2011 Student Honorees
Next Generation of Leaders Honored by Foundation
Although the 14 high school seniors selected as Leadership for Tomorrow Honorees are diverse students with varied talents — such as tennis, architecture, medicine and music — they are all emerging leaders. “These students are hard workers with dedication, vision and passion,” said Cherry Creek Schools Foundation Executive Director Carolynn Erickson. That is why these students were selected to be honored at the Cherry Creek Schools Foundation Leadership for Tomorrow Luncheon on March 17. “Reading about this year’s honorees gives me assurance that our future is in good hands,” said Foundation Board Member Tom Balakas. “These students have dedicated themselves to success in every aspect of their lives, many overcoming difficult obstacles and serving as role models for others. Their teachers can all be proud at the level of success they have all achieved.”
Cherokee Trail High School
Someday Cimone Brown will sit down with her mother and outline the plans for her mother’s dream home. Cimone’s goal is to become an architect and create the plans for the home her mother has always wanted. And Cimone’s mother knows it will happen, her daughter is already an accomplished young woman. Her sophomore year at Cherokee Trail High School, Cimone helped found the Model United Nations program. In this program, students are assigned a foreign country and participate in mock councils, following their assigned country’s foreign policies. Cimone is also a member of the school’s varsity track team, and has been since her freshman year. By running track, she has earned a Second-Year Letter Award. Cimone is also a member of the National Honor Society, a tribute to her excellent academic standing and to her willingness to volunteer in the community and at Cherokee Trail. Ultimately, however, Cimone plans to study architecture in school and pursue it as a career. “I love art and the design process, but I am also good at math,” she said. “I think I can combine these skills and become a great architect.”
Cherokee Trail High School
Give Bryant Brown a challenge and he’ll take it on. “I thrive on adversity, on overcoming obstacles,” he said. At Cherokee Trail High School, Bryant takes a rigorous course load in the International Baccalaureate Program, where his teachers have propelled him to higher thinking and higher learning. The community service aspect of the IB program has allowed Bryant to enjoy some unique experiences, such as volunteering with a labor attorney and working with the Young African Americans for Social and Political Activism, where he helped organize events for inner city youth. “I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had here at Cherokee Trail, especially the International Baccalaureate program.” He also serves as secretary for the National Honor Society and for the Model United Nations Program, and he wrestles for Cherokee Trail.
“Being so involved has allowed me to experience different parts of high school, see how events run behind-the-scenes and organized school-wide activities,” Bryant said. Bryant plans to attend Columbia University to study political science and economics. “I know it’s going to be difficult, but Columbia will give me opportunity and choices about my future.”
Cherry Creek High School
Carla Shira epitomizes what it means to be a leader. During her sophomore year she started a club called the BRUINS Squad. It stands for Becoming Respectful, United, Insightful, No-hate Students.” As an extension of the Anti-Defamation League, the club aims to break down barriers that isolate students. As a member of Student Senate, Shira founded and heads a committee that raises money for Teachers Across Borders, Inc., which provides educational opportunities for children in corrupt and poverty-stricken third-world countries. Shira plays soccer for both Cherry Creek High School and for Storm Academy Copa, where she is one of three captains. Outside of school, Shira volunteers at the Sunrise Assisted Living Center for about six to eight hours a week. As a youth volunteer leader, she organized the center’s Alzheimer’s Association Fundraiser.
Cherry Creek High School
Matthew Iritani draws inspiration from his family when being a leader. “While I did not grow up on a farm like my ancestors, I want to be the seed of a new generation, a bridge from my ancestors’ commitment of hard work to my dedication to service,” he said. Iritani has had a lot of practice being a leader. He is currently the Student Body President at Cherry Creek High School, and was president of his class for his freshman, sophomore and junior years. In addition, he is president of the National Honor Society, Key Club treasurer, and was the junior class swim team captain. Outside of school, Iritani actively participates in the Japanese American Community and calls bingo at this grandfather’s assisted living center.
Eaglecrest High School
Being a leader is an innate part of Ashley Lewis. Throughout her life she has felt it was important to serve her community and to serve as a role model to others. She plans to continue doing so throughout her life. “I want to help young girls,” Ashley said. “As a black, Mexican girl, I feel it’s important to help other young girls through their struggles and hardships. As long as they keep their goals in mind, they can achieve what they want to achieve.” Already Ashley has a long list of her own achievements. She is a varsity cheerleader at Eaglecrest High School. She’s been cheering competitively for 14 years. She’s also a member of the Honors Diploma Program, the National Society of High School Scholars and the Spanish Honor Society.
But one of the most meaningful experiences she’s had has been volunteering with the Special Olympic track team. “It was such a humbling experience and it made me feel like I was really making a difference.” Lewis plans to pursue a career in acting or public relations.
Eaglecrest High School
“Leadership is a place that you are able to be involved at a level where you can bring people and ideas together for a common goal,” said Connor Bohl. Connor uses his leadership skills to help lead Eaglecrest High School as Student Body President. He is responsible for supporting activities, programs and initiatives that bring students together and reach the goals of the school. In addition, he performs with the school’s top-level choir, the Madrigals and he’s involved with Boy Scouts of America. Academically, Connor leads by example with his involvement in the Honors Diploma program, which provides structure and college preparedness for high-achieving students. The program also has a community service component. One of Connor’s biggest passions is playing volleyball. He plays boys high school volleyball and club volleyball. “I plan to attend college in California and play volleyball there,” he said.
Grandview High School
“A leader is someone who not only sticks to their beliefs, but leads by example even when no one is watching,” said Mackenzie Sedlak. Mackenzie plans to study business and pre-law at the University of Denver to pursue a career in law. Fortunately, she’s accustomed to a rigorous schedule. At Grandview High School, MacKenzie is a member of the National Honor Society and has fulfilled 40 hours of community service as part of her commitment to the organization. As captain of the Varsity Pom Squad, MacKenzie recently helped lead her team to the 5A State Championships. She started with poms as a sophomore, making the junior varsity squad her first year. “I am also a varsity poms representative for student athletic council which meets once every two weeks to discuss ways to increase school spirit and attendance at sporting events,” she said. Mackenzie has been in Student Leadership since her freshman year, where she helps to plan and organize many Grandview events. “As a captain and a senior member of student leadership, I aspire to be the person other people look to for advice and guidance, and who others use as a good example,” she said.
Grandview High School
Abhinav Gupta plans on a career where he can help people, which is why he is drawn to the medical field, he said. “When I look toward my future I want to make a positive difference in the community,” he said, “not just work for monetary gain.” Abhinav has applied to many colleges. He plans to study biomedical engineering and attend law school afterward. Any university would we fortunate to call Abhinav one of its own. He not only has excelled academically, he’s also a well-rounded individual with many interests. His favorite activity is playing tennis. He’s a captain on Grandview’s tennis team and plays No. 1 Singles. He‘s also president of the school’s National Honor Society and Medical Careers Club. “High school has been a great experience. I enjoy the freedoms I’ve had at Grandview, to make my own decisions and choose my own path,” he said. He also credits his parents with all the support they’ve given him to focus on school and extra-curricular activities. “They’ve always encouraged me to work hard to reach my goals,” he said.
Overland High School
Mayra Mendez is the Student Body President at Overland High School, in a culture she calls a “supportive, diverse environment.” With a list of achievements she can be proud of, such as being President of Mu Alpha Theta (the math honor society), playing soccer and volleyball, participating in the National Honor Society and belonging to the Medical Career Collaborative Program, Mendez is now looking toward the future. She’s excited to advance her education and purse a career as a pediatrician. “As part of the Medical Career Collaborative Program, I interned at Children’s Hospital for three months,” she said. “I loved helping others and working with the children, they’re so sweet and cute. I feel like that’d be a perfect career for me. In addition to her internship at Children’s, Mayra also volunteers at the hospital, taking care of children who have HIV and AIDS, while their parents attend a 2 hour meeting each month.
Mayra said she’s most proud of maintaining a 4.0 grade point average throughout high school. “Finishing school and getting a career started would be best reward ever,” she said. “Then I’d like to visit other countries with my mom. She’s always wanted to do that.”
Overland High School
In seventh grade Solomon Chapman started playing the trumpet and got involved with band.
“It was an experience I’d never had before,” he said. “It felt fantastic to be surrounded by others who were as passionate about music I was.” Now as a senior, Solomon is still passionate about music, participating in marching band and jazz band. He also involves himself at Overland being a member of the National Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta, an honor society for math.
“Between the diversity that exists at Overland, and belonging to different clubs and organizations at the school, I’ve had the opportunity to work with many different types of people,” he said. “I feel like that experience will help me in college and beyond, because you need to know how to interact with different people in order to be successful.” Solomon plans to use his ability to interact with different people in a career as a teacher, following in the footsteps of an Overland teacher who had been an inspiration to him. “I already had an interest in math,” Solomon said. “But Mr. (Rob) Matuschek helped me hone my skills and push me to the next level. He’s inspired me to be a more open-minded, well-rounded person.”
Smoky Hill High School
Since performing at the Country Dinner Playhouse at the age of six, Suzanna Chapman has been passionate about the performing arts. Today, the Smoky Hill High School senior has the lead of “Anna” in the school’s spring musical, “The King and I.” “I came to high school knowing what my niche was,” Anna said. She’s been involved with dance, choir, theatre, performing and directing. Last year she directed student one-act plays and felt fulfilled sharing her ideas and talents. In fact, she was voted “Best Director” by her peers. “That really meant a lot to me,” she said. Suzanna takes her role as a leader seriously. “I’ve tried to create a positive presence at Smoky Hill by setting a good example and striving to meet high standards,” she said. “Everyone needs role models.” Suzanna plans to study musical theater at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. She was one of five students selected by the school for a full-ride scholarship. “I would like to capitalize on my gift for musical theater and my passion for teaching,” she said. Which may translate into becoming a classroom teacher or a director.
Smoky Hill High School
In between trips for All State Choir and All State Jazz Choir, Jason Williams is preparing for baseball season as captain of the varsity baseball team at Smoky Hill High School. This on the heels of being a captain on the varsity tennis team in the fall, a member of the National Honor Society, Link Crew, a student of the International Baccalaureate program and an IB mentor.
“Ever since I was a little kid, being a leader was a value that was instilled in me. I’m the one who tries to step up in any given situation,” Jason said. Jason appreciates the academic challenges of his IB course load, the athleticism and camaraderie of baseball and the creativity of choir. “Singing affords you the opportunity to let out emotion,” he said. Although his heart is still in high school now, Jason is looking forward to college where he plans to study mechanical engineering. “I’m interested in a career involving math, science and statistics,” he said.
Cherry Creek PREP
Kelsey Armstrong plans to pursue a career in nutrition or natural medicine. “I want to be self-reliant and never have to depend on others,” she said. “That’s what I want for my children as well.” Between the inspiration from her family, and the personalized support from the staff at PREP, Kelsey has had a successful senior year and will even graduate early. “The teachers here really want to help you. They take the time to work with you until you have a thorough understanding of the content,” she said. Kelsey is an informal role model at PREP. She leads by example and by helping other students. “I’ve worked hard at this school,” she said. “I improve my understanding of subjects by explaining concepts to other students who may need a hand. Plus, I’m not afraid to say what I think in class.”
Cherry Creek PREP
Devon Naulls believes in leadership as a way to help others and to help himself. “Encouraging others to do their best helps me to do my best,” he said. Devon leads discussions in class, helps others with their schoolwork and asks other students questions to get them thinking. College is the next step for Devon. He’d like to pursue computer engineering and writing. “I’m motivated to go to school and to perform well,” he said. “PREP has been amazing. The teachers here are insanely awesome.” In addition to awesome teachers, Naulls’ family has been a source of support for him. “My family life is really positive,” Naulls said. “I have many thoughtful discussions with my parents. It’s great to relate with them on an adult level. “I’m close to my parents and my sister,” he said. “I enjoy seeing them happy. That inspires me.”