Mayor Fischer honors Louisville’s outstanding high school seniors [Opinion: The Arena]

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Mayor Fischer contratulates two of Louisville's Outstanding High School Seniors

Public, private and Catholic students who have excelled in and out of the classroom were honored last night by Mayor Greg Fischer as recipients of the annual Mayor’s Outstanding High School Seniors award. Fischer presented the awards to 48 students Tuesday evening at 7:45 p.m., following a reception at Louisville Metro Hall.

Deborah Nassozi.jpgThis year’s recipients include a student who emigrated from Uganda, several who survived serious accidents and life-threatening illnesses and students who volunteer for a variety of causes and charities or who have taken mission trips of service throughout the world. The students include at least twelve National Honor Society members and eight Governor’s Scholars. At least three of the students will be the first in their families to attend college.

“These are individuals who represent the future of our city as evidenced by their dedication to life-long learning and commitment to their family and to helping others in need,” Fischer said. “They are real-life examples from schools large and small of what you can achieve through focus, teamwork and perseverance.”

Fischer Right.jpgIn addition to their academic accomplishments, the winners include notable athletes in a variety of sports, artists, actors and musicians. Each principal and guidance counselor at public, private and Catholic schools throughout Louisville is asked to nominate a student for the award.

AT&T is the presenting sponsor of the Outstanding High School Seniors Award which began in the mid-1980s. Additional support is provided by Walmart.

Louisville's 2012 Outstanding High School Seniors:


Adde Ahmed

Liberty High School

Adde is a remarkable young man, a very talented and diligent worker, who has worked hard during his high school career. His overall GPA is a 3.8. Adde’s hard work has earned him acceptance into the University of Louisville Speed School and a Woodford Porter Scholarship. A variety of extracurricular activities and work experience have also rounded Adde as a person. Through Digital Connectors, he is able to use his knowledge of technology to provide training and support to others in the community. He has spent time volunteering at the Americana Community Center tutoring and peer mentoring. Adde is described by his teachers and counselors as respectful, polite, and a positive role model to others. He has been an exemplar role model for Liberty High School’s values and beliefs.

Kristofer Anderson

Atherton High

School

Kristofer is a very rare student who earns the respect and esteem of his teachers and classmates. Kristofer has distinguished himself by pursuing the International Baccalaureate Diploma, which includes very rigorous course work, 200 hours of community service, an extended essay, and comprehensive exams at the end of the senior year. It takes a dedicated student to take on this challenge and maintain a 4.27 GPA. For three years, he has been the class Treasurer and a member of the Quick Recall Team and National Ocean Science Bowl. Kristofer plans to major in music.

Bristal Batt

Seneca High School Magnet Career

 

Academy

Bristal’s Senior Counselor said that her relationship with Bristal was unique. When Bristal was a freshman she went to Louisville Male High School where her counselor worked at the time. She was an interventionist who helped students who struggled academically. Bristal was one of those students. After her freshman year, she came to Seneca High School and completely changed! She went from earning U’s and D’s her freshman year and having very little confidence academically to earning only 2 C’s for the rest of her high school career. She now carries above a 3.0 grade point average. To see a student go through a tough time and make a lifestyle change is awesome. Bristal is very organized and responsible. She plans to attend Western Kentucky University.

Brooke Berger

Kentucky School for the Blind

Brooke has attended Kentucky School for the Blind for the past three years. Since she was much younger, Brooke has had a fighting spirit and a determination that is rarely seen in a young person. With the support of her family, she has never been treated differently than her sighted siblings and peers, and she was always held to the same high expectations. She sets extremely high expectations for herself as well. Brooke has the determination and perseverance to tackle any obstacle she may face. Even with visual impairment obstacles, Brooke not only excels in her academic classes, but goes above and beyond in serving those around her. She recently initiated volunteer work at St. Joseph Children’s Home and frequently helps mentor younger children who are blind or visually impaired at KSB. Brooke has participated in track, swimming, goalball, cheerleading, the forensics team, and even wrestling! She has also played in the Junior Nationals Goalball Tournament, sponsored by the United States Association of Blind Athletes. Brooke plans to attend the University of Louisville to study engineering or nursing.

Evan Bingham

DeSales High School

Evan is a well-rounded and fun-loving young man. He appreciates life and those that are important to him. Evan’s involvement inside and outside of school is remarkable. He is at the very top of his class and has been recognized on numerous occasions for his outstanding accomplishments. He is one of the most motivated, driven members of his class and this strength is serving him well. If he is not satisfied with the outcome of a particular grade or event, he asks questions to better himself. Evan must work it out in the moment to be prepared for the next time. Evan’s diligence on the basketball court is as impressive as his ability in the classroom. Evan has played on the varsity basketball team throughout his time at DeSales and has been a huge part of the team’s success. The leadership that he displays to his teammates and classmates is remarkable. Evan will far surpass any expectation that is set for him because of his personal drive

Holly Bowles

Whitefield Academy

Holly is a remarkable young lady who consistently demonstrates excellence and determination. Holly’s teachers describe her as a student who excels in the classroom, is willing to take risks throughout the learning process, and is highly motivated; exhibiting characteristics of a lifetime learner. She also loves people, especially people who are in need, and loves to help anyone around her. Holly has excelled despite an auto-immune disease diagnosis which has resulted in significant illness and several hospital stays. Because of her academic achievements, heart for service, and perseverance, she is truly deserving of the Mayor’s Outstanding Senior Award.

Kevin Bryant

Jefferson County High School

Kevin thinks everything happens for a reason. He loved his former public high school, but missed too many days due to an illness. Those absences had Kevin missing too much valuable information to be successful. With the help of his mother, Kevin chose to do JCPS eSchool and Independent Study. That way, he could work at his own pace and not get behind when he was sick. Kevin believes that the eSchool and independent study program has changed his life and helped him to become a smarter student. He was able to work harder and study more often and not be so stressed out when he was sick. Kevin currently works at UPS and has been accepted into their Metro College Program. Kevin believes his life has been changed for the better from these programs and is happy that his college will be paid for by this opportunity with UPS. Kevin is already a success in life and is looking forward to more success as he moves toward his life after high school.

Jeremiah Cain

Churchill Park School

Jeremiah’s teachers say he is a wonderful young man who has been an asset to Churchill Park School for many years. He is known for his smiles, greetings, and engaging manner. Jeremiah is quite the singer. In fact, he has been invited to sing at graduation this year. He will be singing Somewhere Over The Rainbow. Jeremiah is popular with students and staff throughout the Churchill Park community. His famous greeting of “Oh Baby Baby” brings smiles to everyone around him. Jeremiah has had a lasting effect on the folks at Churchill Park. He will be greatly missed and remembered with fondness for many years.

Rachel Carden

Pleasure Ridge Park High School Magnet Career Academy

Rachel’s Senior Counselor said that Rachel is one of the most dedicated students she has encountered in her 20 years in education. Her combination of impressive test scores and her work ethic naturally set her apart from others. Add that to a young lady with drive and determination and you have a winning combination. Maintaining a 4.2 weighted grade point average, Rachel is easily recognized as one of the best of the Class of 2012. Rachel has been active in several organizations including National Honor Society, Beta Club, Student Council, Red Cross and Spanish Club. She is also Vice President of her senior class. Working at a Child Development Center has been a real turning point for Rachel. Elementary education is her career goal and she will certainly make an impact on children. Rachel is very admired by teachers and students.

Kimberlyn Chan

South Park T.A.P.P.

Kimberlyn is a bright young lady who works diligently to complete her coursework and challenges by enrolling in upper level classes. She is employed in our childcare as part of her daily schedule and is a supervisor at K-Mart in the afternoons. Kimberlyn exhibits her leadership as a member of the S.M.A.R.T. (Science, Math and the Right Technology) program. She is the senior representative to participate in four summit meetings with JCPS superintendent, Dr. Donna Hargens. Some of Kim’s community service includes volunteering at the Animal Rescue Society, walking dogs and interacting with the cats. She is always willing to assist a fellow student with their assignments or give helpful hints on how to be an effective parent. Due to extenuating circumstances, Kim attended five different high schools in four years, yet remained focused on her education. Kimberly juggles her roles as mother to an adoring son, student and employee while always maintaining a positive attitude. Her educational goal is to become a teacher.

Marianne Crow

Southern High School Magnet Career Academy

Marianne’s transcript is quite impressive. While taking some of the toughest courses Southern has to offer, Marianne has compiled a 4.17 GPA due to some AP courses that are weighted. As you look deeper into her grades, you find she has only 3 “B’s” on any of her report cards during her high school years. She was also selected as a Vogt Scholarship recipient. Marianne goes about her business at Southern with a helping but quiet spirit. The whole team at Southern wish Marianne the very best as she continues to reach her goals.

Mary Curnutte

Louisville Male Traditional High School

It is said that Mary leads with her heart. As a member of the swim team, she savors the physicality of the water in tandem with each lap. Mission work in West Virginia exposed her firsthand to the disadvantages many families face. Her tendency to be an introvert provokes her to be in situations where she must reach beyond herself. She is a member of Beta, Photography and Latin Clubs; teaches swimming to elementary students and is actively involved in Middletown Christian Church Ministries. Mary’s stewardship extends to “Mother Earth”. Her mother modeled a “vegan” lifestyle for several years. Between a ready nutritionist and her ministries she now embraces the tenets of holistic health and is an example of how one’s choices impact the world. She aims for a medical degree, but plans to be a naturopathic physician. Ever diligent, she is a prophet for the benefits of a plant based diet. She will educate any who are interested, yet respects each person’s journey. Her maverick spirit combined with her care for all is a winning combination for success.

Zach Dannelly

Louisville Christian Academy High School

Zach’s teachers say that Christian Academy is truly a better place because of him. He has served his class as president for the last four years, leading them to serve the school and the Louisville community in numerous ways. Most recently, Zach’s visionary leadership was instrumental in leading the student body to raise $40,000, in three months, to build an orphanage in India. Zach is a Governor’s Scholar, Mr. CAL, Homecoming King, captain of his lacrosse team, a member of National Honor Society, and FCA. He has been accepted into the Air Force and Naval Academy and will be attending the Naval Academy.

Cynthia Doyle

Western Math, Science, Technology Magnet High School

Cynthia is a young lady who demonstrates an impressive degree of intellectual curiosity combined with exceptional leadership skills and a relentless determination to succeed. Her academic accomplishments are a testament to her organizational skills, tenacious work ethic, and ability to focus on her goals. Cynthia has established high expectations for herself and works tirelessly to achieve them. Each year she has challenged herself academically by enrolling in more difficult classes, and has signed up for Advanced Placement and dual credit courses in order to acquire 28 college credits. Cynthia has exhibited leadership skills in her role as Class Vice-President, Student Government Secretary, and Beta Club Committee Chairperson. Cynthia is also involved in a variety of organizations including Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Beta Club, Varsity Basketball, Softball and Track. She was selected as a 2011 Governor’s Scholar and is the recipient of the Churchill Downs Winner’s Circle Governor’s Scholar Award. She was also chosen to participate in Tourism Honors Academy, and holds the title of a Louisville Ambassador as a result. Cynthia is a reliable & trustworthy young lady.

Kala Farineau

J. Graham Brown High School

Kala is a bright, creative and a motivated senior ready to take on every challenge and every opportunity. She has carried an un-weighted 4.0 GPS throughout her entire high school career, keeping her on the presidential honor roll. She has taken several AP classes and college prep classes such as pre-calculus and college algebra. These specific courses reflect her goal to become a secondary education math teacher. Recently Kala won a gold key for her drawing art portfolio and special recognition in the John Yarmuth Congressional Art Competition. On top of her art awards, she received a $12,000 art scholarship to Hanover College allowing her to minor in art. Besides Kala’s academics, she has many other duties and activities. She has held several class officer positions and won a “best class officer” award. In her spare time, Kala writes songs using her guitar and performs them when possible.

Kristin George

The Phoenix School of Discovery

Kristen is an exceptional young woman who has overcome many personal struggles to be successful in school. During her senior year, she has maintained a 4.0 GPA, had remarkable attendance, and participated in the school to work program. She is a very respectful, well mannered, and polite young woman who strives for nothing less than success in all aspects of her life. She is very hard working and determined to become the first person from her family to attend college and receive a degree.

John Kennedy Hamilton

Mary Ryan Academy

John stands out as a true leader in this small, unique school. The teachers at MRA have noticed such a huge difference in John since he first came to school as a quiet, nervous, insecure freshman. Now, John walks through the halls of MRA with confidence, the other students look up to him, and they especially admire his dancing skills. “Man….that John Hamilton can dance!” His dancing even helped him gain enough confidence in himself to ask a fellow senior to the prom this year! This outstanding senior has overcome many obstacles in his life. John will tell you that a full stomach and a sense of humor can help you get through about anything! John wrote a persuasive essay in English class this year, encouraging everyone to go to Olive Garden and take advantage of their “Endless Pasta Bowl” deal.

Keian Hardy

Jeffersontown High School Magnet Career Academy

Keian is a student who has excelled both in the classroom and out of the classroom. He is a three sport athlete and has maintained a cumulative GPA of 4.0. He is a vital part of the pre-engineering program and assists as a peer tutor after school. He is also a member of both the Beta Club and the National Honor Society.

Carrie Hess

Assumption High School

Carrie is a young woman who is genuinely kind, helpful and responsible. Carrie’s favorite quote gives further insight into who she is and how she strives to live her life: “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me” – Philippians 4:13. One of the main reasons Carrie loves this verse so much is that it is the verse that every cross country runner puts into their running shoes before the last meet that they will run together as a team before regional and state competitions. The message of the verse speaks to Carrie and applies not only to running and cross country, but to all things in her life and she strives to remember it daily. For the past three years, Carrie has given her time in service to Down Syndrome of Louisville. Through her interaction with the kids at Down Syndrome Louisville, Carrie sees that all kids have the same issues and that we are all more the same than we are different. Academically all you have to do is take one quick look at her resume and you can see the many and varied honors she has earned over the past four years. This young woman is looking to give her all to her college experience just as she gives her all in everything she does.

Kim Hollkamp

Presentation Academy High School

Kim is Class Valedictorian and President of the National Honor Society. She was chosen to participate in the James Graham Brown Cancer Center Internship. She is obviously academically a gifted student, but she is equally gifted in music and drama. She has performed a major role in every drama and musical production during her four years at Presentation and at the Community Theatre of Clarksville. She has co-written and recorded two songs with Mid Sun Records in California. Kim’s leadership style is a reflection of her personality: positive and reliable, humble and honest.

Case Hoskins

Butler Traditional High School

According to Case’s counselor and teachers he is the TOTAL PACKAGE. When discussing his community service, school involvement and achievements -- the question isn't “what to write”, but “where to stop”. He has earned a 34 on the ACT and has maintained a perfect 4.0 grade point average. But Case’s thirst for knowledge doesn’t stop at the school doors. His resume’ is extensive and well-rounded with numerous activities and accolades. They include a 2011 Kentucky Governor’s Scholar, Eagle Scout, Beta Club Vice President, National Honor Society, JROTC Cadet Battalion Sgt. Major and member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Case is also on the JV and Varsity Soccer Teams, Varsity Football Team, Varsity Tennis Team and Archery Team. What is most impressive about Case is that on top of all these worthwhile activities and academic endeavors, he finds time to give back to those around him in so many ways. His mannerisms and easy-going nature would not give one the impression that Case was recently honored by his church at their annual “Recognition Dinner” or that he is a recipient of the prestigious Vogt Achievement Scholarship.

Joel Houlette

Youth Performing Arts School

Joel has been outstanding for the past four years as a saxophonist in the award winning instrumental music program at YPAS. Having natural gifts in music, Joel has also taught himself to perform on the clarinet, guitar, and piano. He is extremely well-liked and respected at school and in the community. Academically he is in line to be one of the most prestigious valedictorians for the class of 2012. His ACT score of 33 as well as his success in eight advanced placement classes indicate a strong readiness for the demands of collegiate life Joel’s leadership abilities are notable in many ways at school and in the community. He is the coordinator and Co-Captain of the Ultimate Frisbee Team and was honored to be selected as one of just a few students in the senior class to represent YPAS at the IDEA Festival in Louisville. Furthermore, Joel has had his biography printed in Business First, First Honors Magazine, which features the movers and shakers of tomorrow. Joel’s family is extremely supportive and loving, and he has been raised to be a wonderful human being. His dream is to become a high school teacher or college professor.

Jeramy Hughes

Alfred Binet School

Jeramy’s Principal said: “To look at the world through Jeremy’s eyes is to capture things through simple pleasures.” Jeramy is a happy person who finds joy in talking to his friends in the neighborhood, his church family, and working at his job at ValuMarket. Jeramy is very active in his church where he plays the piano and drums. He also serves on the Student Council at Binet, and works at four different jobs during the school week. He is a leader everywhere he goes and this is evident through his participation with Special Olympics on the softball team, basketball team, and this year he made his first trip to participate in the Special Olympics skiing competition. Jeramy’s life stands as an example of how to live. That no matter what happens in your life you do all things with a smile. That you love others and give with all of your heart, because when you have Jeramy’s love you have it for a lifetime. The compassion that he has for his friends and family demonstrates the simple pleasure we should show to everyone in our lives.

Crystal Jenkins

Valley Traditional High School Magnet Career Academy

Crystal is a very determined individual who never gives up on goals that she has set for herself. Crystal is determined to not only attend a post-secondary institution but she is going to make sure that she obtains her degree in Psychology and obtain her doctorate in this field. Crystal is an extraordinary student who excels academically and is also involved in several extracurricular activities at Valley. Crystal has a 3.71 GPA and an ACT score of 26. She has been a part of the Fort Knox Human Resource Command Organization Day where she interacted with and assisted military staff. Crystal has maintained success while going through the personal challenge of being raised in a military family. Frequently children that are a part of a military family experience stress due to their parents being potentially deployed, moving, and making new friends. Crystal has always transitioned well into her new high school settings and excelled wherever she attended. Crystal plans to attend college the University of Louisville or the University of Hawaii.

Carly Johnson

Holy Cross High School

Carly is a teacher’s dream! She is a young woman who truly wants to learn. She comes to class with an eagerness to dive into the lesson for the day and she continues that passion into the lesson extensions for homework. Carly is a compassionate young woman who cares for her community. She is regularly seen helping others students with their work and is a role-model for younger students at Holy Cross. Carly has a drive that will take her down any road she wants to travel.

Samantha Jury

Ballard High School

Samantha is not only a brilliant scholar who has distinguished herself as Valedictorian of her class in a very competitive school such as Ballard, she is an exceptionally talented violinist who has received numerous awards and recognitions. Named an AP Scholar by the College Board, Samantha excels academically and is praised by teachers for her commitment and focus. Samantha can be very serious and studious while maintaining a fun-loving spirit and a positive attribute. She is kind, thoughtful, talented, athletic, service-minded, and outgoing. In a society where people can be so self-absorbed and self-serving, especially teenagers and young adults, Samantha is a shining reminder that the future looks bright and there are young people emerging with inspiring qualities to make our world better. A natural leader, Samantha will get involved and make her mark on campus.

Paniz Karbakhsh

Waggener Traditional High School

Paniz came to the United States in 2009 and enrolled at the ESL newcomer academy. Since starting school in the 11th grade at Waggener she has worked diligently to learn English and “graduate” from the ESL program. She is a role model and mentor for younger ESL students by assisting them in completing their ILPs, working as a math tutor at school and volunteering at her community center. Paniz is taking two English classes this year in order to finish all her credits in four years so that she does not need to take an extra year. Her goal is to enroll in medical school and continue to help better the lives of those around her.

Ryan Kaufmann

St. Xavier

It has been said that the depth of Ryan’s determination, focus and positive outlook is both mystifying and admirable. Ryan started having significant hip, spine, and leg and knee pain in the middle of his sophomore year. Before his junior year, he underwent spine surgery to untether his spinal cord from his spinal column. Pain medications and muscle relaxers made it difficult to concentrate and he was in significant pain his entire junior year. After countless tests, Ryan was diagnosed with a lifelong painful autoimmune rheumatoid arthritis disease affecting his joints. He has undergone chemotherapy and IV infusions at the hospital to attack this disease. Despite being exhausted, Ryan has missed very few days of school considering the circumstances -- a testament to his unbelievable drive and tenacity. A gifted scholar, Ryan is a highly involved member of the Saint Xavier community. He is a member of the Cross Country and Track teams and was selected as a Peer Leader in his junior and senior years. Peer Leaders pledge to remain drug and alcohol free and visit local elementary schools to promote this lifestyle and a focus on academics. Off campus, Ryan spends time painting and volunteering in the community.

Jeremiah Khampadith

Iroquois High School Magnet Career Academy

Jeremiah is one of the top students of his class, has been an advanced level student and has been able to maintain a very respectable GPA. Jeremiah has taken on leadership roles such as member of the Principal Advisory Board, the Superintendent Summit Meeting Group, the Superintendent Student Selection Committee, and as editor of the Iroquois High School Yearbook. Jeremiah has received a number of academic awards in English, Social Studies, and Spanish and has been the recipient of the Business Student of the Year Award. He volunteers his time as a student assistant, organizing and fundraising for the Student Exchange Programs, and at a local elementary school where he works as an instructor in the Student Technology Leadership Program. Jeremiah has been accepted to Western Kentucky University where he plans to attend this fall. He wants to major in Broadcast Journalism and eventually work as a news broadcaster.

Logan Lloyd

Eastern High School

Honesty and sincerity are two traits that describe Logan. A member of the Eastern Singers, National Honor Society and the Beta Club, his leadership is unquestioned, especially with his role as Senior Class Sergeant at Arms where he leads planning for numerous events, including Football Homecoming and the Senior Prom. Logan, along with another student, created a program to help deal with high school dropout prevention, writing a successful grant application in partnership with Lighthouse Ministries. His dedication to our community is unmatched by most of his peers.

Chasta May

Westport T.A.P.P.

Chasta, an exemplary young lady who is serious about her school work and her future, is currently a straight “A” honors class student. An excellent communicator and school leader, Chasta represented TAPP before the Kentucky Legislature Appropriations and Review Committee in January. Her poignant words about her life of struggle and hardship had even the toughest legislator in tears. In addition to working part time at UPS she has maintained an “A” in a college course and has been accepted by the University of Louisville, Spalding University and University of Kentucky. All of these accomplishments would be impressive for any teenager in today’s world. However, the fact that Chasta manages all of this with a young child makes it extraordinary. She never complains, just goes about her responsibilities with her shoulders back and her head held high. She is indeed outstanding in all ways possible.

Charles Morton

The Academy at Shawnee

Charles, a Lt. Commander in the NJROTC Program, the NJROTC Drill Team, Orienteering Captain, Inspection Commander and Community Service Leader, also participates with the Louisville Metro Police Auxiliary. In addition to these activities, Charles works on the weekends with his grandfather at Charlie’s Wrecking and Recycling, all while maintaining a 3.5 GPA. At home, he helps out with his mentally handicapped uncle by assisting him with meals and lifting him out of bed when necessary. Charles plans to attend the University of Kentucky.

Brianna Mosby

Doss High School

Brianna excels in the classroom and her extracurricular participation involves athletics and volunteer work. Persistent, dependable, conscientious, and always displaying a positive attitude, Brianna is a Kentucky Governor’s Scholar and in the top 10% of her class. She is a member of the yearbook staff, National Honor Society, pep club, key club and represented Doss to the University of Kentucky’s “Class of Kentucky” program. Elected treasurer of Louisville Girls Leadership, she spent time with peers advocating for women’s history and also tutors elementary school students and volunteers in a soup kitchen. Brianna will be a first generation college student and plans a career in accounting.

Deborah Nassozi

Moore Traditional High School

Deborah is an amazing young woman who has overcome tremendous obstacles since arriving from Uganda during her eighth grade year. Her ability to speak, read and write English was very minimal, and despite this challenge, she took the most difficult courses offered, maintaining a 3.75 GPA, and was honored as a Governors Scholar. Leaving her parents to live with relatives in the United States in order to make a better life for herself, she uses her life experiences to motivate herself and those around her. Deborah looks for ways to give back to her community, has an unparalleled work ethic and her determination has shown through in everything she has accomplished.

Jillian Nethery

Mercy Academy

Jillian is a dedicated student both inside and outside of the classroom. She is enrolled in AP courses and maintains a 3.94 GPA. An advocate for others, Jillian has dealt with her own challenges in a resilient manner and has become an incredibly mature young woman ready to face the world.

Carolyn Palmer

Sacred Heart Academy

Carolyn, a well-rounded, compassionate, and motivated senior, holds a cumulative 3.94 GPA which includes rigorous college-level courses. She is a member of the National Honor Society and one of SHA’s Peer Leaders, a group that encourages students to remain alcohol and drug free. Carolyn volunteers with the residents of Nazareth Home, particularly in the Alzheimer’s unit, all while working part time at Paul’s Fruit Market. Last school year, Carolyn was in a serious car wreck, suffering a traumatic brain injury that left her in a coma for three days. Afterward, she had to relearn such basic functions as walking and counting to ten and has made huge strides in her recovery inspiring all who know her. Carolyn plans to major in nursing or physical therapy.

Elizabeth “Liz” Paschal

Kentucky Country Day

With her positive attitude and endearing personality, Liz has earned the respect and fondness of her classmates, teachers, and coaches. Liz has excelled in advanced courses and has also been a valuable member of the Honors Program. She has distinguished herself as a class officer, a yearbook editor, and a varsity athlete and her coaches consider her an ideal team captain—someone who leads by the example of her own hard work.

Laura Rebollo

St. Francis High School

Immigration can be a challenge, but Laura has made it her advantage. At first a shy girl, she has now found her voice. She is an elected class leader and also serves as a Peer Educator and a National Youth Board member for Planned Parenthood which takes her to Washington DC several times a year and had also planned an educational trip to Mexico, which, due to unforeseen problems, had to be cancelled. Her bilingual capabilities allow her to effectively reach out to Latino students. Laura is passionate about her school and her extra-curricular activities. She is resilient, patient and always has a smile on her face.

Megan Robinson

Central High School

Megan, Central’s top performing senior with a perfect attendance record, takes a rigorous pre-college curriculum that consists of the Dental Magnet program, Advance Placement classes and a Dual-College Credit Course in College Algebra/Statistics through the University of Louisville, all while maintaining a 4.1 GPA. She has also been a Principal’s Scholar since 9th grade and scored a 27 on the ACT. Megan will serve as Class of 2012 Valedictorian, was a 2011 Governor’s Scholar of the Year and recently was named a 2012 Vogt Scholarship recipient and a U of L Porter Scholar. Megan also serves as a senior mentor to freshmen and is actively involved in the Health Occupations Student Association. Megan will attend the University of Louisville and plans to major in dentistry.

Kristen Skaggs

Beth Haven Christian School

Kristen is truly an inspiration to those who know her. Her bright, genuine smile always lights up the room. She has a contagious excitement for life and a strong positive outlook—nothing ever gets her down! Besides maintaining a 4.0 grade-point average, Kristen is also involved extensively in community service projects as well as our school’s dual enrollment program with Jefferson Community and Technical College. Kristen is a member of both the National Honor Society and the National Beta Club Chapters at Beth Haven. She plans to attend the University of Louisville this fall, with a major in nursing.

Benjamin Sykes

Trinity High School

Ben is a remarkable, mature, personable, compassionate Christian with a ready smile, positive attitude, and cheerful personality. He is dependable, conscientious, determined, and smart, with a great sense of humor and the ability to make anyone feel at ease. Following his dream to serve our country, Ben seeks to enroll in one of our nation’s military academies. He applied first to West Point but due to an eye condition was denied. Knowing this eye condition could disqualify him from the academies, he decided to put considerable effort into the applications. Ben hopes to hear soon from the Naval Academy.

Kayla Thomas

Evangel School

Kayla demonstrates great leadership skills both in and outside of class. Having worked hard to be one of the top-ranked members of her senior class, she has been honored with the Presidential Award, the History Award, Graphic Design and Layout Award, the 3.5 GPA or Higher Award, Highest GPA Award, and she scored a 30 on the ACT. Additionally, Kayla has given over 200 hours of community service, including mission trips to Tennessee, Alabama, Florida and New York -- and most recently to Henryville to give aid following the devastating tornadoes. Kayla plans to attend the University of Louisville, where she received a Trustee’s Scholarship valued at $8,000 per year.

Jazmin Trejo

Portland Christian School

Jazmin, president of the National Honor Society and ranked first in her class, is a wonderful young lady with a kind heart who works hard in the classroom, taking challenging classes while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. She played basketball for three years, but tore her ACL this year in the beginning of the season but did not let this get her down and continued to work through her pain. Returning to school shortly after her surgery, she was recognized by students and faculty who elected her Miss PCS for homecoming. Jazmin also participates in several areas of community service, including mission trips and tutoring.

Kyle Tyree

Breckinridge Metro High School

Kyle is an outstanding student and an example of a young man who has faced many challenges in his young life. A strong will to succeed has allowed him to have an exemplary attendance record, win numerous behavior awards and earn a place on the school Honor Roll. Most recently, Kyle achieved a report card with all A’s. Employed at Frisch’s Restaurant, Kyle is recognized by school staff and his employer as a mature young man willing to take on responsibilities for his future.

Hannah Chege Watene

Louisville Collegiate High School

Academically, Hannah has achieved at a very high level, demonstrating talents that are consistently strong across subject areas and disciplines. A member of the National Honor Society, National Art Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta Mathematics Honor Society, coupled with her National Achievement Finalist status, Hannah’s contributions are recognized on a school-wide, state-wide, and national level. She serves as Senior Class Secretary, Editor of the school newspaper, is an active member of the Mock Trial team, and participates with the varsity basketball and varsity tennis teams. Hannah’s compassionate and giving spirit move her to contribute to various community service efforts within her church, city and beyond.

Bryce Wise

Fairdale High School

It is almost as if Bryce entered high school with the intention of graduating at the top of her class. At school activities, you can expect Bryce to be a part of it and more often than not, in charge. A natural leader with a drive to succeed, this helped qualify her to be the only student Fairdale sent to the HOBY Leadership Conference her sophomore year and helped her get selected as a Governor’s Scholar last year. Working hard to be a role model for her younger sister, she serves as captain of the cheerleading squad and as president of the student council and will be the first person in her family to attend college.

Kayla Womack

Fern Creek Traditional High School

Over the past four years, Kayla has built an impressive record of service by participating with the Beta Club, the National Honor Society and Governor’s Scholar Program, while academically maintaining a 4.0 GPA. Kayla also works very hard daily to close the gap between where she is and where she wants to be in life. She has taken the ACT on three occasions and has increased her composite score to a 27. She volunteers at church as an interpreter for deaf members of the congregation. Kayla plans include attending the University of Kentucky and majoring in Journalism.

Shelley Zhou

duPont Manual High School

Shelley’s story is amazing, heart wrenching and inspiring. Born three months prematurely she suffered the most severe form of cerebral hemorrhage and her parents were told if she even survived there was little chance she would be able to see, hear, talk or walk. Her parents kept her on life support longer than suggested. Her older sister and role model taught her how to crawl at age four, and she began walking at eight. Her learning, too, was affected. Simple tasks took much longer, like learning to write her name – six months, and learning how to tell time – several years. Every year of high school Shelley has undergone a major surgery. Always with family support, they would remind her that, “No matter what you face, there are always other people in worse situations. Instead of resorting to self-pity, channel your energies into helping others with greater needs.” Her sister instilled in her an appreciation of history and Shelley thrived on learning, becoming a National Merit Finalist, with plans to earn a doctorate in history. “Can’t” is not in her vocabulary.

 

Slide Show:  Courier-Journal photos of outstanding high school seniors

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Louisville.com's The Arena section features opinions from active participants in the city's politics. Their viewpoints are not those of Louisville.com (a website is an inanimate object and, as such, has no opinions).  The Arena is read by more people in Louisville than in any other city in America.  Photo credits:  Louisville Metro, Facebook.

About Thomas McAdam
At various times I have been a student, a soldier, a college Political Science teacher, a political campaign treasurer, and legal adviser to Louisville's Police Department and Board of Aldermen. I now practice law and share my political opinions with anyone who will listen.
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