Top 20 Banquet The Top 20 students in the Class of 2019 were honored on Thursday, May 2.

Alisa Adhikari

Alisa Adhikari chose to honor high school Chemistry teacher Andy Kominowski and middle school science teacher Steve Wessling.

Adhikari, who wants to be a pediatric neurologist, credits Wessling for helping her discover her passion for science.

"Thank you to Mr. Wessling, his class, and astounding personality that initially cultivated my love for science and dedication to pursue a career in the medical field," Adhikari said.

Adhikari also thanked Mr. Kominowski for helping her through what she considered to be her hardest high school course, AP Chemistry. Kominowski praises her for her confidence in herself even in the hardest times of class.

"Her quiet confidence. First day of school and as I see it, there are two ways to pronounce her first name," Kominowski said. "Needless to say I didn’t say it correctly and she corrects me. Many wouldn’t, or wouldn’t for a long time. First time for a long A Alisa. From there out, she was singular Lisa. “A”lisa. This confidence was evident throughout the year in many things that she did."

Lyra Bailey

Lyra Bailey honored her second grade teacher Terry Cazee. Not only did Cazee make a lasting impression on Bailey, but Bailey has left a mark of her own.

"Throughout the years, there are a few students who standout and really bless your life," Cazee said. "Lyra Bailey was certainly one of them. She definitely touched and made a lasting impression on my heart."

Bailey also thanked high school science teachers Trina Veerkamp and Andy Kominowski.

"Fast forward ten years later, thank you to Mrs. Veerkamp for reminding me to have fun," Bailey said. "Your positive attitude is contagious, and I can honestly say, you were the highlight of my white days. I would get up in the morning and say to myself, at least I get to see Mrs. Veerkamp today."

Luke Boha

Luke Boha chose to honor his Extended Learning teacher Sonny Moore and former Honors English 10 teacher Karen Davis.

“Mr. Moore, you worked me to my absolute limit at times, but I am thankful for that because you always pushed me to be better,” Boha said. “You held me accountable and helped me achieve my goals while also learning at the highest possible standard.”

Boha’s passion for learning and ability to get along with others is what set him apart in Davis’s eyes.

“His intelligent questions and responses, his calm and smiling demeanor, and his camaraderie with other students make him an excellent student and future leader,” Davis said. “He fits well in a classroom culture that has high expectations for individual learning and that requires mutual respect for all students and the teacher. I ask students to do the best they can with what they have. Luke does.”

Boha also thanked his parents for shaping him into who he is today and teaching him the importance of perseverance.

“Mom and Dad, from a young age you always encouraged me to do my best and apply myself fully in everything I put my mind to,” Boha said. “You believed that I could do anything I wanted if I worked hard enough and instilled this principle upon me at a very young age.”

William Bontrager

William Bontrager first honored his parents for believing in his abilities before thanking his guests computer science teacher Summer Ehresman along with former track coach Alex Basham.

“[Thank you to] my parents for always supporting me and pushing me to higher successes than I had thought myself capable of,” Bontrager said.

Basham had the chance to work with Bontrager both in the classroom and on the track.

"Throughout middle school he was always one of the hardest workers in his class and on the field," Basham said. "I’m not sure he knows how to give anything less than 100%. Not only does he work hard which makes him successful at everything he does; he is more importantly a great young man. He is kind, compassionate and respectful of others, just to name a few. He will try to out-work you while also trying to out nice you."

Lexi Burns

"A position in the top 20 doesn’t solely reflect intellect," Lexi Burns said. "Even the brightest don’t get As without trying. It reflects work ethic, and drive, a genuine desire to go to school each day and learn something new - traits that we all have someone to be thankful for."

Valedictorian Lexi Burns certainly understands that. Burns chose to recognize her elementary school gym teacher Melody Cragen and high school Spanish teacher Kim Gill for all their support during her time at CG.

Gill became not just a teacher to Burns, but a mentor. Even though Gill has since retired, the two continue to communicate in Spanish.

"In addition to maintaining awesome grades in multiple book-related courses, Lexi paints and has started several businesses of her own," Gill said. "She is tireless, selfless and a wonderful piece of clay that is going to become one amazing sculpture in our lifetime!"

Nolan Coy

Nolan Coy credits his second grade elementary school teacher Susan Dotson for his success as an academia.

"Elementary school is a place where students form the habits that drive their academic success for the rest of their lives," Coy said. "I was lucky enough to be placed in Mrs. Dotson's classroom, where I was shown for the first time that learning and fun are not mutually exclusive. Were it not for her influence, I have no doubt my life would have taken a different path."

Coy also honored high school Spanish teacher Adam Gaff, who Coy has been close with since his freshman year of high school.

"He is an incredibly bright student who constantly pushes himself to deeper understanding of content," Gaff said. "He is the consummate life-long learner. Nolan has been a fixture in my classroom the last four years and I have enjoyed getting to know him."

Tom Ferris

Tom Ferris chose to acknowledge high school French teacher Chris Frampton and middle school science teacher Greg Jansen, one of which he first met on the baseball diamond.

"I actually met Tom before I ever had him as a student. He was a catcher for his little league baseball team and I was a regular umpire," Jansen said. "Of all the players that I encountered during those years, Tom stood out from the rest because of his leadership and passion. When Tom walked into my classroom as a 7th grader, I saw the same leadership on display every single day."

Frampton's impact on Ferris was bigger than just a normal classroom learning setting.

"Mrs. Frampton is the only teacher I consider to be a close friend," Ferris said. "She is somebody who wants you to succeed, who recognizes that grades are not the be all and end all of what defines you as a student."

Dillon Gardner

All Student Body President Dillon Gardner credits an elementary school teacher, Barb Dunn, for influencing who he has become today.

"It sounds silly to say nine years later, but she was one of the first teachers to go out of her way to challenge me," Gardner said. "Without her encouragement and care, I never would have pushed myself to the degree that I did all throughout school, and I never would have made it here tonight."

Another one of the teachers Gardner chose to recognize was high school Physics teacher Greg Werner. The pair have even had the chance to "geek out" together over topics applied from AP Physics.

"I have really enjoyed discussing Dillon’s pursuit of building his own pickup to amplify his acoustic instrument," Werner said. "It was so impressive hearing about how he would continue to improve the design to get better sound. I may have geeked out a little since it is a direct application of the Electromagnetism topics we were studying in class.

Lastly Gardner thanked his family, specifically crediting his younger brother Tristan for being "responsible for making me take a break from my responsibilities and just enjoy life."

Emma Hughes

Emma Hughes honored middle school science teacher Jacob Burskey and high school English teacher and Publications adviser Melissa Warner.

While most of her time with Warner was not spent in a traditional classroom setting, Hughes has formed a special connection with Warner that goes beyond the school day.

"Emma's leadership in publications has been invaluable for the past three years," Warner said. "She's one of the most dependable students I have ever had, and the pride she takes in both her work and in helping others is impressive. She's the type of student who makes my job as the teacher easy!"

Hughes also thanked her parents not only for all they have done for her, but also allowing her the opportunity to travel across the world as a foreign exchange student her sophomore year.

"I don't know many parents who are willing to send their 15 year old, and only child, across the world to live with strangers for a year, but you did, and continuously believed in me," Hughes said. "I'm so proud to be your daughter and cannot thank you enough for so many of my dreams you have helped turn into a reality."

Luke Irons

Luke Irons was happy to be able to honor Daniel Stier and Josh Torres at Thursday's banquet. While Irons is not known to be very vocal, at the beginning of high school Torres saw though Irons’ reserved demeanor and saw the ideas that laid below the surface.

“While he seems quiet on the surface, Luke always has thoughts to share. He is very respectful and mature beyond his years,” Torres said. “All of these factors help to make him very responsible which has fueled his academic and musical success!”

Irons has learned many important skills that he will carry with him for the rest of his life.

“A very large aspect of my life in high school was shaped by my participation in Center, Grove music program. For me, this includes concert band, marching band, and indoor percussion,” Irons said. “Mr. Torres has been a constant driving force behind all these activities for me. Through each of these I have learned several important life skills, including time management, determination, endurance and leadership.”

Tara Isanaka

Tara Isanaka honored high school Math teacher Troy Dice and middle school teacher Susan Porter.

Isanaka's level of hard work did not go unnoticed by fellow peers and teachers.

"Tara always came to class super prepared and was at a level of understanding most students do not reach," Dice said. "Very intelligent but also focused and determined. Very trustworthy."

"In middle school, Tara was a key member of MSC’s science academic team," Porter said. "Tara loved to learn and was such a hard-worker!"

Isanaka not only credits her teachers for helping her grow as a student and a person, but also credits her peers.

“If it wasn’t for many of the individuals in this room, I might be headed in a completely different direction,” Isanaka said.

Ellie Jarosinski

Ellie Jarosinski recognized middle school English teacher Amy Williams and high school Math teacher Amy Wingler. In her speech, Jaronsinski recalled the lasting affect her sixth grade English teacher really made on her.

"I still have my Memory Book project with all of your little notes in it, and each look through it reminds me of how far above and beyond you went as a teacher," Jarosinski said.

Jarosinski took Honors Geometry at the high school when she was just an eighth grader, and while that would prove nerve-racking for many, Jarosinski handled it with ease.

"Ellie is one of the brightest young ladies that I have had in all my years of teaching Honors Geometry," Wingler said. "She is so mature and always prepared. She stays calm when the math gets tough and doesn’t get overwhelmed. Ellie handles stress well and did so as an 8th grader taking a high school math course."

Will Pack

William Pack honored his freshman geography teacher Alan Hagedorn and his fourth grade teacher Ronnie Hobson. Hagedorn helped with his interest in model United Nations through his role as the club’s sponsor.

“Will Pack is the best student leader with which I have ever worked. His reliability, predictably, adaptability, and humanity are beyond what I would expect of a student,” Hagedorn said. “Will calmly walked into my room every morning that we had club developments and he had already thought through the next stages of our meeting and conference planning. In mere moments we covered all of the current concerns and he sent a group message to the club within minutes of our discussion.”

Pack also spoke about the lasting effects he has had from his time in Hobson’s fourth grade class.

“I would like to thank Mr. Hobson for making fourth grade a great year. I may not remember many specific details about fourth grade but I do remember the constant support and encouragement from Mr. Hobson helped me to be successful.”

Aditi Ravikumar

Aditi Ravikumar chose to honor her middle school science teacher Brandon Painter as well as her high school science teacher Mike Bishop. Her willingness to put forth effort was apparent to Bishop from the very beginning.

“Her focus, work ethic and determination were/are incredible,” Bishop said. “Many people are smart, but lack the work ethic, focus and determination it takes to be truly successful. She exemplifies all three of those traits.”

Ravikumar also thanked English teacher Katie DeArmitt, who helped to figure out her path to graduation.

“Thank you for always understanding me, believing in me and looking out for me. Thank you for pushing me out of my comfort zone, without that I would’ve never considered making the leap from early college to honors AP track or taking up leadership positions.”

Kaitlyn Stewart-Allen

Kaitlyn Stewart-Allen opened up her speech with light-hearted allusion to High School Musical, which was one of the most prominent movies for the class of 2019 as five year olds.

"If I can take away one thing from my high school experience, it's the fact that High School Musical is a sham," Stewart-Allen said. "There are no pink lockers or Zac Efrons passionately sing-fighting their feelings..."

While High School Musical may have inaccurately depicted high school, Stewart-Allen did have a "Fabulous" high school experience thanks to the music department. Stewart-Allen chose to honor band teachers Michael Bolla and Kevin Schuessler.

"Kaitlyn has been a pillar of the work ethic and dedication that we promote highly in the music area," Schuessler said. "She is extremely bright and talented which give us much to talk about and makes for fun conversations along the way of any experience."

Ellie Strube

Ellie Strube recognized middle school grade social studies teacher Lindsey Wissell. While Strube was a student in Wissell's social studies class her eighth grade year, Strube also developed a bond with her as coach and player.

"I was lucky enough to not only have her in class but to also coach her in basketball for two years," Wissell said. "I really enjoyed coaching her because she always worked so hard and I could count on her in the game. Ellie is successful because she chooses to be successful. She sets goals for herself and creates a plan to accomplish that goal."

Strube also recognized her high school guidance counselor Lindsay Miller.

"Mrs. Miller, thank you so much for being a true supporter over these four years, especially this year," Strube said. "You have been nothing but patient with my endless requests and inquiries. And I could always tell you took a genuine interest in my interests and goals as a student and as of this summer, a cadet."

Isha Sura

Middle school teacher Jacinda Reardon never had Isha Sura in class, but their time together in student council certainly had a lasting affect on the future Senior Class President.

"Surprisingly, I never had Ms. Reardon as a teacher, however the personal support she has given me the last six years is more valuable than anything I could learn in the classroom," Sura said.

Sura also recognized high school Science teacher, Andrea Teevan. Teevan not only led Sura in the school's HOSA program, but also guided her throughout all of her high school decisions.

[Teevan] encouraged me while I applied myself as a leader and future health professional through school and HOSA," Sura said. "Through this, she helped me realize that school wasn't just my final destination, but rather a tool I should use to accomplish my goals."

"She is a student that creates meaningful opportunities and excels in everything that she does," Teevan said.

Priyanka Thomas

Priyanka Thomas chose to honor her middle school teacher Tracy Poole, as well as her high school teacher Cindy Cullom. As a middle schooler, her excitement for learning was apparent.

“As a 6th grader, she was attentive, hard-working, and eager to learn. I will always remember her as being a young lady committed to doing her best,” Poole said. “She was, and still is, a friendly and well-liked young lady. I have no doubt she will continue to be successful in college and beyond!”

Both of the teachers that Thomas chose to honor at the ceremony have left a lasting impact on her.

“I would like to thank Mrs. Cullom because it is through her psychology class I became aware of my career goal. Her teaching inspired me to take initiative and apply myself into a subject I love,” Thomas said. “I would also like to thank Mrs. pool for support and kindness early on in my years as a student. Middle school was rough to transition into, but her compassion encouraged me every day to give my best in school.”

Lillian Varney

Lilly Varney recognized Extended Learning teacher Penny Poynter and high school English teacher David Lawson.

Varney credits Poynter for shaping her into the student she is today all while impressing Poynter with her drive and determination.

"Lilly is particularly memorable to me because of her quiet sweetness," Poynter said. "Her sweet personality was in contrast to her fierce intelligence. Her work showed her deep thoughts and great writing ability but she didn’t brag about her grades. I believe she has been so successful through much hard work. She doesn’t expect her successes to just happen—she works to make them happen."

Varney also thanked Lawson for being an influential figure both in and out of the classroom.

"I tend to be shy when it comes to my intellect, but Mr. Lawson gifted me with an inestimable command for words," Varney said. "What I cherish so much about the relationship I built with Mr. Lawson is its extension beyond the classroom...I cannot begin to express the value of having a teacher who appreciates my thoughts and words and the amount of ways in which Mr. Lawson has helped me."

Justin Xu

Justin Xu thanked his band instructor from his middle school and school careers, Joe Lapka and high school math teacher Karen Fruits. Throughout his time as a part the Center Grove band, Xu has impressed his instructor with his work ethic.

“What makes Justin successful in everything he chooses to do his is unrelenting work ethic in pursuit of excellence. He simply won't allow himself to fail,” Lapka said. “Even when I have made a passing comment about how he can improve something I have found that the next time he demonstrates it, even if is just a couple days later, it is obvious he has applied the small suggestion and used it to get better. I will also remember Justin for his kindness and politeness - he is just a great all-around person.”

Xu’s hard work with Lapka has lead to his love for music, and Lapka spent long hours working with Xu one-on-one in order to further his growth.

“Starting in sixth grade, he helped me navigate my way through the clarinet when I was still very unfamiliar with the instrument,” Xu said. “Since then, he has continued to push me to become a better musician in both marching band and concert band.”

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