach will play field hockey and study biology at University of Pennsylvania.

Wyoming Area’s Best & Brightest Finalists Congratulations to the four Wyoming Area Best & Brightest Finalists:

COMMUNITY SERVICE Linnae Homza Ronald Klepadlo COMPUTERS & TECHNOLOGY Karissa Calvitti ENGLISH & LITERATURE Catlin Vitale

We commend you for your dedication and hard work. You continue to make us WARRIOR PROUD!!!

WAHS

Wyoming Area School District “A Tradition of Excellence Since 1966” 281765

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Raymond J. Bernardi, Superintendent www.wyomingarea.org


ART

Sarah Gittleman Alison Bartolomei

Category: Art School: Wyoming Valley West High School Parents: Jennifer and Stephen Bartolomei Town: Forty Fort Accomplishments: Student athlete of the year, softball; WVIA Artist of the Week; Future Business Leaders of America regional 2nd, 3rd and 4th place and 10th place states; National Honor Society; citizenship award; Discus Scholarship National All-Around Student qualifier; Rosetti Art Show 1st, 2nd and 3rd place; Youth Salute; senior of the month; Junior Leadership Wilkes-Barre Activities: Softball; literary arts magazine; Future Business Leaders of America; swimming; drama costume and stage crew; water polo; class secretary; student council; prom committee; homecoming committee Plans: Attending St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia to become a lawyer Quotable: “I feel at peace with myself and the world while completing art projects.”

Caitlin Bernoskie Category: Art School: Wyoming Area Secondary Center Parents: Deborah Watson and David Bernoskie Town: West Pittston Accomplishments: National Honor Society; WVIA Artist of the Week; Corcoran College of Art and Design award; high honor roll; art club president; anime club president Activities: Art club; Key Club; Anime club Plans: Considering the School of Visual Arts in New York, Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington D.C. and Pratt School of Art and Design in Brooklyn Quotable: “Imagination is one of humanity’s greatest qualities and it’s what helped created so much of what we see today.”

Bernard Gavlick Category: Art School: Hanover Area Junior/Senior High School Parents: Mary Kay and Bernard Gavlick

Neil Mattern Category: Art School: Wyoming Seminary Parents: Mary and Harry Mattern Town: Kingston Accomplishments: Roberson Regional juried show; artwork accepted for publication by North Light Books; Pennsylvania Summer School for the Arts; Lorraine Franckiewicz Art Award 1st place, Fine Arts Fiesta and other Fine Arts Fiesta awards; Pennsylvania Scholastic Chess Tournament junior state co-champion and scholastic trophy winner Activities: Art lessons; chess club president; Wyoming Valley Art League; Future Business Leaders of America; photography; volunteer with library and children’s art projects Plans: Attending Rochester Institute of Technology as an illustration major Quotable: “I feel that creating art is what I am obligated to do not only because it is my skill set, but because I wish to stand shoulder to shoulder with the great artists of the past.”

Richael Pantig Category: Art School: Lake-Lehman High School Parents: Choleng Cease and Ric Pantig Town: Harveys Lake Accomplishments: National Honor Society; high honor roll Activities: Yearbook; church youth group; teacher’s aide at Wyoming Valley Children’s Association Plans: Attending Misericordia University to pursue a career as a physician’s assistant Quotable: “Enjoy life and do the things you love.”

Stephen Ruch Category: Art School: Holy Redeemer Parents: Dianne and Theodore Ruch Town: Dallas Accomplishments: Sue Hand’s Palette Honor Society; Wyoming Valley Emerging Artist Society; numerous awards from the Rosetti Art Show, including Triple Blue and best of grade; featured artist show at local bank; Wyoming Valley Youth Salute; National Honor Society; district champion in basketball; Times Leader first team all-conference in baseball; Citizens’ Voice first team all conference in baseball; team MVP in baseball and soccer; soccer team captain and letter winner; baseball and basketball letter winner; designed school logo for Gate of Heaven school; senior class treasurer Activities: Art lessons; soccer; baseball; basketball; St. Michael’s Society; student leadership; drama; chorus; Royal Singers; altar server; Keystone State Games Plans: Attending Wilkes University to be a teacher Quotable: “No matter what other people think or do, it is my life and I should be a leader instead of a follower.”

Loren Schott Category: Art School: Hazleton Area Parents: Barbara Ann and Peter Andrew Schott Town: Drums Accomplishments: WVIA Artist of the Week; swimming 1000 point club member; National Honor Society; National French Honor Society; water polo team captain Activities: Swimming and diving; water polo; Key Club; book club; spirit club; Future Business Leaders of America; art club; volunteer artist for school and at church Plans: Considering Susquehanna University and Penn State University at University Park to major in graphic design Quotable: “My high school years are dwindling fast, so I try to pack as many memories I as I can before they are gone.”

Rachel Specht Category: Art School: Berwick Area Parents: Melissa and Robert Specht Town: Berwick Accomplishments: Distinguished honor roll; National Honor Society; Keystone Award; work accepted for Berwick Hospital and Bloomsburg Fair juried art shows; track & field letter winner and district qualifier; All-American Cheerleader and cheerleading team captain; county chorus; Students Against Destructive Decisions; president Activities: Cheerleading; track & field; Students Against Destructive Decisions; Future Business Leaders of America; class secretary; chorus; bowling; tennis; school newspaper; art assistant; prom committee; volunteer with cheerleading clinics, dance-a-thons and library Plans: Considering Kutztown University and Millersville University Quotable: “I wish to be dual certified as an art and Spanish educator. Eventually, I would like to obtain my Master’s degree in one of those subjects and teach at a college.”

Delilah VanGorder Category: Art School: Lake-Lehman Parents: Christopher VanGorder Town: Dallas Accomplishments: WVIA Artist of the Week; honor roll; NHS Activities: Drama; volunteer for Habitat for Humanity and the Luzerne County Fair Plans: Attending the Art Institute of Pittsburgh Quotable: “Art defines who I am, and without it I am lost.”

ATHLETICS Selena Adamschick Category: Athletics School: Lake-Lehman Parents: Patricia and Paul Adamschick Town: Harvey’s Lake Accomplishments: National Honor Society; National Council on Youth Leadership; Division 2 all-star and MVP, Super Seven and Elite eight, Citizens’ Voice Athlete of the Week, 100 point scorer and all-state third team selection and more than 1500 career points-basketball; field hockey all-star; soccer all-star Activities: Basketball; soccer; field hockey; ice hockey; swimming; jet skiing; wakeboarding; water skiing; kayaking; water tubing triathlon; weight lifting; yearbook committee; Junior Engineering and Technology Society; Polar Bear Plunge Goals: Attending Millersville University Quotable: “When you set a goal, obstacles always get in the way, but if you focus on your goal you will succeed.”

Shelley Black Category: Athletics School: James M. Coughlin Parents: Diane and Ray Black Town: Laflin Accomplishments: Junior National Track & Field team, placed 3rd in hurdles in international competition; Gatorade Pennsylvania Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year; Pennsylvania Track & Field Coaches Association Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year; District 2 record holder in 100 and 300 meter hurdles, long jump and triple jump; 1st team All-State 100 and 300 meter hurdles; PIAA State Champion in 100 and 300 meter hurdles; 1st female athlete in Coughlin’s history to win states; numerous medals in District and PIAA track & field competitions; 3-time Citizens’ Voice Athlete of the Week; 2-time Toyota High School Sports Show Athlete of the Week; 2nd team All-state, field hockey; 2-time District 2 champion in field hockey; Academic All-State, field hockey; field hockey team captain; National Honor Society Activities: Track & field; field hockey; church youth group; Spanish club; Key Club; Go Green club; volunteer for numerous community fundraisers Plans: Attending Penn State University, University Park Quotable: “I don’t back down or shy away from anything because I think it is too hard. Instead, I work harder to achieve my goals.”

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Town: Ashley Accomplishments: WVIA Artist of the Week; Hillside Farms Art Show best of show; Blue Coal monument design; PTA Reflections state winner; chosen to design t-shirts and post cards for school events; Coca Cola mural winner; numerous Fine Arts Fiesta awards Activities: Hanover News Network; swim team; cross-country; church choir Plans: Considering Luzerne County Community College and Wilkes University Quotable: “A friend would probably describe me as outgoing, funny, unusual and imaginative.”

Category: Art School: MMI Preparatory School Parents: Sherry Dietrich and Jeff Gittleman Town: Sugarloaf Accomplishments: National German Honor Society; Academic Excellence in Art award; Open House Award 1st place; school newspaper co-editor; volleyball team captain; class vice president Activities: Student ambassador; drama; ski club; yoga/health club; school newspaper; volleyball; co-ed street hockey; Hebrew school teacher; camp counselor Plans: Considering Elizabethtown College, Cedar Crest College, Susquehanna University or West Chester University Quotable: “It is no secret that art is the passion in my life and it is the path in which I would like to follow for a career.”

SPECIAL SECTION, SUNDAY, MAY 15, 2011

Best & Brightest 2011


SPECIAL SECTION, SUNDAY, MAY 15, 2011

Best & Brightest 2011 James C. Castellino Category: Athletics School: Pittston Area High School Parents: Lisa and James Castellino Town: Pittston Accomplishments: Honors with Distinction; 4 years perfect attendance; National Honor Society; UNICO All-Star member; Unsung Hero Award recipient; All-Scholastic honorable mention; 4-time letter winner in football; 2-time letter winner in baseball; Youth Salute; Who’s Who Among American High School Students Activities: Football; baseball; basketball; golf; telecommunications club; student council; international cultural experience club; Key Club; Stand Tall club; co-founder of Kaiden’s Cause; volunteer with highway clean-up, Salvation Army and other causes Plans: Considering Bucknell University and Temple University to pursue a career as a surgeon Quotable: “While sports are an enormous part of my life, they are secondary to my education. Throughout my childhood, sports and education have gone together hand in hand.”

Joseph F. Coyne V Category: Athletics School: Pittston Area High School Parents: Monica and Joseph Coyne IV Town: Duryea Accomplishments: AMVETS Americanism essay contest 3rd place in state; published writer; Youth Salute; Times Leader Athlete of the Week; All-Tournament Team; MVP of the Eugene Dominico game; basketball team captain; National Honor Society Activities: Basketball; volunteer with numerous local charities Plans: Attending Wilkes University Quotable: “Time is a gift.”

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Ralph Emmett Category: Athletics School: Pittston Area High School Parents: Juliann and Ralph Emmett Town: Pittston Accomplishments: National Honor Society; 2-time letter winner in baseball, football and basketball; Plains Legion Baseball Wyoming Valley Conference Champion; captain of the football, baseball and basketball team Activities: Football; baseball; basketball; international cultures club; Key Club; Stand Tall club; communications club; flag football coach; altar server and lector Plans: Undecided, interested in a career in optometry Quotable: “To be successful in life, you need to know where your true priorities are and to stick to them.”

Alexis Good Category: Athletics School: Wyoming Valley West High School Parents: Celeste and John Good Town: Larksville Accomplishments: Wendy’s High School Heisman Award; All American Academic Field hockey team; All State Academic field hockey team; AAA 2nd team all-state field hockey; PiAA District 2 AAA district champion in field hockey; Burger King Team Sportsmanship Award; captain of field hockey and softball teams; Keystone State Games medalist; Citizens’ Voice AllScholastic in softball; seven varsity letters; editor-in-chief of school yearbook and newspaper; National Honor Society; 3-time winner of Citizenship Aard; student of the month; Future Business Leaders of America regional 3rd place; National Press Association 2nd place; Wilkes University Entrepreneurial Experience 1st place; 1st place in international sports competitions in the Netherlands Activities: Class of 2011 club; Future Business Leaders of America; filed hockey; softball; winter track; yearbook; school newspaper; student council; prom decorating committee; volunteer with local camp, humane society and local Little League Plans: Attending East Stroudsburg University to study biology/pre-physical therapy and play field hockey Quotable: “I would like to become a physical therapist and open my own clinic in Wyoming Valley…mostly for sports related injuries so injured athletes can get back on the field quicker.”

Matthew Hoch Category: Athletics School: Berwick Area Senior High School Parents: Ann Marie and Dr. Ronald Hoch Town: Berwick Accomplishments: National Honor Society; Kowalchik History Award; District track 3rd place; East Stroudsburg track Invitational 1st place; James Cross Invitational track 1st and 3rd place; district champion in football; Eastern Conference runner up in football; All-conference honorable mention in football; class vice president Activities: Track; football; Key Club; rifle; Making Connections; chemistry club; volunteer with blood drives, community cupboard, hospital and other community events Plans: Attending Wilkes University to study medicine Quotable: “It is important to be a leader. You should always be striving and pushing to make a positive difference.”

Michael Papi Category: Athletics School: Tunkhannock Area Parents: Laurie, Joseph Papi Town: Tunkhannock Accomplishments: Co-captain and MVP of the baseball team; Wyoming Valley Conference , District I west and PIAA District 2 AAA championships in baseball; Times Leader Wyoming Valley Conference Baseball Player of the Year; Citizens’ Voice Wyoming Valley All-Star; basketball letter and team co-captain; selected Top Prospect and Top 100 high school baseball player by Perfect Game USA; National Honor Society; honor roll; Future Business Leaders of America regional 3rd place; National Young Leaders Conference National Scholar; Who’s Who Among American High School Students; multiple awards from the Endless Mountains Council of the Arts Tunkhannock Area School District juried art exhibit Activities: Baseball; basketball; art; Future Business Leaders of America; volunteer with Special Olympics, youth sports and local hose company Plans: Attending University of Virginia, hopes to play professional baseball or own a business Quotable: “I try to be a modest person and let my actions speak for me.”

Olivia Rupp Category: Athletics School: Berwick Area Parents: Kelly and Brian Rupp Town: Nescopeck Accomplishments: National Honor Society; Judy Knorr Holiday Tournament all-tournament team; letter winner and captain of basketball and volleyball teams; letter winner in soccer Activities: Basketball; volleyball; soccer; Youth in Philanthropy; Students Against Destructive Decisions; Interact club; volunteer with fire company, American Red Cross Plans: Attending University of Tampa, hopes to become a manager in the sports industry Quotable: “I have learned through the word ’philanthropy’ that volunteering and sharing your talent can change a whole community.”

Katie Scalzo Category: Athletics School: Wyoming Area Secondary Center Parents: Mary Ellen and Salvatore Scalzo Town: Harding Accomplishments: National Honor Society; Junior Leadership Wilkes-Barre; homecoming queen; Wyoming Valley Conference All-Star 1st team selection in football; UNICO all-star football team -- first female in the team’s 60 year history; Rudy Award National semi-finalist; Wyoming Valley Conference All-Star 1st team in soccer; letter winner in football, soccer and basketball; basketball team captain Activities: Football; soccer; basketball; student council; Key Club; yearbook; volunteer with free health clinic, soup kitchen, Feed a Friend, youth sports Plans: Attending West Chester University to major in communications Quotable: “To me, athletics is not only about playing for the love of the game but also the opportunity to learn from the competitive experience.”

Sara Skammer Category: Athletics School: Dallas Area High School Parents: Ruth and Steve Skammer Town: Dallas Accomplishments: National Honor Society; All A’s award; Student of the Quarter; Rosetti Art Award; diving medalist at state and district level; regional and state medalist in gymnastics and national qualifier Activities: Gymnastics; art; Key Club; steering committee; volunteer for soup kitchen and numerous walk-a-thons Plans: Attending Rutgers University to study engineering Quotable: “Giving up and quitting is not in my vocabulary.”

Lauren Skudalski Category: Athletics School: Wyoming Seminary Parents: Lorie and Richard Skudalski Town: Wyoming Accomplishments: Dean’s List; Levi Sprague Fellowship; Cum Laude Society; co-captain and PIAA Class AA state champion, District 2 and conference champion, All-State 2nd team, Citizens’ Voice All-Star and coaches’ award in field hockey; team captain and Division IV conference champion, Wyoming Valley conference first team, MVP and player of the year and 3rd highest scorer in basketball Activities: Field hockey; basketball; lacrosse, orchestra; string ensemble; chorale; Junior Society Day leader; peer group; medical club; media club; volunteer at church, area walk-a-thons, Salvation Army, Special Olympics and other local organizations Plans: Attending Columbia University to study pre-medicine and play field hockey Quotable: “My parents have taught me that life is all about the opportunities we are given, and it’s up to us what we do with them.”

Katelyn Jo Wojcik Category: Athletics School: Lake-Lehman High School Parents: Kelly and Joseph Wojcik, Jr. Town: Dallas Accomplishments: National Honor Society; field hockey team co-captain; Edna Johnson Outstanding Senior Leadership Award; All-State Academic Activities: Field hockey; soccer; volunteer at Ricketts Glen State Park, cancer fundraisers Plans: Considering Misericordia University and King’s College, considering a career in medicine Quotable: “I choose to learn and grow from each experience.”


Kaylene Sutkowski Category: Athletics School: Pittston Area Parents: Maureen and Robert Sutkowski Town: Pittston Township Accomplishments: National Honor Society; Honors with Distinction; swim team captain, letter winner and district medalist; soccer letter winner; Who’s Who Among American High School Students; Youth Salute; travel soccer team captain; student council president; National Student Council Award nominee; Miss UNICO pageant participant; Activities: Swimming; soccer; student council; Wilkes-Barre Triathlon; Envirothon; cross country; tennis; Medical Explorers; International Cultural Experience club; Key Club; volunteer at church, Salvation Army, Adopta-Highway and Wesley Village Prom Plans: Considering University of Scranton and University of Pittsburgh to become a nurse anesthetist Quotable: “No matter how hard something gets I know I can get through it as long as I work hard and never give up.”

Amanda Tracy Category: Athletics School: Pittston Area Town: Pittston Parents: Michelle and Christopher Tracy Accomplishments: National Honor Society secretary; student council vice president; English merit award; cheerleading captain; captain of nationally ranked cheerleading team; Youth Salute Activities: Cheerleading; student council; Irish step dancing; Stand Tall club; peer tutor; International Cultural Experience club; telecommunications club; yearbook staff; volunteer for Junior Achievement, Relay for Life, Candy’s Place, kids’ cheerleading camps, Adopt-a-Highway, nursing homes and Toys for Tots Plans: Attending Wilkes University to become a pediatrician Quotable: “I would not hesitate to give back to the community to show my gratitude for allowing me to be the best person I can be.”

Nicole Snyder

Category: Athletics School: MMI Preparatory School Town: Freeland Parents: Danielle and Francis Swankowski Accomplishments: President’s List; National Honor Society president; National Science Honor Society; letter winner in basketball and baseball; basketball coaches award for best hustle; Unsung Hero award; baseball most valuable player award; All-Conference first team and Standard Speaker second team Activities: Baseball; basketball; bowling club; volunteer coach for youth baseball and basketball camps and MMI’s chemistry camp Plans: Attending University of Scranton and pursue a career in research Quotable: “I think my family deserves some recognition for placing me on the right path in life.”

Jessica Swoboda Category: Athletics School: Wyoming Seminary Town: Hanover Township Parents: Catherine and Richard Swoboda Accomplishments: Letter winner, captain, Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association State Champion, Pennsylvania High School Field Hockey Coaches’ Association first team All-State and Academic All-State, Futures Elite, U19 National Futures Championship gold medalist, Keystone State Games gold medalist, and numerous other championships with club teams, field hockey; letter winner and District IV first team all-star, basketball; letter winner and Division II all-star honorable mention, soccer; Levi Sprague Fellowship; Settler and Chung Memorial Scholarship Awards; High Dean’s List; Alumni Service Award nominee; class vice president; Cum Laude recognition; Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Seminar; National Spanish Exam honorable mention Activities: Field hockey; student government; executive board; Junior Leadership Wilkes-Barre Advisory Council; peer tutor; peer group; Blue Key Ambassador; basketball; soccer; Medical Club; library advisory board; acting; volunteer for church, Toys for Tots, Thanksgiving Project; Kids’ Café, Habitat for Humanity Plans: Attending Villanova University, will play field hockey Quotable: “I am a more confident person off the field because I know how I have pushed myself physically and mentally to succeed on the field.”

BUSINESS SKILLS Brandon Alexander Harding Category: Business Skills School: Dallas High School Parents: Dawn and Brian Harding

Town: Dallas Accomplishments: National Honor Society treasurer; class treasurer; Mensa High IQ member; Future Business Leaders of America regional finalist and state qualifier in Business Calculations and Management Decisions; Wendy’s High School Heisman state finalist and school winner; American Legion Essay winner at local, district, interdistrict and state sectionals; published poet; Cumulative Straight A’s award; National Youth Salute finalist; Keystone State Games Most Outstanding Male Athlete and Citizens’ Voice all-star swimmer and captain of swim team; Honors with Distinction Activities: Economics competition club; student council; steering committee; Mock Trial; youth triathlon; swim team; soccer; baseball; track; certified lifeguard; volunteer with Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and numerous local organizations Plans: Attending Lehigh University to study chemical engineering and business administration and to swim Quotable: “There is nothing like the feeling of pushing yourself mentally and physically to meet your goals.”

Anthony LaFratte Category: Business Skills School: Dallas High School Parents: Deborah and Anthony LaFratte Town: Dallas Accomplishments: National Honor Society; Future Business Leaders of America vice president and regional 1st and 5th place and 8th place at state level; first honors; 3-time letter winner and team co-captain in football; department awards in Spanish and business Activities: Football; Future Business Leaders of America; economics competition club; student council; volunteer for children with special needs Plans: Attending West Chester University to study accounting and become a certified public accountant Quotable: “My ideal day without feasibility or finances in mind would include obtaining a jet pack and going…throughout the world sightseeing.”

Sara Lynn Category: Business Skills School: Berwick Area Senior High School Parents: Ann Marie and George Lynn Town: Berwick Accomplishments: Future Business Leaders of America regional 1st place; National Honor Society; Society of High School Scholars; District 2 AA dgod, silver and bronze medalist in tennis; state singles and

doubles tennis player; Press Enterprise girls’ tennis MVP and all-star; Times Leader tennis all-star team; Citizens’ Voice tennis all-star; National Red Cross Conference Junior Delegate; Odyssey of the Mind team 2nd place; Kowachick History Award; class president; homecoming court Activities: Future Business Leaders of America; tennis; student council; yearbook business manager; Junior American Red Cross; Medical Explorer; Interact Club; prom committee; Odyssey of the Mind; Students Against Destructive Decisions; Students Helping Others Willingly; church youth group; volunteer for numerous community organizations Plans: Attending King’s College in the Physician’s Assistant program Quotable: “With President Obama’s health care plan, medicine and business skills go hand in hand.”

Alexandra Petsuck Category: Business Skills School: Hazleton Area High School Parents: Marguerite and Ronald Petsuck Town: Drums Accomplishments: Future Business Leaders of America 1st in the nation and repeat qualifier at state and regional level; National Honor Society; National Spanish Honor Society; Pennsylvania Governor’s School for Global Entrepreneurship; captain and 4-time letter winner in cross country; 3-time letter winner and district qualifier in track and field; Junior Leadership Hazleton Activities: Future Business Leaders of America; Junior State of America; foreign language organization; Partners in Education; Serento Gardens student board of directors; Hazleteens; church lector Plans: Considering Pace University, Ithaca College, St. John’s University and Syracuse University in New York, George Mason University in Virginia, Xavier University in Ohio, Northeastern University and Boston University in Massachusetts, American University in District of Columbia, Penn State University and St. Joseph’s University in Pennsylvania and University of Maryland Quotable: “I know what is right and I will do it no matter what anyone else thinks.”

Kathryn Tressa Category: Business Skills School: Wyoming Valley West High School Parents: Michele and Michael Tressa Town: Forty Fort Accomplishments: Citizenship award; National Honor Society; National Society of High School Scholars; Wilkes Entrepreneurial Experience 1st place; Future Business Leaders of America secretary; school newspaper and yearbook sports editor Activities: Field hockey; Future Business Leaders of America; school newspaper; yearbook; Humane Society club; Class of 2011 club; altar server; volunteer with several local organizations Plans: Attending Philadelphia University to study fashion merchandising and marketing Quotable: “Dwellling on past events gets you nowhere but miserable.”

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Category: Athletics School: Lake-Lehman High School Town: Harveys Lake Parents: Karen and Boyd Snyder Accomplishments: Academic All-American and All-State Honorable Mention, most valuable player and team captain, field hockey; track & field District 2 champions, state qualifier and school record holder in 100 meter hurdles, triple jump and 4X100 meter relay; National History Day state level 3rd place and regional 2nd place; Diamond State Games 2nd place in field hockey Activities: Field hockey; track & field; youth field hockey camp; volunteer at local horse rescue Plans: Attending Saint Francis University; will play field hockey Quotable: “I want a career that keeps me moving.”

Francis Swankoski

SPECIAL SECTION, SUNDAY, MAY 15, 2011

Best & Brightest 2011


SPECIAL SECTION, SUNDAY, MAY 15, 2011

Best & Brightest 2011

CIVICS

Thomas Hogan Courtney Bogansky

Category: Civics School: MMI Preparatory School Parents: Katherine Balderston and David Bogansky Town: Hazle Township Accomplishments: Girl Scouts of America Silver Award, Ambassador Scout; Hazleteens president; Junior Leadership Hazleton; lead roles in community musicals; class president; People to People student delegate; volleyball team captain; honor roll; President’s List; National Spanish Exam silver award and honorable mention; National Spanish Honor Society; National Science Honor Society; National Honor Society secretary Activities: Girl Scouts of America; Hazleteens; Serento Gardens student board; acting; photography club; scrapbooking club; school newspaper; Future business Leaders of America; yoga and fitness club; daily newspaper student correspondent; volleyball; softball; volunteer for Hazleton Public Library Plans: Attending University of Pennsylvania College of the Arts and Sciences to pursue a career in international business Quotable: “Life hands us problems to make us stronger, and overcoming these challenges only benefits us in the end.”

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Omeed Firouzi Category: Civics School: Wyoming Seminary Parents: Dr. Fariba Modares-Firouzi and Dr. Masoud Firouzi Town: Shavertown Accomplishments: Top High School Politico of Pennsylvania/PoliticsPa.com 30 under 30 Rising Political Stars; Colgate Book Award; George F. Nesbitt Oratorical Prize; Frederick Rudolph prize for Historical Writing; Stella G. Purvin Memorial Scholarship Award; Cum Laude Society; Dean’s List; Golf Gold award; class president; Junior Statesmen of America president; Model United Nations head delegate Activities: Student government; Junior Statesmen of America; Model United Nations; student activities committee; theater; peer group; school paper; golf; political campaign manager Plans: Considering University of Scranton, Dickinson College, Georgetown University, American University and George Washington University in Washington D.C., Colgate University and Fordham University in New York, and University of Virginia Quotable: “Elected officials often become victims of their own lust for power…I hope to avoid this fate by continually reminding myself of the importance of living a life for others.”

Category: Civics School: Holy Redeemer Parents: Eileen and Patrick Hogan Town: Kingston Accomplishments: National Presidential Youth Inauguration Conference selection; National Honor Society; high honors; Boy Scouts of America Life Scout; National Society for High School Scholars; class vice president; Young Scholars Activities: Student leadership council; Boy Scouts of America; chess club; National History Bowl; National History Day; Penn State Futsol; mission representative; volunteer for scouting projects and Plymouth Alive Kielbasa festival Plans: Considering Marywood University, King’s College, Gettysburg College and University of Notre Dame to become a history teacher Quotable: “I want to be able to reach my students and really influence their lives to see how the past impacts our lives today.”

Robert Kost Category: Civics School: Hanover Area Parents: Nancy and Robbie Kost Town: Hanover Township Accomplishments: National Honor Society; People to People International Student Ambassador; senior student of the month; Senior High National Reflections Program; dual enrollment; Key Club International lieutenant governor and district trustee; Spanish club president; Leo Club secretary/treasurer Activities: Key Club; Spanish club; Leo Club; student council; Mock Trial; tutor; church volunteer; golf; volunteer for numerous community and church activities, especially Caitlin’s Smiles Plans: No college choice made, but planning to major in finance and minor in mechanical engineering Quotable: “I was originally inspired to run for district office (in Key Club International) to interact with people of diverse backgrounds and personalities and…make a direct difference in society through working with others.”

Gabrielle Richards Category: Civics School: E.L. Meyers Parents: Sandra Namey Richards and Douglas Richards Town: Wilkes-Barre Accomplishments: Two-time Harvard National Congress semi-finalist; St. Joseph’s University Villiger Speech & Debate Tournament Student Congress finalist and semi-finalist; four-time Pennsylvania High School Speech League state qualifier; National Catholic Forensic League co-national champion; Harvard Policy Debate Octo-finalist; Pennsbury Falcon Invitational Speech & Debate Tournament Student Congress finalist; Dr. Martin Luther King Extemporaneous Commentary Champion; District 8 Extemporaneous Commentary Champion, Public Forum Debate Co-champion and Policy Debate champion; Future Business Leaders of America Region 16 Champion and secretary; field hockey team co-captain Activities: Speech & Debate team; field

hockey; Future Business Leaders of America; glee club; drama club; Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre; Misfit Players; Junior Leadership Wilkes-Barre; key Club; volunteer with Salvation Army and church Plans: Considering St. Joseph’s University, University in Philadelphia, University of Pittsburgh at Bradford and West Chester University to major in communications Quotable: “I’m always defending the person belittled by other people. I will always speak my mind especially when I see someone who has no one to defend them.”

Alyssa Pope Category: Civics School: Holy Redeemer Parents: Marie and James Pope, Jr. Town: Tunkhannock Accomplishments: National Honor Society; Academic Excellence awards in AP Psychology, Honors US History II, Honors English and rhetoric; Bishop’s Youth Award; junior varsity volleyball team captain and member of varsity District II championship team Activities: Volleyball; track and field; horseback riding; volunteering with church Plans: Considering Texas A&M University, Florida State University and University of Oklahoma to become a zoologist Quotable: “We need to preserve our environment and our wildlife for future generations to enjoy and I want to be part of continuing the lives of these animals among us.”

Rachel Schwiter Category: Civics School: Northwest Area Parents: Dan and E. Joseph Schwiter Town: Benton Accomplishments: National Honor Society secretary; class president; marching band drum major; senior student of the month; Pennsylvania Music Educators Association district and regional band; Voice of Democracy Essay Contest 3rd place Activities: Concert and marching bands; daily announcements; school newspaper; student mentor; health fair; military ball committee; prom committee; dance lessons; church choir and youth group Plans: Attending Lycoming College Quotable: “I have always had an interest in history. I find it intriguing to know the creation and reasoning behind things we have today.”

Samantha Snyder Category: Civics School: Crestwood High School Parents: Jody and Scott Snyder Town: Mountain Top Accomplishments: Young Scholars; tennis team captain; Wendy’s High School Heisman winner; speech & debate public forum debate 2nd lace; Harold Baker Award; National Honor Society; National Spanish Honor Society Activities: Law firm intern; tennis; student government secretary; Science Olympiad; Spanish club; Key Club; chorus; math competitions; speech & debate; stage crew; volunteer with Relay for Life, Valley Santa, soup kitchen, Salvation Army, local library, and other local causes

Plans: Considering Duke University, Columbia University, Georgetown University and Drexel University to study law Quotable: “Everyone can make a difference.”

COMPUTERS & TECHNOLOGY Karisa Nicole Calvitti Category: Computers & Technology School: Wyoming Area Parents: Camille Calvitti Town: Exeter Accomplishments: Pennsylvania Key Club District Convention Video Contest Honorable Mention; Luzerne Intermediate Unit 18 Computer Fair 2nd place Digital Movie; National Honor Society; Warrior Audio Visual Entertainment video editor; Key Club secretary and chief video editor/producer Activities: Warrior audio visual entertainment; Key Club; drama club; Girl Scouts of America; student council; volunteer with Kiwanis, Bowling for Kids’ Sake, Caitlin’s Smiles and Read Across America Plans: Considering Lycoming College and Kutztown University, with plans for a career in television and film Quotable: “What I love most about video editing is that my videos give people the opportunity to relive special events in their lives and yet enjoy it even more because they see it through my eyes and get a different perspective.”

Jacob Daniels Category: Computers & Technology School: MMI Preparatory School Parents: Denise and Bruce Daniels Town: Beaver Meadows Accomplishments: National Honor Society secretary; National Science Honor Society treasurer; President’s List; second place open house awards for “Dead Reckoning Navigation” and “Origin of Amusement Park Rides;” Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science regional and state 2nd place awards and regional 1st place award; Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony Award; class treasurer; robotics team captain; National German Honor Society Activities: Robotics team; drama club; mock trial; ski club; Future Business Leaders of America; volunteer at MMI summer camps, Butler Valley Nursing Home and church Plans: Considering Rochester Institute of Technology, Lehigh University, University of Rochester, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Elizabethtown College to study mechanical engineering and pursue a career in robotics Quotable: “I like to examine common household items to determine how they work. No broken devices, from clocks to microwaves, are ever thrown away before I get my hands on them!”


Sergey Ivanov Category: Computers & Technology School: Wyoming Seminary Parents: Elena Ivanova and Anatoli Ivanov

Town: Trucksville Accomplishments: Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science 1st place state and Region 2; Australia National Chemistry Quiz certificate of merit Activities: Science research group; chess club; library advisory board; Model United Nations; informational technology club; tennis Plans: Attending Penn State University at University Park to pursue a career in engineering or computer science Quotable: “I hope to become financially independent as soon as possible and pursue whatever interests fancy me.”

ENGLISH & LITERATURE Lina Bader Category: English & Literature School: Wyoming Seminary Parents: Phuong-Truc Pham, Ph.D. and Mamoun Bader, Ph.D. Town: Mountain Top Accomplishments: Trustee Academic Scholarship; Alumni Service Award; Cum Laude Society; Eugene Goldstein Service Award; Empire City International Mock Trial Invitational 4th place; Mock Trial state competition 4th place; National Spanish Exam gold medal winner; University of Pittsburgh Mock Trial Tournament 2nd place; National Merit Commended Student; Marywood Math Contest 4th place; Wilkes Math Contest 5th place; Junior Leadership Wilkes-Barre Activities: Mock trial; swimming; Spanish club; Action and Awareness club; school newspaper; math club; international club; peer group; Blue Key; library advisory board; peer mentor Plans: Attending University of Pennsylvania Quotable: “Achievement requires more than just hard work and ambition. It also requires belief in self and goodwill towards others.”

Jeremiah Barker

Lily Calkins Category: English School: Lake-Lehman Parents: Brenda and Scott Calkins Town: Shickshinny Accomplishments: National Honor Society; National Society of High School Scholars; National History Day regional 2nd place Activities: School newspaper; church lector and religious education teacher Plans: Attending King’s College to pursue a career in law Quotable: “I love nothing more than curling up on the couch and losing myself in an excellent piece of literature.”

Alaina Gercak Category: English School: Wyoming Area Secondary Center Parents: Tracy and Tom Gercak Town: Wyoming Accomplishments: Luzerne County Envirothon 2nd and 4th place; high honors; National Honor Society; history club president Activities: History club; art club; Envirothon; Social Awareness Values Encouraged club; journalism club; reading; writing; art; guitar; ukulele; speech and debate Plans: Considering Bennington College in Vermont, Northwestern University and New York University Quotable: “Reading…is a blissful escape that expands the mind, while writing is a habit that has the power to change lives.”

Joseph Hornak Category: English School: MMI Preparatory Parents: Mary Frances and Michael Hornak Town: Hazle Township Accomplishments: Future Business Leaders of America Leadership Conference and 3rd and 5th place awards; Spanish National Honor Society; National Honor Society; Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Seminar; Junior Leadership Wilkes-Barre; Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science 1st place in regional and 2nd place in state competition; National Piano Playing Auditions; All-Tourna-

ment soccer team; George Eastman Young Leaders Award; AP Scholars Award Activities: Student council; Future Business Leaders of America; health careers club; drama club; youth league basketball and baseball coach; student government; soccer; baseball Plans: Considering Duquesne University, University of Pittsburgh, University of Scranton, Drexel University and Duke University to study physical therapy Quotable: “Ideally, I would like to write a book about audio therapy, a term I coined for the process of incorporating my musical abilities with my interest in physically healing injuries.”

Jessica Marchetti Category: English School: Hazleton Area Parents: Diane and Robert Marchetti Town: Hazleton Accomplishments: Future Business Leaders of America 2nd, 3rd and 4th place in regional competition, advanced to state level as voting delegate; National Honor Society; National Society of High School Scholars; National Young Leaders Conference; National Student Leadership Conference; National youth Leadership Forum on Law and Crime Scene Investigation; Who’s Who Among American High School Scholars; People to People Student Ambassador; bowling awards Activities: Future Business Leaders of America; Key Club; book club; bowling team; foreign language organization; assistant coach for youth basketball; library volunteer; volunteer tour guide at Eckley Miners Village Plans: Attending Alvernia University to major in middle level education Quotable: “I only have one life to live and I do not want to waste my time thinking what could or should have happened.”

Nicholas Marsellas Category: English School: E.L. Meyers High School Parents: Patricia and George Marsellas Town: Hanover Township Accomplishments: Boy Scouts of America Eagle Scout; Future Business Leaders of America 1st place regional competition; National Honor Society; French club president; Pennsylvania Music Educators Association district chorus Activities: French club; chorus; Key Club; Envirothon Plans: Attending Indiana University of Pennsylvania Honors College to pursue a career as an English teacher Quotable: “What makes a person strong is not his ability to assert his opinion, but his ability to accept others’ opinions.”

Emily Mras Category: English School: Lake-Lehman High School Parents: Bonnie and Michael Mras Town: Hunlock Creek Accomplishments: Scholastic Young Artist & Writers Regional Gold Key recipient for writing

portfolio and two short stories; swim team captain and letter winner; National Honor Society Activities: Swim team; elementary tutor; volunteer at local medical facility and church Plans: Considering Drexel University in Philadelphia, McGill University in Quebec, and Polytechnic Institute of New York University to pursue a career as an astrophysicist Quotable: “I am fascinated with the control someone’s words can have over another.”

Rebecca Anne Richards Category: English School: Holy Redeemer Parents: Cathy and Tom Richards Town: Hanover Township Accomplishments: Class president; Wyoming Valley Youth Salute first place winner; National Honor Society; President’s Volunteer Service Award; Royal Scholar; Diocesan Scholar; Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science first place state level; homecoming court; National Latin Exam Cum Laude; Universal Cheerleaders Association Cheerleading Camp MVP and All-Star; Congressional Student Leadership Conference Activities: Cheerleading; dance; Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science; school musicals; chorus; Royal Singers; TV club; literary magazine editorial board; Pro-Life club; track and field; Bloomsburg Mathematics Competition; Big Brothers/Big Sisters; tutoring; altar server and lector; volunteer with Relay for Life, and numerous school and community projects Plans: Considering a career as an international relations specialist Quotable: “Literature I more than the narration of tales to others, it is a vessel through which one discovers who she truly is and how she is going to live as the person she wishes to become.”

Victoria Vadyak Category: English School: Marian Catholic Parents: Karen and Harry Vadyak Town: Summit Hill Accomplishments: Distinguished honors; National Honor Society; Frederick Douglas & Susan B. Anthony Award; Scholar Athlete Award; Bishop’s Scholar Award; Volleyball all-star, team captain and letter winner; National Spanish Honor Society; Future Business Leaders of America 1st place in region, 2nd place in state, national competitor Activities: Volleyball; student council; peer listener; Future Business Leaders of America; student ambassador; Going Green; volunteer at local medical facility and church Plans: Attending Penn State University at University Park to major in chemical engineering Quotable: “My hero is my mom not only because she is an excellent businesswoman, but also because she is a devoted wife and phenomenal parent.”

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Category: English School: Hazleton Area High School Parents: Diane and Robert Barker Jr. Town: Hazleton Accomplishments: National Honor Society; honor roll Activities: Church youth group; book club; Future Business Leaders of America; science club; Students Against Destructive Decisions Plans: Attending Evangel University in Missouri Quotable: “Being miserable is not worth my time and effort.”

Meagan Benner Category: English School: Holy Redeemer Parents: Ellen and Craig Benner Town: Mountain Top Accomplishments: National Merit Scholarship Commended Student; National Honor Society; Excellence awards in honors British literature, honors American literature, honors chemistry 2 Activities: Volunteer tutor at McGlynn Learning Center; peer tutor; literary magazine; National History Bowl; religious education aide; St. Michael’s Society Plans: Considering College of William and Mary, University of Richmond, College of the Holy Cross and James Madison University Quotable: “I want to live an exciting life that is not mundane or staid, but full of passion and vivacity.”

SPECIAL SECTION, SUNDAY, MAY 15, 2011

Best & Brightest 2011


SPECIAL SECTION, SUNDAY, MAY 15, 2011

Best & Brightest 2011 Caitlin Vitale Category: English & Literature School: Wyoming Area Secondary Center Parents: Molly and Michael Vitale Town: West Pittston Accomplishments: Misericordia University Diversity Camp; National Honor Society president; honor roll; US Achievement Academy Activities: Student council executive council; field hockey; soccer; film club; journalism club; Social Awareness Values Encouraged club; history club; basketball; Key Club Plans: Attending Misericordia University to major in speech language pathology Quotable: “If there is one thing I’m learning it is that everyone has a different point of view and that’s what makes the world so wonderful.”

Jennifer Barrall Category: English & Literature School: Crestwood High School Town: Wapwallopen Parents: Roseann and Jay Barrall Accomplishments: National Honor Society; National Spanish Honor Society; Young Scholars Activities: Spanish Club; literary magazine; math tutor; volunteer with Junior Achievement, Crestwood Habitat project Plans: Attending Luzerne County Community College before transferring to a four-year college to major in secondary education math Quotable: “I believe that faith comes from the heart and that you don’t need to have proof to have faith in something.”

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Rochelle Dymond Category: English & Literature School: Northwest Area High School Town: Shickshinny Parents: Pamela and Bernard Dymond Jr. Accomplishments: Macy’s Great American Marching Band; National Honor Society; co-drum major; Pennsylvania Music Educators Association district and regional chorus and band Activities: Marching band; theater; concert band; concert choir; basketball; softball; Odyssey of the Mind; Biology club; church choir; volunteer with church and numerous fund raisers Plans: Attending West Chester University Quotable: “I love all types of literature and will not leave my house without a book.”

FOREIGN LANGUAGES Maria Bard Category: Foreign Languages School: Hazleton Area High School Town: Hazle Township Parents: Carol and Peter

S. Bard Accomplishments: German National Honor Society; National Honor Society; High honors; cheerleading award Activities: Track and field; Hazleton Funfest; cheerleading; spirit club; Future Business Leaders of America; volunteer with church, and several organizations to benefit children Plans: Considering Wilkes University and Misericordia University to pursue a Master’s degree in occupational therapy Quotable: “I want to help others who really can’t help themselves anymore and make a difference.”

Cathleen Cataldo Category: Foreign Languages School: Marian Catholic High School Town: Jim Thorpe Parents: Laura and

Michael Cataldo Accomplishments: Academic honor roll; National Honor Society; National Spanish Honor Society; homecoming queen Activities: Student ambassador; peer listener; ballroom dancing club; drama club; photography club; Catholic Schools Week committee; Schuylkill County Generation Next; class play; volunteer with Care Net, grade school volleyball camp; Salvation Army and church Plans: Considering Fashion Institute of Technology and Marist College, both in New York, to study fashion merchandising Quotable: “I’ve known what I wanted to do with my life since I was five years old. I never dreamed of doing anything different besides working in the fashion industry.”

Kaitlyn Hoefert Category: Foreign Languages School: Tunkhannock Area High School Town: Tunkhannock Parents: Christine and

Mark Hoefert Accomplishments: French National Honor Society; National Honor Society; “Most Spirited” on soccer team; student of the month Activities: Student council; soccer; chorus; steering committee; church youth group; volunteer with church, Special Olympics, Mini-THON and United Way Plans: Attending Drexel University to major in culinary arts and minor in business Quotable: “I would like to open my own fast food chain, but instead of greasy food I would make it a healthy fast food alternative.”

Stevie Kioske Category: Foreign Languages School: Lake Lehman High School Town: Dallas Parents: Sabrina Major

and Doyle Kioske Accomplishments: National Honor Society; volleyball team captain; chosen to visit China on a mission of peace through the Northeast Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church Activities: Church youth group; volleyball; Key Club; volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, Lakeside Nursing Home Plans: Attending Kutztown University to study special education and French Quotable: “My main goal is to be a missionary and to help people in our country and around the world.”

Amanda Lara Category: Foreign Languages School: MMI Preparatory School Town: Hazleton Parents: Sandra and

Guillermo Lara Accomplishments: Honor Roll; President’s Category: Foreign LanList; National Honor Society; Spanish Nationguages al Honor Society president; National Spanish School: Wyoming SemiExam gold medal; future Business Leaders of nary America president, public relations officer Town: Kingston and 2nd place regional medal winner; SciParents: Kira Branson ence National Honor Society historian; Pennand Eric Hazell sylvania Junior Academy of Science 2nd Accomplishments: Dean’s List high honors; place regional medal; yearbook copy editor Cum Laude recognition; National French Activities: Dual enrollment; Future Business Exam 2nd and 3rd place; studied in France Leaders of America; yearbook; student during junior year ambassador team; soccer; tennis; cross Activities: Dorm resident assistant; tutoring; country; Ophelia project; robotics team; Blue Key; orientation committee; school drama club stage crew; volunteer with Relay newspaper; handbells; orchestra; French for Life; altar server club; soccer Plans: Considering Penn State University, Plans: Considering McDaniel College in Emerson College in Massachusetts and Maryland, St. Joseph’s University in PhiladelArcadia University in Pennsylvania to major phia, Austin College in Texas, Tufts University in journalism in Massachusetts, Brown University in Rhode Quotable: “I want to report the ugly trageIsland and Emory University in Georgia dies in our world to inspire people to make Quotable: “I want to work in an art museubetter choices…and beautiful miracles to m…I would love to work at the Centre Pompienlighten people to the magnificence of the dou in Paris!” human race.”

Cicely Hazell

Jillian Lavelle Category: Foreign Languages School: GAR Memorial Town: Wilkes-Barre Parents: Kim and Gene Lavelle Accomplishments: National Honor Society; class president Activities: Field hockey; student council; Key Club; chorus; Spanish Club; Blue and Gray club; drama club; ski club; diversity club; volunteer with Candy’s walk, Salvation Army Plans: Attending Penn State University Quotable: “Worrying about what others think and trying too hard to impress someone does more harm than good.”

Samantha Martin Category: Foreign Languages School: Holy Redeemer Town: Mountain Top Parents: Amy and Matthew Martin Accomplishments: National Honor Society; Excellence awards in Honors French 3, French 2, AP United States Government, Honors British Literature, Theology 1, 2 and 3 and rhetoric; Certificat d’honneur and Certificat de Reussite in Le Grand Concours French Contest; French club co-president; Junior Leadership Wilkes-Barre Activities: French club; Irish step dancing and teaching; Royal Singers; school musicals; piano lessons; literary magazine; volunteer with Big Brothers/Big Sisters, church and soup kitchen Plans: Attending University of Pennsylvania to pursue a career in international business Quotable: “One should seize every opportunity in life, because they only come around one time.”

Jackeline Torres Category: Foreign Languages School: Hazleton Area Town: Hazleton Parents: Quinche Miller and Carlos Torres Accomplishments: French National Honor Society; National Honor Society; Junior Leadership Hazleton; Science club president; ecology club treasurer Activities: Hazleton YMCA volunteer; church choir and youth group; Key Club; book club; science club; ecology club Plans: Attending Penn State University at University Park to study actuarial science and French Quotable: “I would like every person in the world to help someone…and to feel that great feeling inside one feels when helping another person.”

Brianna Winter Category: Foreign Languages School: Berwick Area Town: Berwick Parents: Robin and Marc Winter Accomplishments: Field hockey team captain, most valuable player overall and most valuable player offense; sportsmanship award; Times Leader Utility Playersoftball; Daughters of the American Revolution History student of the year Activities: Field hockey; softball; bowling; swing choir; peer tutoring; student council; Interact club; Future Business Leaders of America; Spanish club; ski club; Students Helping Out Willingly; youth group Plans: Attending Penn State University at University Park Quotable: “I hope to own a gym which includes a nutritional clinic for clients...who need help determining what foods will benefit them most.”


JOURNALISM

Amanda Miller

Rebecca Farrell

Brittany Ashton Category: Journalism School: Wyoming Valley West High School Parents: Margaret McCann and Daniel Ashton Town: Kingston Accomplishments: Tom Bigler Journalism 1st place award; American Scholastic Press Association 1st place award; Wilkes University Entrepreneurship Experience 1st- place award; student of the month; Future Business Leaders of America regional 2nd-place award; track letter winner; school paper editor; yearbook academics/organizations editor Activities: School newspaper; yearbook; Humane Society co-founder and vice president; literary arts magazine; Future Business Leaders of America; musical stage crew; track; volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, Wyoming Valley Montessori and Hillside Farms Plans: Considering Marymount Manhattan and Pace University, both in New York to pursue a career in political science/pre law Quotable: “It is extremely important to try and find the best in others, despite how difficult that proves to be.”

Category: Journalism School: Lake-Lehman Parents: Sharon and Edward Farrell Town: Dallas Accomplishments: National Honor Society; National History Day regional competitor; school newspaper managing editor Activities: Volleyball; school newspaper; dance lessons Plans: Attending Bloomsburg University to major in elementary education Quotable: “At the end of the day, whether it was good or bad, being with family and friends is heaven on earth.”

Erin Hohol Category: Journalism School: Lake-Lehman Parents: Kathleen and Daniel Hohol Town: Hunlock Creek Accomplishments: National Honor Society; Principal’s Honor Roll; National History Day 1st place regional level; homecoming court; school newspaper editor in chief; student council president; class president Activities: School newspaper; student council; Department of Conservation and National Resources Community Watershed Program; track and field; field hockey; volunteer with elementary Spanish language program and community fundraisers Plans: Attending Wilkes University Quotable: “How can one expect to be noticed if one is not different?”

Category: Journalism School: MMI Preparatory School Parents: Bonny and Dennis Miller Town: Freeland Accomplishments: Well’s College 21st Century Leadership Award; honor roll; President’s List; WVIA Art Student of the Week; coach’s award in soccer; National Honor Society; National German Honor Society; National Society of High School Scholars; Standard Speaker Athlete of the week-volleyball Activities: Volleyball; soccer; church youth group; drama club stage crew; Wister Quartet guest accompanist; church handbell choir; volunteer with church and local events Plans: Considering Juniata College and Lycoming College, with plans to become a published author Quotable: “With will and determination, I can reach heights far greater than I ever thought I would.”

Wilkes-Barre; Weekender internship; paid news writer Activities: Key Club; ski club; baseball; football; volunteer with Concert for a Cause, Rockin’ Out Rett Syndrome and a baseball fundraising concert Plans: Attending Temple University Quotable: “I hope to never fall into a routine and just stay there.”

John Poli Category: Journalism School: Pittston Area High School Parents: Camille and John Poli Town: Hughestown Accomplishments: National Honor Society; journalism club treasurer Activities: Journalism club; track and field; student council; Stand Tall club; football; altar server Plans: Attending Lock Haven University Quotable: “If you fail to prepare for something then all you are doing is preparing yourself to fail.”

Brittany Spaide

Matthew Morgis Category: Journalism School: Crestwood High School Parents: Deborah and Mark Morgis Town: Mountain Top Accomplishments: National Honor Society; Junior Achievement; Junior Leadership

SPECIAL SECTION, SUNDAY, MAY 15, 2011

Best & Brightest 2011

Category: Journalism School: Berwick Area Senior High School Parents: Virginia and James Spaide Town: Nescopeck See JOURNALISM, Page 46

Congratulations Meg!

EDWARD KUEBLER & ASSOC. INS.

352 E. Northampton St. Wilkes-Barre, PA 18702

285032

ed@kueblerassociates.com

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We’re so proud of you! Love, Mom, Dad & Kevin

570-829-1976


SPECIAL SECTION, SUNDAY, MAY 15, 2011

Best & Brightest 2011

JOURNALISM Continued from Page 45

Accomplishments: National Honor Society; Pennsylvania State Computer Fair 2nd place regional level; Future Business Leaders of America state conference competitor; school television station director; senior video editor Activities: School television station; peer tutor; senior video; journalism; youth group; Interact club; Future Business Leaders of America; Sno*ball committee; bowling; field hockey; basketball; school paper; prom committee Plans: Attending Keystone College and then Wilkes University to pursue a career in pharmacy Quotable: “I think that my friends would describe me as open minded and as a counselor to troubles.”

Theresa Szpynda Category: Journalism School: Berwick Area Senior High School Parents: Betsy and Eugenuisz Szpynda Town: Berwick Accomplishments: Distinguished honor roll; National Honor Society; Community service scholarships; Interact club treasurer; senior video editor; Future Business Leaders of America state finalist in video editing; school paper clubs & events editor Activities: Swimming; Interact club; student council; school paper; class treasurer; senior video; Future Business Leaders of America; Youth in Philanthropy; technology club; track & field; Leaders club; volunteer with polio dance-a-thon and church youth group Plans: Considering Temple University and University of Pittsburgh to pursue a career in pharmacy Quotable: “I feel everyone makes mistakes, and the true test is to see how people grow and learn from them.”

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Mariah Wilson Category: Journalism School: Hazleton Area High School Parents: Brenda and Gary Wilson Town: Freeland Accomplishments: National Honor Society; honor roll; National Business Honor Society; Future business Leaders of America 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 6th place; Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week 1st place; yearbook editor Activities: Student improvement board; yearbook; class executive council; Future Business Leaders of America; dance; foreign language organization; ecology club; ski club; catechism teacher; homecoming court; volunteer with Big Brothers/ Big Sisters, church and community fundraisers Plans: Considering Temple University and the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford

to study business Quotable: “I love the feeling I get knowing I am doing something right in this world.”

Brianna Wise Category: Journalism School: Wyoming Seminary Parents: Cynthia and James Wise Town: Shavertown Accomplishments: Trustee Academic Scholarship; Cum Laude Society; National Latin Exam Summa Cum Laude and Gold awards; school newspaper editor in chief; student news correspondent Activities: School newspaper; school dance company; religious education assistant teacher; piano; Model United Nations; Blue Key Club; student activities committee; acting; Relay for Life and church volunteer Plans: Attending Syracuse University Newhouse School of Public Communications to major in either broadcast journalism or magazine journalism Quotable: “Even the most basic start can lead to great things.”

MATHEMATICS Katelyn Arcelay Category: Mathematics School: G.A.R. Memorial High School Parents: Vedda Arcelay Town: Wilkes-Barre Accomplishments: Student of the Month; student class secretary; National Honor Society secretary; highest honors; homecoming queen Activities: Key Club; student council; choir; small group chorus; Students Against Destructive Decisions; drama club; ski club; cheerleading; competitive dancing; Spanish club; volunteer with community fundraisers Plans: Attending University of the Sciences in Philadelphia to pursue a career in medicine Quotable: “When I see numbers, I get really excited.”

Meghan Bloom Category: Mathematics School: Lake-Lehman High School Parents: Cyndy and Fred Bloom Town: Shavertown Accomplishments: National Honor Society; Northeastern Pennsylvania Music Teachers’ Association honors recital; National Piano Playing Audition Award winner; All-American Academic in field hockey Activities: Field hockey; piano; Irish step dancing; Stop Tobacco Use Now club; Learn and Serve; Therapy Dogs International Plans: Considering Duke University, University of Michigan, Cornell University, Johns Hopkins University and Northwest-

ern University to study biomedical engineering Quotable: “I believe seeing how others live is something more people should have an opportunity to do.”

Corrinia Bonk Category: Mathematics School: E.L. Meyers Parents: Tracy and Dennis Bonk Town: Wilkes-Barre Accomplishments: Honor Roll; National Honor Society; 4-time letter winner in volleyball Activities: Ski club; Future Business Leaders of America; Envirothon; Watershed; volleyball; Students Against Destructive Decisions; elective chorus; peer tutoring; volunteer with local medical facilities Plans: Attending University of Scranton to pursue a career in medicine Quotable: “You have to shoot for your dreams and go after what you want even if you are afraid.”

Ryan Burkhardt Category: Mathematics School: G.A.R. Memorial Parents: Roseann Krakowski and Thomas Burkhardt Town: Wilkes-Barre Accomplishments: National Honor Society president; Horatio Alger Scholarship; lead role in school musical; chorus section leader; marching band drum major; Pennsylvania Music Educators’ Association district and regional chorus and district band; voted “most scientific” and “most musical” of class of 2011; Youth Salute; golf team captain Activities: Chorus; small group chorus; marching, concert and jazz band; drama club; Students Against Destructive Decisions; Key Club; school paper; orchestra; golf; volunteer with benefit cabarets and other community fundraisers Plans: Attending University of the Sciences in Philadelphia to pursue a career in pharmacy Quotable: “I think of life as a long journey with all the good parts in the middle.”

Ronald Caccese Category: Mathematics School: Crestwood High School Parents: Karen and Ronald Caccese Town: Mountain Top Accomplishments: National Honor Society; National French Honor Society; Outstanding Student of the Quarter; principal’s honors; Activities: Track & field; dual enrollment; French club; Key Club; French teaching; American Math Competition; Marywood Math Contest; Newton Math Contest; volunteer peer tutor and with soup kitchen Plans: Attending Penn State University at University Park to study engineering

Quotable: “Any subject involving math has always been my favorite.”

Joshua Carey Category: Mathematics School: Wyoming Area Secondary Center Parents: Linda

and Frank Carey Town: Harding Accomplishments: National Honor Society; Tri-M Music Honor Society president; high honor roll; Polish National Catholic Church music scholarship; Boy Scouts of America Eagle Scout; Pennsylvania Music Educators Association district band and Bandfest; Marywood Honors Band; Luzerne County Band; Marywood Math Competition finalist; Wilkes University Math competition 3rd place; karate green belt Activities: Boy Scouts of America; marching and concert bands; chorus; karate; church youth group and choir; acolyte; soccer; golf Plans: Considering Marywood University, Penn State University and Lehigh University to study mathematics Quotable: “Math can be a complex but beautiful subject that holds the key to unlocking the future.”

Jared Gollhardt Category: Mathematics School: Wyoming Seminary Parents: Darcy and Seth Goll-

hardt Town: Dallas Accomplishments: Luzerne County High School Mathematics Contest 1st place; Rensselaer Medal for Math and Science; math club president; Marywood University High School Mathematics contest 2nd place; cross country letter winner; Scranton University programming contest 3rd place; National Latin Exam Maxima Cum Laude and Summa Cum Laude awards Activities: Math club; ultimate Frisbee; environmental awareness club; drum lessons; church youth group Plans: Considering Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, University of Pennsylvania and Massachusetts Institute of Technology Quotable: “I have learned that even if things cause me discomfort I should pursue them, because in the end I might end up helping people.”


Maria Heaney

Keenan Monks

Category: Mathematics School: Holy Redeemer High School Parents: Mary Lou and Marty Heaney

Category: Mathematics School: Hazleton Area High School Parents: Gina and Ken Monks

Town: Plains Accomplishments: High Honors; National Honor Society; literary magazine editor; Bloomsburg Math Contest; Wilkes Math Contest 8th place; Excellence awards in honors anatomy and physiology, journalism, United States History 1 & 2, honors geometer/trigonometry, astronomy and meteorology, chemistry, Spanish 1 & 2, introduction to computer science Activities: Piano lessons; track & field; semi-formal/prom committee; St. Michael’s Society; ski club; chorus; stage crew; make-up crew; peer tutoring; volunteer with school clean-ups and sports tournaments Plans: Attending University of the Sciences in Philadelphia to study pharmacy Quotable: “Every step I take along my path builds the foundation for the rest of my life, and I will not quit until I am where I want to be.”

Samantha Hurtt Category: Mathematics School: Pittston Area High School Parents: Sharon and Carleton Hurtt Town: Yatesville Accomplishments: National Honor Society; published poet Activities: Track & field; Key Club; Stand Tall club; yearbook; volleyball; volunteer candy striper Plans: Attending Misericordia University Quotable: “Life is exciting but caring for others and not being selfish makes it better.”

Noah James Long Category: Mathematics School: Berwick Area Senior High School Parents: LoriAnn and Mark Long

Michael Moorhead Category: Mathematics School: James M. Coughlin High School Parents: Patricia and Steven Moorhead Town: Wilkes-Barre Accomplishments: Boy Scouts of America Life Scout and Order of the Arrow; track & field and team captain letter winner; Newton Math Competition 2nd place; swimming & diving letter winner and team captain; National Honor Society; National Spanish Exam silver medal and regional 4th place; University of Rochester Bausch & Lomb science award; Johns Hopkins Young Scholar; Scholastic Scrimmage team captain Activities: Boy Scouts of America; track & field; cross country; swimming & diving; school newspaper; Students Against Destructive Decisions; Scholastic Scrimmage; Key Club; Envirothon; Spanish club; yearbook; Future

Connor Murphy Category: Mathematics School: Holy Redeemer High School Parents: Mimi and Thomas Murphy Town: Mountain Top Accomplishments: Ian James Pope Scholarship for Outstanding Achievement in Academic, Athletic, Service and Leadership; National Honor Society; high honors; Bishop’s Youth Award; Wilkes University Math competition 5th place; Spanish achievement award Activities: Leadership group; St. Michael’s Society; cross country; track & field; church youth advisory board and youth group leader; class commissioner; Middle States committee; ski club; Pro-life club; basketball; soccer; baseball; Spanish club; altar server, volunteer Plans: Considering Muhlenberg College, Boston College, King’s College, Loyola University of Maryland and Villanova University Quotable: “I believe that the only fear that may prevent me from accomplishing my goals is the fear itself.”

Ami Patel Category: Mathematics School: Crestwood High School Parents: Alka and Pankaj Patel Town: Mountain Top Accomplishments: Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science 1st and 2nd place at regional and state competition; University of Pittsburgh Health Care

Scholars Academy National Honor Society; National French Honor Society; academic honor roll; Harold Baker Award; tennis team co-captai Activities: Dual Enrollment; tennis; student government; Medical Explorer; Science Olympiad; math competitions; French club; lab assistant; Key Club; volunteer with Relay for Life, temple, and local medical facility Plans: Considering Drexel University, University of Scranton and Penn State University at University Park to study medicine Quotable: “The only thing that matters is what you make of your past mistakes.”

Danielle Phillips Category: Mathematics School: Holy Redeemer High School Parents: Noreen and Robert Phillips

Town: Pittston Accomplishments: National Honor Society; class treasurer; class commissioner; Diocese of Scranton Diocesan Scholar; People to People Ambassador; Congressional Youth Leadership; National Society of High School Scholars; National Latin Exam Magna Cum Laude; Bishop’s Youth Award; Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science 1st place regional and state competitor; swim team letter winner, all-American and district swimmer; Junior Leadership Wilkes-Barre Activities: St. Michael’s Society; National History Day; Students Against Destructive Decisions; altar server; math club; forensics time keeper; school plays; soccer; field hockey; track & field; volunteer at church, local medical facility and Fine Arts Fiesta Plans: Attending Penn State University Smeal College of Business to become an actuarial scientist Quotable: “Everything happens for a reason…make the best of it and everything will work out in the end.”

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Town: Berwick Accomplishments: Boy Scouts of America Eagle Scout and Order of the Arrow; National Honor Society; Kiwanis Club student of the month; National Young Leaders State Conference Activities: Boy Scouts of America; track; church youth group Plans: Attending Bloomsburg University and then Penn State University to study mechanical or nuclear engineering Quotable: “I always take the harder trail and do the harder things that most normal people do not do.”

Town: Hazleton Accomplishments: Published mathematics research paper in Discrete Mathematics; Shing-Tung Yau High School Math Awards honorable mention; Intel Science Talent Search finalist; Siemens Competition regional finalist/semi-finalist; USA Mathematical Talent Search national 1st place; American Regions Math League champion; 3-time qualifier for USA Mathematical Olympiad; New Jersey Undergraduate Math Contest 2nd place national level; Princeton University Math Competition 4th place national level; Roland Piano Festival winner; University of Scranton Integration Bee winner; 4-time winner of Bloomsburg High School Math Contest; 2-time winner of Marywood High School Math Contest; Science Olympiad regional 2nd place; WVIA Scholastic Scrimmage champions; National Honor Society; National Merit Finalist Paderewski Gold Medal for piano; captain of cross country and track & field teams; treasurer for class and executive council Activities: Cross country; track & field; executive council; Lehigh Valley American Regions Math League Team; math team; computer programming team; Science Olympiad Plans: Considering Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard to major in mathematics Quotable: “There is no point in only giving a task half of your effort when you can give it your all.”

Business Leaders of America Plans: Considering Princeton University, Harvard University, University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University and Villanova University to study mathematics Quotable: “Whatever you want to see in your future will only come from your own efforts.”

SPECIAL SECTION, SUNDAY, MAY 15, 2011

Best & Brightest 2011


SPECIAL SECTION, SUNDAY, MAY 15, 2011

Best & Brightest 2011 Connor Schleicher Category: Mathematics School: Marian Catholic Parents: Heather and Phillip Schleicher Town: Summit Hill Accomplishments: National Honor Society; Citizen Bee; Scholastic Scrimmage team captain; National Spanish Honor Society Activities: Future Business Leaders of America; track & field; cross country; baseball; whitewater rafting; peer tutoring; volunteer at church Plans: Attending Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to study aerospace engineering Quotable: “I want to design a plane that flies without reliance on fossil fuels and is able to forever change the transportation industry.”

Chris Tombasco Category: Mathematics School: Hazleton Area Parents: Catherine and Donald Tombasco Town: Sugarloaf Accomplishments: National Merit Scholar; Future Business Leaders of America State Leadership Conference and 1st place in regional competition; National Honor Society; Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency commended student; PIAA cross country state championship qualifier and district medalist; WVIA Scholastic Scrimmage winner; Bloomsburg Math Competition Quiz Bowl winner Activities: Cross country; track & field; Future Business Leaders of America; executive council; book club; chess club; altar server; lector; Science Olympiad; guitar and bass player; church volunteer Plans: Attending Penn State University, considering a career in nuclear engineering, teaching or research Quotable: “Regardless of one’s intellect, two heads are better than one.”

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Eric Werbin Category: Mathematics School: Wyoming Area Secondary Center Parents: Jessica and Scott Werbin Town: West Pittston Accomplishments: Marywood Mathematics Competition 1st place; American Chemical Society Competition 1st place; National Honor Society; Tri-M Music Honor Society; Activities: Science Olympiad; Science Iditarod; Shore Bowl; Scholastic Scrimmage; Kane Physics Team; History Bowl; mathematics club; Warrior Audio Visual Entertainment; Key Club; Boy Scouts of America Plans: Considering Drexel University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Quotable: “My plan is to go into the field of Artificial Intelligence with an emphasis on robotics.”

Timothy Yurish Category: Mathematics School: MMI Preparatory School Parents: JuleAnn and Thomas Yurish Town: Freeland Accomplishments: Boy Scouts of America Eagle Scout; Rensselaer Medal recipient; Bucknell Math Contest high scorer; honor roll; president’s list; Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science regional 1st place; National Science Honor Society; National Honor Society; National Spanish Honor Society Activities: Boy Scouts of America; church youth group; Mandelbrot math competition; Marywood math contest; Future Business Leaders of America; robotics team; piano lessons; volunteer with food pantry and senior center Plans: Considering Cornell University, Bucknell University, Lehigh University, Drexel University and Penn State University to study chemical engineering Quotable: “Our need to search for new knowledge and new information is what drives us as a society. Without that, even the concept of math would not exist.”

MUSIC Molly Allen Category: Music School: Wyoming Seminary Parents: Regina and Mark Allen Town: Mountain Top Accomplishments: National Honor Society; National French Honor Society; Pennsylvania Music Educators Association 3-time district and regional chorus member; Margaret and Nicholas Healy Young Artists’ Vocal Competition winner; Madrigal Singers section leader Activities: Madrigal Singers; Blue Key Club; chorale; church choir; medical club; Performing Arts Institute; musical theater; Wilkes University Conservatory; dance company; Emerald Isle step dancing; track and field; field hockey; volunteer with American Red Cross, NE Regional Cancer Institute and other local causes Plans: Considering Ithaca College, Manhattan School of Music and C.W. Post in New York; Temple University and Duquesne University in Pennsylvania; Westminster Choir College in New Jersey; Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.; and Hartt School of Music in Connecticut Quotable: “I hope to perform on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House one day, but until then, I will work to pursue excellence to attain that goal.”

Megan Gallagher Category: Music School: Berwick Area Senior High School Parents: Deborah and John Gallagher Town: Berwick

Accomplishments: U.S. Army All American Marching Band; Pennsylvania Music Educators Association district and regional band, chorus, orchestra and jazz chorus; Columbia County Band; Columbia-Montour County Chorus; Columbia County Jazz Band; George N. Parks Drum Major Academy; Tournament of Bands High Drum Major Awards; Girl Scouts of America Gold Award; Distinguished Honor Roll; National Honor Society; Women’s Civic Club of Berwick Student of the Month Activities: Concert band; marching band drum major; select women’s choir; women’s chorus; combined chorus; jazz band; church choir; school newspaper; Girl Scouts of America; bowling; Odyssey of the Mind; volunteer with numerous local fundraisers Plans: Attending Slippery Rock University to study music education Quotable: “I wish one day to be granted the honor of being a guest conductor at a Pennsylvania Music Educators’ Association festival and changing the lives of others as my past guest conductors have changed mine.”

Julia Kundratic Category: Music School: Holy Redeemer Parents: Genna and Kevin Kundratic Town: Wilkes-Barre Accomplishments: National Honor Society; honor roll; Pennsylvania Music Educators’ Association District and regional chorus; chorus section leader; National Student Leadership Conference on medicine and health care; Northeast Fair Queen; President’s Award for Educational Achievement; tennis team captain Activities: Chorus; Royals Singers; cantor; school musical; private voice and guitar lessons; Catholic Choral Society of Northeastern Pennsylvania; tennis; swimming and diving; student leadership council; track and field; peer tutor; volunteer with area fundraisers and musical performances Plans: Attending Temple University to study engineering Quotable: “I feel strongly that music is the greatest thing in my life, and no matter how deeply I delve into it, its complexity and intricacy will never fail to captivate me.”

Kelcie Lushefski Category: Music School: Greater Nanticoke Area High School Parents: Catherine and Joseph Lushefski Town: Nanticoke Accomplishments: National Honor Society treasurer; Interact club vice president; Youth Salute; National American Miss Teen Pennsylvania state finalist; All-American Scholar; Who’s Who Among American High School Students; Activities: Chorus; guitar lessons; student council; Interact club; school newspaper; soccer; altar server; lector; dance lessons; volunteer with church and youth activities

Plans: Considering Penn State Lehman, King’s College and Wilkes University to study medicine Quotable: “Without music, I wouldn’t be who I am today.”

Matthew Oakum Category: Music School: MMI Preparatory School Parents: Joanne and Daniel Oakum Town: Conyngham Accomplishments: National Honor Society Activities: Music club; Hazleton Art League; student ambassador program; church choir Plans: Attending Wilkes University to study psychology or Bennington College in Vermont to study either creative writing or music performance Quotable: “The best feeling in the world is when I’m up on stage, blinded by the spotlight, signing my heart out to an audience.”

Eric Evan Petterson II Category: Music School: Marian Catholic High School Parents: Carolyn Marie and Eric Petterson Town: Mahanoy City Accomplishments: Academic Honor Roll; Dale Carnegie Youth Advantage Program Activities: Rock Music Ministry; community theater; school chorus; senior play; track and field; volunteer with church and mission trip Plans: Attending Misericordia University Quotable: “My friends would say I’m stubborn because I will not leave my piano until I have fixed all the mistakes within a particular passage.”

Jack Synoski Category: Music School: Hazleton Area High School Parents: Pam and John Synoski Town: Hazleton Accomplishments: Pennsylvania Music Educators Association All-State jazz ensemble and orchestra and district and regional band and orchestra; American High School Honors Orchestra at Carnegie Hall; MENC All-Eastern Wind Ensemble; National Honor Society Activities: Jazz Ensemble; marching/ concert band; Marywood University Orchestra; Wyoming Seminary Civic Orchestra; WVIA Scholastic Scrimmage; Marywood Unversity pit orchestra; drama club stage crew and pit band; cross country; chess club; book club; Pennsylvania Theater of Performing Arts pit orchestra; volunteer with church youth group and liturgical band Plans: Considering Temple University, New York University, Manhattan School of Music and State University of New York Quotable: “It is my dream to become wellknown in New York City and beyond, and leave a lasting mark on the jazz world.”


PERFORMING ARTS Gavin Peter D’Ulisse Category: Performing Arts School: Tunkhannock Area High School Town: Tunkhannock Parents: Bonnie and

Gabriel D’Ulisse Accomplishments: Pennsylvania Music Educators Association district, regional and all-state chorus; school tenor section leader; National Honor Society; section leader and best section award in school band; drama club president Activities: Theater; band; choir; computer club; steering committee; volunteer with community theater and local clean ups Plans: Considering Temple University, Lock Haven University, DeSales University and Ithaca College Quotable: “On stage, I can be anyone or anything at anytime.”

Catherine Hood Category: Performing Arts School: MMI Preparatory School Town: Freeland Parents: Mary-Lee and

Tom Hood Accomplishments: Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science 1st place at regional and state levels; National Honor Society; National Science Honor Society; National German Honor Society; Summer Institute of Music Technology at NYU; numerous lead roles in school drama; class president; floor captain of volleyball team Activities: Drama; guitar, piano and vocal lessons; music club; volleyball; soccer Plans: Attending University in New York City to study music technology Quotable: “I would love to be a producer or sound engineer in a studio in New York City.”

Meghan Hourigan Category: Performing Arts School: Wyoming Seminary Town: Mountain Top Parents: Sharon and

Katie Joyce Category: Performing Arts School: Pittston Area High School Town: Avoca Parents: Erin and James Joyce Accomplishments: Class vice president; Stand Tall club secretary; National Honor Society historian; communications club secretary; Times Leader Athlete of the Week; president and junior choreographer at Crossmolina School of dance Activities: Irish step dancing; field hockey; basketball; communications club; student council; Stand Tall; altar server; junior camp counselor Plans: Attending Lock Haven University to major in communications Quotable: “I would love to move to Los Angeles or New York City and work for MTV.”

Jessica McKinley Category: Performing Arts School: Marian Catholic High School Town: McAdoo Parents: Carolyn and James McKinley, Sr. Accomplishments: National Honor Society; National French Honor Society president; People to People Student Leadership Summit, student ambassador to Australia and representative at the Inauguration of President Barack Obama; National French Competition Honorable Mention; Greater Pottsville Winter Carnival pageant; cheerleading captain; school play lead Activities: Cheerleading; Schuylkill County Chorus; Diocese of Allentown Chorus; Rock Music Ministry; chorus; marching band; drama club; tutoring; Eucharistic minister; library aide; Hazleteens; Scholastic Scrimmage; volunteer with church, youth cheerleading and other community organizations Plans: Attending University of the Sciences of Philadelphia to study pharmacy Quotable: “I can only hope that when I’m older I will get opportunities to help teach kids what I know and help them better themselves.”

Courtney Prozeralik Category: Performing Arts School: Hanover Area Junior/Senior High School Town: Hanover Township Parents: Beth and Dave

Prozeralik Accomplishments: National Honor Society; lead role in school musicals; National History Day regional winner; audition-only chamber choir member; Pennsylvania Music Educators Association district and regional chorus; student of the month; section leader in concert band, chorus and chamber choir; Luzerne County Band and Chorus; Germantown Institute of the Vocal Arts; selected by

audition to sing in Mozart’s Requiem Mass, Hadyn’s Lord Nelson Mass and Handel’s Messiah Mass in Germantown Activities: Chorus; chamber choir; dance team; concert band; drama club; Key Club; Young Scholars; church youth group and choir; Sunday school teacher; women’s chorus conductor; Girl Scouts of America; peer tutor; volunteer for several community cabaret fundraisers Plans: Attending the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia to major in microbiology Quotable: “By staying optimistic, I believe I can achieve success no matter what obstacles are thrown my way.”

Jillian A. Puhalla Category: Performing Arts School: Wyoming Valley West High School Town: Forty Fort Parents: Marianne and

Dennis Puhalla Accomplishments: National Honor Society vice president; Pennsylvania Music Educators’ Association district and regional chorus; highest honors with distinction; student of the month; citizenship award; Youth Salute; PIAA Sportsmanship award in field hockey; letter winner in track & field and winter track & field; Junior Leadership Wilkes-Barre; numerous lead roles and co-director for school theater productions Activities: Wilkes University Conservatory; Pocono Playhouse; Performing Arts Institute; Boston University Summer Theater Institute; drama; musicals; concert and chamber choirs; literary arts magazine; student council; Future Business Leaders of America; Science Olympiad; Junior Engineering Technical Society; Envirothon; WVIA Scholastic Scrimmage; track & field; field hockey; volunteer with local theater, Habitat for Humanity and fundraisers Plans: Undecided, pursuing a career in acting and perhaps teaching performing arts Quotable: “The path of a performing artist is not an easy one, but if I remember to follow the dreams which have shaped my entire life, I will remember who I am.”

Carin Roman Category: Performing Arts School: Holy Redeemer Town: Nanticoke Parents: Kathy and Ed Roman Accomplishments: Honor Roll; numerous dance awards from solos, groups and lines in competition; Junior Miss Talent Olympics; Radio City Music Hall Rockettes summer camp and day camp; Conservatory of Dance camp Activities: Dance lessons in tap, jazz, ballet, lyrical, pointe and modern; The Conservatory of Dance; church choir and cantor; private voice lessons; chorus; Royal Singers; school musicals; Pro-life club; volunteer performer at church events and volunteer at library and local fundraisers Plans: Considering DeSales University,

Wilkes University, Misericordia University, King’s College and Marywood University to major in business or marketing and minor in dance Quotable: “One day, I would like to audition to be a Radio City Music Hall Rockette.”

Claire Sesson Category: Performing Arts School: Lake-Lehman High School Town: Shavertown Parents: Frances and Michael Sesson, Jr. Accomplishments: Miss Performing Arts, Grand Champion Group, Best Duo, Best Trio and over 150 1st, 2nd and 3rd place awards at the Performing Arts Alliance in King of Prussia; National History Day regional winner; Science Olympiad regional winner; Junior Leadership Wilkes-Barre; principal’s honor roll; National Honor Society Activities: Dancing lessons including tap, jazz, ballet, hip-hop, pantomime and ethnic styles; Science Olympiad; field hockey; swim team; watershed team; homecoming committee; Spanish tutor; volunteer with dance school and Salvation Army Plans: Attending University of Pittsburgh to study pre-medicine Quotable: “Dancing has taught me how to let my personality shine in everything I do, as well as allowing me to see how much potential I have as an individual.”

Amanda Leigh Shaffern Category: Performing Arts School: Wyoming Valley West High School Town: Kingston Parents: Marilyn and Joseph Shaffern Accomplishments: Performing Arts Institute student liaison; Music Box dinner Playhouse junior players representative; citizenship award; Miss Pittston Tomato Festival Pageant finalist; Pennsylvania Music Educators Association district choir; Rotary Essay competition finalist; Healy Vocal Competition finalist; National Honor Society; honor roll; National History Day 1st and 2nd place; school musical dance captain; Future Business Leaders of America state qualifier Activities: Community theater; dance lessons in tap, ballet and jazz; vocal lessons; Performing Arts Institute; Performing Arts Academy; piano lessons; soccer; softball; dual enrollment; Future Business Leaders of America; Wilkes University entrepreneur program; student council; school musicals; tutor; concert and chamber choir; play make up artist; volunteer counselor and choreographer and participant in local fundraisers Plans: Considering New York University, Pace University and Temple University to double major in speech pathology and musical theater Quotable: “Beauty and the Beast was my first Broadway show. I knew the moment the music started playing that I wanted to be a performer.”

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David Hourigan Accomplishments: Cum Laude Society; Dean’s List; AP Scholar; Pennsylvania Music Educators Association 3-time selection to district and regional chorus; Olomouc Chorus Festival in Czech Republic medalist; National Spanish Exam honorable mention; Frederick Rudolph Prize for Historical Writing Activities: Drama; Performing Arts Institute; Madrigal Singers; dance ensemble; Blue Key Club; peer group; Wilkes Conservatory theater; A capella group; peer tutor; volunteer with Wyoming Seminary Lower School, hose company and local fundraisers Plans: Considering New York University, Northwestern University and Carnegie Mellon University to study musical theater or acting Quotable: “For me, the prospect of fame and

glory has never been the enticing aspect of theater. Rather, I am attracted to the emotionally freeing and eye-opening opportunities that theater presents.”

SPECIAL SECTION, SUNDAY, MAY 15, 2011

Best & Brightest 2011


SPECIAL SECTION, SUNDAY, MAY 15, 2011

Best & Brightest 2011 Amanda Urbanski Category: Performing Arts School: Holy Redeemer High School Town: Nanticoke Parents: Pam and

David Urbanski Accomplishments: National Honor Society secretary; service and leadership award; high honor roll; lead rolls in local ballets Activities: Dance lessons in jazz, ballet and tap; dance teacher; church youth advisory board; church youth group; student leadership; semi and prom committees; volunteers to help area seniors and homeless as well as church youth Plans: Considering DeSales University, Muhlenburg University, Drexel University and Wilkes University in Pennsylvania and Goucher College in Maryland to major in dance and minor in psychology Quotable: “I feel blessed to have been given this talent and I am going to try my best to continue to touch people’s lives through dance.”

Winter Wenner Category: Performing Arts School: Lake-Lehman High School Town: Shavertown Parents: Babetta and

Wilbur Wenner Accomplishments: National Honor Society; Future Business Leaders of America vice president; Dallas Harvest Festival 1st place; John Long Talent Expo 1st place Activities: Student council; chorus; vocal lessons; school drama; community theater; swim team; performer at weddings and local luncheons Plans: Considering King’s College and Bloomsburg University to study business Quotable: “I don’t like to copy what everyone else does; I like to bring something new to the table.”

Ariel Weidler

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Category: Performing Arts School: E.L. Meyers High School Town: Wilkes-Barre Parents: Stacey and

Rich Weidler Accomplishments: National Honor Society; honor roll; letter winner in field hockey, swim and soccer; Key Club editor Activities: Irish step dancing; Key Club; student council; Future Business Leaders of America; field hockey; swim; soccer; pep club; dances at community events and volunteers with other local organizations Plans: Considering University of Pittsburgh and Temple University to study pharmacy Quotable: “Knowing that you must push yourself to do your very best has allowed me to do some things I never thought I could handle.”

SCIENCE AND ENVIRONMENT Sarah Brozena Category: Science & Environment School: Wyoming Valley West High School Parents: Linda and David Brozena

Town: Larksville Accomplishments: Academic Excellence Award; National Merit Scholarship Commendation; high honors with distinction; citizenship award; senior of the month; Luzerne County Envirothon 2nd place: Science Olympiad 5th place regional; letter winner and team co-captain in swimming and water polo; holds Hazleton High School pool record for 400 freestyle relay; National Spanish Exam honorable mention; numerous medals and awards in district and tournament swim competitions; National Honor Society; American Red Cross certified in first aid, lifeguarding, blood borne pathogens training, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, automated electronic defibrillator and water safety instructor Activities: Science Olympiad; Envirothon; Junior Engineering and Technical Society team; Medical Explorer; WVIA Scholastic Scrimmage; water polo; swimming; Key Club; concert band; peer tutor; volunteer for local fundraisers Plans: Attending Wilkes University to study pharmacy Quotable: “Talents are nice, but we must choose to make something of the gifts we are given and to try to do our best every day.”

Robert Brzozowski Category: Science & Environment School: Wyoming Area Secondary Center Parents: Maria Heffelfinger and Lenard Brzo-

zowski Town: Wyoming Accomplishments: National Honor Society; Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine; high honors; Shore Bowl 5th place, sportsmanship award and team captain; Envirothon 3rd place; Activities: Guitar; snowboarding; skateboarding; baseball; ski club; Shore Bowl; Envirothon; golf; assisted with elementary foreign language program and holiday programs for children in need Plans: Attending University of Scranton to pursue a career in medicine Quotable: “I want to make a difference in the lives of my patients like the doctors who helped my mom (after her accident) made a difference in hers.”

Alexandra Chapin

Chapin Town: Berwick

Category: Science & Environment School: Berwick Area Senior High School Parents: Susan Marie Hossler and Douglas Lee

Accomplishments: Distinguished honor roll; National Honor Society vice president; homecoming court; U.S. Achievement Academy national award winner; Women’s Civic Club student of the month; dual enrollment; student council president Activities: Student council; Interact club; Future Business Leaders of America; Students Against Destructive Decisions; school newspaper; yearbook; Key Club; Students Helping Out Willingly; band; track & field; field hockey; bowling; homecoming committee; Sno*ball committee; volunteer with numerous local fundraisers Plans: Attending Drexel University with aspirations of a career in genetics or research Quotable: “Spending time with another person to make them feel cared for and good about themselves is what is really important and meaningful.”

Lauren Culp Category: Science & Environment School: E.L. Meyers High School Parents: Gretchen and Scott Culp Town: Wilkes-Barre Accomplishments: Honor roll; National Honor Society; Marywood Honor Orchestra Activities: Chorus; orchestra; Key Club; ski club; volleyball; Students Against Destructive Decisions; Future Business Leaders of America; peer tutoring; volunteer with local charities Plans: Attending Wilkes University to pursue a career in cancer research Quotable: “My poppi is one of my main reasons why I want to find a cure for cancer — a wonderful man that could have been in my life was taken away from me because of it.”

Pierce Donovan Category: Science & Environment School: Dallas High School Parents: Mary and Brian Donovan Town: Shavertown Accomplishments: LifeSmarts 1st place national individual and 10th place national team, 1st and 3rd place state team level awards; honors with distinction; Wilkes University Math Contest 1st and 4th place; Computer Fair 1st place regional; letter winner in cross country; Certiport Internet and Computing Core certification; National Honor Society vice president; cycling club president Activities: Lifesmarts; cycling club; tutoring; Junior Engineering Technical Society team; participant in area math competitions; cross country; Future Business Leaders of America; key Club; tech helpers; Computer Fair participant; Education Excellence Fair participant; Knowledge Bowl; Economics Competition; volunteer with food pantry, library auction and other community events Plans: Considering Penn State University at University Park, Lehigh University and Rochester Institute of Technology Quotable: “One day, I want to work at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (Large Hadron Collider) in Switzerland and par-

ticipate in groundbreaking discoveries…that will redefine what we call the laws of nature.”

Brandon Dopira Category: Science & Environment School: Marian Catholic High School Parents: Bonnie and Daniel Dopira

Town: Summit Hill Accomplishments: National Honor Society treasurer; National Spanish Honor Society; American Chemical Society exam winner; Future Business Leaders of America 1st place awards Activities: Future Business Leaders of America; peer tutoring; Go Green club; Eucharistic minister; student ambassador; baseball; golf; volunteer with church, Relay for Life and Special Olympics Plans: Attending Villanova University to study chemical engineering Quotable: “When you truly want something, you will instinctively satisfy that desire by whatever means necessary.”

Rosyln Gannis Category: Science & Environment School: Crestwood High School Parents: Sue and George Gannis Town: Wapwallopen Accomplishments: Honor Roll; National Honor Society Activities: School play set design and stage crew; guitar lessons; yearbook; Venturing Crew 461; school newspaper; marching band; amateur radio; volunteer at state park and Relay for Life Plans: Attending West Virginia University Quotable: “I plan on becoming an interpretive park ranger for the National Park Service, and I hope to educate the public of the natural world around them wherever they go.”

Anthony Guariglia Category: Science & Environment School: Pittston Area High School Parents: Jane and Tony Guariglia

Town: Pittston Accomplishments: Honors with distinction; US Achievement Academy national winner; national Youth Leaders State Conference; People to People Student Ambassador; Summer Institute for the Gifted at Princeton University; Who’s Who Among Honor Students; Who’s Who Among All-American Scholars; National Honor Society; Junior Leadership Wilkes-Barre Activities: Peer tutoring; student council; International Cultural Experience Club; Brain Bee; volunteer with Stauffer Star project Plans: Considering University of Scranton, Cornell University, The University of Notre Dame and University of Pennsylvania to pursue a career in medicine Quotable: “The world needs more ‘walkers’ and less ‘talkers.’


Anna Mae Olivo

Hillary Harris Category: Science & Environment School: E.L. Meyers High School Parents: Mary Louise and Richard Harris Town: Wilkes-Barre Accomplishments: Highest Honors; Who’s Who Among Outstanding High School Students; Who’s Who Among Outstanding Honor Students; Warren Challis Distinguished Mentor Award; Youth Salute; Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership; National Honor Society; All-State Academic Field hockey Team; UNICO cheerleader and school cheerleading captain; student council president; Junior Leadership Wilkes-Barre; Junior City Council member Activities: Field hockey; cheerleading; tennis; speech & debate; student council; Key Club; Future Business Leaders of America; Student Against Destructive Decisions; Scholastic Scrimmage; French club; ski club Plans: Attending Wilkes University to study pharmacy Quotable: “Even if something isn’t going right in your life, there are many other things to be thankful for.”

Christine Knooren Category: Science & Environment School: E.L. Meyers High School Parents: Jody and Steve Knooren Town: Wilkes-Barre Accomplishments: National Honor Society; National Spanish Honor Society; Future Business Leaders of America 2nd place regional and 5th place state; All-Scholastic Basketball honorable mention; All Scholastic Field Hockey and Soccer; captain of field hockey, soccer and basketball teams Activities: Field hockey; soccer; basketball; Scholastic Scrimmage; Future Business Leaders of America; Key Club; psychology club; Students Against Destructive Decisions; pep club; chorus; Spanish club; peer tutoring Plans: Attending University of Pennsylvania to become a surgeon Quotable: “Go your own way and lead your own life, even if it’s different than what everyone else is doing.”

Bridget Louise Lynn Category: Science & Environment School: Berwick Area Senior High School Parents: Debbie and Jeffrey Lynn

Bobbielynn Richardson Category: Science & Environment School: G.A.R. Memorial High School Parents: Carolyn and Robert Richardson Town: Wilkes-Barre Accomplishments: National Honor Society chairman; highest honors; US. Achievement Academy recognition; Future Career and Community Leaders of America president Activities: Wilkes University Upward Bound; Future Career and Community Leaders of America; poetry club; Envirothon; school newspaper; Brain Bee; tutoring; volunteer fundraiser for several local organizations Plans: Attending Elizabethtown College to major in biology Quotable: “I’ve also joined a paranormal investigation group and that has so many opportunities to see places and learn about things I don’t understand.”

Elyse Rinehimer Category: Science & Environment School: Berwick Area Senior High School Parents: Mollie and Randall Rinehimer

Town: Berwick Accomplishments: American Concrete Institution field technician certification; PennDOT field technician certification; National Honor Society; distinguished honor roll; Women’s Civic Club student of the month; letter winner in track & field Activities: Key Club; Interact club; Future Business Leaders of America; piano lessons; dual enrollment; advanced research in medicine; field hockey; Odyssey of the Mind; church volunteer Plans: Attending Wilkes University for pre-dental studies Quotable: “I do not believe possessions mean that much of anything unless they are worked for.”

Claire Saunders Category: Science & Environment School: Greater Nanticoke Area High School Parents: Susan and Keith Saunders

Town: Nanticoke Accomplishments: Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science 1st place regional and 1st and 2nd place state; Science Olympiad 3rd & 4th place regional and 4th place states; Wilkes Engineering Competition 1st place team member; Pennsylvania High School Computer Fair multiple 1st place winner; National Honor Society; honor roll; WVIA Artist of the Week; Pennsylvania Music Educators Association district and regional band and district orchestra; founding member and captain of women’s robotics club Activities: Robotics; Junior Engineering Technical Society team; marching, concert and jazz bands; Luzerne County Band; chorus; volunteer music director at church; altar server; camp counselor Plans: Attending Duquesne University to become a theoretical or particle physicist Quotable: “By taking harder classes in school or playing more difficult pieces on clarinet or piano, I am making myself better than I was the day before.”

Alison Schuetz Category: Science & Environment School: Hazleton Area High School Parents: Lisa and Roy Schuetz Town: Hazle Township Accomplishments: National Honor Society; 3-time letter winner and team captain in softball and basketball; All-League honorable mention in basketball Activities: Softball; basketball; executive council; church youth group; foreign language organization; ecology club; Future Business Leaders of America; science club; Girl Scouts of America; volunteer camp worker Plans: Considering Drexel University, Fordham University, University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University Quotable: On her work with the Washington D.C. Latin American Youth Center Little Stars Summer Camp: “Working with these kids made me realize how good I have it and how important it is to give to my community for another’s sake as well as my own.”

Samantha Scott Category: Science & Environment School: Wyoming Area Secondary Center Parents: Patricia and Randy Scott

Town: Falls Accomplishments: Bausch & Lomb Honorary Science Award; Health Career Exploration Student; Junior Leadership WilkesBarre; Youth Salute; Daughters of the American Revolution Good Citizen Award;

National Merit Commended Scholar; high honor roll; Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency Certificate of Merit; National Honor Society; Kiwanis student of the month; Regional Brain Bee 1st, 2nd and 4th place awards; United States Brain Bee 10th place in nation; Science Olympiad regional 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th place and state 5th place; Luzerne County Envirothon 2nd and 4th place; WVIA TV Scholastic Scrimmage 2-time first place in county and overall team championship winner; Pennsylvania Academic Competition 7th and 11th place awards; Bloomsburg University Science Iditarod 1st and 4th place awards; National History Bowl regional competition captain of 1st place team Activities: Brain Bee; Junior Engineering Technical Society team; Kane Physics team; Pennsylvania Academic Competition team captain; Science Olympiad; Envirothon; Key Club; student council; history club; volunteer at church, local elementary schools, state park and Kiwanis Plans: Attending the University of Scranton to major in biochemistry, cell and molecular biology Quotable: “I really would want to pursue research on treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, because it is something I have seen the effects of first hand in my grandmother.”

Stephen Jude Senick Category: Science & Environment School: Hazleton Area High School Parents: Christine and Robert Senick

Town: Hazleton Accomplishments: National Honor Society; Pennsylvania State Police Camp Cadet program certificate; National Merit Scholar Competition semifinalist; letter winner in cross country; Future Business Leaders of America 5th place state competition; Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science 1st place state competition; 4-time perfect attendance award winner; Hugh O’Brian youth Leadership Alumni Activities: Cross country; track & field; student council; executive council; Future Business Leaders of America; Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science; ski club; Sorrento Gardens student board; Ca-Do community student board; foreign language organization; mock trial; peer tutoring; volunteer with Hazleton Little League--Challenger Division Plans: Attending Penn State University at University Park Quotable: “I hope to obtain a degree in security risk analysis and then enter a career in the federal government that deals with cyber security.”

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Town: Nescopeck Accomplishments: National Honor Society; Future Business Leaders of America state qualifier; field hockey team captain Activities: Interact club; student council; field hockey; Future Business Leaders of America; swim team; ski club; volunteer with Life Skills students and blood drives Plans: Attending Bloomsburg University to become a chemistry teacher Quotable: “Everyone needs to step back, decide what is important to them, and follow their dreams.”

Category: Science & Environment School: Northwest Area High School Parents: Pat Smith Town: Benton Accomplishments: American Legion State Police Youth Week marksmanship award; Robert E. Cook Honors College; summer honors program in forensics; student of the month; Waynesburg University Mock Crime Scene participant Activities: Student council; Students Against Destructive Decisions/Teens Against Tobacco Use; softball; culinary classes; prom committee; school newspaper; tutoring; Children and Youth Advisory Board and Independent Living Program; volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, church, senior citizen events, fire company and summer camp Plans: Attending King’s College to pursue a career in forensic anthropology Quotable: “Even though you make a mistake you’re going to learn from it and become wiser.”

SPECIAL SECTION, SUNDAY, MAY 15, 2011

Best & Brightest 2011


SPECIAL SECTION, SUNDAY, MAY 15, 2011

Best & Brightest 2011 Jacob Slusser Category: Science & Environment School: MMI Preparatory School Parents: Kimberly and Thomas Slusser Town: Hazle Township Accomplishments: National Honor Society; Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science regional 2nd place; honor roll; president’s list; National Science Honor Society; National Spanish Honor Society; National Spanish Exam honorable mention; Future Business Leaders of America 1st and 3rd place in regional competition; National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine: People to People Leadership Summit Activities: Future Business Leaders of America; Science Iditarod; hunting; ski club; health careers club; mock trial; mathematics competitions; cooking club; golf; student council; Hazleteens; Junior Leadership Hazleton Plans: Attending University of Pennsylvania to study biochemistry and economics Quotable: “I will continue to question every matter at hand, realizing that there is always something more to be discovered.”

Carly Sokach Category: Science & Environment School: Wyoming Seminary Parents: Jeriann and Stephen Sokach Town: West Pittston Accomplishments: Bausch & Lomb Honorary Science Award; Cum Laude Society; Philip B. Parsons Memorial Scholarship; Tracey Leigh Vandermark Scholarship Award; Alumni Service Award; Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Ambassador; Edwin J. Roberts Memorial Prize; field hockey Academic All-American and AllState; Le Grand Concours 1st place regional, 8th place nationally. National Latin Examination gold and silver medal; Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency certificate of merit; field hockey letter winner; outstanding team leadership award in softball; All-America Scholar Athlete in softball; Junior Leadership Wilkes-Barre Activities: Medical club; field hockey; church religious teacher, altar server and youth group member; peer tutoring; Blue Key; softball; peer group; school newspaper; student activities committee; mock trial; fundraiser for Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America Plans: Attending University of Pennsylvania to study biology and play field hockey Quotable: “My parents instilled the value of hard work into me and I am proud to say that it has carried over to every aspect of my life.”

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Letitia Warunek Category: Science & Environment School: Pittston Area High School Parents: Patricia and Joseph

Town: Yatesville Accomplishments: American Chemical Society runner-up; Johns Hopkins Program for Talented Youth; National Honor Society; lettered in swimming, team captain and competed at districts; lettered in tennis, team captain and attended districts Activities: Irish step dancing; Science Olympiad; Envirothon; tennis; swim team; Brain Bee; Greenhouse Project; International Cultural Experience Club; piano; tutoring; volunteer with church and free pediatric clinic Plans: Attending Wilkes University to study pharmacy and Spanish Quotable: “You will not get anywhere if you do not believe.”

SERVICE TO COMMUNITY Brittany Adams Category: Service to the Community School: Lake-Lehman High School Parents: Michelle and Thomas Adams Town: Harvey’s Lake Accomplishments: People to People Ambassador; National Honor Society; Who’s Who Among Outstanding Students Activities: Dancing; lacrosse; guitar lessons; theater; field hockey; Key Club; volunteer work with local fire company, Toys for Tots, SPCA, UNICEF and Dallas Baptist Church Plans: Considering Drexel University, University of Scranton and Penn State University to major in communications Quotable: “I plan to go to school for communications to help our country and others become more understanding of one another.”

Richard Devin Alder Category: Service to the Community School: Wyoming Area Parents: Cindy and Kip Alder Town: Harding Accomplishments: Boy Scouts of America Order of the Arrow and Eagle Scout; National Honor Society; Future Business Leaders of America award in computer problem solving Activities: Boy Scouts of America; People to People Ambassador; Future Business Leaders of America; chess club Plans: Brigham Young University to study chemical engineering Quotable: “I have always been taught to serve others by my parents and church leaders…but I usually do it in small ways.”

Kayla M. Braskie Category: Service to the Community School: Hazleton Area Parents: Kimberly A. Braskie and the late Joseph M. Calovi Town: Hazle Township Accomplishments: National Honor Society; Highest Honor Roll; New Jersey Appaloosa

Horse Shows 2010 High Points Horse and Rider; Schuylkill County Grand Champion jumper 2009; U.S. National Merit Award; American Music Abroad Activities: Competitive equestrian; therapeutic riding volunteer; church choir; soccer; chamber choir; chorus; dog trainer Plans: Attending Delaware Valley College to study small animal science and equine studies Quotable: “If you take the time to get to know people who you may see as ‘different; or ‘special,’ you will open a whole new world of understanding.”

Lindsay Brown Category: Service to the Community School: Crestwood High School Parents: Donna and David Brown Town: Mountaintop Accomplishments: Principal’s Honors; National Honor Society; Spanish National Honor Society; Young Scholars; Harold Baker Education Award; swim team captain; U.S. Field Hockey Futures Elite team; senior class president Activities: Field hockey; Key Club; Spanish Club; swimming; track; softball; church youth group; volunteer for Adopt a Highway, Vision Homeless Shelter, Kiwanis, St. Vincent de Paul’s Soup Kitchen, youth field hockey camp Plans: Attending Slippery Rock University with continued education at Lake Erie College of Medicine and Pharmacy to study pharmacy Quotable: “People should be themselves, not who they think other people want them to be.”

Brittany Bubblo Category: Service to the Community School: Wyoming Area Parents: Irene and Joseph Bubblo Town: West Wyoming Accomplishments: Pennsylvania Music Educators District Band; Luzerne County Band; Girl Scouts of America Bronze Award; Special Olympics Unified Partner of the Year; National Honor Society Activities: Marching band; concert band; Girl Scouts of America; church activities; Special Olympics volunteer Plans: Attending Luzerne County Community College with plans to transfer to a fouryear school, majoring in physics Quotable: “I chose Service to the Community as my category because what I have done with Special Olympics has inspired me in my life and I’ll never forget the smiles made.”

Cara Capozucca Category: Service to the Community School: Pittston Area Parents: Lori and Allan Capozucca Town: Pittston Accomplishments: National Honor Society president; Who’s Who Among America’s High School Students;

People to People Ambassador; field hockey team captain and winner of team spirit, most improved player and all-around senior awards Activities: Key Club; Stand Tall; telecommunications club; field hockey; science Envirothon; international cultural experience club; volunteer work for Kaiden’s Cause, cemetery clean-up, Toys for Tots, Don’t Text and Drive and the soup kitchen Plans: Attending King’s College to become an athletic trainer Quotable: “Never give up on yourself and always believe you can accomplish your dreams.”

Amanda Casem Category: Service to the Community School: Crestwood High School Parents: Elaine and Charles Casem Town: Mountain Top Accomplishments: Outstanding Student of the Quarter; National Honor Society; Principal’s Honors; Harold Baker Award; dual enrollment; National Spanish Honor Society Activities: Softball; church youth group; Medical Explorer; cross country; science Olympiad; academic competitions; volunteer with church, softball, Valley Santa, Kirby Library: Relay for Life; Big Brothers/ Big Sisters and assisting a neighbor Plans: Attending Misericordia University to become a certified occupational therapist Quotable: “By helping injured or disabled people become more independent, I would be making a difference in people’s lives.”

Christopher Clemson Category: Service to the Community School: Dallas High School Parents: Trudy and Paul Clemson

Town: Dallas Accomplishments: National Honor Society; National Society of High School Scholars; advanced placement chemistry, English and calculus; Honors with Distinction; Who’s Who Honor Student; student government vice president; Future Business Leaders of America state competitor; American Kenpo Karate black belt; Microsoft IC3 certification Activities: Junior Leadership of WilkesBarre; Key Club; student council; MiniTHON; National Council on Youth Leadership; mock trial; economics club; Future Business Leaders of America; volleyball; guitar; piano; saxophone; ski club; volunteer with Hoops for Hope, Luzerne County Fair, church, library, school food, book, toy and blood drives Plans: Considering University of Pittsburgh, University of Pennsylvania, Harvard University, Lehigh University and Boston University. Quotable: “Life’s a ferris wheel. You’ll go up, you’ll go down. But when you reach the top, you’ll know it. You’ll look around and appreciate the view. And when you get off, it’s that view you’ll remember.”


Alesha Falzone Category: Service to the Community School: E.L. Meyers High School Parents: Angela and Richard Falzone Town: Wilkes-Barre Accomplishments: National Honor Society; Youth Salute; Highest Honors; four-time letter winner in field hockey; letter winner in basketball; Key Club president Activities: Student Council; Key Club; Future Business Leaders of America; field hockey; Students Against Drunk Driving; chorus; church choir; psychology club; ski club; pep club; volunteer for John Heinz Rehabilitation Center, Candy’s Place and Volunteers in Medicine Plans: Attending Temple University to study pharmacy Quotable: “You don’t have to be a big-time person to accomplish something big.”

Audrey Graham Category: Service to the Community School: Weatherly Area High School Parents: Donnell Stump and Dennis Graham

Town: Weatherly Accomplishments: National Honor Society; Weatherly Area PTA Reflections Contest winner; Regional Computer Science Fair third place; Carbon County Chorus; Highest Average German II and III; Fernwood Music Camp scholarship; summer cheerleading camp awards; drama club vice president; Interact Club president; class historian; Weatherly Area School Board of Directors student member; dancing Activities: Drama club; Interact club; Teens Against Tobacco; school musicals and variety shows; cheerleading; chorus; Science Olympiad; marching band; concert band; jazz band; student government; prom committee; Girl Scouts of America; volunteer with church, tobacco compliance checks, school Parent Teachers Association; Greater Hazleton Philharmonic Plans: Considering Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, State University of New York - Environmental Science and Forestry, Susquehanna University and Unity College in Maine Quotable: “To me, giving my time to help someone else is just part of who I am.”

Kyla Hennigan

Brian Henning Category: Service to the Community School: Crestwood High School Parents: Kathy and Richard Henning Town: White Haven Accomplishments: Boy Scouts of America Eagle Scout, Order of the Arrow and Great Medicine Staff ; National Honor Society; marching band section leader Activities: Boy Scouts of America; youth group; marching band; symphonic band; jazz band; play pit orchestra; church school teacher; volunteer with church, White Haven Community Lunch, VISION, Adopt a Highway and White Haven Halloween Safe House Plans: Attending University of Oklahoma Quotable: “I plan to chase and research severe weather systems.”

Linnae Homza Category: Service to the Community School: Wyoming Area Parents: Donna and Steve Homza Town: Exeter Accomplishments: Future Business Leaders of America first, second and third place regional competition and state level semi-finalist; Distinguished Pennsylvania Key Club vice-president; Key Club president; National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine; Student of the Month; Key Club Member of the Month; National Honor Society; Pittston Tomato Festival Queen Finalist Activities: Key Club; Future Business Leaders of America; Social Awareness Values Encouraged club; Students Against Drunk Driving and Teens Against Smoking; student council; volunteer with church, Relay for Life, Little League, Salvation Army, Wyoming Area Kiwanis, American Red Cross, Dr. Seuss Night, food pantry, WVIA membership drives and other local charities Plans: Considering University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, Duquesne University, Drexel University, Niagara University, Fordham University and the University of Scranton to pursue a career in medicine Quotable: “The reward that is most pleasing to me is the one I feel in my heart when I obtain a smile from someone I assisted.”

Joshua Emerson Kiddish Category: Service to the Community School: MMI Preparatory School Parents: Bonnie and

Anthony Kiddish Town: White Haven Accomplishments: Big Catch Citation Youth Award in large mouth bass fishing; National Spanish Exam honorable mention; Presidential Physical Fitness award recipient; National Honor Society; National Spanish Honor Society; National Science Honor Society; health career club president Activities: Emergency medical technician; lifeguard; student shadow in local emergency room; church acolyte; Lehigh Valley Hospital Healthcare Career Discovery Program Plans: Considering Villanova University to study biochemistry in the pre-medicine professional track Quotable: “My career goal is to become a successful allopathic physician and practice pediatric emergency medicine in an urban setting.”

Ronald Klepadlo Category: Service to the Community School: Wyoming Area Parents: Juel Anne and Ron Klepadlo Town: West Pittston Accomplishments: National Honor Society treasurer; High Honor Roll: Junior Leadership Wilkes-Barre; Bishop’s Youth Service award; Youth Salute; Spanish 2 highest average; Key Club distinguished treasurer and three-time member of the month; Future Business Leaders of America second, third and fifth place awards at regional competition and state leadership conference qualifier; senior class treasurer Activities: Key Club; Future Business Leaders of America; Spanish club; baseball; golf team; church youth group; Social Awareness Values Encouraged club; history club; math club; Brain Bee; volunteer with 3v3 basketball tournament, Wyoming Area Foreign Language Academy, church, Ryan’s Run, Feed-a-Friend, Salvation Army, Caitlin’s Smiles, youth triathlon, Toys for Tots and other local charities Plans: Considering Boston College, Villanova University, Arcadia University and St. Joseph’s University to become a Spanish teacher Quotable: “I witnessed and learned about volunteerism from my family. My family has always stressed the importance of giving to others.”

Zachary Kosak Category: Service to the Community School: Tunkhannock Area High School Parents: Lynne and Neil Kosak Town: Harveys Lake Accomplishments: Boy Scouts of America Eagle Scout an assistant patrol leader; National Honor Society; Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Seminar and youth leadership

volunteer of the year; Emergency Medical Technician and lead state grant writer for Franklin-Northmoreland Ambulance; Mock Trial best advocate; Science Olympiad second place; student representative to school board Activities: Volunteer emergency medical technician and director of ambulance association; volunteer firefighter and safety officer; steering committee; class secretary; school play stage crew; mock trial; Science Olympiad Plans: Attending King’s College to major in pre-physician assistant studies Quotable: “It is everyone’s responsibility to make their community better, and I strive to do that each and every day.”

Brittany Elizabeth Kulesza Category: Service to the Community School: James M. Coughlin High School Parents: Beverly and Joseph Kulesza Town: Plains Township Accomplishments: People to People Ambassador; Catholic Community of Plains Presidential Award; highest honors; National Honor Society; two-time letter winner in soccer Activities: Church youth group; soccer; French club; math club; volunteer with church and church youth group, SPCA, WVIA and numerous local fundraisers Plans: Attending University of Pittsburg to major in Japanese and minor in Korean, with the goal of becoming an English teacher in Japan Quotable: “Yes, recognition for my volunteer work would be nice. However, I know that I have done things to significantly impact the lives of others. Honestly, that’s what matters.”

Ashley Legg Category: Service to the Community School: Crestwood High School Parents: Kristen and Joseph Legg Town: Mountain Top Accomplishments: National Honor Society; Spanish National Honor Society; Principal’s List; Harold Baker Award; High Honor Roll; Student Government vice president; Key Club president; tennis team co-captain Activities: Student government; Key Club; tennis; Spanish club; ski club; prom committee; volunteer with Big Brothers/ Big Sisters, peer teachers, Junior Achievement, Relay for Life, winter clothing drive, prom dress drive, church and soup kitchen Plans: Considering St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, Wilkes-University, Villanova University, University of Pittsburgh, University of Miami and Boston College to pursue a career as a surgeon at a teaching hospital Quotable: “I am a teacher at heart and sharing what I know with others is one of the most meaningful parts of my life.”

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Category: Service to the Community School: Northwest Area High School Parents: Leslie and Richard Hennigan Town: Shickshinny Accomplishments: Class secretary; National Honor Society; Honors with Distinction; cross country team captain and all-star honorable mention; basketball runner up in conference championship, letter winner and first-team conference all-star; track and field District 2 Class AA meet 4th and 6th place; five-time high scorer for Wyoming Valley Soccer Club; Suzanne Maria Rosetti Exhibit 2nd place Activities: Track and field; karate; prom chairperson; Youth in Philanthropy; New Student Mentor; student council; cross country; basketball; track and field; soccer;

guitar; piano; saxophone; lifeguard and swim instructor; volunteer with Camp Ophelia, Shickshinny Food Bank; Janet Weis Childrens’ Center; Ronald McDonald House; church, youth soccer coach; Junior Olympics; 6th grade orientation; and youth basketball Plans: Considering Villanova University, University of Scranton, Georgetown University, University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University to become a registered nurse working in pediatric oncology or anesthesiology Quotable: “Good things can come from hardships that you have overcome…you can learn from any experience whether it be good or bad.”

SPECIAL SECTION, SUNDAY, MAY 15, 2011

Best & Brightest 2011


SPECIAL SECTION, SUNDAY, MAY 15, 2011

Best & Brightest 2011 Troy Lynn Lewis Category: Service to the Community School: E.L. Meyers High School Parents: Jill and Troy Lewis Town: Wilkes-Barre Accomplishments: Highest Honors; Raymond G. Joseph Scholar Leader Award; National Honor Society; National Spanish Honor Society; Wyoming Valley Conference all-star in basketball; team captain and letter winner in basketball and track; Mohawk Basketball Holiday Tournament champion and all-tournament team; Pennsylvania Interscholastic District II AA Girls’ Basketball second place; homecoming queen; Miss UNICO first runner up; class treasurer Activities: Key Club; Junior Leadership Wilkes-Barre; Future Business Leaders of America; Students Against Destructive Decisions; student council; track and field; basketball; chorus; intramural soccer player and referee Plans: Attending Wilkes University to major in pre-pharmacy Quotable: “Everyone has their own unique personality that should reflect who they are, what they do and what they believe.”

Arielle Malatesta Category: Service to the Community School: Berwick Area Senior High School Parents: Kathy Bobersky and David Malatesta

Town: Berwick Accomplishments: Distinguished Honor Roll; National Honor Society; Interact club volunteer award and vice president; school paper editor in chief Activities: Interact; Horizons; student council; Students Against Drunk Driving; Youth in Philanthropy; youth ministry; track and field; golf; senior video; peer tutoring; volunteer with dance-a-thon, blood drives, Relay for Life, Red Ribbon Week, run for the Cause, Rotary Donut Days and shopping trip and church Plans: Considering Drexel University or Susquehanna University to study psychology before continuing to medical school Quotable: “Those who take risks may be opened up to a whole new life for themselves.”

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Rebecca McCallick Category: Service to the Community School: Crestwood High School Parents: Judy Pribula and William McCallick Town: Wapwallopen Accomplishments: Young Scholars; National Honor Society; Spanish National Honor Society; Honor Roll; Crestwood High School Academic Award; Harold Baker Award for Academic Excellence; literary magazine editor Activities: Church youth group and advisory board; school literary magazine; Misericordia University Occupational Therapy camp; chorus; jazz band; track; tennis; volunteer

with church youth group, VISION, Salvation Army, Valley Santa, Habitat for Humanity, Relay for Life Plans: Attending Elizabethtown College to study occupational therapy and minor in education Quotable: “I want to look back on my life and realize that everything was beautiful and I never stopped chasing my dreams.”

Morgan Elise McGrane Category: Service to the Community School: Wyoming Valley West High School Parents: Cheri and Mark McGrane

Town: Luzerne Accomplishments: Jingle Bell Run for the Arthritis Foundation Hero; Citizenship Award; Miss UNICO pageant winner; National Honor Society; Local Rotary essay contest first place; Homecoming queen first runner up; cheer captain; Future Business Leaders of America regional vice president and third place winner; school Future Business Leaders of America historian; United Cheerleading Association Leadership Award; Mathletics captain; Youth Salute qualifier Activities: Cheer team; high school musicals; piano, dance and voice lessons; orchestra; Future Business Leaders of America; Mathletics; soccer; church choir; ski club; student council; humane society club; chorus; track; volunteer with Arthritis Foundation, charity dress drive, benefit concerts, dance school events, Locks for Love, Candy’s Place walks and Scranton Historical Society Plans: Attending Temple University to major in kinesiology Quotable: “I love meeting new people and hearing what they have to say.”

Joshua McLucas Category: Service to the Community School: Wyoming Seminary Parents: Linda and Gregory McLucas Town: Chambersburg Accomplishments: Lenfest Scholarship; Levi Sprague Fellowship; Alumni Service Award; Cum Laude Society; AP Scholar with Excellence; National Merit Scholarship Commended Student Activities: Relay for Life; Environmental Awareness; Wyoming Seminary Players and Madrigal Singers; resident assistant; orientation committee; cross country; science research group; student government; disciplinary board Plans: Attending Swarthmore College Quotable: “We are neither completely good nor bad; we merely have the potential for both.”

Johnna Miller Category: Service to the Community School: Berwick Area Senior High School Parents: Lisa and Todd Miller Town: Wapwallopen Accomplishments: Rifle team captain, letter

winner, all-star, top shooter and numerous other awards; Conroy Leadership award; Luzerne County Community College President’s List; lettered in track and field and academics; school paper editor in chief Activities: Rifle team; Students Against Destructive Decisions; Students Helping Out Willingly; track and field; prom project; American Red Cross; Interact; library aide; biology teacher assistant; physical therapist job shadow; Relay for Life Plans: Attending Misericordia University to study physical therapy and health care management Quotable: “Through physical therapy, I will have the opportunity to help a baseball pitcher pitch again, or help a woman walk once more.”

Sarah Natalie Miller Category: Service to the Community School: Wyoming Valley West High School Parents: Barbara and David Miller

Town: Forty Fort Accomplishments: Varsity letter in tennis; St. Martha award; Sister of Servant Leadership award; national Society of High School Scholars; Spartan Star; Misericordia University Diversity Institute award; High Honors; Executive Student Program award; National Society of High School Scholars Activities: Volleyball; tennis; Future Business Leaders of America; Key Club; French club; stage crew; concert choir; breakfast with Santa; church acolyte, cantor and youth group president; religious education teacher; emergency response club; volunteer at church, soup kitchen, Bible camp, Race for the Cure, Alzheimer’s Walk, school store and senior tea Plans: Attending Elizabethtown College to major in elementary education and business Quotable: “My goal in life is to help people learn about anything that inspires them to keep moving forward and keeps them out of trouble.”

Paige Pientka Category: Service to the Community School: Greater Nanticoke Area High School Parents: Pamela and Chester Pientka

Town: Nanticoke Accomplishments: National Honor Society president; Who’s Who Among American High School Students; three-time letter winner and team captain in volleyball and soccer; letter winner and basketball team captain; homecoming court; class vice president Activities: Volleyball; soccer; basketball; dual enrollment; Science Olympiad; school newspaper; French club; Interact club; volunteer at youth soccer and basketball camps, summer youth camp, Biztown, blood drive, elementary school field day, junior high basketball manager Plans: Considering University of Pittsburgh, Penn State University, University of the Sciences and Wilkes University to pursue a career in pharmacy Quotable: “At a young age I became involved in helping out my community by

witnessing my mother volunteering her time at youth soccer…this instilled in me the passion to lend a helping hand.”

Heather Pieszala Category: Service to the Community School: Wyoming Valley West High School Parents: Karen and John Pieszala

Town: Larksville Accomplishments: Certificate of Academic Excellence; Citizenship award; National Daughters of the American Revolution Good Citizen award; Honors with Distinction; National Honor Society; Student of the Month; Youth Salute; Rotary Community Essay Contest finalist; History Day regional competition 2nd place; Future Business Leaders of America 2nd place regional competition; Times Leader Player to Watch -- volleyball; letter winner and team captain in volleyball, track and field and winter track; numerous awards for volleyball and basketball; Junior Leadership Wilkes-Barre Activities: Environmental club co-founder; volleyball; track; winter track; Entrepreneurial Development Team; Envirothon; WVIA Interscholastic competition; Future Business Leaders of America; journalism; math club; Science Olympiad; Mathletics; ski club; basketball; chorus; volunteer with Big Brothers/Big Sisters, environmental awareness activities, Humane Society and numerous community fundraisers Plans: Considering Pennsylvania State University, Brown University, Drexel University, Northeastern University and Carnegie Mellon University to study environmental engineering, with an ultimate goal of becoming a lawyer specializing in environmental engineering Quotable: “Over the next few years, I plan on expanding my ’comfort zone’ in order to improve society and to get the most out of life.”

Sara Pisak Category: Service to the Community School: Marian Catholic High School Parents: Regina and John Pisak

Town: Sugarloaf Accomplishments: Published author and poet; Development Service award; Immanuel Christian memorial Day essay contest winner; Lackawanna College Essay contest winner; Jim Thorpe Bank essay contest winner; Michael Casino scholarship winner; National French Honor Society vice president; National Honor Society; Who’s Who Among American High School Students; United States Achievement Academy Activities: Student ambassador; film club; arts and crafts; sign language; Pysanky; volunteer with John Heinz Rehabilitation Center, causes to support cancer victims, church and school district activities; altar server Plans: Considering Pennsylvania State University Hazleton Campus and Wilkes University to graduate with a doctorate in physical therapy and a bachelor’s degree in English/creative writing Quotable: “Courage and strength is simply trying again even after you fail. To be strong does not mean never being afraid, but it does mean that you face your fears with dignity and respect.”


Kimberly Price Category: Service to the Community School: Crestwood High School Parents: Janet and Leonard Price Town: Mountain Top Accomplishments: National Honor Society; Spanish National Honor Society; Academic letterman award; Young Scholars Program; Science Olympiad regional 2nd and 4th place; homecoming queen Activities: Ballet, tap and jazz dancing; student government; tennis; drama; chorus; Explorers; math club; Spanish club; Key club; basketball; Miss UNICO pageant; volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, Relay for Life, church youth group, soup kitchen and fundraisers for local organizations Plans: Considering University of Scranton, King’s College and Elmira College to pursue a career in medicine Quotable: “In many of my experiences, accomplishing something great is the result of having an excellent and optimistic attitude.”

Victoria Rendina Category: Service to the Community School: Holy Redeemer High School Parents: Sandra and Alex Rendina

Town: Larksville Accomplishments: Girl Scouts of America Gold, Silver, Bronze and Religious Recognition Awards; President’s Volunteer Service Award; National Honor Society; High Honors; Highest average in Algebra 2, Latin 3, theology 3 and biology 2; National Latin Exam; National French Exam; Young Scholars Activities: Girl Scouts of America; ballet; Performing Arts Institute of Wyoming Seminary; altar server and song leader; French club; chess club; dance team; volunteer through Girl Scouts, church, Plymouth Historical Society, Plymouth Rotary Club, Valley Santa and 4 Paws Rescue Plans: Considering Marywood University, Wilkes University, King’s College and University of Scranton to study English and become a journalist Quotable: “I hope to become a Girl Scout leader. I know how important community service has been in forming who I am today, so becoming a leader would help me inspire younger girls to pursue what is good for themselves and the community.”

Dominic Rinaldi

Town: Inkerman Accomplishments: Who’s Who Among American High School Honor Students;

Brittney Rosencrans Category: Service to the Community School: Lake-Lehman High School Parents: Diane Rogow-

ski Town: Hunlock Creek Accomplishments: National Honor Society; Students Against Destructive Decisions treasurer; Meadows Nursing Home Certificate of Appreciation; homeroom representative Activities: Students Against Destructive Decisions; volunteer fundraiser for family in need, the American Red Cross and the Meadows Nursing Home Plans: Considering Misericordia University and Wilkes University to become a pediatric nurse Quotable: “I find that time spent helping those less fortunate is time well spent.”

Erin Ryan Category: Service to the Community School: Holy Redeemer High School Parents: Susan and Joseph Ryan Town: Dallas Accomplishments: Generation to Generation Youth Community Service Award; PIAA District II medalist in swimming; National Honor Society; High Honors; Wilkes-Barre Triathlon women’s relay 1st place; swim team captain; Junior Leadership Wilkes-Barre Activities: Swim team; French Club; Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership; National Student Athlete Leadership Conference; Foundation for Teaching Economics for Leaders Conference; Pro-life committee; volunteer for pancreatic cancer, local legislator, church, Mercy Center Nursing Home, Generation to Generation Plans: Considering Pennsylvania State University or University of Maryland College for Scholars to major in English and pre-law Quotable: “Service is the axis around which my life rotates, and I have truly found myself in it.”

Brianna Schraeder Category: Service to the Community School: Wyoming Valley West High School Parents: Kelly Diltz Town: Edwardsville Accomplishments: Prudential Spirit of Community Award; Citizens’ Voice Everyday Hero; National Honor Society; Senior of the Month; Academic Honor Roll; Edwardsville Borough Junior Council Activities: Student Council; cheerleaders; church deacon; volunteer for school clothing drive, Valley Santa, church youth fellowship, Habitat for Humanity Plans: Attending Penn State University at University Park to pursue a career as a middle school math teacher Quotable: “Whether you are being acknowledged by others or not, doing something to help another is always the best thing to do.”

Rachel Katherine Smith Category: Service to the Community School: Hanover Area Junior Senior High School Parents: Susan and Charles Smith Town: Hanover Township Accomplishments: High Honor Roll; National Honor Society; Health Care Hero Award; American Math Scholars; student council president; field hockey team captain Activities: Student Council; Adopt-a Grandparent; field hockey; dual enrollment; leadership camp; chorus; math tutor; youth group; vacation Bible school teacher; Sportsman’s Club; drama club; volunteer for veterans’ programs, soup kitchen, Adopt a Highway; clothing drives, and numerous fundraisers Plans: Considering Lebanon Valley College or Misericordia University to pursue a doctorate degree in physical therapy Quotable: “Without confidence and ambition, dreams cannot be attained.”

Courtney Sult Category: Service to the Community School: Lake Lehman High School Parents: Zina and Bernard Sult

Town: Dallas Accomplishments: Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Seminar; coordinator of 1st Annual Northeast PA Walk for Children with Apraxia; National Honor Society; Presidents Volunteer Service Award; Future Business Leaders of America 1st place in regional competition; published poet; Key Club president Activities: Key Club; Future Business

Leaders of America; student council; prom committee; volunteer for fundraisers, Day of Caring, church activities, American Red Cross, United Way and other organizations Plans: Considering Bloomsburg University, East Stroudsburg University and Misericordia University to pursue a career in speech language pathology and certification in education and American Sign Language Quotable: “When I graduate, I won’t be raving about the football games, the fun assemblies or even prom, but my face will light up when I mention the highlight of not only my senior year but my entire high school career -- community service.”

Ashley Vargas Category: Service to the Community School: Crestwood High School Parents: Nancy Santiago and Jackson Vargas Town: Mountain Top Accomplishments: Young Scholars; National Spanish Honor Society; Crestwood soccer most valuable player; Honor Roll; Junior Leadership Wilkes-Barre; class secretary Activities: Spanish club; school musicals; prom committee; Junior Achievement; drama club; peer teaching; yearbook committee; youth group; tennis; soccer; volunteer with Big Brothers/Big Sisters and school fundraisers Plans: Attending Penn State University at University Park to major in communications Quotable: “A simple donation of time can make a big difference in someone’s life.”

Casey Waslasky Category: Service to the Community School: James M. Coughlin High School Parents: Michelle and Wayne Waslasky Town: Plains Township Accomplishments: Church youth group president; National Honor Society; Honor Roll; Junior Leadership Wilkes-Barre Advisory Council; Students Against Destructive Decisions co-president; Youth Salute finalist Activities: Church youth group; Students Against Destructive Decisions; Key Club; Go Green Club; math club; Future Business Leaders of America; French club; Spanish club; prom committee; volunteer for Alex’s Lemonade Stand, breast cancer awareness, Valley Santa, road clean ups, Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals; Plains Rotary, church activities, WVIA fundraiser, Salvation Army and other local causes Plans: Considering University of Scranton, King’s College and the University of Pittsburgh to pursue a career in medicine Quotable: “I not only want to make a living for myself but more importantly want to make a difference for others.”

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Category: Service to the Community School: Pittston Area High School Parents: Denise and Vito Rinaldi

English Merit Scholar; Junior Leadership Wilkes-Barre; Lift-a-thon 1st place; Pine Forest Football Camp Senior Best Lineman; AMVETS National Americanism Essay Contest first place; class treasurer; National Honor Society parliamentarian; Honors with Distinction Activities: Youth group; Future Business Leaders of America; Environmental club; Key Club; ICE club; journalism club; telecommunications club; track and field; football; volunteer for school activities, Salvation Army, Toys for Tot, Italian American Club Plans: Considering University of Scranton and Wilkes University to major in biology before attending dental school to specialize in pediatric dentistry Quotable: “I enjoy reading…I believe reading strengthens the mind and builds exceptional vocabulary.”

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