Heights High School Class of 2018 Just like the thousands of Heights grads before them, the Class of 2018 is ready to dream big and take on anything that comes their way. The seniors profiled here are merely a handful of the amazing students who recently became our newest Heights alumni. Join us in congratulating the Heights High School Class of 2018!

Malcolm White

A natural on stage, Malcolm White has never been short on opportunities to showcase his talents. As a 14-year-old freshman, he earned a lead role in the school’s fall musical Guys and Dolls. Later that year, Malcolm’s Instagram cover songs went viral and he was offered a recording contract by Antwan “Big Boi” Patton of the hip hop group Outkast. Now a more seasoned teenager, Malcolm is performing for the second time in the Cleveland All City Musical at Playhouse Square this spring. He was nominated as Best Actor for his role as the scarecrow in last year’s All City production of The Wiz. Despite his success on stages beyond Heights High, Malcolm still credits the Vocal Music Department for helping to prepare him as a performer. “Being in the VMD has taught me that performing is more than just singing,” said Malcolm. “I have improved my voice, tone, and acting. I have learned to embody a character and work hard during rehearsal to be prepared for the show. I played soccer and I’m in the Career Tech Audio Engineering program, but the most important thing for me has been the vocal music department.” Malcolm plans to attend Hampton University in Virginia to study theater and business. He hopes to become a recording artist and one day perform on Broadway.

Mhwada Abdulrazzaq

An Iraqi immigrant who came to the Heights as an Arabic-speaking 14-year-old, Mhwada Abdulrazzaq is a classic example of the power of grit and determination. Her parents were forced to leave Iraq because of the war in the 1990s, and they settled in Libya, where Mhwada was born. When she was 12, the family moved again, leaving Libya for nearby Tunisia, as the danger of terrorism grew. Mhwada’s family applied to immigrate to the U.S. but had to wait more than two years to be accepted. “We were so happy to come to the U.S.,” said Mhwada. “I did not know any English when I came to Roxboro in eighth grade. I used Google Translate to get by and really worked to learn English. After a year, I could understand my teachers and now I have very good grades and am preparing myself for college.” A 2017 Cleveland Clinic eXpressions art award winner, Mhwada plans to attend Kent State University and study fashion design.

Marquise Williams

It all started with a sixth grade talent show where a nervous Marquise Williams first took the stage to dance. Fast forward several years, and he still dances, albeit on much bigger stages. Marquise and the urban hip-hop group Elevated Dance Crew took second place at the World of Dance Invitational in Chicago in 2017 and plan to compete at the 2018 world event this summer. “I dance because it defines who I am. I don’t know where I would be or what I would do if I didn’t have dance,” said Marquise. “Dance has given me so much--confidence, friendships, experiences. Dance makes me feel that I am different from everyone else. I hope that one day, dance is what keeps a roof over my head because I have never been more passionate about anything else.” Marquise, who is involved in AVID, MSAN, and drama club, plans to attend Cleveland State University to study graphic design while also pursuing a career in dance.

Alyssa Vaughn

With a wide variety of Career Technical Education programs available on site, Heights High students have access to real-world opportunities just down the hall from their traditional classrooms. This turned out to be quite the convenience for Alyssa Vaughn, who had her eye on a job in the medical field even before discovering the Pharmacy Technician program. She has spent two years in the program, which has led her to pursue a degree in pharmacy at the University of Toledo. A member of MSAN and the National Technical Honor Society, Alyssa credits her parents for challenging her academically. “My parents are a big support. They are always motivating me to do my best,” said Alyssa. “They have encouraged me to take AP and honors classes and learn as much as I can. I wanted to be in the medical field because my mother always tells me about her day and what it’s like to be a nurse.”

Tyreke Smith

One of the top high school football players in the country, Tyreke Smith had his choice among a long list of elite colleges seeking his talents on the gridiron. Tyreke committed to play at Ohio State, but take football away from the equation and he still would have had no shortage of college suitors. Tyreke is a straight-A student whose talent and leadership on the field are matched by his determination in the classroom. “I can’t imagine my life without sports,” said Tyreke. “My dream is to one day play in the NFL. My parents have always supported me playing sports, but they also insisted that I get good grades. That is really important to me too, as I plan to study business and finance in college.” A California transplant whose father is a Heights alum, Tyreke was captain of the football and basketball teams and is a member of National Honor Society and AVID.

Morgan Lewis

Oftentimes, student leaders develop a knack for inspiring other students and naturally go on to become teachers and school leaders as adults. Morgan Lewis appears to be on this track with her sights set on one day becoming a superintendent. “[Assistant Principal] Mrs. Simeri has inspired me to enter the field of education and to become a school leader,” said Morgan. “She is strong and always focused on her work. Her power is beyond her physical being. She might disagree with you, but she will always be firm and nice. I really respect her.” Morgan plans to attend Loyola University in Chicago to study secondary education. At Heights, Morgan is getting plenty of experience as a leader for a number of student groups. She is the president of SADD, vice president of the Gender Sexuality Alliance, secretary of the Senior Class Council, secretary of the Singers vocal group, and a member of the cross country team and poetry club.

Matthew Fields

For senior soloist Matthew Fields, music is in his blood. It’s his past, present, and if all goes as planned, his future. An accomplished cellist, Matthew plans to attend a music school and then audition for a professional orchestra after college. He’ll be choosing from among McGill University, Eastman School of Music, Indiana University, and the University of Cincinnati to continue his music education beyond Heights. “Music has been a driving force for my life,” said Matthew. “I come from a family of musicians, and this has really inspired me. I enjoy music because I feel like it is something that I can do to express my thoughts and feelings in a way that words cannot.”

Peyton Marshall

Many students graduate from Heights High with a list of possible majors and career paths. For Peyton Marshall, what she plans to do--and more importantly, why she plans to do it--is all but established. “I plan to attend Ohio State University in the pre-med track, so I can become a doctor,” said Peyton. “When I was younger, my dad was in and out of the hospital, and it took several years for the doctors to figure out what was wrong. I want to prevent families from going through that.” Peyton has been a student leader at Heights, serving as president of the Junior Class Council and vice president of the Senior Class Council. She is a member of the National Honor Society, served as an assistant athletic trainer for football, and sings in the women’s barbershoppers group.

Linnon McMullen

For budding entrepreneur Linnon McMullen the new Automotive Technology Lab at the Delisle Center is more than just a means to an end. It’s the jump start to a career that has been inspired by his entrepreneur father, Linnon Sr. “Working in the Auto Tech Lab just sets my mind free,” said the younger Linnon. “I love working on cars, and I enjoy working with other people to solve problems. My father has inspired me to be an entrepreneur. He owns his own business, and I’ve seen him be successful.” Linnon plans to attend Ohio Technical College to continue his education in automotive technology before opening his own auto shop. Linnon has already gained valuable business experience with positions at Giant Eagle, Cedar Center Hardware, and Sahlani Brothers Service Station.

Emma Routh

A product of Ruffing Montessori School through eighth grade, Emma Routh was attracted to the diversity and the many opportunities that Heights High offered. She has certainly taken advantage of those opportunities the past four years, getting involved in Swim Cadets, soccer, art club, and National Honor Society while taking AP and honors classes and College Credit Plus courses at Case Western. The ability to handle such a rigorous workload will come in handy next year, as Emma considers some of the top universities in the country including Wake Forest, Colgate, Northwestern, and Denison. Certainly not short on options, Emma considers Swim Cadets as her favorite experience at Heights. “I met my best friends on the team--they are a passionate, hard-working group of girls. The experience has taught me the value of working as a team and to never give up, even if your eyes are burning from chlorine!”

David Matia

All Heights High graduates obviously leave with a diploma in hand. David Matia will leave not only with a diploma but with the bulk of a college degree in tow. David has loaded up on College Credit Plus courses at John Carroll University the past two years and will graduate high school with 40 college credits. “I’ve really enjoyed taking classes that interest me at John Carroll, such as art history,” said David. “Next year, I plan to attend the University of Cincinnati’s School of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning. I am interested in pursuing a career in 3-D engineering product design with a focus on solving environmental problems through art and design.” Despite taking many classes off site, David has remained active at Heights High. He is the co-president of the Cleveland Heights Youth Committee, which is an independent group of students who perform community service and advocate for policy change at the local and national level. David is also a member of Model UN, National Honor Society, art club, and the soccer and golf teams.

Josephine Johnson

Heights High is a place that cultivates student leaders with big ideas. Josephine Johnson is no different. She plans to attend Cuyahoga County Community College to be a dental hygienist, but Josephine has kept her eyes on a bigger prize with a long-term goal of creating an organization that helps people access basic necessities such as housing, food, and clothing. She has honed her leadership skills by being an active member of MSAN, helping to plan and host the 2017 national student convention held last October in Cleveland. “I’ve been a leader in MSAN, which works to close the achievement gap for students across the U.S. and fights to solve injustice in schools,” said Josephine. “Attending the national MSAN conferences and hosting the 2017 national convention has allowed me to meet many different students and hear motivational speakers to help us enact change.”

Kyle Mattox

Under the direction of commander Johnnie Lemons, the Criminal Justice program at Heights High is well known for preparing its students to be independent thinkers and productive citizens. Kyle Mattox is another shining example of a student who leaves the program with an eye towards serving his community. “I really want to help people who are marginalized and who need support,” said Kyle. “I think that going into law enforcement is a way to serve my community.” Kyle plans to take a gap year before attending Tri-C and then Cleveland State to study law enforcement. At Heights High, Kyle is a member of the track and cross country teams and also participates in the AFS Club, Chess Club, East Asian Club, the Robotics Team, and SADD.

Lauren Iott

One of the top lacrosse players in the state of Ohio, Lauren Iott has to rely on her hands to succeed in a sport that necessitates quick and deft coordination. She’ll need this skill to succeed as a pro--not as an athlete but as a professional interpreter. Lauren will study American Sign Language at Grand Valley State University, where she received a scholarship to play lacrosse. “ASL is pretty easy for me,” said Lauren. “I love the motion of it, and the fact that it’s tactile. I hope to be an interpreter and work at concerts and events.” Lauren attended Communion of Saints through the eighth grade but was drawn to Heights from conversations with her friends at Roxboro Middle School. She served as captain of the lacrosse team, earning multiple all-state honors, while also playing four years of soccer, singing in the VMD, and participating in AVID.

Raena Gamble

It’s no coincidence when Raena Gamble, a future anthropologist, says her favorite part of Heights High is the sense of community. Raena grew up in the CH-UH system, attending Gearity Preschool, Noble Elementary, and Roxboro Middle before landing at Heights High. It’s quite possibly this sense of shared history with her classmates that has inspired Raena into pursuing archeology and anthropology in college. She has applied to several schools, including Wooster, Oberlin, Case Western, and Kent State, where she currently takes College Credit Plus courses. “Last summer, I had a Future Connections internship at the Natural History Museum and Dunham Tavern Museum,” said Raena, who is also involved in National Honor Society, tennis, marching band, symphonic winds, and the East Asian Club. “My ultimate goal is to earn a PhD. I would like to bring history to other kids so they can get the same experience I did when I went to museums.”

Congratulations Class of 2018!


Paul Sobota Photography

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