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Metro Newsroom

Mayor Honors 47 Outstanding High School Seniors

Friday April 17, 2009

Mayor Jerry Abramson today presented the annual Mayor’s Outstanding High School Seniors award to 47 Louisville public and private schjool students.

This year’s recipients include at least ten National Honor Society members, four Governor’s Scholars and five math scholars. The group also includes students who emigrated from Mexico, Bosnia and Korea, a student who is participating in the UPS School-to-Work program, students who have volunteered for a variety of charities including rebuilding homes in New Orleans and several teenagers who have overcome personal adversity to succeed in the classroom

“This program celebrates outstanding achievements of our students who are not only dedicated to academics, but are community role models in their service, commitment to family and ability to overcome personal challenges to obtain success,” Abramson said. “It’s one of my favorite events as we are able to meet the future of our community.”

The winners come from almost every public and private high school in Louisville. Each principal and guidance counselor in the city is asked to nominate a student for the award.

The Outstanding High School Seniors Award began in the mid 1980s, and when Abramson took office in 1986, he expanded the program to include more schools.

The presenting sponsor of this year’s event is AT&T.

The following are this year’s winners and their accomplishments:


Reyna Aquino, Western High School

Reyna is an honors student and challenges herself by her choices of coursework. She is involved in Student Government, is a class officer and helps coordinate activities and events throughout the year. She has participated in Beta Club, yearbook, and quick recall. She is a member of the Powder Puff Football, cheerleading and volleyball teams. She is a peer tutor and volunteers her skills on Saturdays for Writer’s Workshop. She and her family emigrated from Mexico and she aids others as a Spanish language translator to family, friends and neighbors.

Marc Bacon, Ahrens Work Transition Program

Marc has spent hundreds of hours volunteering at Kosair Hospital, the UofL Warehouse and the Louisville Zoo. He had perfect attendance last year and works part time at Goodwill Industries on Bardstown Road where he demonstrates his dependability, job skills and ability to work as a team member. Marc’s ready, warm smile reveals the kindness that Marc easily distributes. Marc continues to serve the community as a valuable volunteer, respected employee and independent young adult.

Somyi Baek, Walden School

Somyi is an intelligent young woman from Korea. She is the top of the top. She is off the charts in math, scoring 5 on her AP exams in Calculus and Physics. She is not only a top academic student, but also a musician. One of her passions is the piano. She plays for her church every Sunday and three times a week at a nursing home. Somyi combines academic excellence and personal integrity with quiet confidence. She is respected by her peers and commended by the faculty at Walden.

Celia Baker, Holy Cross High School

Celia is a model of leading by example. She has been an academic leader since her freshman year. She maintains a 4.0 GPA and has achieved a 34 on her ACT. Celia has been a participant in numerous school clubs and a member of a number of teams. Currently she is a tennis team captain and a top-flight competitor. Celia represents Holy Cross with class and integrity and will become a leading citizen when her college career is finished.

Alma Begic, Moore Traditional High School

Alma is a student with natural leadership skills serving as a member of the local and regional FBLA and as a class officer. As a school ambassador she speaks to elementary and middle school students about the importance of school. With her Bosnian background, she can be seen in the halls translating for students and faculty alike. She participates in the student council, yearbook staff, and academic team and is on the volleyball and tennis teams. She has a 3.5 GPA and will graduate with NHS honors.

Anthony Blake, Fern Creek Traditional High School

Anthony is an exemplary student with excellent communication skills. As an excellent videographer, writer, editor and newscaster, he brings depth, creativity and excellence to his work. Many of the feature stories Anthony wrote and produced have been aired on KET and have been part of newscasts receiving awards at state competitions. He has volunteered at Wayside Mission and the Cystic Fibrosis society. Currently he plans to attend Northwestern University majoring in journalism.

Michael Booth, DeSales High School

Adjectives that describe Michael are committed, goal oriented, independent, organized and self-motivated. Since his sophomore year, Michael has been a top honors recipient in science, 21st century technology, social justice and is on the Academic All State First Team in football and track. He is a member of the NHS and the Beta Club and is currently the president of the Key Club. He helps run practices for the 7th and 8th grade boys team and the 3rd and 4th grades girls teams at a nearby parish school.

Michelle Brown, Iroquois High School

Michelle is an extraordinary student who has overcome obstacles. She is poised, well-spoken and she simply has a “elegance” about her that draws people to her. She is a dedicated class officer, a cheerleader and has served as part of the ROTC unit. She is an incredible leader, who has a gift for motivating others. She aspires to study nursing in college. She wants to prove that she will be better than what she sees around her.

Derrian Burage, The Brown School

Derrian is a very kind, sweet and polite young man. He is strong academically and is an incredible athlete. He has been a valuable member of the basketball team, soccer team and track teams. He has always excelled in sports and is able to balance his extra-curricular programs with his school work. He is the senior class president and organizes the many senior activities throughout the year. Though his family has limited means, he never sees himself as a victim. He wants to become a Construction Engineer.

Sharelle Caldwell, Doss High School

As a freshman, Sharelle and her siblings were removed from their home and separated. For a while she moved from place to place and finally settled with her grandmother and her brothers were placed with an aunt in Texas. She worked to send money to her brothers for necessities. When she came to Doss she began working on her academics and became involved in the step team and became its captain. She is a member of the student senate, writing team and is a peer mediator. She has a work ethic and determination to overcome adversity and to succeed.

Andrea Couch, Churchill Park School

Prior to coming to Churchill Park, Andrea’s behavioral challenges prevented her from participating in many classroom activities during the day. Throughout her years at Churchill Park, her behavior has improved greatly and she has become a favorite among staff and students. She is very social and friendly, and thrives on strong relationships with the staff. She goes to work at numerous job sites and has also become a favorite to many in the community. Andrea’s Churchill Park family will miss her.

Alexis Croushore, Maryhurst School

Alexis is a recent graduate of Maryhurst which is one of thirteen state agency schools in JCPS. After enrolling in Maryhurst she was eager to complete high school requirements and begin college. She accomplished those goals by graduating February 26 and was accepted into the Honors program at U of L and will begin studies in May. Alexis won third place in the statewide Martin Luther King essay contest, scored a 30 on the ACT and has completed several online college courses.

Rachel Cunningham, Beth Haven Christian School

Rachel is truly an all-around student, participating in the school’s athletic program; extensive community service projects; and the UPS School-to-Work program; all while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. Rachel will graduate as Valedictorian of her class in May and is a member of the NHS and the National Beta Club Chapters at Beth Haven. Rachel plans to attend the University of Louisville in the fall, with a major in political science.

Morgan Davenport, Ballard High School

Morgan has taken nine Advanced Placement courses, maintains a 3.97 GPA and scored a 33 on her ACT. Morgan is also a National Merit Finalist. She is a member of the NHS, Beta Club, Mu Alpha Theta and Beta Sigma Phi and 2008 Governor’s Scholar. She also is a Hugh O’Brian Youth Ambassador and a Commonwealth Ambassador. Outside of school, Morgan is active in athletics, and has accumulated 355 hours of community service with the girl scouts, her church and the Jefferson County Public Schools.

Alexa Deep, Sacred Heart Academy

Alexa carries a 3.98 GPA, is in the National Honor Society and Spanish Honor Society and is a four-year participant in the KY United Nations Assembly. Her community activities include volunteering for Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Hand in Hand Ministries, Salvation Army and Vacation Bible Schools. She is a member of the flag football team which helps raise money for breast cancer research. She will receive an International Baccalaureate diploma in May. She will attend UK or the University of Dayton, majoring in International Studies or Pre-law.

Michael Denham, Fairdale High School

Mike is the class president and the leader of the Dawg Pound, the student pep group for both football and basketball games. Mike is at the top of his class in all academic, athletic, and leadership capacities. He has participated in baseball, football, cross country and soccer where he earned All District honors as goalie. Mike is active in the Fairdale community and is a steady, good natured young man that has proved there is nothing in life that will stop him from succeeding.

Sara Dubey, Valley High School

Sara is an extremely intelligent young lady who has overcome many obstacles and taken challenging classes while maintaining a 3.9 GPA. Sara is currently editor of the school newspaper and vice president of the senior class. She was voted by teachers to represent the class as Ms. Valley. Although Sara has had numerous personal struggles, it seems that she never lets a challenge keep her down, even when the adults in her life make poor decisions. She plans to attend Sullivan University to major in business management.

Kenneth England, Alfred Binet School

According to teachers from the Binet School, Kenneth England excels in honors of the heart. He looks at the days and weeks not as passing time, but as the true essence of what we are. From his point of view, clouding our days with the absence of a good laugh would be absurd, and the inability to look at things in a positive manner is truly a waste of time. Kenneth’s days are focused on making others happy and looking at life for what you can give back.

Thomas Finch, Atherton High School

Tom gives his best effortlessly, maintains a 4.0 GPA, is in the NHS is a National Merit Finalist and never allows the academic stress of the International Baccalaureate program get the best of him. Tom is articulate, hardworking, respectful, trustworthy, friendly, and caring. He is a gifted young man who has such a brilliant mind and incredible musical talent, which he humbly shares with others. He plays the trombone and is in the All-State and All-County bands as well as the concert and jazz band.

Michael Frazure, Butler Traditional High School

Michael is the ideal student in all disciplines maintaining a 4.0 GPA. He has won numerous recognitions for his contributions to academics, community service and his church. Michael has that wonderful combination of adult intellect and a conscientious nature. His desire to always please others is both endearing and charming. Michael has the rare combination of intellectual and emotional gifts that almost always spell incredible success in college and beyond.

Christina Gazaway, Westport TAPP (Teenage Parent Program)

Christina is disciplined, dedicated to her studies and exhibits goal-oriented behavior. While raising a daughter, she has maintained a 3.5 GPA, received a 23 on her ACT and will have six college credits when she graduates. She shines in the area of Math and her diligence in all things scholastic will definitely guide her to success in her chosen field of electrical engineering at U of L. Realizing that this is a male dominated field, Christina will shine and make all women proud of her accomplishments.

Barbara Gibbs, Collegiate

Barbara makes excellence look easy and makes leading by example seem a natural calling. She shows creativity, intellectual curiosity and passion for learning in the classroom. Her love of acting has enhanced her skills on the Mock Trial team, and in sports she is a determined competitor and a role model for good sportsmanship. Barbara has volunteered at the Louisville Zoo, KY Special Olympics, New Orleans Habitat for Humanity, Home of the Innocents and the Cherokee Art Fair.

Gillian Griggs, Louisville Male Traditional High School

Gillian is an amazing, high achieving and high energy young lady with all the right stuff. She became an author at ten, had her first restaurant review at eleven and won an essay contest on the Holocaust that earned her a trip to D.C. She plays basketball, runs track and field, and is pretty good at karate. Gillian has been a class officer for three years, a Duke Scholar, and a Miss KY Teen USA pageant delegate. Male expects to see Gillian on the front page solving some economic problem or issue of world concern.

Candace Hardin, Liberty High School

Candace has participated in the Student Forum helping to plan events to assist a Sudanese family and raise money for the Metro United Way. She is a Senior Representative and is a member of The Courier Journal’s High School Round Table. She volunteers at the Humane Society and works part-time at the Shively Animal Clinic. Candace has worked to overcome many obstacles. She will be a first generation college student, pursuing a degree in zoology or pre veterinarian medicine.

Paul Heiniger, Eastern High School

Paul has maintained a 4.0 GPA and scored a 31 composite on the ACT. Paul has also been actively involved in the Beta Club and the NHS and has taken 15 AP courses while at Eastern. Paul has been a member of the soccer team for three years being named to the All-District Team and was on the lacrosse team. He earned the Coach’s Award in both sports. Paul credits his coaches with having a big impact on him. This is an outstanding young man in academics, athletic ability and community involvement.

Marissa Helms, Kentucky School for the Blind

Marissa is a Governor’s Scholar. She has been the student council president for two years and volunteers at the Salvation Army, Big Brothers/Big Sisters and her church. She is a peer tutor and a JV swimming and cheerleading coach younger visually impaired students. She placed second in the states foreign Language Competition. She is an outstanding athlete in track, wrestling, swimming, goal ball and cheerleading squads. In 2008, she was one of 25 US Ambassadors at the Para Olympics in Beijing, China.

Briana Kellum, Southpark TAPP (Teenage Parent Program)

Briana maintains a 3.8 GPA, has perfect attendance, is on the honor roll every six weeks and her course selections are challenging. She is a cheerleader, a member of NHS, Spanish Honor Society, SMART, FCCLA, Black Achievers and Upward Board. Briana’s gifts lie in her positive attitude, and her willingness to help others. She is motivated and focused and has not let being a teen parent keep her from being successful. She has applied to U of L and her career goal is to be a nurse practitioner.

Brittany Kelsey, Waggener High School

Brittany has a 4.0 GPA in Waggener’s Advance Program. She is a class officer, a member of the Principal’s Forum, a Harvard Book Award winner, a member of the NHS, Beta Club, Student Council and Pep Club and voted the “Most Intelligent” by her peers. Brittany has been yearbook editor, captain of the Girls soccer team, stage manager of the drama club and senior member on the softball team. Britanny was recently named by Business First magazine as a “Tomorrow’s Leaders” recipient for the second straight year.

Annie Kinny, Mercy Academy

Annie loves to learn. She has a probing mind and an insatiable curiosity. Quiet and thoughtful, Annie is fully capable of grasping concepts with minimal instruction. In addition to being an excellent school citizen and active in extracurricular activities, she has been a first rate runner on the cross country team. Annie’s sense of purpose drives her to stay the course –she simply will not give up. She recognizes her God-given gift to serve others. One goal is to participate in the Ironman Triathlon.

Rachel Linkous, St. Francis High School

Rachel melds her academic prowess, compassion for the earth, stellar hockey talents and maturity at the student council round table discussions with an eagerness to be a spokesperson for social issues. Rachel designed a rain gathering system at the Earth and Spirit Center and quickly transformed herself from high school student to a local environmental expert. She co-founded Eco-Louisville, a bank of environmental clubs of area high schools. She is an honest, caring young woman ready to take on the world.

Kelsey Mattingly, Seneca High School

Kelsey is one of the most active in Seneca’s student body with a near perfect academic record and plethora of activities including theater and orchestra, four years as a class officer and speech and debate awards. She is a reliable, kind-hearted, and energetic student, always willing to volunteer to lend a hand where needed. Whether collecting donations during a leukemia fundraiser or standing in near freezing temperatures to sell hotdogs for a junior football cookout, she commits herself 100 %.

Alexandria Meehan, Jefferson County High School

Alex entered JCHS as a freshman and in a little over two years has developed into an accomplished, bright senior on the threshold of graduation. She has a strong work ethic, pleasant, easy-going personality and a positive attitude. She has been a delightful student with which to work. With near perfect attendance, she has demonstrated an ability to take advantage of opportunities that are presented to her and works extremely hard. She never wastes time, but focuses diligently for the entire class session.

Charles Mullennex, Pleasure Ridge Park High School

Charlie is a hard working student in the Advance Program. Due to diligence and commitment to academics he became a leader and role model in the classroom. He serves as the senior class president. Charlie balances his school work with helping to care for his mother who was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease five years ago. He is the captain of the football team and has had to lead his team through the tragedy of losing a fellow athlete on the practice field. PRP is proud of this impressive young man.

Sidney Noland, Assumption High School

By the end of her senior year, Sidney will have completed ten AP courses and four dual credit level courses and has a 3.92 GPA. Sidney is a Governor’s Scholar and pursues her love of violin, ballet, horseback riding and riflery. Sidney has served as a Just Creations fair trade ambassador and is a founding member of the inter-high school coalition, EcoLouisville, which aims to help likeminded young people promote a “greener” Louisville. She plans to attend Yale University in the fall.

Anthony Osbourne, St. Xavier High School

Anthony is truly outstanding. He is president of the National Honor Society and coordinated all service projects for the group. Over spring break, he went to New Orleans to help rebuild, and later to Belize to build shelters. He has been a four year contributor to the football teams, and has a 3.7 GPA in the honors and AP program. Anthony has been awarded a full scholarship to the University of Alabama. He plans on majoring in mechanical engineering and then pursuing medical school.

Ryan Ponder, Central High School

Ryan is an intelligent and personable young woman who is fun to be around. She is reliable, responsible and an excellent academic student in the Legal Government magnet. She has participated in Mock trial events and has a knack for tackling difficult subject areas. Though her father has been absent for the past ten years, and the family has had to struggle financially, she is determined to go to college and be the first person in her family to earn a college degree.

Maria Venice Quirimit, Shawnee High School

Venice is the top of the 2009 Shawnee class. Not only does Venice carry a perfect 4.0 GPA, her list of extracurricular activities is astonishing. She is proudest of holding the highest rank of Lieutenant Commander of the NJROTC Program. Coming in a close second is her acquisition of her private pilot’s license by May of 2009. Outside of school, Venice is a children’s Sunday school teacher, a peer tutor and finds time to work fifteen hours a week at a nursing home.

Ben Richter, Kentucky Country Day School

Ben has been an outstanding contributor to his school community. He has excelled in the toughest courses at KCD. As Student Council president, Ben demonstrated remarkable energy and unfailing loyalty. As leader of the Honor Council, Ben’s mature judgment has been exemplary. Ben was quarterback and captain of the football team and a started in basketball and baseball. He is active in B’nai Brith Youth Organization and the Summerbridge Program. He is headed for the University of Michigan next fall.

Emma Scott, Christian Academy

Emma is a National Merit Finalist and a Presidential Scholar candidate. Emma loves learning, AP Chemistry and AP Spanish are thrilling to her. She plays soccer and is a coach’s dream with her great attitude and leadership which earned her the Players’ Player Award. Emma is a terrific violinist amazing the audience in a recent concert with her solo. Emma tutors a disadvantaged student three days a week, positively influencing her grades and emotional health. Emma’s goal, to be a medical missionary, fits her perfectly.

Susan Stein, Presentation Academy

This class salutatorian and National Merit commended student was one of two student from Kentucky selected to study at the congressional Academy for American History and Civics. Susan has been an equally outstanding athlete, helping her teams gain regional honors in basketball, field hockey and track. Susan is committed to excellence in all her many endeavors. Recognized as a capable leader, Susan uniquely views her numerous leadership roles as “service” to others and positively touches the lives of those she meets

Richard Stewart, Trinity High School

Rick is the ideal school citizen, in the classroom, athletics, religious activities and primarily as a person of good nature and maturity. Rick has garnered all the best academic awards and has set a personal and school record as a varsity swimmer. He serves as a role model for younger students and a leader, especially in campus ministry and community service. Mostly, however, it is the high quality of his personal style that is commendable. He is a man of honor and character.

Rachel Stivers-Bender, DuPont Manual High School

As a young girl, Rachel’s mother owned a restaurant, the Cottage Café, and Rachel grew up there and the customers became her family. When identified as dyslexic it was her restaurant family who pushed her and never gave up on her. She went to two different schools a day to learn compensation skills for her disability; she uses her do-ability, as she calls it, to empower her. She also had her Youth Group and Girl Scout troop to help her along the way.

Derek Stotts, Southern High School

Derek is number one is his class, and has maintained a 4.0 GPA while taking the most rigorous curriculum offered. Outside the classroom he loves music; his interests ranging from heavy metal to classical. He is the drumline section leader and has won both school and regional honors. Derek is president of the senior class, and is a valued member of the track team. He was a Governor’s Scholar in 2008. He plans to attend U of L or Morehead State University and major in Pharmacy.

Chie Togami, Youth Performing Arts School

Chie has spent the last four years engaged in demanding curriculum, the fine arts and service projects that demonstrate her sense of purpose and life long agenda. She is a Governor’s Scholar, a member of the All-County and the All-State Bands and orchestra. She volunteers her time with Project Women, Clout and the Relay for Life and the Hunger Walk. Chie’s long term dream is to either become an international lawyer who works overseas or work for the Environmental Protection Agency.

Alexina Wilson, Portland Christian School

Alexina works hard in the classroom taking challenging classes and maintains a 3.7 GPA. She is high energy and very people minded. She has been on several mission trips to help villagers build buildings and tutor in English. Through the National Honor Society she helps feed the homeless and collects items to use in the local ministries. Alexina has accomplished all of this while helping her father with four other siblings, especially in the last two years since the passing of her mother.

Jordan Wilson, Whitefield Academy

Jordan is number one in the senior class at Whitefield. Outside the classroom he is involved in basketball, tennis, golf and baseball. He has also been involved in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Beta Club, high school choir, student senate, his church and student government. Jordan is a Red Cross volunteer and a volunteer at the Downs Syndrome Joy Prom through his church. He was recently voted Most Likely to Succeed and Homecoming King. He is a servant leader with a servant’s heart.


Christopher Young, Jeffersontown High School

Many of our youth tend to make poor choices and spend the following years coping with the consequences. While trying to overcome the death of a family member to suicide,

Chris showed little interest in school earning a .16 GPA as a sophomore. He faced exit from the traditional school program. But with sheer determination he improved his GPA to a 3.8 in his junior year and is currently carrying a 4.0. He shares his life changing story to others and attributes his positive success to his faith in God. His future goals include being a CEO of a Fortune 500 company.