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Eighteen students lauded for their varied successes, will lead commencement ceremony on Friday

GARY ALLEN - The Newberg High School Class of 2018 features 18 valedictorians. From left to right, back row: Lydia Chambers, Nicholas Broce, Nathan Kim, Dawson Willems and Carson Herrick; middle row: Maggee Hodgdon, Claire Backus, Mikayla Zielsdorf, Grace Kavanagh, Samantha Cone and Katelyn Salzberg; front row: Teresa Hartley, Danielle Bosse, Kailee Aparicio, James Kobelenz, Casey Novak and Ashley Korb Doty. Not Pictured: Alexandra Call

To Newberg High School teacher and student activities director Mark Brown, it's amazing that 18 different students qualified to be valedictorians at graduation ceremonies on Friday.

To the dozen and a half students themselves, they feel it's pretty fitting to have such a large group share the honors because it's their diversity that makes them truly representative of the class of 2018 overall.

"I think academics is what ties us together, but I think the coolest thing about the group is that it really is a mix," Tess Hartley said. "We have a lot of theater kids, a lot who are sports kids. We've got some people who are in (Oregon High School Equestrian Team) and orchestra. It draws from a lot of different clubs, groups and organizations in the school."

Hartley is one of several theater lovers in the group, along with Nicholas Broce, Samantha Cone and Lydia Chambers, but that is only one thing they have in common and just one of each's many talents and interests.

For example, Hartley is one of the leading actors in the theater troupe, while Broce worked behind the scenes as technical director. Hartley and Cone are both active in choir, while Chambers lettered in basketball and lacrosse and is headed to Gonzaga University to study mechanical engineering.

Hartley will study in the honors program at Gordon College in Massachusetts while studying medicine, theater and Spanish.

Cone, who also competed on Newberg's Envirothon team and plays the ukulele, is headed to Whitworth University to major in secondary education and Spanish, while Broce will double major in computer science and electrical engineering at Oregon State University in the fall.

"I like the example that we're setting that you don't have to be a certain type of person to succeed," Broce said. "We have a variety of people that have all come to the same point. It doesn't matter if they do theater after school or if they go home or if they go do sports, they can do this. Anyone can."

There are certainly a number of standout athletes in the group, including track stars Casey Novak and Ashley Korb-Doty. While Korb-Doty will continue her athletic career for recent NCAA Division III national champion George Fox, Novak is leaving athletics behind to study pre-med at the University of Notre Dame.

Also planning on a career in medicine is golfer Mikayla Zielsdorf, who will go the pre-med route at the University of San Diego.

Maggee Hodgdon, who starred on the Newberg soccer team along with Novak, has earned an athletic scholarship to the University of Minnesota-Crookston, where she will major in aviation.

Dawson Willems, who helped the boys soccer team earn the program's first-ever league title this past fall, is also headed to George Fox University and will study mechanical engineering. Carson Herrick, who earned all-league honors in cross-country and is one of three of the valedictorians to serve on ASB, won't be far away at Willamette University in Salem.

Grace Kavanagh, who has been the backbone of the girls water polo team for the past four years as an all-state goalie, will also continue her athletic career at Santa Clara University, where she will study either biology or bioengineering.

Claire Backus, a violin player, is one of several valedictorians who play in the orchestra along with cellist Alex Call, is headed to Southern Oregon University in Ashland but is undecided on her major. Call also performed with the Portland Youth Philharmonic Orchestra and will major in cello performance and human biology at the University of Utah.

Having won dozens of state, regional, national and international competitions since he was a youth, pianist Nathan Kim may be the most decorated musician to graduate from Newberg, but he plans to study biology at Pacific Union College in California.

A performer of a different kind, Kailee Aparicio is headed to the University of Portland to study business after serving as captain of the NHS Dance team for four years.

Danielle Bosse brings a unique perspective to the group after spending a year studying abroad in Argentina. She has also participated in volleyball, basketball and track at Newberg and will double major in biology and Spanish at Coe College in Iowa.

A leader on Newberg's OHSET equestrian team for the past four years, Katelyn Salzberg helped the Tigers take home regional titles in the In Hand Obstacle Relay and Freestyle Fours Drill events and will continue her studies at the University of Colorado.

James Kobalenz, who was recognized for being a leader in NHS's Project Lead the Way engineering courses, is eschewing the traditional college path in order to pursue a career as an electrician.

"They're not all exactly alike, which I think is a good message, that to be successful there's no one mold," Brown said. "You don't have to be a specific type of person. As long as you work hard and you're passionate about what you're doing and you strive to do your best, no matter what it is, you can be successful at what you're doing. I think this group shows that."

For as many accomplishments as the valedictorians have collected as a group, Brown also praised them for putting focus on the entire class of 2018 in preparing their speeches for graduation ceremonies, which will begin at 7 p.m. Friday.

"Everybody else in the class has accomplishments and they deserve to be recognized just as much as we do," Chambers said.

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