With the school year winding down, high school seniors throughout southwest Kansas either already have walked across the stage and picked up that coveted piece of paper, or they're set to this weekend.
It's the time of year when academic achievements are celebrated, and with that in mind, The Telegram today would like to recognize the academic prowess of some of the top graduating seniors in the region.
The following students represent the top graduating seniors from each of the high schools in The Telegram's 12-county coverage area, which includes Finney, Grant, Gray, Greeley, Hamilton, Haskell, Kearny, Lane, Scott, Stanton, Stevens and Wichita counties. We asked the top academic seniors from each school, as submitted by the school, to tell us about themselves. Sixteen of our 19 schools took us up on the invitation.
Congratulations to the Class of 2019. Now let's take a closer look at some of its highest achieving members:
School: Wichita County Junior-Senior High School
Parents: Randy and Carrie Biermann
Activities: Volleyball, cross country, basketball, track and field, NHS, STUCO, FFA, Science Olympiad, band, and choir.
Honors: All "A" Honor Roll, Kansas Honor Scholar, Governor's Scholar, Citizenship Award.
Hobbies: Spending time with friends and family, listening to music, playing sports, watching Netflix (more specifically The Office), driving around town with friends, playing cards and sleeping.
Future plans: Attend Fort Hays State University and major in nursing.
School: South Gray High School
Parents: Reed and Brenda Bullinger
Activities: Football, basketball, golf, cross country, scholar’s bowl, FCA, Men’s Letter-club, NHS, youth group and 4-H.
Honors: Kansas Honors Scholar, Governor’s Scholar, second team all-league offensive and defensive lineman, first team all-league scholar’s bowl, two-time league champion in golf, and on the 2018 1A State Basketball championship team.
Hobbies: Hunting, fishing, playing golf with friends and family, and hanging out with friends.
Future plans: Attend Kansas State University, where he will study biology to become a future optometrist or physician assistant and live in the Farmhouse fraternity.
School: Ingalls High School
Parents: Jamie and Staci Cure
Activities: St. Stanislaus youth group, volleyball, basketball, track, cross country, KAY, yearbook, NHS, STUCO, Ingalls Letterman.
Honors: A Honor Roll, Citizenship Award, KU Honors Award, Governor's Scholar, Terina Irsik Award, Ingalls Big “E” Award, Dale M Dennis Excellence in Education Award, Kansas Board of Regents, class president, class secretary/treasurer, Most Inspirational cross country runner, cross country state medalist, on state runner-up cross country team 2016 and 2017, all-state 1A cross country team, volleyball team MVP, on volleyball state qualifying team 2015 and 2016, SPIAA All-League volleyball second team 2018, basketball team MVP, on state basketball third-place team, SPIAA All-League basketball 1st team, Topeka Capital Journal Honorable Mention basketball, Sports in Kansas second team basketball, Wichita Eagle second team basketball 2019, Garden City Telegram second team basketball 2017-2018, first team 2018-19, state medalist (4x800 relay- 6th place-2017 and 8th place-2018).
Hobbies: I enjoy spending time outdoors playing basketball, hunting, fishing and going to the lake. I also like to just watch Netflix and hang out with friends.
Future plans: Attend Fort Hays State University to major in human health and performance to become an occupational therapist.
John Wesley Daniels
School: Stanton County High School
Parents: Larry and Dee Dee Daniels
Activities: Football, basketball, scholar’s bowl, NHS, FFA, band.
Honors: Kansas Honor Scholar, Kansas Governor’s Scholar, Kansas State Scholar, High Honor Roll all four years, Vice President’s Honor Roll at Seward County Community College Spring 2018, fall 2018, spring 2019.
Hobbies: I don’t really have any hobbies.
Future plans: Attend Friends University to pursue a degree in mathematics.
School: Lakin High School
Parents: Mirna Herrera and Jesus Jurado
Activities: HALO president, class president, STUCO, 4-H, Big Brothers Big Sisters, cheerleading, student aide, yearbook/journalism, Math Relays.
Honors: Honor roll 9-12; Art show awards (9-12); KU honor scholar.
Hobbies: Riding horses, working, painting.
Future plans: Attend GCCC to earn associate degree in accounting, then plan to attend Fort Hays State University to earn bachelor's degree in accounting.
Rafael Axel Granillo
School: Moscow High School
Parents: Rafael and Alma Granillo
Activities: Track, basketball, football, band, scholar's bowl, all-school play.
Honors: Valedictorian, school discus record-holder and runner-up at state track, all-state basketball, all-state football, all-state track, four-time 1 rating recipient at KSHSAA State Music Festival, three-time scholar's bowl MVP for Moscow, Vice President’s Honor Roll at Seward County Community College, Essay featured in SCCC’s Student Visual Art and Literature Magazine, class president, Rudd Scholar, Governor’s Scholar, two-time Actor of the Year at Moscow.
Hobbies: Ping-pong, sports, piano, Monopoly, making YouTube videos and spending quality time with friends and family.
Future plans: Major in business data analytics with a minor in integrated marketing communications at Emporia State University while competing for ESU’s track and field team.
Rebecca S. Johnson
School: Hugoton High School
Parents: Matthew and Nancy Johnson
Activities: STUCO, NHS, Show Choir, FFA, Science Club, basketball, track, cross country, 4-H, Hugoton United Methodist Youth Group.
Honors: Kansas Governor’s Scholar, National 4-H Key Award, on 2017 3A state basketball championship team, on 2016 3A cross country state championship team, All-State KMEA Honor Choir 2019, FFA State Degree 2019, 2019 NHS Scholarship semifinalist.
Hobbies: Reading, biking, riding horses, baking, walking my dogs, Ryder and Mia.
Future plans: Attending Iowa State University, where I plan to double major in agronomy and biological systems engineering. With these majors, I hope to decrease food and water insecurity in third world countries.
School: Holcomb High School
Parents: Victor and Christie Klotz
Activities: NHS, SADD, STUCO (vice president), FCCLA, FCS, Class of 2019 Representative (vice president), Uncommon Athlete, forensics, theatre KAY, FFA, volleyball, softball, track.
Honors: Governor’s Scholar, KU Honors Scholar, Academic Volleyball First Team, Academic All League Great West Activities Conference, Academic Sophomore Letterman, first place Individual Service National Society Daughters of the American Revolution South Central Division, first place Individual Community Service The National Society of DAR, 1st place Community Service Dodge City Chapter DAR, Star Event Silver at Districts for Career Investigation, nominated for National Youth Leader Forum for Advanced Medicine and Emergency Medicine, nominated for The Congress of Future Medical Leaders, nominated for Wheatland Electric Youth Tour.
Hobbies: Traveling, going on adventurous hikes, playing sports, hanging out with friends, shopping, eating delicious food, learning new skills and information.
Future plans: Attend Arizona State University, where she’s been accepted into the Barrett’s Honors College to study exploratory health and life sciences. She plans to become a dermatologist and hopes to open clinics in rural areas.
Elena Sophia Lemke
School: Garden City High School
Parents: Michael and Birgit Lemke
Activities: Vice president of NHS, Sugar Beet co-editor-in-chief, golf, Peer Leadership, Math Relay Team, piano competitor and accompanist, Parish School of Religion Teacher at St. Dominic Catholic Church, golf.
Honors: Governor’s Scholar, top 1% of graduating high school seniors in Kansas, University of Kansas Honors Program, Honors Scholar, Principal Honor Roll, Kansas State High School Piano Festival, Western Athletic Conference Honorable Mention and All Conference first team, Night at the Lab regional champion, Night at the Lab state runner-up; Outstanding Senior, chosen by principals from Garden City High School.
Hobbies: Volunteering at church, helping the underserved in our community, hanging out with friends, and playing piano.
Future plans: Attend the University of Kansas, where she will be part of the Kansas Honors Program and will major in biology. She plans to pursue a career in the medical field and hopes to return to rural Kansas to serve the medically underserved.
School: Greeley County High School
Parents: Tim and Jennifer Luebbers
Activities: Cheerleading, tennis, basketball, SADD, NHS, Greeley County High School play, class officer.
Honors: Kansas Honor Scholar, Governor’s Scholar, Iowa State Quest Award, High Honor Roll.
Future plans: Attend Iowa State University and major in pre-med.
School: Syracuse High School
Parents: Fred and Nikki Nichols
Activities: Cheerleading, choir, cheerleading co-captain, Syracuse Singers, Library Leadership Group, NHS vice president, SAFE Team, Youth Group Member, class vice president.
Honors: Syracuse Singers State Qualifier Team, Principal’s Honor Roll, UCA All-American Cheerleader, HPL & Scholastic art awards, state qualifying vocal soloist, lettered in cheerleading, Choir.
Hobbies: Reading, making art, playing with my dogs, learning about true crime, sunbathing, and hanging out with my nephew.
Future plans: Attend the University of Kansas and study biology.
Kenadee Noelle O'Brien
School: Dighton High School
Parents: Tim and Marlece O'Brien
Activities: Basketball, volleyball, choir, theatre/music production, STUCO, NHS, band, track, FCCLA, 4-H, church activities and youth group.
Honors: Senior class president, class officer all four years, 4-H Club president, Kansas Honor Scholar, Honor Grad, High Honor Roll, Rudd Scholarship, completed Kansas Board of Regents curriculum.
Hobbies: Working with pigs and goats for 4-H, riding horses, work as a CNA at Lane County Hospital, taking online courses.
Future plans: Attend Fort Hays State University to major in chemistry and study pre-pharmacy, and eventually plan to apply for pharmacy school at the University of Kansas.
School: Deerfield High School
Parents: Brett and Sheryl Smith
Activities: Volleyball, basketball, track, softball, cheerleading, STUCO, FCCLA, FCA, NHS, All School Play.
Honors: All-league honorable mention volleyball, all-league first team volleyball, all-league first team basketball, Garden City Telegram all-area honorable mention basketball, UCA All-American Cheerleader, Shrine Bowl cheerleader, 4.0 honor roll, KU Kansas Honors Scholar, Kansas Governor's Scholar.
Hobbies: Being outside, hanging out with friends, being active, and watching Netflix.
Future plans: Attend Wichita State University to major in nursing and minor in psychology, with the hopes of pursuing a career in OB nursing and midwifery.
School: Scott Community High School
Parents: Mike and Kate Thomas
Activities: President of school chapter of the NHS, STUCO, vice president of FBLA, cross country, track and field, Science Club, FCA.
Honors: Kansas State Scholar, SCHS valedictorian, Kansas Governor’s Scholar, 2017 KSHSAA 3A Cross Country Academic All-State.
Hobbies: Running, camping, playing cards, and spending time with family, friends, and my dog.
Future plans: Attend Kansas State University, where he will be running cross country and track and studying chemistry with an emphasis in pre-med.
School: Ulysses High School
Parents: Dustin and Monica Walker
Activities: NHS, STUCO, UHS Interact, UHS Project Management, Art Club, Gifted and Talented Program, cross country, track, basketball, cheerleading, 4-H, FFA, FCA.
Honors: Kansas Governor’s Scholar, Duke TIP Scholar, 2017 4-H Gold Star Award, Texas Farm Bureau Free Enterprise Speech Contest district champion and state runner-up, 4-H National Livestock Skill-a-thon qualifier.
Future plans: Attend Kansas State University to obtain a master’s degree in architecture.
School: Sublette High School
Parents: Michelle and Preston Withers
Activities: Basketball, scholar’s bowl, Science Olympiad, track, vocal music, volleyball, American Field Service, FCA, Future Business Leaders of America, FFA, KAY, Multicultural Leadership Organization, NHS, S-Club STUCO, Junior Chamber of Commerce.
Honors: Second team all-league volleyball, volleyball team MVP (2017), second team all-league track (2017), honorable mention all-league volleyball, volleyball coach’s award (2018), Fall Homecoming Queen (2018), Kansas Honor Scholar, Rotary Student of the Month, Principal’s Honor Roll (4 yrs), Governor’s Scholar.
Hobbies: Lifting, hunting, going out with friends, traveling.
Future plans: I plan to attend the University of Kansas and major in engineering.