The Learning Curve: a look into Michiana's Senior Yearbook
MICHIANA -- This week our Learning Curve series is remembering our graduating seniors.
After spending 12 years in school, these young adults are ready to take on new lessons in life.
These seniors have a lot on their plate as they wrap up the school year.
Juggling bouts of senioritis, future career and higher education plans and you can’t forget about the mental struggles of facing more life “firsts” as they head into adult life.
When looking at Michiana’s 2021-2022 senior yearbook you are sure to see: sports highlights, theatrical master pieces, academic achievements, prom in-person, and smiles from students in every district!
The Learning Curve’s Summer Horan caught up with five seniors who are certainly in their feels as graduation draws closer!
“This is it. We have like what, two weeks? And then, that’s it,” said Mishawaka High School senior, Sarah Beshara.
“Definitely exciting!” said Wawasee High School senior, Devon Kuhn.
“I don’t know, actually, it’s happy or sad or excited. I think it’s actually a mix,” said Wawasee High School senior, Vanessa Lantz.
“I’ve been excited to graduate the whole year,” said Coloma High School senior, Riley Davis.
“”It’s insane. It feels like the start of a new chapter almost. It’s moving on to other things,” said Clay High School senior, Olivia Marentette.
Moving on from a mostly virtual high school experience.
“Freshman year, everything was normal, you know, pre-COVID times. Great, love it amazing,” said Lantz.
“I believe it was my sophomore year that we were all online, all virtual,” said Beshara.
“All the extracurriculars got put to a halt, a lot of people’s past times were put to a halt also, which made it hard for people to hold themselves accountable for grades,” Kuhn.
“The end of sophomore year was just insane because everything was closing down. All my senior friends were losing things that they wanted to do like their prom and I felt so bad for them,” said Marentette.
Senior Riley Davis says junior year was a bit of a shell shock after class work loads unintentionally ease up in the height of the pandemic—as health and safety pushed the break on learning capabilities.
“We can’t have tests and stuff like that in the same way that we used to. It feels weird saying it, but how easy it was there to junior year, how difficult that was, it was like it made that jump twice as hard,” said Davis.
Difficulties Davis pushed past as he continued to live and learn in his hometown—Coloma, Michigan—where everyone of the town’s 1400 citizens wants nothing less than the best for the students they call family.
“I’ve been at Coloma my whole life,” said Davis. “There’s a sense of spirit that I feel like a lot of small towns have but Coloma has stronger.”
That Coloma Comets pride Davis showcased from the field.
“I was on soccer. I did cross country freshman and sophomore year. And then I’ve bowled and I’ve been on the track team all four year,” said Davis.
Pride giving him the strength to get through hours upon hours of college prep.
“Last year, I took the ACT, I got a 35, which the highest gives a 36. Using that, I got the National Merit finalist that combined with my PSAT score, which I’m not sure many schools offer scholarships for anymore, but Alabama was one. And since I knew that they offer that, I chose Alabama,” said Davis.
Horan then clarified, saying, “So you have a full ride to Alabama?”
“I have to pay for dining. But other than that, yeah,” said Davis.
A full ride out of the town he’s lived in for 18 years.
“From a very young age I wanted to go far away. And so when I got the scholarship from Alabama, that pretty much laid it out on a silver platter for me. I chose that without a second thought,” said Davis.
Davis knew not even the 716 mile distance would change where his dream to pursue computer science began.
“If you gave me the choice to pick anywhere else, I would not wanted to grow up anywhere other than Coloma, Michigan. But at the same time, I’m glad to be going into my next step in life,” said Davis.
Next steps Wawasee Community Schools senior, Vanessa Lantz, wants to start as she stay in Syracuse, Indiana!
“I have a couple colleges in mind. That might not be my route this year, necessarily,” said Lantz. “I’m a CNA right now. So I am thinking I’ll just get out and work in the healthcare field a little bit, try to wrap up some COVID things ad just you know, deal with that in the community.”
Vanessa ready to give back to the community that helped her find her new path in life.
“I really enjoy the school. It’s not too big, not too small. It has a lot of great opportunities,” said Lantz.
Opportunities Lantz took, living out her dreams on stage!
“This year I had the honor to play the role Ursula in the Little Mermaid. I loved being evil,” said Lantz.
But not even playing an evil sea witch could ruin her fondest high school memory.
“On the last night I knew this was the last time I’d be performing on stage for a while with the big crowd and I had just finished my “Poor unfortunate souls” [song] and I’m standing there in my moment. And everybody just erupts with clapping and cheering and I was about to break character, you know, like having tears running down my face, messing up my purple makeup,” said Lantz.
Devon Kuhn is Vanessa’s classmate, a fellow senior, and also just trying to plan out the rest of his life.
“I plan on majoring in nursing and Spanish at Carthage College. And I’m also on the dive team diving. So I just signed a couple of weeks ago,” said Kuhn.
This busy bee not letting off the gas!
“I was a two-time tennis captain. I was on varsity diving, I was a girl’s tennis manager. I was student body vice president, National Honors Society vice president, and I’m in an environmental club,” said Kuhn.
Extracurriculars involving a splash heard round the world from a former teammate, Jeb Ritchie, that Kuhn deems one of his favorite high school memories.
Memories Kuhn will take with him as he makes a splash in adulthood.
“Being as heavily involved as I am, I think it really made me able to multitask. Like it prepared me for that, which I think is going to help me in college a lot,” said Kuhn. “You know, if I’m double majoring and doing a sport, I’m going to have to be good at multitasking.”
Sarah Beshara knows a thing a thing or two about multitasking.
She is one out of five valedictorians with a GPA of 4.787.
Next stop in her life—Philadelphia.
“I’m going to Drexel University, which I am so excited. That’s in Philadelphia,” said Beshara. “So I’ll be moving across the country and just being in a completely new environment, which is exciting. But it’s also very intimidating.”
Sarah hopes to use the skills she developed at Mishawaka High School including National Art Honor Society, the National Honor Society, track and field, swimming, and the student athletic council to perfect her bedside manner.
“I want to study medicine, so like a Biology major with a pre-med focus,” said Beshara.
Tough topics, but Sarah is used to the pressure.
With a near perfect GPA she hopes she can carry that momentum into her freshman year of college.
“Having a balance between enjoying experience and also putting yourself in a position to be successful,” said Beshara.
Success Clay High School senior, Olivia Marentette, plans to take to Indiana University.
“I want to major in Cinematic Arts and hopefully minor in psychology,” said Marentette.
Olivia wants to be a film maker—a passion she discovered after attending an exclusive NYU filmmakers’ workshop.
“I was the only students from Indiana and they accepted 15 like students in general and I was like, this is what I want to do now,” said Marentette.
That passion sparked school projects like a promotional video for a homecoming game.
Soon, it lead to a starring role in the school production, “Carrie.”
As these five seniors get ready to embark on the rest of their lives, they want everyone watching to remember one thing.
"Adults will know more than you really. And I think it's good to listen to authority figures, because they're in that position for a reason," said Davis.
"Follow up with your teachers. And anyone actually it can be a job application. You need to follow up, it's important because if you don't you can miss an opportunity," said Marentette.
"Keep trying. Just be positive. Be grateful for your teachers and everything around you because they're trying to help," said Lantz.
"Having a balance between enjoying your experience and putting yourself in a position to be successful," Beshara.
"Take the light of things, you know, you're going to have hard situations, but as long as you make the best of them and it'll all be okay," said Kuhn.