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Get to know the 2017-18 valedictorians, salutatorian

Here are the continued interviews for the 2018 valedictorians and salutatorians. Below are interviews with salutatorian Hally Ruff, as well as valedictorians Macy Quinn-Sears, Joaquin Sunhawk Miranda Durling-Jones, Meghan Yenney, Scott Golden, Christiana Zaugg and Blake Morris. 

Hally Ruff

Have you gone to Wa-Hi all four years?

“I went to CC for 2 years.”

What is the most memorable aspect of Wa-HI?

“The relationships I’ve formed over the years with teachers and friends.”

What has helped you succeed at Wa-Hi?

“My family and my teachers.”

What do you do outside of school?

“I run track, do swimming, and work at Memorial Pool.”

Have you committed to college anywhere? If so, what contributed to that decision?

“I am going to Arizona State University; I applied there and to University of Washington. Both my sisters went to ASU, and it just felt like home, and I love the warmth.”

What are you most interested in studying?

“I’m studying civil engineering because I love math and science, and I want to work outside.”

What do you see yourself working toward in 5 years?

“I see myself with a steady job, and a house with at least 3 dogs.”

Was one of your goals to be valedictorian/salutatorian?

“It was not my goal to be salutatorian, I was just trying to get good grades so I could get good scholarships, but it’s pretty cool that I got it.”

Macy Quinn-Sears

What is the most memorable aspect of Wa-Hi?

“I think I’ll remember the insane effort many of my teachers put into their students; they do so much more than their job requires, and I will always appreciate how they pushed me to be my absolute best.”

What has helped you succeed at Wa-Hi?

“Coffee.”

What do you do outside of school?

“I’m a journalist, but I also ride horses competitively and have been working part-time since my sophomore year. Right now I’m a server at The Olive.”

Have you committed to a college anywhere? If so, what contributed to that decision?

“In September I’ll be moving to Cardiff, Wales, to study Journalism, Communications and Politics. I’ve known for years that I wanted to study journalism, and that I wanted to study abroad, so Cardiff Uni just happened to be the perfect choice. I also already had a U.K. passport, so why not?”

What are you most interested in studying?

“Journalism, but specifically print — I’d settle for online, but broadcast has never been my thing.”

What do you see yourself working toward in 5 years?

“Because my degree will only take three years, and my Masters will only take one more year, I’m hoping to be working for a bilingual newspaper, either in the UK or in a Spanish-speaking country.”

Was one of your goals to be valedictorian/salutatorian?

“I don’t think I ever saw myself as valedictorian, but I always obsessed over grades to an unhealthy level. So, in a way the title was just a product of high self-expectations.”

Joaquin Sunhawk Miranda Durling-Jones

Have you gone to Wa-Hi all four years?

“No, This is my first year at Wa-Hi”

What is the most memorable aspect of Wa-Hi?

“I don't know. I like the campus, it’s probably the biggest campus I’ve been to. It’s really green, it has the stream going down. That’s pretty cool.”

What has helped you succeed at Wa-Hi?

“The teachers. They're very understanding, and they always help me out when I need it.”

What do you do outside of school?

“The main thing I do outside of school is play soccer, but right now, since I tore my ACL, mostly physical therapy to be honest”.

Have you committed to a college anywhere? If so, what contributed to that decision?

“I committed to Saint Francis College in Brooklyn, New York City. They are Division 1, so I can play soccer there, and I just really love New York City”.

What are you most interested in studying?

“Maybe something in social studies, like humanities. Maybe sociology, anthropology or economics, that sort of thing. Because I’ve traveled a lot in my life, I’ve really seen a lot of different cultures and that is a big part of sociology and anthropology, studying cultures.”    

What do you see yourself working toward in 5 years?

“Hopefully playing soccer professionally, that’s what I want to do with my life.”

Was one of your goals to be valedictorian/salutatorian?

“Yeah, one of my goals was to be valedictorian, because when I came here I checked my rank in the school and I saw that I had the possibility.”

Meghan Yenney

What is the most memorable aspect of Wa-Hi?

“Probably meeting new people, and all the opportunities it gave me.”

What has helped you succeed at Wa-Hi?

“My teachers have always been super helpful, and whenever I’m confused I can go to them.”

What do you do outside of school?

“I play softball, basketball, and I work.”

Have you committed to a college anywhere? If so, what contributed to that decision?

“Yeah, so I’m going to UW. It’s close enough to home that I can come back, but also far

— away and it's in a city. I wanted to be in the city.”

What are you most interested in studying?

“Finance, because math has always been my favorite subject.”

What do you see yourself working toward in 5 years?

“Graduated college and finding a job. Hopefully, being successful at whatever I’m doing. I want to live in a big city and be a personal financer, and hopefully be able to travel.”   

Was one of your goals to be valedictorian/salutatorian?

“Yes, I have always set myself high standards and I knew that I could do it.”

Blake Morris

Have you gone to Wa-Hi all four years?

“No, I went to College Place High School my freshman year, but have been at Wa-Hi since the beginning of my sophomore year.”

What is the most memorable aspect of Wa-Hi?

“The most memorable aspect at Wa-Hi is its very friendly and welcoming atmosphere, created by both the staff and students. AP Physics with Mr. Ahrens was definitely the most memorable and enjoyable class that I took throughout my years at Wa-Hi.”

What has helped you succeed at Wa-Hi?

“The excellent faculty and teaching staff at Wa-Hi has definitely been a part of my success, in addition to my commitment to work hard and study diligently inside and outside of the classroom.”

What do you do outside of school?

“I work at my dad’s cabinet shop, Richards and Lees Cabinets. Whenever I am not studying or working, I am at the shop working on completing a frame-off restoration on my dad and I’s 1974 Corvette. But if I am not turning wrenches in the shop, I am either playing my electric guitar or out on the river bass fishing.”

Have you committed to college anywhere? If so, what contributed to that decision?

“Yes, I have committed to Walla Walla University. I chose Walla Walla University for its excellent mechanical engineering program, its small and welcoming campus, and for the fact that I can still live at home while attending school. I had already decided that I would attend Walla Walla University when I visited last spring, so it was the only school I applied to.”

What are you most interested in studying?

“I am going to be majoring in mechanical engineering and minoring in both computer science and mathematics. I am interested in mechanical engineering because it combines my passions for designing, building, and problem solving with my academic strengths in mathematics and physics.”

What do you see yourself working toward in 5 years?

“In five years, I will have graduated college, and I either see myself continuing on to graduate school for my master’s degree or starting my career if I end up with a job from one of my internships during college.”

Was one of your goals to be valedictorian/salutatorian?

“Yes, it was one of my goals to be a valedictorian, but not for the title or recognition at graduation. My goal in life has always been to put my all into whatever I do, whether it be my academics or hobbies. In high school, that meant always working hard and being very thorough and detailed in my studies so that I could get the most benefit out of my time and secure the best possible future for myself.”

Scott Golden

What is the most memorable aspect of Wa-Hi?

“...the athletics”

What has helped you succeed at Wa-Hi?

“I would say a lot of the teachers. They are very helpful and they want you to succeed, so I feel like they were a big part of my success.”

What do you do outside of school?

“I play baseball and basketball. I fish and hunt, too, outdoor stuff.”

Have you committed to a college anywhere? If so, what contributed to that decision?

“I’m going to CC. I applied to some other state colleges, too, and I got accepted, but I figured I’d stay here and go to CC for a couple years. Then I’ll head off to Gonzaga.”   

What are you most interested in studying?

“I’m actually looking to go into computer science and programing. I got into a class last year that I really enjoyed, so I decided I’d go into that. I took another class this year and I liked it. So, my big goal is to major in computer science and math.”

What do you see yourself working toward in 5 years?

“Well, my big dream would be to be working at microsoft.”

Was one of your goals to be valedictorian/salutatorian?

“Well, that wasn’t really one of my goals. I’ve always worked hard, and that's just a perk and just shows hard work paying off.”

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GO BLUE May students announced

Our GO BLUE students for the month of May were chosen for their academic achievements and positive attitudes. These students are Brady Kinney, Olivia Taylor, Sabryna Horton, Renee Kelly, Lacey Owens, Ellie Rothstrom, Josh Bergevin, Lizbeth Espana Lopez and Cade Kennedy. We asked these role-model students what they think sets them apart from their classmates.

Freshman Brady Kinney was nominated by Peggy Payne. “I do not let distractions get to me,” Kinney said. Freshman Olivia Taylor was also nominated by Peggy Payne. “I work hard in all of my classes,” Taylor said.

Sophomore Sabryna Horton was nominated by Vivian Glaeser. “I help out my peers by explaining things in my own words,” Horton said. Sophomore Renee Kelly was nominated by Julie Woods. “I have made developments in my leadership skills,” Kelly said.

Junior Lacey Owens was nominated by Kristen Glaeser. “I’m always eager to help and I am passionate about drama,” Owens said. Junior Ellie Rothstrom was nominated by Pam Jacobson. “I just have a lot of passion for school,” Rothstrom said.

Senior Josh Bergevin was nominated by Linda Schaub and Patty Jones. “I'm always smiling and have a positive attitude,” Bergevin said. Senior Cade Kennedy was nominated by both Jennifer Butenhoff and Patty Jones. “I am unique and care about people,” Kennedy said. Senior Lizbeth Espana Lopez was nominated by both Jennifer Butenhoff and Faydale Curtice. “I just really enjoy school,” Lopez said.

As the school year comes to an end, we wish the seniors the best on their endeavors, and we cannot wait to see everyone else next school year.

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Get to know the 2017-18 valedictorians

This year, Wa-Hi named 14 students as valedictorians and one student as salutatorian. To get to know a bit about their future plans, we sat down with them and asked them a few questions. Below are interviews with eight of this year's valedictorians: Seamus Duffy, Jacob Averett, Katie Leinweber, Marieke Hess, Hannah Gardner, Paige Gardner and Zander Norris. Watch for more interviews later this week. 

Seamus Duffy

What is the most memorable aspect of Wa-Hi?

“For me personally, it is the physics boat race after the AP test.”

What has helped you succeed at Wa-Hi?

“Supportive teachers, and having friends who are also engaged academically has been beneficial to me.”

What do you do outside of school?

“I do debate, knowledge bowl, tennis, and cross country.”

Have you committed to a college anywhere? If so, what contributed to that decision?

“I am going to the University of Washington. I’m pretty interested in engineering, and I was accepted directly into their college of engineering.”

What type of engineering are you most interested in studying?

“I’m not too sure what type of engineering, but I hope to discover what kind I want to do. The program is designed for you to have time to try things out.”

What do you see yourself working toward in 5 years?

“I hope to go to graduate school for engineering to further my career.”

Was one of your goals to be valedictorian/salutatorian?

“It was something I thought about, but it seemed a bit threatening.”

Jacob Averett

What is the most memorable aspect of Wa-Hi?

“Biotech was one of my favorite classes, and band is always fun.”

What has helped you succeed at Wa-Hi?

“Friends are huge motivators, and my parents. I’m pretty self motivated, though.”

What do you do outside of school?

“I do a lot with music: I play the piano, trumpet, and the french horn. I play tennis too.”

Have you committed to a college anywhere? If so, what contributed to that decision?

“I am going to BYU. There’s a couple reasons why I chose it; it’s one of the top schools in the nation, the tuition is cheap, and it’s a church school. Plus they have a great music program, and it’s in the mountains so there’s a lot of outdoors stuff to do.”

What are you most interested in studying?

“Biochemistry. I’ve liked chemistry since middle school, and during biology sophomore year we had a unit on molecular biology. After that I knew I liked either molecular biology or biochemistry. I like research, too, which I learned in biotech.”

What do you see yourself working toward in 5 years?

“I’m still going to be in college, working towards my doctorate. I’m probably going to be in school for at least 12 years.”

Was one of your goals to be valedictorian/salutatorian?

“I hate getting anything less than an A, so I didn’t really care if I got valedictorian or not, it was more of just excelling in every class, personally.”

Katie Leinweber

What is the most memorable aspect of Wa-Hi?

“I’d have to say joining FBLA and finally finding a club that was a really good fit for me, because I had tried a few other clubs, but this one was perfect for me.”

What has helped you succeed at Wa-Hi?

“My family. I have five siblings and all of my older siblings have tutored me in a subject at some point. Their success has really encouraged me to try my best as well.”

What do you do outside of school?

“I participate in FBLA. I also do cross country and track all four years. I’m part of 4-H, and I love reading and art.”

 Have you committed to a college anywhere? If so, what contributed to that decision?

“Western Washington University. I first considered Western because my oldest sister lives nearby and it would be cool to live around her for four years. I also love the campus. I thought it was really pretty. It was something new and interesting and in a location I hadn’t spent a lot of time in before.”

What are you most interested in studying? Why?

“Right now I’m undecided, but for a long time I had no clue, so my dad went on the website looking at the majors at Western and he listed off a bunch of majors I may like until he said industrial design. When we visited Western we looked at a gallery for industrial design students. That was really cool, and I’m interested in studying it.”

What do you see yourself working toward in 5 years?

“Happy, healthy, and eating a burrito.”

Was one of your goals to be valedictorian/salutatorian?

“It definitely was, but not so much being a valedictorian as keeping my 4.0. That was important to me, though I wish I hadn’t stressed over it so much.”

Marieke Hess

What is the most memorable aspect of Wa-Hi?

“The drama department and participating in musicals.”

What has helped you succeed at Wa-Hi?

“A select few teachers who’ve made the years a lot better and have been always supportive.”

What do you do outside of school?

“I’ve taken violin lessons at Whitman for about 12 to 13 years. I’ve participated in shows outside of Wa-Hi as well; I did a show at the Little Theater last year. I also travel a lot.”

 Have you committed to a college anywhere? If so, what contributed to that decision?

“I’ve committed to Loyola University in New Orleans. It was kind of a last minute application. I saw it and thought it would be a fun place, I never thought I would actually be going there. I visited over spring break and I love New Orleans; the culture, the city and the people that I met were so nice. I really connected with this school.”

What are you most interested in studying?

“I have no real idea. I hope to study some music — I don’t know if it will be my major but I want to continue learning more about it.”

What do you see yourself working toward in 5 years?

“Somewhere doing something exciting. Maybe graduate school.”

Was one of your goals to be valedictorian/salutatorian?

“Not really, I wasn’t like ‘I have to get an A in this class,’ but as the years went on and I still had it I was kinda more like I could do this.”

Hannah Gardner

What is the most memorable aspect of Wa-Hi?

“My best experience at Wa-Hi was participating in sports, swim team and track team. I had a lot of fun in sports. The coaches, the atmosphere and the friends you make in sports are amazing.”

What has helped you succeed at Wa-Hi?

“The staff has always been really helpful. The teachers are always there to help us get our work in on time and do well in the class.”

What do you do outside of school?

“I participate in swimming and track, and I’m also part of National Honors Society.”

 Have you committed to a college anywhere? If so, what contributed to that decision?

“The Honors College at Washington State University. I found the school because my brother was going there and so I started to be on the campus a lot and I found that I loved it there, it was like another home for me. I also fell in love with it because it had the programs that I wanted.”

What are you most interested in studying?

“I’m majoring in Mechanical Engineering because I really like to solve problems and help make an impact on the world.”

What do you see yourself working toward in 5 years?

“I hopefully will have a Master’s degree and have a job somewhere. Maybe travelled the world a little bit.”

Was one of your goals to be valedictorian/salutatorian?

“Not really, I just worked as hard as I could in all of my classes.”

Paige Gardner

What is the most memorable aspect of Wa-Hi?

“I’ve made a lot of friends through athletics and it’s been a lot of fun to be a part of something. It’s been a lot of fun to meet new people, and to make an impact on others.”

What has helped you succeed at Wa-Hi?

“I agree with my sister’s statement about the teachers helping us get our work in on time and do well in the class.”

What do you do outside of school?

“I participate in swimming and track, which has been a lot of fun to be a part of. I’m also part of National Honors Society.”

 Have you committed to a college anywhere? If so, what contributed to that decision?

“I drew my attention to Washington State because of swimming. I started looking at swimming first, then I fell in love with the campus and the feel of it. It has all the great programs I’m looking for and great research there. It’s everything I wanted in a school.”

What are you most interested in studying?

“Biology, because it’s always fascinated me and I love nature. There’s a lot of significant problems surrounding that field, so I’d really like to help solve some of those issues.”

What do you see yourself working toward in 5 years?

“I hope to have an upper post graduate degree and have a job somewhere, and be traveling the world.”

Was one of your goals to be valedictorian/salutatorian?

“No, I just worked really hard in my classes and did what I could to achieve an A. Being valedictorian was just icing on the cake.”

Connor Lemma

What is the most memorable aspect of Wa-Hi?

“I will always remember the teachers and their willingness to help.”

What has helped you succeed at Wa-Hi?

“Hard work — and a planner.”

What do you do outside of school?

“ I like to volunteer, play baseball, and do photography.”

Have you committed to a college anywhere? If so, what contributed to that decision?

“I committed to play baseball at Pacific Lutheran University. I loved the atmosphere and the amount of post graduate opportunities that they offer.”

What are you most interested in studying? Why?

“I would like to be an environmental engineer and help fix the environmental problems we’re seeing today.”

What do you see yourself working toward in 5 years?

“Hopefully, I’ll be in grad school in 5 years. In the future, I hope to be an environmental engineer in Portland or Seattle.”

Was one of your goals to be valedictorian/salutatorian?

“It was never one of my goals to be valedictorian. All I tried to do was get the best grades possible.”

Zander Norris

What is the most memorable aspect of Wa-Hi?

“I like the community, both teachers and students. It’s been an awesome school to go to and a great group of people to grow up with. The teachers have been outstanding, and I know I can go to them about anything and they’ll be there.”

What has helped you succeed at Wa-Hi?

“Certainly my friends, they created an atmosphere where I could be comfortable. The teachers have always pushed me to succeed as well, especially this year. They have been instrumental in my college search.”

What do you do outside of school?

“I’ve played in Wa-Hi’s band and youth symphony for four years and I swim on the varsity team. I’m also a baseball player and I volunteer at the First Presbyterian Church.”

Have you committed to a college anywhere? If so, what contributed to that decision?

“I’m going to Oberlin College. I really like the community and the appeal of the school. It’s in a small town so it’s a setting I’m comfortable with, but it’s also close to Cleveland which is a new experience. The academics are outstanding and I’ll get to play baseball there.”

What are you most interested in studying?

“I’m not quite sure. Probably something with history or economics. I really enjoy history.”

What do you see yourself working toward in 5 years?

“Maybe in post grad education with a stable job.”

Was one of your goals to be valedictorian/salutatorian?

“I wouldn’t say it was a goal. I always wanted to be a good student and push myself to get A’s, so being a valedictorian was just a product of that.”

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