Bethel School District Senior Features

Jesse Kaas, Graham-Kapowsin High School

Graham-Kapowsin High School student Jesse Kaas isn’t a big fan of downtime. When he’s not doing work with the Honor Society, the senior is busy competing in track and field, cross country, and DECA.

He also loves his time in the classroom. Jesse has built relationships with several outstanding teachers at GK, but he said his favorite class is Mr. Darby’s AP Government.

“We get to discuss politics and issues that are, and will be affecting us as we move up in the world,” he said.

After graduation, Jesse plans on on attending the University of Mary (ND) to study either Economics or Political Science.

No matter what he ends up doing in life, Jesse said Graham-Kapowsin will always hold a special place in his heart.

“School spirit, along with the staff and administration’s dedication to teach and innovate makes GKHS a very special high school,” he said.

Graham-Kapowsin High School senior Anissa Lee splits her free time between sports and academics, but her passion is for helping others.

Anissa is involved in the National Honor Society and has been given an Academic All American award and a Heart of the Eagle award. She also competes in cross-country, track and field, and softball.

As an aspiring nurse, Anissa has enjoyed all of her medical-based classes at GKHS, including principles of biomedical sciences and medical careers. After she graduates this June, Anissa will head to Pierce College to finish her Associates Degree in nursing and then transfer to a four-year university to get a Bachelor’s Degree in nursing.

Anissa has worked hard to accomplish her goals in high school, and she credits her teachers at GKHS for helping and inspiring her along the way.

“What makes GK so special is that the teachers are willing to work with you in most classes and are passionate about what they do. I’ve had amazing teachers who are passionate about the subject they’re teaching, making the class setting exciting and keeping students engaged in the lesson,” she said.

What Graham-Kapowsin High School senior Maggie Flatt loves most about her school is the diversity of both people and activities on campus.

Maggie has taken full advantage of those diverse programs during her time at GK. She plays soccer, performs in the orchestra and theater, and volunteers her time in Link Crew to help incoming freshman feel comfortable.

She keeps busy with extracurricular activities, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t focused on academics. Maggie’s favorite classes at GK have been theater, AP government, and orchestra. When she graduates in June, she plans on joining the Air Force and becoming a loadmaster.

Even when she’s traveling the world in defense of our country, Maggie will think back fondly on her time at GKHS.

“You really feel the orange and blue spirit, especially when the teachers and administration get involved. We as a school take so much pride in our football team, we have an amazing music department and a fantastic JROTC program. GKHS is able to appreciate the diversity of students and come together when there is a loss of one,” she said.

Challenger High School senior Sabrina Bacher sets high goals for herself, and she works hard to obtain them.

Sabrina dreams of being a doctor one day, and after she graduates this June she plans on attending the University of Washington in Tacoma. After earning a Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Science, she hopes to attend medical school at UW Seattle.

Sabrina says her time at Challenger and the relationships she has made along the way have helped her gain the confidence to chase those big dreams.

“The thing I have loved most about attending Challenger is the connections I’ve made with the teachers,” she said. “With the small class sizes, I have had the ability to develop close relationships with all of my teachers, and they have enabled me to maximize just how much I’ve learned at this school.”

Sabrina’s favorite classes at Challenger have been biology and psychology, and she’s excelled in the classroom. She has been named to the Principal’s List six times for maintaining a GPA of 3.5 or higher, and she’s been involved in the CHS leadership program for the past three years.

“We all have gone through our own struggles that have led us here, which just strengthens the friendships that we create. We accept each other for who we are and that is very special,” Sabrina said.

Challenger High School student Vanessa Garcia doesn’t care much for downtime. The senior is a member of Challenger’s video production club, theater club, dance team, leadership club, yearbook committee, and Associated Student Body.

When she’s not attending a school club, she stays active in the community. Vanessa regularly volunteers at the district’s Mom and Pop Shop and helps out with “Stuff the Bus.” She’s been given the school’s Life Saver award for giving blood, the Presidential Award, the Principal’s Award, and has been named Challenger Student of the Month.

Vanessa has a wide range of interests, and her favorite classes at Challenger have been video production, psychology, and ELA. After graduation she plans on studying screen writing, film and journalism in college.

Vanessa has loved her time at Challenger, and she says what makes the school so special is that the teachers and staff truly care about each and every student.

“They teach us that success isn’t just about being the best in school; it’s also about taking care of ourselves,” she said. “Challenger recognizes that at the end of the day we are human beings, it is important to work hard in life, and it is also important to experience life outside of school and take any opportunities we can. This school helps us provide balance in our lives to prepare for the future, and learn more about ourselves.”

Challenger High School senior Antonio Brown is a man of few words, so when he talks people tend to listen.

Antonio used his time at Challenger wisely. In addition to playing football and competing in karate, Antonio has been named to Challenger’s honor roll and Principal’s List, and he was the school’s chosen representative for Bethel’s Strategic Planning Day.

Antonio has worked hard during his years at Challenger, and he credits his teachers for helping him achieve his goals.

“The teachers here give extra support and help to encourage student success,” he said.

Antonio’s favorite classes at Challenger have been ELA and careers, and after graduation he plans on studying kinesiology or criminal justice in college.

Spanaway Lake High School student Letauaeletise Hunkin stays very busy with athletics and education, but she never loses sight of what she wants to do with her life.

“My dream is to open more doors for indigenous youth around the world and to be able to provide them with better educations and more opportunities,” she said.

That’s a big goal, but if anyone can accomplish it, it’s Letauaeletise. The senior has taken nine Advanced Placement courses, has been on the Honor Roll her entire SLHS career, was elected class president, and is a member of the Polynesian Club. She has also been the treasurer and vice president of the National Honor Society and has been captain of her varsity volleyball, wrestling, and track and field teams.

After graduating in June, Letauaeletise plans on moving north to Seattle to study cultural anthropology at the University of Washington.

“I realize I have been blessed with much more opportunity than some of my counterparts, and I want to be able to use my privilege to give back to my community and give them opportunities that I took for granted,” she said.

Letauaeletise has accomplished a lot in her young life, and she’s quick to credit her teachers and fellow students at SLHS for helping guide her on her journey.

“The students at Spanaway Lake have such diverse backgrounds, and I think it’s great to see how so many people get along with others, despite having different beliefs, cultures, and religions. With so much hate and negativity in our world lately, it’s nice to see people accept each other for who they are,” she said.

When Spanaway Lake High School senior Walker Ward graduates and moves on to college, he will bring with him an impressive resume in the field of robotics.

Walker has been involved in FIRST robotics for nine years, and just this year his Sentinel Prime team traveled to Texas to compete against 400 of the best robotics teams in the world.

When he’s not studying or competing as a member of Sentinel Prime, Walker mentors a local LEGO robotics team. He is also an Eagle Scout, a varsity letterman in tennis, and a member of the National Honor Society.

After graduation, Walker is moving to Montana to study at the Montana State University’s School of Engineering, where he plans on majoring in either computer science or electrical/mechanical engineering.

Walker has loved his time at SLHS, and he says everyone — from teachers to students to counselors — has helped contribute to his success.

“The people are responsible for our school’s uniqueness,” he said. “From the plethora of clubs and activities we offer to the variety of advanced classes. Without the people at this school, the unique culture that our school has nurtured would not be remotely possible.”

Spanaway Lake High School’s Nma Chika Ejiawoko has a full dance card — both literally and figuratively.

The senior is a member of her school’s dance team, but she’s also the school’s ASB president, a member of the tennis team, president of the National Honor Society, and a three time Elizabeth Wesley Award winner.

Nma says the students and staff at SLHS have helped make her time at the school so successful and fulfilling.

“Everyone is so caring and welcoming, which made my four years of high school so memorable,” she said.

Nma’s dream is to become an an actuary, and so when she heads off to college next year she plans on studying mathematics and possibly accounting. She is exited about leaving high school and attending North Carolina’s Bennett College — where she received a $25,000 Presidential Scholarship — but Spanaway Lake High School will always hold a special place in her heart.

“What makes SLHS so special is the diversity,” she said. “I love that everyone is different and that SLHS has different cultures all in one place. It really makes me happy to know that I go to a school that is so accepting.”

Bethel High School senior Jared Coffelt isn’t afraid of a challenge.

Not only will he be one of the first graduates from Bethel’s rigorous and competitive Cambridge Program, but he also finds time to play in the school’s jazz ensemble and dabble in robotics and Spanish.

He’s also a member of the National Honor Society, the Engage Design Movement, and the Link Crew, which helps acclimate younger students to high school life.

Jared isn’t afraid of trying new things, which might explain why he’s choosing to move across the country to attend college next year. He plans on moving to Pennsylvania to study chemical engineering at the University of Pittsburgh.

While his success is a product of his own hard work, Jared is quick to praise the staff at Bethel High School for helping him achieve his goals.

“They push for more opportunities and programs for their students, and are always willing to help where they can,” he said.

Jared said he was especially impressed with the resources BHS offers its students.

“If you want to do it or learn it, there is a way to do so,” he said. “From the Cambridge program to PCSC, to the PLTW (Project Lead The Way) courses, there are so many opportunities for people to pursue what they want.”

Bethel High School senior Hannah Richardson has accomplished a lot in her young life — including being named a 2018 Daffodil Princess — but she’s probably best known as the “Voice of Bethel.”

Every morning, Hannah reads the daily announcements over BHS’s PA system, so even if they don’t know her personally, every Bethel student knows her voice.

Hannah loves being a part of the larger Bethel High School community, and she rarely misses a chance to connect with fellow students. She’s a member of the school’s tennis and leadership teams, and she enjoys weight training with her friends.

“I’ve enjoyed being an active member of my student body through leadership, class officer positions, and school activities,” she said.

Hannah said the teachers and staff members at Bethel High do everything in their power to put students in a position to succeed in life.

“The variety of resources for academic and personal achievement within Bethel and beyond has pushed Bethel High’s student body to be dedicated to their dreams and passions,” she said.

Hannah plans on moving to Bellingham next year to attend Western Washington University, where she’ll purse a degree in environmental studies. Ideally, Hannah would love to do work educating the public about environmental issues on an international level.

Danmar Miraflor is not afraid to take risks.

As an eighth grader, Danmar was one of the first students in the school district to sign up for a new and highly-competitive academic program called Cambridge. A bright and ambitious student, Danmar knew he could maintain a high grade point average if he continued to take standard courses, but liked the idea of challenging himself with a rigorous education in the Cambridge Program.

Now a senior, Danmar is preparing to graduate with distinction from Bethel High School with a Cambridge diploma.

“The Cambridge program has an amazing selection of dedicated teachers. It’s an intensive and humbling experience. It’s better prepared me for college and life in general,” he said.

Next year Danmar will head off to college at the University of Washington in Seattle, where he will purse a mechanical engineering degree in order to become a developmental engineer in the Air Force.

That will take a lot of hard work, but hard work isn’t something Danmar shies away from. He is a member of the BHS Air Force JROTC drill team, has put in 500 hours of community service, and is will graduate as Bethel High’s valedictorian.

He has enjoyed his time at Bethel High, and he credits the teachers and staff members involved with the Cambridge Program and the JROTC for helping him reach his goals.

“The AFJROTC program is very well-developed — lots of activities and opportunities. It’s a great program to build leadership skills and character,” he said.

For Destiny Cannady, the Pierce County Skills Center has been a conduit between her academic career and her dream of working in the medical field.

The Spanaway Lake High School senior has already earned a full-tuition scholarship to Pacific Lutheran University to study nursing, and she credits the teachers and facilities at the Skills Center for helping her on her journey.

“I have enjoyed being able to learn hands-on and having the opportunity to attend here. I enjoy being able to practice skills each day until I get them down,” she said.

Destiny, who is the Medical Careers program at PCSC, plans on getting a bachelors degree in nursing, and later on she hopes to earning a masters degree.

During the years it will take to earn her various degrees, Destiny plans on working in the nursing field thanks to the CNA certification she will earn from the Skills Center.

While Destiny has earned all the success she’s had, she’s quick to thank the teachers who have helped her along the way. She specifically singled out PCSC instructor Elizabeth Dannen for praise.

“Ms. Dannen is always there for us, she is there for our success,” Destiny said.

Not every high school student knows what they want they want to do for a career, but Ronia Cartwright isn’t like every high school student.

The Graham-Kapowsin senior attends the Pierce County Skills Center, where she studies automotive technology. It’s a field she loves, and one that she will pursue after she graduates in June.

“It teaches real-world skills that are beneficial to our future. It teaches us how to work both as individuals and as a team,” Cartwright said of her automotive technology class.

Next year Cartwright will take the knowledge she gained at PCSC to Bates Technical College, where she will study diesel and heavy equipment technology.

When she’s not studying or working on cars, Cartwright volunteers at her church and helps lead field trips and mission trips with her youth group. She has loved her time at PCSC and credits the teachers for making her experience so rewarding.

“I like the community we are in here,” she said. “Mr. Anderson and Mr. G help me and we work together as a class — it’s a great community of learners to be a part of.”

While many of his classmates are preparing for college life, Spanaway Lake High School senior Hugo Sanchez is getting ready to serve his country.

Sanchez, who studies criminal justice at the Pierce County Skills Center, ships out for basic training in North Carolina the week after he graduates in June.

He has loved his time at the Skills Center and hopes to use some of his criminal justice training to become a military police officer.

“I enjoy hands-on learning and getting to practice in real-world scenarios,” Sanchez said of his time at PCSC. “The learning here is different; it’s interactive. It’s stuff you want to learn about and in a field I want to learn about for my future.”

Sanchez, who was the Skills Center’s Student of the Month in March, said he hopes to work in civilian law enforcement once he completes his military service.

Many students dream about one day working at company like Boeing, but most high schoolers don’t get the chance to do hands-on training in areas that might earn them a job at the aerospace giant.

Schoneman is a Challenger High School student, but every day he takes a bus to the Pierce County Skills Center to study aerospace composites.

Schoneman isn’t sure what he’ll do next year, but he’d like to either attend college or use his new skills to transition into a full-time job at a local aerospace company.

When he’s not in school, Schoneman likes to play basketball with his friends and build things. Prior to his time in the aerospace composites program, he studied construction trades at the Skills Center.

Helping kids learn is the driving force behind all we do in the Bethel School District.

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