The Spokane Valley’s 1997 high school valedictorians are a class of volunteers.
They are also track stars, student council presidents, homecoming queens, band members, French Club officers … and the list goes on.
After-school activities seem to consume these successful students.
Is that so unusual? Well, not really. However, even those with the tightest schedules have set aside time this year to do volunteer work.
Nearly every valedictorian in the class of ‘97 gave time and effort to such organizations as the American Diabetes Association or Special Olympics.
Many indicated they plan to continue doing community service beyond their high school years.
Meet the Valley’s 1997 high school valedictorians - many of whom also happen to be some of the area’s most dedicated volunteers:
Central Valley High School
Brannon Zahand plans on completing his sign language certification and pursuing a bachelor’s degree in American Sign Language.
Further, Zahand hopes to research and develop communication devices which will aid the deaf in communicating with the hearing world.
Determination and his involvement in dozens of activities earned Zahand the vote for “most likely to succeed,” from his peers.
Katherine Hardy Van Houten will travel in Europe with her European history class this summer. Van Houten said it would be an ideal way to start college at Washington State University this fall. She plans to pursue a pharmacy degree.
Special Olympics and the American Diabetes Association are two organizations Van Houten has volunteered her time for.
While attending high school, David Stone has also been attending classes at Gonzaga University.
Stone earned a medal in golf and placed second among Spokane Scholars. Physics will be his major at the University of Washington this fall. His advice to underclassmen:
“Don’t work too hard, but make sure you graduate.”
Christina Russell was motivated to pursue elementary education by one of her favorite teachers.
“When (Mr. O’Brien) was gone for a while I realized how valuable a good teacher is,” Russell said.
Russell is active in tennis and basketball, but also devotes time to Students Against Drunk Driving.
Aside from her musical pursuits, Kayla Reese teaches Spanish to elementary students.
Eleven years of private piano lessons have inspired Reese to study music at Brigham Young University this fall. She plans to teach privately and in public schools. Other activites include pep band, honor society and acapella choir.
Sara Radmaker has studied ballet for 10 years and is a member of the Theatre Ballet of Spokane performance company. Though she opted not to pursue ballet as a career, Radmaker explained her instructor, Peggy Goodner, was understanding.
“She continues to support my decisions. She has been a tremendous teacher role model, mentor and friend.”
Radmaker hopes to study biology at the University of Portland and will travel to Europe this summer.
Jill Nepean wants to become a physical therapist. Her heavy involvement in athletics was the primary motivator she says. Nepean earned the No. 2 spot in the triple jump for the Greater Spokane League.
Nepean will attend Eastern Washington University in the fall, where she will pursue a biology degree.
Wayne Michael points to fellow valedictorians as inspiration for his acedemic success.
“We all knew we were so close to our goal so it made it easier to hang in there,” Michael said.
His high point was returning to the track team after wearing a leg cast the first half of the season. He also enjoys skiing, swing dancing and Boy Scouts. He will continue these activities when he attends Ricks College this fall.
Involvement in DECA fueled Brien McGuire to study business and advertising at Western Washington University.
McGuire’s biggest influence was his father, whom he sees “almost 24 hours a day.”
“He is my coach and teacher and I have learned so much from him during my time in high school,” he said.
McGuire was captain of the crosscountry and track teams this year - activities he began as a freshman, Amy Isaacson will attend Boston College on a full tuition scholarship this fall.
“The high point was telling my mom,” she said.
Her mother, she explained, has influenced her the most.
“I think of school as my career because I watch her in hers. She works very hard but also sets aside time for family, friends and herself. I think the balance is crucial for success.”
Dan Greiner advises underclassmen to start looking for scholarships early. Greiner will attend Western Washington University this fall to study business.
Greiner’s activities include DECA, National Honor Society and FBLA.
The high point of his high school career was attending the state wrestling tournament in Tacoma with his friends.
Ty Evans, who wants to be a professional pianist, said jumping off a haystack at the Jethro Tull concert was the highlight of his school year.
Evans is active in jazz band and plays piano, keyboards and drums. He will major in music at Washington State University and teach piano on the side.
He said being valedictorian means “people will stop asking if I am going to shoot for valedictorian like my brothers and start saying ‘So, valedictorian just like your brothers.”’
Ty Dempsey recently achieved his personal best in the pole vault as a member of track and field team. Dempsey was also the math competition champion.
He will attend the University of Southern California for a degree in civil engineering.
Dempsey tells freshmen, “Do your best in the classroom, but there is a lot more to high school than studying.”
Marisa Deehr recently competed at the state gymnastics competion in Tacoma with three of her teamates. After four years of high school gymnastics, Deehr said she will continue this passion in college.
Following a full summer of working, Deehr will attend Ricks College and major in diatetics. Shelley Cunanan hopes to major in international business at Western Washington University, in part she said, to expand her love of travel.
She has aimed for valedictorian since her first 4.0 in eighth grade. She said God has been her biggest influence for success.
Melody Crick was a state, Northwest and national qualifier in debate. Her love of politics was heightened while attending a March session of Presidential Classroom in Washington D.C.
She will attend Gonzaga University in the fall to study history or political science. As a member of the International Jazz Dance team, Crick will continue studying dance. She is currently a dance instructor for 5-and 6-year-olds.
Joe Clarizio says his parents have always kept him on track, which is why he attributes his success to them.
Clarizio, a member of the varsity soccer team, will attend Western Washington University to study business and marketing. He is also a member of FBLA and National Honor Society.
Lindsay Brookhart says Central Valley’s senior class have grown closer in the past few weeks.
“Maybe because we are all about to go our separate ways and it’s a little depressing. I think we are all looking forward to graduating though.”
Brookhart was voted homecoming queen by her senior class. She also served on the Gonzaga University Advisory Board.
East Valley High School
Michael Cabbage has been waiting for this moment since attending middle school. Cabbage says it was then he set the goal to be valedictorian of his senior class.
“That is why it is so important to me, showing an outward expression of my inner accomplishments.”
Cabbage plans to study biotechnology at Eastern Washington University, and has spent the last year volunteering at area food banks, for the local Special Olympics and has given his time as a tutor.
Hard work has paid off for Neale Rasmussen. This attitude, he says, will bring success for any high school student.
Rasmussen plans to attend Pacific Lutheran University this fall, and has been active in Knowledge Bowl and with the National Honor Society.
With the help of his parents, Rasmussen says he has always pushed to do his best.
Playing baseball has been the high point of Jeffery Ford’s high school career. He hopes to pursue this passion as a student at University of Washington this fall.
Ford admits being named valedictorian makes him feel like he is among the “cream of the crop.” Renee Volland says competing in sports has taught her a lot about success.
Volland, who earned letters in soccer and track, will study psychology at Western Washington University. She has worked to maintain a 4.0 even though she attends college courses.
Volland says she has made the most of her senior year.
“Our soccer team made it to finals, I was nominated for homecoming queen and Lilac Princess and our track team is sitting pretty,” Volland said. “What’s not to love?”
Megan Brannan will attend the University of Portland on a four-year Air Force ROTC scholarship. Though she will be majoring in civil engineering, Brannan has a great love for the arts, particularly music.
Brannan has received numerous accolades for her singing and piano playing, and contributed her talent to several school musicals. She was named a Washington Presidential Scholar.
Paul Shogren says he has a competitive attitude in the classroom and on the football field.
Shogren was awarded the Ray Flaherty Scholar/Athlete Award from the Football Foundation and the College Football Hall of Fame.
The defensive and offensive lineman hopes to continue his winning streak when he studies engineering at the University of Montana. He will, of course, continue his football career.
Melissa Wiykovics has learned to find new ways of looking at old problems. This, along with supportive parents and a love of challenges has kept her at the top of her class, she says.
Elementary education will be her course of action at either the University of Idaho or Western Washington University.
Kris Krustangel has spent four years participating in leadership programs and received the Good Citizen Award this year.
He was recently voted prom king by his peers.
“My high school career started at an opposite end,” he said. “I am OK with where I started, but more proud of where I’ll finish.”
Business administration will be his major at the University of Washington. Leona Brossart hopes to delve into the world of science as part of her college studies. After a recent trip to Belize with her marine biology class, Brossart hopes to return some day to pursue plant research.
“I have never experienced such a fantastic trip. It was the high point of my school year by far.”
Freeman High School
For Joanna Ramsey, softball means great weather and a true love of the game. It was her softball coach, Scott Carolan, who inspired her to succeed in the classroom, she said.
Ramsey is serving her second year as president of Freeman’s National Honor Society, and has been elected to the student council throughout her four years in high school. She hopes to attend Pacific University, a small liberal arts college in Oregon.
Jennifer Burton will work this summer, as well as fulfill her duties as Spokane Interstate Fair Queen.
Burton said it has taken time for her to “come out of my shell.” She attributes her personal growth to Freeman principal Dennis Schuerman, who doubles as her leadership teacher.
She will major in biology at the University of Idaho. A percussionist, Burton says she will continue her musical interests.
Aaron Hill will attend Gonzaga University next fall, but he has already accepted a position working with GU’s basketball team.
Hill, who was active in basketball, baseball and cross country, hopes to pursue a career as a coach.
Being selected for the All-Northwest basketball team meant a lot to Hill who explained, “Athletics has always been a love of mine, but I never enjoyed great individual success as an athlete. I worked hard to better my playing ability.”
Liberty High School
Sports, fly-fishing and movies are what Andy Cooper does for fun. Not surprising then that his strongest high school memory was “our last home basketball game, because I started to realize the end was near.”
He plans to attend Gonzaga University and would like to pursue a career in medicine.
Spokane Valley High School
Angela McLain says her favorite hobby is being a big sister to friends when they need someone to lean on.
McLain, who plans to attend college in hopes of becoming a dental assistant, attributes her success, in and out of school, to her father and her boyfriend.
“No matter how much I wanted to get out of school, they always reminded me how important education is.”
University High School
For four years Kelly Kearsley has received a varsity letter in cross country and track and field. During her senior year she has logged dozens of hours volunteering with local organizations.
She has received the Spokane Scholar award and was nominated by U-Hi for the Heisman Scholarship.
Though she plans to attend Pacific Lutheran University this fall to study communication, Kearsley also plans to study in Europe.
Genevieve Hartman worked hard to prepare herself for the Advanced Placement calculus test this spring. She also works hard as president of the French Club, member of the varsity tennis team and a cross-country letter holder.
“I’d tell next year’s seniors to work hard and be successful while having fun too.”
Hartman will attend Whitman College this fall but plans to attend college in Europe as well.
For almost 10 years, Sarah Scales has studied ballet and taken private violin lessons. As a seven-year member of the Spokane Youth Orchestra, Scales hopes to minor in music at PLU.
She plans to travel in Europe this summer and hopes to study abroad during college.
Marisa Neste has enjoyed participating in all the senior activities this year, especially prom.
Playing the flute in band, of which she is president, has inspired her to study instrumental music at Seattle Pacific University.
She was also a junior and senior class representative and vice president of the League of Kronos.
Greg Thorhaug was recently accepted to Cornell, where he will study engineering.
A member of the math team, German Club and American Legion Boys State, Thorhaug said a valedictorian should help lead the school into tomorrow.
He advises upcoming seniors to, “Enjoy it. High school is cake.”
Joanie Borup plans to take many camping trips this summer before entering Gonzaga University to study education.
Aside from National Honor Society and DECA, Borup said she loves to swim and snow ski.
The beginning of her senior year was a high point, Borup says, because, “It felt great to know I had made it to what would be the best year of my high school career.”
Mercedee Renz’s parents have encouraged her to excel in everything, she said.
Renz hopes to become a doctor and will study pre-med/biochemistry at the University of Texas at Dallas.
Activities including French Club, track, cross country, and High Five have kept Renz busy this year. She says graduation will be the high point of her high school career.
Nicholaus Earling made it all the way to the regional basketball tournament this year.
Also active in community service, Earling says his parents have provided motivation and support. Being valedictorian “shows that if I work hard I can do anything that my heart desires,” he said.
Earling said he will study business at Washington State University this fall.
Mark Stoeser knew all of his hard work in school would pay off.
“I just told myself it would be worth it when it was all over and tried to stay interested in my classes.”
Stoeser played golf as a sophomore and enjoys many athletic activities outside the walls of U-Hi. When he studies engineering at the University of Washington, Stoeser hopes to join several intramural sports. He was a member of the Math Team and National Honor Society.
In 1995, Dustin Enevold’s brother Brandon was a valedictorian at U-Hi, which is why he points to his brother as his biggest inspiration.
Enevold made playoffs as a varsity soccer player and is a member of the Sportsmanship Committee.
He plans on attending Washington State University to major in business.
Valley Christian School
Corey White, who plays the piano and guitar and also sings, plans to major in music at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, which he will attend on full scholarship.
White lists his choir teacher, Mark Rice, as his most important high school influence. “He has shown me great support and encouragement, has greatly influenced my goals in life and he has been an incredible help in developing me musically and spiritually.”
West Valley High School
Grace Williams was a finalist in the Westinghouse Science Talent Search this year, definitely a high point, she said.
“Everything else snowballed from that point on.”
Williams plans to attend New York University and hopes eventually to earn a doctorate in plant research.
Williams said she earned outstanding grades through sleep deprivation and spending more time at school than some teachers.
Her science teacher, Robert Bohlen, taught her to love science and learn to apply it in the world.
Rhonda Barney will never forget the Deer Park goalie who missed her game winning shot, sending West Valley’s soccer team to the state tournament.
A gifted athlete, Barney was a nominee for Spokane Math Scholar of the year, and has been listed on the honor roll since ninth grade.
She plans to attend the University of Washington to study medicine. She will continue to play soccer throughout her college career, she said.
Lisa M. Chasse hopes to work in a research laboratory after she earns a degree in biochemistry from Washington State University.
Investing in community service will continue out of high school, Chasse said.
She has received two leadership awards, played on the varsity tennis team, and was named a Scholar Athlete.
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