Top of the class: Kennedy valedictorians, salutatorian plan next steps

June 2012 Posted in People, School

By Don MurthaKaylee Aman, Bridget Donahue, Daniel Hammer and Cirra Halter.

The top five students at John F. Kennedy High School share many talents, goals, dreams and achievements.

At 18 years old, with high school behind them, they now move on to achieve careers in the medical field, science and psychology.

Each of the four valedictorians and the salutatorian has earned honors, awards and scholarships that will give them a start on their chosen careers.

Valedictorians are Daniel Hammer, Cirra Halter, Bridget Donahue and Kaylee Aman, all earning perfect 4.0 grade point averages. Salutatorian Sarah Frey earned a 3.98 grade point average.

Daniel Hammer

The son of Ron and Chris Hammer, Daniel plans to attend Gonzaga University in the fall with the goal of becoming an emergency room physician.

“It’s something like being the quarterback in the emergency room,” he said.

Hammer was in four-year varsity athlete for football, basketball and baseball.

He served as president of the National Honor Society at Kennedy High School; worked with Mount Angel’s Habitat for Humanity; is a member of the Knights of Columbus, and in community service for the honor society he washed wheel chairs at the Providence Benedictine Nursing Center.

His inspiration in high school was Coach Scott Henderson.

“He always pushed me to my full potential not only in basketball, but my academics as well,” Hammer said.

Hammer earned a Dean’s Scholarship from Gonzaga University, a Wendy’s Scholarship and is an American Dairy Association Scholarship finalist.

Cirra Halter

The daughter of Kevin Halter and Suzanne Burrows, Cirra plans to attend Portland State University to earn a bachelors degree in psychology.

Subsequently, she plans to attend Marylhurst College to major in art therapy.

“Art therapy can be very helpful to people suffering from trauma and to juveniles in hospital or clinical settings. I like to work with children,” she said.

Her art teacher, Mrs. Hues, has been a great influence and inspiration to her.

“She always pushed me to put forth my best effort. She is the one who suggested I look into art therapy,” Cirra said.

She was in the leadership program of the Associated Student Body, the National Honor Society, president of Habitat for Humanity, a courtesy clerk at Roth’s grocery, a member of St. Mary’s youth choir, My Future, My Choice (an abstinence program) and the Lunch Buddies Mentor Program.

Among her scholarships and awards are the Elks Most Valuable Student, Daughters of the American Revolution (D.A.R), Good Citizen and State Essay Finalist, Lions Club Scholarship, Jaime’s Barber Shop Scholarship, Class of 2011 Scholarship, Mount Angel Teachers Association Scholarship and Academic All Star of the Statesman Journal.

She said she is eager to start a new life at Portland State University.

“It will be an exciting start to the rest of my adult life,” she said.

Bridget Donahue

Bridget, the daughter of Michael and Janet Donahue, has balanced a busy schedule with excellent grades.

She was a member of the varsity cross country, basketball and track teams along with being in Future Business Leaders of American leadership, National Honor Society, Habitat for Humanity, Junior Catholic Daughters of America and the Mount Angel Park and Tree Board.

Her awards and scholarships include the Elks Most Valuable Student, Wendy’s Heisman State Finalist, the Society of Women Engineers Hewlett-Packard Scholarship, the Lions Club Scholarship, the Silverton Hospital Auxiliary Scholarship, the Oregon State University Academic Achievement Award and the Willamette Valley Road Runners Kelsy Oldham Scholarship. She plans to attend Oregon State University to earn a degree in bioengineering.

Bridget’s uncle Tom Scott has been her inspiration. He was involved in an organization called Relay for Life. “He got sick with cancer and still cared more about the Relay for Life than for himself. He taught me how not to be selfish,” she said.

Kaylee Aman

Kaylee Aman, daughter of Kevin and Amy Aman, plans to attend the University of Portland to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

“I hope to go into either intensive care or psychiatry,” she said. “Anatomy and physiology have always been my interests.”

Becky Reed, Kaylee’s math teacher at Kennedy High School, has been her inspiration. “She worked with me and helped me get the grades I strived for,” she said. “In addition, she overcame her battle with cancer this year and still finds time to smile.”

Aman has been involved in Future Farmers of America, Habitat for Humanity, the National Honor Society, was president of the Associated Student Body, volunteered at the Providence Benedictine Nursing Center and worked on her family’s farm.

Aman’s honors and awards include the President’s Scholarship at the University of Portland, the Mount Angel Junior First Citizen Award, the Marion-Polk Medical Society Scholarship, the Lions Club Scholarship, the Mount Angel Teachers Association Scholarship, the Silverton Hospital Auxiliary Scholarship and Mount Angel Anonymous Scholarship.

Sarah Frey  Sarah Frey

Sarah Frey, the daughter of Tom and Jayne Frey, plans to attend Oregon State University to earn a degree in chemical engineering, which she hopes to apply to cancer research.

“There has been cancer in my family and if I can do a small part toward finding a cure that will be a satisfying achievement,” she said.

During her high school years, she was president of the student government in her senior year, a member of the National Honor Society,  she worked with Habitat for Humanity, was active in Future Business Leaders of America, played varsity softball and ran cross country.

Among Frey’s awards and honors are the Oregon State Academic Achievement, Society of Women Engineers Martha Testa Memorial Scholarship and the Oregon Schools Facilities Management Association Scholarship for Success.

Sarah’s mentor was her grandmother, now deceased. “My grandmother Frey has inspired me greatly. She was an amazing woman who taught me how to be strong, honest and always to listen. I will always look up to her.”

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