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Top 20 Banquet CGHS honors senior academic achievements

Mitchell Black

Tonight, Mitchell Black honored high school Spanish teacher Kim Gill and middle school science teacher Jeff Karns.

Black ran cross country for Karns at Middle School North, as well as having him as a teacher in seventh grade.

"Although Mr. Karns was my science teacher in seventh grade, I learned the most from him during the three years I spent on the MSN Cross Country team," Black said. "I was never the fastest on the team - In fact, I was the slowest until my third year when another kid injured his leg - but that never stopped the coaches from being as attentive to me as they were to the others. Mr. Karns taught me to dig deep and find within myself the determination to keep running. To never stop pushing, never give up on my goals and never settle for less than my best efforts."

In high school, Black decided on Spanish as his foreign language and honored Gill, who he had for both Spanish 3 and Spanish 5.

Through Señora Gill’s famous “red flower, green stem” philosophy, I’ve realized my ability to take projects to the next level, using rubrics as guidelines to expand upon instead of meticulously work around," Black said. "More so in Spanish than in any other high school class, I have felt that my schooling is not about the grade. True education is about learning, a process equally rooted in mistakes and failures as it is in successes."

As Black wraps up his high school career, he realizes that it was these teachers who helped him both inside and outside of the classroom.

"I am the busiest and most tired I’ve ever been, and also the happiest," Black said. "And I couldn’t have done it without the lessons I learned from these educators- not lessons about school alone, but about making life the fullest it can be."

Brett Boswell

Brett Boswell honored two teachers, one of whom he'd never had in class.

MSC teacher Gary Robinson was Brett's small group leader.

“Mr. Robinson has been a great role model to me throughout the years," Boswell said. "Through Bible studies and sports, we’ve always grown close together. I look up to him as a man of God and thank him for being a great inspiration to me as I grew up."

Boswel also said he appreciated high school Spanish teacher Adam Gaff's influence.

I also want to thank Mr. Gaff for taking me under his wing junior year," Boswell said. "I’ve never had a teacher be so kind and caring as he has been, and he seems to always know when I need that inspirational text to lift me up."

Boswell said Gaff was "not only a great teacher but also an amazing mentor and friend."

Adam Brody

Adam Brody honored Our Lady of the Greenwood second grade teacher Pat Rose and Social Studies teacher Eric Howe.

Brody, who plans to attend Butler University to pursue a degree in actuarial science, honored his second grade math teacher from Our Lady of Greenwood.

"Mrs. Rose was the first teacher to spark my interest in mathematics by assigning me extra math problems when I was done with the rest of my work," Brody said. He added, "Also, thank you for just teaching me how to be a good person."

Brody also acknowledged the skills he learned in social studies teacher Eric Howe's classroom.

"I was blessed to have [Mr. Howe] as a high school teacher for multiple social studies classes," Brody said. "He helped me develop my critical thinking skills and helped me talk with other people an academic, fun manner."

Mackenzie Castellanos

Mackenzie Castellanos honored Middle School Central teacher Amy Williams and high school English teacher Rachel Tonte.

For Castellanos, honoring Williams had as much to do with what happened inside the classroom as it did with outside the classroom.

"I have known [Williams] for a long time and she has always supported me in my studies and throughout my years on her daughter's soccer team," Castellanos said.

In high school, Castellanos had Tonte for STaR, a class that aims to build relationships between teachers and students.

"Last year Mrs. Tonte gave all her STaR students a marble and told us that it represented the unique qualities that exist in every individual and that she carries one with her every day as a reminder to appreciate everyone. This message has stuck with me ever since," Castellanos said. "[I honored] Mrs. Tonte because of her passion for teaching as well as her compassion for others inspires me. She is a very kind-hearted, positive person."

Jacob Cooley

Jacob Cooley chose to honor middle school Choir teacher Dan Andersen and high school Business teacher Chad Daniels.

"Mr. Andersen taught me how to carry myself in a confident yet professional way in life and to be more caring for others," Cooley said.

Like many high school students, Cooley figured out what he wanted to do as a career with the help of teachers, specifically Daniels.

"Going into high school freshman and sophomore year, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life," Cooley said. "During my sophomore year, Mr. Daniels inspired me to go into the world of business in the future and continues to help me today with my pursuits for Kelley School of Business and future as an investment banker."

Kathryn Edel

Katie Edel honored West Grove first grade teacher Jill Vican and high school Science teacher Trina Veerkamp.

Vican's impact has always stuck with Edel, even though she had her near the beginning of her school career.

"Mrs. Vlcan taught me when I was only a little girl, but this is where my love for learning began," Edel said. "She made me excited to go to school and challenge myself. She also helped me believe I could do anything and be anything I wanted to be, which motivated me to work hard and dream big."

While Vican helped Edel begin to love learning, it was Veerkamp who helped her realize she had a love for science.

"Mrs. Veerkamp was another amazing teacher of mine who helped me discover my passion for science," Edel said. "I remember one of the first days of Anatomy when I told her I wanted to go into medicine and her entire face lit up. She made me excited about my future and has always been very supportive in my aspirations."

Isaac Hagedorn

Isaac Hagedorn honored Leanne Mathews and English teacher Katie DeArmitt.

"Mrs. Mathews opened my eyes to the education beyond books," Hagedorn said. "I don't believe learning was ever as fun as it was in EL."

Hagedorn also appreciated the impact DeArmitt had in high school.

"Words cannot do justice for all she has done for me over these past four years," Hagedorn said. "She's always been there for me, not only to challenge me but also to guide me along the way."

DeArmitt recalls Hagedorn as a student who loved learning.

DeArmitt said, "As a student, Isaac always pushes himself to go above and beyond my expectations. In fact, as a sophomore in American Studies, he chose to prepare for and take the AP US History exam on his own."

Zoe Hanquier

Band member Zoe Hanquier chose to honor band teacher Joe Lapka and Pleasant Grove Elementary School teacher Debbie Shaw.

"I invited Mr. Lapka because he has given me amazing opportunities in marching band and taught me both about music and life," Hanquier said. As clarinet section leader, she and Lapka worked closely to perfect performances.

Hanquier's leadership had its roots in elementary school, where as a member of Shaw's class, Hanquier was asked to take on a role she has never forgotten.

"I invited Mrs. Shaw because she inspired my learning from a young age," Hanquier said. "She asked me to help a student understand a topic because she thought I had a good handle of the information."

Cassidy Hardin

Cassidy Hardin honored Alisha Milligan from the high school and Math Teacher Paula Boas from Middle School Central.

Milligan, who teaches advanced chemistry courses, inspired Hardin to pursue studies in the sciences.

"I chose Mrs. Milligan because she was my Organic Chemistry teacher this year, and she’s the reason one of my majors is going to be Biochemistry in college," Hardin said.

While Milligan inspired Hardin's academic pursuits, Hardin said Boas helped her grow as a person.

"Mrs. Boas was such a great teacher and friend to me and has influenced me in so many ways," Hardin said.

Madison Hodges

Madison Hodges honored Sam Fritz from MSC and Karen Fruits from the high school.

As drum major of the 17-18 Marching Band, Hodges demonstrated both passion and skill in music. That is why she chose to honor Fritz.

"I'm bringing Mr. Fritz, my middle school band teacher, because he introduced me to music and has taught my siblings and me for a total of 10 years," Hodges said.

Recognized as one of Indiana's Regional Academic All-Stars, Hodges also appreciated Fruits because of the way she taught advanced mathematics.

"I'm also bringing Mrs. Fruits because she makes calculus fun and approachable," Hodges said.

Sam Jean

Sam Jean honored MSC teacher Brian Quinlan and high school Social Studies teacher Cale Hoover.

Jean said he had been "blessed with influential teachers, people who have given far beyond the requirements of the job and poured into my life and help shape and mold me."

Jean, who plans to play golf and pursue mechanical engineering at the University of Cincinnati, said his two honorees were particularly significant in his success.

"They’ve been instrumental in pushing me to grow both inside the classroom and out," Jean said. "Thanks for giving so selflessly; I’m a better person for knowing you."

Grace Long

For Debtones member Grace Long, teachers who inspired her singing were the right choice to be honored.

Long honored high school Debtones Director Jared Norman. "I chose him because he has given me countless opportunities in Debtones and also has pushed me past what I thought I could do," Long said.

Norman asked Long to open for Jane Lynch at The Cabaret in December 2017. Long called the experience "one amazing opportunity."

Yvonne Perkins was Long's private voice and piano teacher. "I chose her because she has been a great support to me throughout both middle school and high school and has consistently pushed me toward more challenging pieces I never thought I could do," Long said.

Long also sang in the community with Perkins, both at her last recital before retirement and at her church.

Breanna Motsenbocker

Breanna Motsenbocker chose to honor two teachers who continue to have an impact on her, including one she's known since 6th grade.

Motsenbocker selected Percussion Teacher Joe Torres, who has been her instructor since middle school. She said he "taught me everything I know" about leadership and determination through marching band and percussion.

During Motsenbocker's sophomore year, the percussion section needed a new leader, called "center snare.'' Torres "took a chance and gave me the spot even though there were older people who could just have easily gotten it," Motsenbocker said. "That whole year he constantly worked with me to be a good leader and player and really helped me grow a crazy amount in a short period of time."

Another teacher who encouraged Motsenbocker was her 11th grade English teacher, Lesley McDougal.

"Ever since I met her my junior year she has always been a huge supporter of me in everything I do and she never fails to cheer me up," Motsenbocker said.

McDougal has supported Motsenbocker as a student and as a percussionist, watching her performances.

"Seeing her while she is drumming is inspiring...the passion and love she has for her craft is written on her face and is inspiring," McDougal said. "Breanna is everything you would want in a student: kind, funny, determined, gracious and intelligent."

Rory Peters

Rory Peters chose teachers who inspired her to love learning: North Grove Elementary teacher Penny Poynter and English teacher Josh Surface.

"I had Mrs Poynter way back in fifth grade, but I doubt I will ever forget the impact she had on my education," Peters said. "I may not remember what she taught me about math, and I may not remember who Johnny Tremain is, but I will always remember how she taught me those things and how she gave me the tools to continue teaching myself. She is the reason I love learning.

The love of learning was also fostered in Surface's classroom.

"Mr Surface is the first teacher who has made me feel genuinely confident in my work," Peters said. "He has consistently gone out of his way to help me, whether that be in regard to an essay, a book, or even just a bad day."

Peters said he cared not only about his students' grades, but also his students as people.

"I am not interested in going into an English-related career, but Mr Surface has encouraged me, listened to me, and has made me feel welcome in life and excited for my future," Peters said.

Kaitlyn Petrow

Kaitlyn Petrow honored her fourth grade teacher Nancy McDowell and AP Language teacher David Lawson.

"Mrs. McDowell always inspired me to strive for excellence," Petrow said. "She challenged me and made learning fun, becoming one of my favorite teachers that shaped my academic career, which is why I invited her."

Lawson was also a teacher who shaped Petrow's academics.

"Mr. Lawson was my teacher for AP English Language last year," Petrow said. "I invited him because I wanted to thank him for continually pushing me to improve my writing and try my hardest in his class as well as others. I know undoubtedly that my writing improved two-fold throughout his class, and it has become something I am very passionate about; I am so grateful for that."

Lawson said Petrow's writing skills were recognized in the Scholastic Arts & Writing Contest.

"She won two Gold Keys and was published in the anthology two years in a row," Lawson said. "She was the only student in the entire state to accomplish that in the Critical Writing category. She wrote about alternatives to vivisection and an analysis of 'Tootsie.'"

Mackenna Pruitt

Mackenna Pruitt was active in STUGO throughout high school, and she chose to honor two people who inspired her leadership skills.

Pruitt chose Cinda Reardon, MSN English teacher, and former CGHS Assistant Principal Sandy Hillman.

"I chose them because they played a large role in developing me into a leader and shaping me into the person I am today," Pruitt said.

"Mackenna is a natural leader who always sees the best in others. Her servant heart has continued to grow strong over the past four years," Hillman said. "Her leadership as a seasoned veteran co-chair of the STUGO Community Service Committee has been exemplary. She will be missed next year but is moving on to new challenges at Indiana Wesleyan University."

Riley Roberts

Football coaches had an impact on Riley Roberts, which is why he chose to recognize two of them.

"For middle school, I'm bringing Mr. [Kyle] Widbin because he made math class fun for me to go to," Roberts said. "He was also my seventh grade football coach, which gave us a good relationship as both coach and teacher."

Widbin said, "Riley is a really hardworking guy who puts his best forward every day. His achievements are well-deserved because second best was never an option to him; his success is a testament not only to his athleticism and intelligence but also to his admirable work ethic."

Roberts also recognized the influence of high school Social Studies teacher Joe Siderewicz, who also coached Roberts.

"I'm bringing Mr. Siderewicz because he was my senior football coach and really made me a better person and football player, and I wanted to thank him for that," Roberts said.

Peyton Staab

For Peyton Staab, one teacher started her love of learning and another steered her to a future career.

Staab honored Pleasant Grove Elementary teacher Vicki House because her influence over Staab as a second grader was powerful.

"I really can’t put into words how much gratitude I have for her and the influence she had on my life," Staab said. "To put it best, she was an amazing teacher and made me want to be a better student. I really couldn’t think of anyone else I wanted to bring as much as I did her."

Another teacher who made a big difference for Staab was PLTW teacher Andrea Teevan.

"Mrs. Teevan has been my teacher for two years for my PLTW classes," Staab said. "Each year that I have been in her class has been amazing. While in her class, she has pushed me to explore different occupations in the medical field and, in turn, has played a part in helping me decide what it is I want to be and do in the future."

Camryn Zuch

Camryn Zuch honored third grade teacher Barbara Dunn and high school art teacher Heidi Shackleford.

"I'm bringing Mrs. Dunn because she was the first teacher to really challenge me," Zuch said. "She sparked my interest in academics."

On a personal level, Zuch said she appreciated Shackleford.

"Mrs. Shackleford is an amazing role model and inspires me to be a better and more creative person," Zuch said.

Note: Akhil Isanaka, who plans to attend the University of Illinois to major in Mechanical Engineering, was also honored at the Top 20 Banquet but did not attend. He did not respond to interview requests.

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Mia Mulinaro Dylan Gardner, Reporter

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