Macomb’s Standout Grads
These high school seniors will be making a difference in our future.
By Tracey Moro / Photography by Anne Nicolazzo
Each year there’s at least one student in every graduation class who stands out from the others. He could be the smartest, or maybe she’s a top athlete, but for whatever reason this student stands out from the crowd. Macomb Now Magazine asked our local high school principals to take time out of their busy schedule and share with us their student who stands out, who shines above and who will make a difference in all of our futures someday.
Since we only have a few pages and we have received more than 30 submissions, we have included our 18 favorites. These young adults will be leading our county and state in the years to come. Not only should their parents be proud, but the teachers and school staffs who have been inspiring them over the past 13 years of their school life should be proud of what these young adults have accomplished. Hats off to these grads! And, congratulations to all the seniors in the class of 2016.
Currently President of the National Honor Society (NHS) at Arts Academy, Shacai has excelled academically, artistically and continually takes on a leader position. Principal Mitchell recommended Shacai because of her leadership abilities. Shacai was an active participant in the Junior Leadership Macomb program and volunteered to sing for the Junior Leadership graduation ceremony. “I have found Shacai to be an exceptionally hard working student who diligently prepares and takes a leadership role in all of her volunteer work, academic assignments and artistic endeavors,” said Michael Mitchell, principal of Arts Academy in the Woods. She also impressed Leadership Macomb Executive Director Karen Smith. “She has a positive attitude, excellent character, impeccable social skills and is extremely goal oriented. She has maintained a high GPA while working, heavily involved in extracurricular activities and while participating in Junior Leadership Macomb,” said Smith.
Madalyn has challenged herself with rigorous AP and honors courses at Austin maintaining a 3.75 GPA while thriving at Macomb Community College in its dual enrollment program. She has participated in varsity volleyball and track all four years and was recognized as Austin Scholar Athlete for her academic performance and participation on three sports teams. She was also a medalist at the Catholic League CD Championship in discus. She is the founder of the anime club and a member of the random acts of kindness and archery clubs. She volunteers at her parish, St. Francis / St. Maximillian in New Haven, the local food pantry and her library. Her senior service project was helping the school’s adoption of a local family for Christmas. Madalyn recently had her first acting attempt in the play Peter Pan, Jr. at the Aud-Regional Youth Complex in Richmond. She plans on attending Aquinas College in the fall and is interested in theatre and early childhood education.
Jacob is a well-rounded student, great leader and involved community member. He excels academically, is a member of NHS and always challenges himself. He was the class president for three years and currently is student government president. Spanish teacher and student activities director Kristin DeLuca recomended Jacob, “He has been a tremendous leader for our school and is a fantastic role model for the community and our student body.” Jacob also excels musically as the center snare and drumline section leader for the Chippewa Valley Marching Band, sings in the Men’s A Cappella Choir and performs with the Ferndale Independent Drumline. He has received numerous awards throughout high school, including CVHS Big Red Behind the Scene’s Award in 2015 and Macomb County Optimist Club Youth Appreciation Award in 2015.
Wendy is the example of a student who was faced with adversity head on and came through a better person. Her student career began with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and she attended special education classes. With her determination and high ambition, she took all of her high school courses in regular education and maintained a 3.368 GPA. Her friendly and kind personality helped her be elected Homecoming Queen during her senior year. “A lot of my teachers have inspired me. I hope to be a special education teacher, so I can help kids who are like me,” said Wendy.
Ermelinda was educated in Albania until age 9 when her family moved to Warren. Although her parents left behind family and lucrative positions in teaching and with the regional government (her father is an agronomist), they fell upon hardship when moving here. Ermelinda works at Sears to help her parents financially. “Ermelinda, I can definitively say is well rounded – she is a superstar!” said Angie Todesco, counselor at Cousino. Despite her financial difficulties, cultural assimilation and language barriers, she set her goal on making her parents proud. She is ranked 1st in her class with a 4.731 GPA and a 30 ACT score. She works 20 hours a week and volunteers extensively with NHS, is a member of the ecology club at MMSTC, participated in Junior Leadership Macomb and sings in the choir at St. Paul Albanian Catholic Church. She has tutored and volunteered for various organizations. She has applied and been interviewed by Harvard University, along with the University of Michigan, Notre Dame and Princeton. “She is an excellent student who is intelligent, driven, competent and effective,” said Todesco.
According to Principal Paul Sibley, Bethany is one of the most talented young adults that Dakota High School has ever seen. She is extremely involved in all things from being drum major of the Dakota Marching Band, to leading roles in several musicals, including being Mary Poppins most recently. Bethany has maintained a 3.871 GPA while taking eight honors or AP courses. “Her stage presence and natural abilities as an actress and performer are truly impressive,” said Sibley. “Bethany’s presence in our school is unmistakable and she is known by almost everyone. She reads the daily announcements each day and is one of the most positive people, adult or student, I have encountered. We are all extremely proud of this young lady.”
The second youngest of seven, Sarah has attended East Detroit schools her entire educational career. She has taken an active leadership role in a variety of activities, including four years as class president, NHS vice president, band, color guard (captain) and student assembly, where she served as parliamentarian for one year and vice president for one year. She participates in the EDHS Early College program and is both the secretary and a Macomb County representative to the Michigan Association of Student Councils / Honor Societies (MASC/MAHS) Board of Delegates. She has maintained excellent grades and will graduate as valedictorian with a 4.1 GPA. She is passionate about leadership and loves helping people and hopes to further those interests next year while attending Central Michigan University, where she has been awarded one of 20 Centralis Scholar Awards. She was also selected as a Leadership Advancement Scholar at the Leadership Institute at CMU. “East Detroit High School staff members are very proud of our outstanding senior,” said Scott Johnson, principal.
As the editor-in-chief to the Eisenhower school newspaper, Bethany is dedicated to her journalism and leads a strong staff. While at Ball State University’s, summer workshops with Michigan Interscholastic Press Association (MIPA) she earned the Ernie Award for writing and reporting and the H.L. Hall Student Choice Award, Best Overall Online Content Producer and Online Planning Excellence. “Bailey has naturally stepped into her leadership role. She works with staffers, coaching them through their story angles, graphic art choices and headline treatments,” said Erica Kincannon, English / journalism teacher. She also has four AP classes and is involved in drama, softball, student council and on a travel fastpitch team. Bailey has been honored with inductions to the National Thespian Society, Quill and Scroll, and the National Journalism Honor Society.
Bailey attends Fraser High and MMSTC School. “She is an outstanding student in every respect and epitomizes the very type of student who excels in our program,” said Patricia Bonnici, counselor at MMSTC. “Bailey has a natural curiosity and a strong innovative spirit in a highly accelerated curriculum. In addition to maintaining over a 4.0 GPA, Bailey belongs to several organizations and is a member of NHS.” Volunteering is a passion for Bailey. She helps run Vacation Bible School for her church and works as a waitress, having saved enough money to buy her own car. Bailey plans to pursue a double major in pharmacy and nursing at the University of Michigan. “It is Bailey’s compassion and kindness toward others that is a true stand out. Bailey possesses the ability to reach out to others and provide support and encouragement when it is needed the most. She is a friend to all and a lifeline to some,” said Bonnici.
On top of the rigorous class load she has at the IAM, Hayley finds time to fit in at least 12 hours a week ice skating. She competes across the state and country with her synchronized skating team. She is a regional gold medalist and national silver medalist in the sport of synchronized figure skating. She was named Skater of the Year in 2014 for her team and has been skating for nearly 10 years. She also participates in symphonic band at the IAM and the Fraser High School Marching band. She is in the NHS, link crew and key club. She plans on going to college for biology in hopes of someday becoming a veterinarian. She has applied to universities such as Harvard, University of Michigan, Dartmouth College, Yale University and Amherst College.
Melissa is extremely bright and excels in all content areas especially math and science. She received all 5s for her AP classes and was recently accepted to MIT. She is very involved in DECA and has won national awards. “She is a rock star yet very humble,” said Steve Czaspski, LCHS principal.
Logan aspires to become a director in theatre or film, and may want to teach at the high school level. He has maintained a 3.5 GPA since 10th grade and has been quite involved with theatre and singing, including drama club, select ensemble choir, choir council and the morning announcements. He is vice president of student council executive board, in leadership class and leadership council, link crew and NHS. “Logan is a real asset to our school. He has shown true leader- ship skills in the way he has continually challenged himself, performing in plays and musicals, usually earning the lead role as well as finding time to volunteer for a variety of events. Logan always encourages others to do their best and has truly made a positive impact on our school,” said Kimberly Rawski, associate principal.
“Zachary is a ‘rise above’ type student who has excelled academically, athletically and socially here at Lutheran North,” said John Reincke, principal of LHN. Zach is a solid student in highly college preparatory courses. In Zach’s junior year he won the State Championship in the 11 meter hurdles and was All-State as well in the 300 hurdles and long jump. He is active in AAU track during the winter and summer and was an AAU Decathlon National Champion. He won the Joel Farrell Outstanding Performance award at the AAU National competition and was an AAU New Balance All American. Zach competes in a variety of track and field events. He is a testament to his work ethic in that he excels at each facet. He also played basketball and ran cross country at LHN. “We have every reason to expect even more accolades heading into the thrust of his senior year,” said Reincke.
Ashley has logged more than 200 hours of community service and knows the meaning of giving. From Habitat for Humanity to key club to volunteering at McLaren Hospital Port Huron, Ashley thrives on helping others. She intends on entering a career in the medical field where she can continue her mission as helper. Ashley is ranked number one in her class at Richmond. “She is an energetic, positive person, who improves our school climate. Ashley will be the first in her family to attend college and she has set high, but realistic goals. She has huge potential to make our world a better place,” said Sheila Lepak, counselor at Richmond High.
Matthew has never earned below an A in all of high school, middle school and elementary school and has a 4.5 GPA. “Matthew is an outstanding young man! His tireless work ethic is top notch. He is extremely motivated, organized and responsible. He always gives his best,” said Theresa Deliz, counselor at SHHS. Matthew has been a member of the MMSTC Robotics Team for four years and currently serves as the president of the math club. He is an elected member of the MMSTC senior council and a member of the NHS. He has won several math competitions including Michigan Math Prize Competition (top 50 in the state) scored second in the Trig Star competition and has qualified as a semifinalist in the 2016 National Merit Scholarship Program. “Matthew’s personal integrity, strength of character and leadership skills will always serve him well,” said Deliz.
Cameron is currently Utica High School’s top senior. “He is representative of the best of what we offer at Utica High,” said Tom Lietz, principal. Cameron is a first-generation college bound student. He has been accepted to the University of Chicago, amongst other highly selective schools. He is Utica High School’s National Merit Semi-Finalist and had a 35 on his ACT. He is currently enrolled in six AP courses at UHS and the Utica Center for Mathematics, Science and Technology. He is captain of the award-winning Thunderchickens Robotics Team. “Cameron is an exceptional young man. He is the complete student who is as respected personally as he is academically and we are proud to call him a Chieftain,” said Lietz.
Nick is a wonderful student and community member,” said Peter Gaines, assistant head of school. He plays varsity football, hockey and lacrosse, and has been captain of multiple sports and awarded All-State honors for his accomplishments as a football player. He also won Liggett’s award for Best Male Junior Athlete. Because of his impeccable character, academic achievement and compassion, Nick was selected to be a junior counselor, allowing him to have a role in mentoring ninth grade students. “He is consistently recognized by his teachers and peers for his strong character, his dedication to excellence and his immense promise as a young person,” said Gaines.
“It is a privilege to formally recognize competent leadership and excellence in her responsibility as a student and young person,” said John Dignan, principal at Warren Mott. Alyssa is a hardworking, honest individual who puts others’ needs in front of her own. She consistently exceeds the expectations that are set on her and does so with character and class. She is a student athlete, and is involved in many school initiatives and helps to drive them. Alyssa plans on attending Concordia University in Ann Arbor on a softball scholarship. “I marvel at the make-up of this young person. She’s a proven winner and team player. Alyssa is a stellar student, athlete, leader and just a tremendous person,” said Dignan.