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James A. Garfield High School Class of 2019


Senior Panorama

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Class Officers

President: Alex Bell
Vice President: Maddison Neer
Treasurer: Addison Varner
Secretary: Jessica Huebner

Senior Superlatives

Most likely to become president of the USA
Zoe Swenson & Alex Bell

Most likely to become a millionaire
Evan Pawlus & Cailean Galayde

Most likely to become famous
Hannah Smith & Josh Forsythe

Most likely to travel the world
Chad Angermeier & Addison Varner

Most School Spirit
Taylor Mate & Sam Biltz

Most Dependable
Hunter Sopher & Caitlyn Minor

Most Creative
Abbey Gembecki & Josh Forsythe

Most Sarcastic
Trinity Syversten & Eric Jackson

Best Dressed
Faith Miller & Luke Wordell

Most Athletic
Tyler Klouda & Hannah Smith

Best Laugh
Alexis Evans & Jon (Chuckles) Khairallah

Top 10 of 2019

Rachel Rader
Tyler Klouda
Zoe Swenson
Andrew Pemberton
Caileen Galayde
Racquel Koleszar
Sarah Miller
Jason Conley
Hunter Sopher
Lyndsey Johns

Graduates

Kyle Adam Ake
Chad M. Angermeier ~ * ▲
Kelly Ann Bahr
Steven Paul Bartlett
Alissa Renee Barton
Christopher Scott Beasley
Karyssa Skye Becker
Alexander Devere Bell ~ + *
Samuel Frederick Biltz £ + * »
Audrey Marie Bowden
Olivia Lee Brann ~
Madisan Kei'Shion Brown
Samantha J. Brys ~ +
Emily Gail Cain
Amanda Lynn Cales
Jason Bernard Conley Jr. § + *
Benjamin C. Crawley
Travis Joseph Criblez £ *
Dillon Michael Davenport
Devin Lynn Davis
Robert John Del Torto
Daniel Leon Demma »
Sarah Marie Desalvo £
Alexis Nicole Dieringer
Samantha Kay Ensinger § *
Alexis Ann Evans ~ *
Joseph Raymond Ewell
Amanda Lynn Fisher
Chloe Michele Fisher
Joshua Tyler Forsythe
Christopher James Gage
Caillean K. Galayde § *
Abigayle Gembicki £
Matthew G. Glinski ~ *
Gillian Casandra Grantz
Tyler Jacob Griffith
Carl Emerson Hahn ~ +
Natalie Simone Hall £ + *
Madalynn N. Helmick
Elizabeth A. Hilverding £
Jessica Lynn Huebner ~ + *
Eric Craig Jackson § + * ▲
Lyndsey Marie Johns § + *
Max Alden Kane § *
Nicole Danielle Kerschner
Jonathan P. Khairallah
Cody Christian Kibler
Clint Kindlesparker » ▲
Matthew Kauko Kiviniemi »
Victoria Hope Klingeman
Tyler Anthony Klouda § + *
Serafina Juliet Kohler
Racquel E. Koleszar § + *
Ryan Lee Lance § * ▲
Justin Alexander Landrus
Megan Grace Ledlow
Elizabeth May Logan
Victoria Lynn Lopez
Taylor Myree Mate
Brandon Wayne McCabe
Haley Sue McCormick
Faith Rose Miller
Mackenzie Rae Miller
Sarah Elizabeth Miller § + *
Caitlyn Nicole Minor ~ + *
Erika Faith Musgrove ~ +
Alexis Rae Myers
Madison Elaine Neer £ *
Andrew Clayton Nelson
Adam Ray Norris ~ *
Nicole Victoria Ober
Joshua Martin Overdorf II
Kaitlyn Brianne Parris
Evan James Pawlus § + * » ▲
Andrew P. Pemberton § + * ▲
Devyn Richard Penna ~
Taylor Alexis Potteiger
Zachary A. R. Rabatin ▲
Rachel Lyn Rader § + *
Chad Thomas Ramsell
Karsyn Grace Reider
Ethan Christopher Roman
Megan C. Rushnok £ *
Natálie Šádková ^
Sebastian F. Shafer £
Hannah Louise Smith £
Browder Kincade Sommer
Hunter James Sopher § + *
Brianna Marie Stanley §
Brianna Nicole Stebner
Zoe Joanne Swenson § + *
Travis D. Synnestvedt ~ + ▲
Trinity Ann Syvertsen
Matthew Scott Tubre
Katelin Alexandra Tuttle
Scott Allen Vanhorn
Addison Jane Varner ~ + *
Lauren Marian Walz § + *
Lisa Marie Wardle
Nathan B. D. Whan »
Dylan Lee Wilson £
Austin Thomas Wise £ + ▲
Lucas Malachi Wordell § *
Kaitlyn Marie Workman +
Austin Shane Yancey

§ Summa Cum Laude—Platinum & White Cord
~ Magna Cum Laude—Platinum Cord
£ Cum Laude—White Cord
* Honors Diploma—Gold Cord
+ National Honor Society—Blue & Gold Cord
» Armed Forces—Red, White & Blue Cord
^ Honorary Diploma
▲Eagle Scout—Green Cord

Due to the early publication of this program, senior names printed within should not be considered an official listing of graduates.

Graduation Speeches

Welcome - Alexander Bell

Before I start I want to let everyone here know that I’m honored to be surrounded by a strong supportive community; so, I wrote this speech with the goal of trying to reach out to everyone here, not just my fellow peers. I want to be able to motivate everyone in this room to walk out with a strong value towards determination and perseverance. With that being said I’m going to open my speech with a quote from one of my favorite rappers, Tupac Shakur. “Reality is Wrong, Dreams are for Real”. I chose this quote because I feel that the world is overburdened with many complex problems and distractions. We need to remove these distractions to pursue our dreams, and to accomplish that requires intense focus, dedication, and perseverance. I know everyone here has once had a dream but were afraid to follow through with it or feel that their dream has expired due to the complex circumstances of life.

With many of us moving onto the next chapter in our lives some of us are excited, confused, scared, lost, or feel trapped by life’s circumstances. We may not feel ready for it right now, but it’s time that we take control of our responsibilities and start towards acquiring our dreams. But through this process, there will be barriers, which can influence your thoughts, motivation, and ideals. These barriers vary from person-to-person but many of us can relate to the fact that these barriers can include negativity, fear, and the thoughts of others. Don’t let these experiences determine the person you become, we all have an ideal image in our minds of who we want to become. These barriers shouldn’t change who we are deep down inside of us. Some people we encounter along our journey might say you’re “stupid”, “immature”, “wrong”, “crazy”, “useless”, “a failure”, or a “disappointment”. Don’t let these negative notions control your future, forgive these people and their negative expressions. It’s time to grow up and prove them wrong, be the epitome of your goals. All these negative perceptions can keep you chained down to a prison that is continually being built in your mind. This prison’s first brick was laid since you’ve first heard any sort of judgment and has grown over the years into a mental obstacle. It’s always up to you to expand this prison or demolish it, it’s necessary to stop grasping onto these obstructive thoughts.

We are more powerful than what we tell ourselves, everyone here has the ability to pursue anything they want. I know I can speak for all of us when I say “I’m not perfect”, “I’ve made a mistake”, “I’ve failed”. Many of us have made mistakes, but sometimes our failures seem to outweigh our successes. The past is the foundation of our future, and it’s easy to be negative about the future if our past was pessimistic. These thoughts eat away at us and build upon our own mental prisons and put us at war with ourselves. Instead of our dreams being turned into reality we turn our dreams into a nightmare and burden. But I want to tell you to never be a prisoner of your past. Your past was just a series of lessons, not a life sentence.

Your dream for who you want to be or what you want to accomplish is more important than any mistake you’ve made in the past. The struggle that comes with pursuing success will always linger around the path we choose to walk. Starting today things may get harder for us, but it is up to us to persevere and continue to follow through with our own plans. You have to believe in yourself. You need to have a sense of humor to know that not everything will go your way. You can't be too serious about it or too emotional when things go downhill. You have to stick to the script, believe and have confidence in yourself. Be your biggest fan, your biggest believer, and carry the weight on your back. Because if you do not sacrifice now for what you want, what you want will become the sacrifice. Many years from now, I’d like for all of us to take the time and be able to look back at the world and see nothing but our dreams coming true.  

Commencement Address - Rachel Rader

Recently I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on my life. Through this reflection I’ve realized that things have changed for me over time. A lot. What I’ve learned is that sometimes change is bad. Things like losing a friend or a loved one can be very difficult to deal with, but I’ve also learned that often times, change can be a good thing. Imagine if we all still looked and acted the same as we did in middle school. I don’t know about you, but that is NOT a world that I want to live in. The reality of it is, whether we like it or not, change is unavoidable. There’s nothing we can really do to stopit.

What we can control though is how we handle these situations.

Ever since I was a little kid, the idea of change has scared me. It’s always seemed much easier for me to hide from it and try to avoid it than to accept that things would be different. I can distinctly remember laying in my bed the night before my tenth birthday. Instead of being excited for the next day, I was crying because I was afraid of growing up, as if the transition from single to double digits would instantly transform me into an adult. Dramatic, I know, but I bring this up for a reason. There was no way of stopping myself from becoming ten, so being scared was just a waste of time. Living this way only makes everything more difficult. Instead of fearing change, we need to learn to embrace it. Things around us are constantly changing. We can either remain stuck in our old ways forever, or we can take what life gives us and make the best of it. Stop looking at change as a bad thing, and start looking at it is as a chance to try something new.

The changes we experience throughout our lifetime are what allow us to grow. Without them, we would never be pushed out of our comfort zones. We would never experience new things. We would never become stronger people. I would like to thank my family, friends, teachers, fellow classmates, and most importantly God for being there in my life to help me navigate through these changes, both good and bad. Without all of you, I would not be the person I am today.

Graduation represents a large change in all of our lives. From this point on, things will be different for each and every one of us. Most of us will encounter changes in our friends, our looks, our thoughts, our views, and various other things throughout the next few years. What will you do when these changes arise in your life? Will you hide in your bed under the covers, hoping that if you ignore your problems long enough that they’ll go away? (I’ve tried that, and trust me, it doesn’t work.) Or will you face these changes with the mentality that you are being granted the opportunity to try something new?

I challenge each and every one of you to embrace the changes in your life, and make the most of them. Instead of being fearful, be excited! Spending too much time worrying about the bad things that may occur causes us to miss the good things that are happening around us right now. Be positive, live every day to the fullest, and remember that only you can control the effects of change on your life. Congrats class of 2019, and I wish you all the best on your future endeavours.

COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS - Andrew Pemberton

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. My name is Andrew Pemberton and it is an honor to be speaking to you at this commencement ceremony. I would like to thank my parents, family, friends, teachers, and mentors who have helped me, in part, to become the person I am today.

It was not long ago that this class of 2019 proudly stood together at our kindergarten graduation. Now, twelve years later, we stand together once again at our high school graduation on the verge of beginning the next chapter of our lives. Some will be starting college, some will be climbing the ladder of success in their chosen field, and others will be joining the military. We will all begin working hard to obtain the personal goals we have set for ourselves.

With new beginnings, it is inevitable that we will face adversity and struggles on our path to success. Failure, at times, will be the only option. While the definition of success is different to each and every person here, we must overcome the many trials and tribulations that will prevent us from accomplishing our goals. To defeat these obstacles, we must not sit back and blame others. The only choice is to accept our failures and mold them into success, learning from each and every mistake made along the way.

Steve Jobs, chairman, CEO, and co-founder of Apple and the Pixar Corporation was at one time deemed a public failure. Adopted at birth by blue-collar parents, Jobs had a difficult childhood. In grade school, he became a troublesome child, who many viewed as socially awkward and inept. Continuously bullied, Jobs completed high school and started college, where he was bored by his classes and mundane college life. He turned to counterculture and drugs , and at the age of 20, he dropped out of college and began working on various calligraphy projects in his parents garage. This is where Apple was developed. He grew it into a two billion dollar company, eventually grossing more income than Amazon, Google, and Facebook combined. After finally finding prosperity in life, it all came crashing down. Just 10 years after the creation of Apple, Jobs was fired from the very company that he started. Deemed too young and temperamental to run a company, he was ousted and looked down upon by his peers. Steve Jobs was devastated, and could have easily given up. Instead, he persevered and decided to start over. By doing this, he pioneered the Pixar Corporation and turned it into a ten billion dollar company. By not quitting when times were tough, Steve Jobs went on to once again reclaim his seat as Apple CEO in 1997. Today, he is known as one of the nation’s wealthiest business moguls in history.

In conclusion, I leave you with this. Failure is inevitable. It will happen to all of us. When it does happen, turn it into the driving force that makes you want to succeed even more. Fear of failure should not limit you. Remember, failure does not define a person, it is the response to failure that does. Keep pushing forward and do not lose faith. In the words of Steve Jobs, “it is impossible to fail if you learn from your mistakes.” Thank you, congratulations to the class of 2019, and God Bless.

COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS - Racquel Koleszar

First off I would like to thank all my friends, they know who they are. I am so lucky to have found a group who motivates me, challenges me, and helps me, and I hope I do the same for you. My parents for always being there and being supportive even if they didn’t understand why they should go see the musical for their daughter who pulls the curtain. Thank you to all my teachers who have helped me not only succeed in school, but also to make better decisions in life. Thank you all for shaping me into the person I am today with your endless help and advice.

People are constantly trying to give you advice. They’ll tell you endless cliches like don’t stress over the little things, or don’t sweat the small stuff, but then they’ll say something like it’s the little stuff that counts. How can I not stress over something that counts? Now the fact that a lot of these cliches contradict each other doesn’t invalidate them. You can always listen to these people because a lot of these pieces of advice come from experience and are actually helpful. Just don’t get caught up in trying to listen to all of it. What I believe to be most important is to focus on what matters to you and keep in mind that you know yourself best.

You have to keep going, and you have to make decisions, don’t overthink them, trust yourself. Something that has helped me learn to trust myself is learning that somehow everything will always work out. You may not believe me, and trust me at first I didn’t believe it either. When I was just starting high school I was afraid of everything; joining clubs, taking classes, making friends, even eating lunch, but my mom told me this little piece of advice that has stuck with me ever since. Everything always works out. Since that day that phrase has been said to me countless times, and when I look back on the last four years I can see that my mom was right. I’ve seen it in my life and in countless others. You may think this can’t be true because of experiences like hardships and tragedies, but everything working out doesn’t mean everything is easy. Sometimes it’s hard, or it’s sad, but it is always going to work out perfectly fine. People go through hard times, harder than I can fathom, but there is always a purpose. Those situations teach you something to help you face the next obstacle in your path. I’ve gone through all of your classic teenage hardships, and now I am able to help out my friends who are currently experiencing the same things. Everything has a purpose.

Knowing this now I can say that if I had the chance to go back and change things about my high school experience I don’t think I would. I could stand here and say I wish I didn’t stress so much, or that I tried out new things, or talked to new people, or took different classes, or studied a little harder, or spent more time with my friends. But I wouldn’t change any of it because I know it all worked out exactly as it should have. Everything you might think I regret, I don’t. I’m glad I made those mistakes. Now I can help others who have made them, or are going to make them. I’ve learned from all the mistakes and I can now carry that knowledge with me throughout the rest of my life.

I hope what you take away from this is to just trust yourself because even if things don’t go how you think they should’ve, they happened exactly as they were supposed to. Everything has its purpose, everything will work out, just keep pushing.

COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS - Tyler Klouda

First and foremost I would like to give thanks to my family who are here for me today. I am forever thankful for their support and for providing me with everything I have needed to get to this point in my life. Secondly I want to thank our teachers and staff for the guidance and care they have provided all of us over the years. And of course, a congratulations to all of my fellow classmates graduating here today. It is an absolute honor to be here today amongst my peers and deliver this speech.

The four years that we have spent here in James A. Garfield high school have felt like the fastest, or the slowest, four years of our lives, depending on how you rate your experience. In the words of Charles Dickens, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Nevertheless these past four years are just a stepping stone in the infinite game we play called life. Although today is a great time to reflect on memories, achievements, and relationships, it also marks the end of our lives as we currently live them. And simultaneously marks the beginning of the next chapter of our lives.

As we enter the real world there are going to be many decisions that we must make. And as great philosopher and math instructor Doug Engelhart once told my class, “Over the next few years you are going to make 100 decisions that will affect the rest of your life, and you are going to make most of them wrong.” And as blunt as that may be, it is true. Failures will happen, and that must be acknowledged. But it is how we respond to these failures that will truly show our character. But even with the struggles, the coming years in our lives are special, and I challenge you all to make the most of them. And even though like Mr. Engelhart said, we will make some decisions wrongly, I hope you don’t allow the fear of that to hold you back from making the next decision in your life. Pursue your passions fearlessly, without apprehension. I believe that is the true meaning of what Mr. Engelhart meant when he told that to my class.

As each of us move on from today, we may reflect on how it is our class will be remembered by our teachers and younger students at James A. Garfield. I’m not sure how it is we will be remembered. What stands out the most is our academic achievement. My hope is our teachers saw us as more than that, more so as the compassionate, kind, and helpful human beings I know you all to be.

In reality, how we are remembered is somewhat out of our control, but we do control how the rest of our lives will play out. Although each of us might not accomplish world-changing achievements in our future careers, there is something great that we can all do Whatever it is you each decide to do in your lives, my advice to all of you is to strive to be the best you can be at whatever that is. If you decide to be a mechanic, be hard working and reliable. If you decide to open a small business, become a staple amongst your community and build relationships with your customers. If you decide to be a parent, be the best parent you can be. If you decide to be a coach, be a role model for your athletes. If we can all collectively do these things, and strive to be the best versions of ourselves, then just maybe we will all achieve a great accomplishment. One that changes the world for the better.

Thank you and congratulations to the class of 2019.

COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS - Zoe Swenson

Now I’d like to begin with a story, because that’s the very best way to begin a graduation speech, or so I’m told. It’s not a story that’s happened to me—because frankly nothing that interesting has happened to me. It’s a story told in the form of a play—a musical actually, written by the legendary Stephen Sondheim.

The show is called Into the Woods. The play starts simply enough, with some familiar threads—a little girl goes off into the woods to visit her sick grandmother, a handsome prince pines for a maiden with the longest golden hair in all the land who lives trapped in a tower by an evil witch, a young man sells his family’s only cow for some mysterious magic beans, a poor young woman wants nothing more than to go to the ball and dance with the handsome—or should I say charming—prince. In fact, at the end of the show’s first act, you’d never know anything was amiss from the normal stories we’ve all been told—Cinderella’s off with her prince, Little Red Riding Hood has made her way out of the clutches of the big bad wolf, Jack has slayed his giant, and Rapunzel and Prince are happily joined in matrimony. It seems happy ending—at last—is reached.

Then, the second act takes a sudden left turn. Down from the sky comes the wife of the giant Jack slayed and these fairy tale characters see their happy endings warped completely. Cinderella’s prince ends off chasing after the wife of a local baker, Jack’s mother is crushed by the giantess, and Rapunzel finds that the woman she thought was her captor for all those years was only trying to protect her from a world she now realizes is a lot harsher than it looked from her ivory tower.

What’s my point? Well I think the message of Into the Woods is simple: no story really has an ending. As I’ve wracked my brain about what to write for this speech in the weeks coming up to graduation, that message sticks with me. We’ve all ran our last races, performed in our last shows, taken our last tests (hopefully), and sat in the same familiar classrooms next to our very best friends for what is probably the very last time. As fairy tale characters, we’ve kissed our princes, slayed our dragons, and are about to retire to our castles for our good long happily-ever-afters.

Except of course, that’s not really true. No matter what your plans are or where you’re headed, you know as well as I that the road we’re traveling stretches onward for miles in advance. We don’t all cease to exist upon walking across this stage, or become consigned to some alumni graveyard where we’re free to walk the earth only on special days like homecoming. Life is changing, but it’s certainly not ending. The exciting part is how we get to change it.

From the moment you and I walk out of this room, we can be a blank slate. We have the opportunity, now more than ever, to change everything about who we are and who we’re going to become. The slacker can be the star student, the nerd can be the jock. The world as we know it can be changed. I can drop out of college and be a tattoo artist! Tyler can take up saxophone! Our potential is limitless.

Alternatively by the same point, none of this matters. I’m standing up here talking on this stage because I did well on some tests that won’t matter in twenty years, to get some grades that won’t matter in twenty years, all to get the position of magna cum lade and these silly cords, which will also not matter in the slightest in twenty years. All the remnants of who we were now, our solo and ensemble medals and our homecoming tiaras, our track spikes and our high heels, will be just footnotes in a greater story to tell. What was the point of any of this?

Well, I don’t know about you, but I had a lot of fun. I made some incredible friendships, I learned some incredible things, and I took some incredible opportunities. I laughed, I loved, I cried. I ran a few miles and I walked a few more. I danced a few dance numbers in someone else’s shoes. I was right a lot, and I was wrong a lot too. I made an idiot of myself and I made an example of myself. I did a lot, in the end everything I really wanted to. I had so, so, so much fun. I hope the same is true for all of you and if it isn’t well—here’s to what’s next.

Farewell - Addison Varner

Being up on this stage in front of everyone is probably one of my biggest nightmares, yet here I am. All throughout our lives we have been tasked with hundreds of things that push us out of our comfort zones. But, at least for me, when talking to family, friends, and teachers, I have often received the advice to “make the most of it.” Whether things go the way you planned or not, you should make the most of it.

Most of us have grown up together in this school district, and since our early days in elementary school, we have been preparing ourselves for today and what is going to come after it. We might have planned to become doctors, or lawyers, or even stand up comedians, but a few detours later and we may end up at a minimum wage job and mom’s house until something better comes along. Instead of seeing this as a negative, let’s make the most of it. If you end up still single when you planned on being happily married, seize the opportunity. Go see the world and experience new things because it’s an awful lot cheaper to travel with one as opposed to four. We have learned so much from our time in this school, and we’re about to learn a whole lot more. Let’s look at today as the start of a new journey, not the end of one. Whatever our futures may hold for us, let’s promise ourselves to make the most of it.

Graduation Livestream