It takes a village: Silverton High seniors share their appreciation of growing up in a caring community

June 2014 Posted in School
SHS valedictorians and salutatorians  are Annie Spink, Sheyenne Brusven, Garrett Palmquist, Rachael Gabriel, Megan Knox, Elias Wilson, Karissa Mathae, Meagan Ratliff, Eric Beyer, Lauriann Kuenzi and Erika Jordan

SHS valedictorians and salutatorians are Annie Spink, Sheyenne Brusven, Garrett Palmquist, Rachael Gabriel, Megan Knox, Elias Wilson, Karissa Mathae, Meagan Ratliff, Eric Beyer, Lauriann Kuenzi and Erika Jordan

By Kristine Thomas

Silverton High School senior Karissa Mathae describes community as a network of people who may seem otherwise unconnected but are linked by a goal or idea.

In Silverton, Karissa said that idea is support. “In every area of the Silverton community, I see members embracing this value and committing every effort to support one another,” she said

Karissa is one of the eight valedictorians for the Class of 2014, along with Eric Beyer, Sheyenne Brusven, Rachael Gabriel, Erika Jordan, Lauriann Kuenzi, Garrett Palmquist and Elias Wilson. Salutatorians are Megan Knox, Meagan Ratliff and Annie Spink.

When they each look back on their individual paths, they agree they have a one thing in common – the tremendous support they have received from community members who have encouraged them in pursuit of their individual goals.

Silverton High Graduation
Thursday, June 5, 7 p.m.
Silverton High, 1456 Pine St.
Seating for ticketholders in gym;
others can view on screen in building

Garrett said being a part of the Silverton community has presented him with “so many amazing opportunities, but I never would have taken any of them had I not been persuaded to by the people I’ve met here. While living in Silverton, I’ve become a musician, an Eagle Scout, an athlete, a writer, and now a valedictorian.”

Though on the surface Silverton seems like a typical small town, Annie said, “we are a uniquely diverse community full of beautiful individuals who I hope will continue to grow and support each other.

Annie feels fortunate to live in a place where “I know there will always be people ready to lend a hand with a smile and I know that wherever I go Silverton will always have a special place in my heart.”

The honor students shared what community meant to them and how being a part of Silverton has impacted their lives.

Eric Beyer
A volunteer for The Oregon Garden and Habitat for Humanity ReStore along with the various school clubs that benefited Silverton Area Community Aid, UNICEF and the American Red Cross, Eric said volunteering has shown him that he can make a difference in the lives of those around him and “impact the world in ways that I couldn’t imagine.”

What amazes Eric is how much support the community lends to one another.

“This sense of community really made everything that I have done and accomplishments thus far in my life worth it,” he said. “Community has helped me grow into the adult that I am today, both academically, socially, and mentally. I hope to continue to give back to my future community later on in life because I believe that I can continue to grow through helping my community.”

Silverton High School

Eric Beyer plans to attend Oregon
State to study engineering. His
parents are Stan and Kathleen Beyer.

Sheyenne Brusven plans to attend
Corban University. Her parents
are Randy and Linda Brusven.

Rachael Gabriel plans to attend
Western Oregon University to study
nursing. Her parents are Lee
and Mary Ann Gabriel.

Erika Jordan plans to attend
Chemeketa Community College,
then transfer to a university
to study aeronautical science.
Her parents are Rob and Jenny Jordan.

Lauriann Kuenzi plans to begin
working as a secretary. Her parents
are Keith and Sharon Kuenzi.

Karissa Mathae plans to attend
Pacific University to study
English and Editing/Publishing.
Her parents are Debra and Paul Mathae.

Garrett Palmquist plans to attend
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
in Prescott, Ariz. to study cyber
intelligence and security.
His parents are Maggie and
Wayne Palmquist.

Elias Wilson plans to attend Embry-Riddle
Aeronautical University in Daytona
Beach, Fla. to study aerospace
engineering. He is the son of
Melissa and Jim Asbell and
the late Tony Wilson.

Megan Knox plans to attend
University of Oregon honors
college and study Spanish, art
and international studies.
Her parents are Victoria
Knutson and Paul Knox.

Meagan Ratliff plans to Pacific
University and major in Exercise
Science and minor in Spanish.
Her parents are Jerry and 
Tonya Ratliff.

Anne Spink plans to attend
Ohio Wesleyan University to
study music therapy. Her
parents are Jan Wingenbach
and Damon Spink.

Sheyenne Dawn Brusven
As the goalie for the Lady Foxes soccer team, Sheyenne knows how important it is to have support. She loves the small-town pride the Silverton shows for its athletes, no matter what the sport. And she admires how the athletes cheer for one another – the cross country or boys soccer teams attending the girls games.  Her four years on the soccer team gave her the best sense of what it means to belong.

“This last season especially hit me hard when little girls from the Silver Falls Soccer Club would come up to me after home games, telling me that I’m ‘awesome.’ It was even better when parents would pull me aside after games and thank me for being a role model to their daughters on and off the field,” she said.

Rachael Gabriel
For Rachael, being part of Silverton means having places like Silver Creek, Coolidge McClaine Park, local coffee shops and town events that “everyone loves.”

“For example at Homer Days, or First Friday, everyone is there to connect with people they know and because they love the community,” she said.

In Silverton, she said, people connect in small and big ways. “We share a part of our lives by living in Silverton and loving the same events,” she said.

She loves being able to strike up a conversation with a stranger and learn that “we actually have so much common in our lives. I’ve learned to talk to people I don’t know and accept everyone as a friend. Even if I haven’t met someone, I find out that we know someone in common or are somehow related,” she said.

“I have learned to treat everyone like family regardless of what “group” they belong in or what age they are.”

Erika Jordan
In Silverton, Erika said everybody waves to one another when they are driving down a road. Even if you aren’t sure who the person is that waved, you wave back, Erika said.

“The Silverton community is also a lot closer than other communities,” she said.

She’s grateful for the teachers who take time to get to know their students, especially  Sue Fisher, her advisory group teacher, who helped her transition to high school.

“She has also encouraged me to do well in school and always try to make my grades better than what they were, even if they were still great grades,” Erika said. “Mrs. Fisher has helped me a lot through high school with important lessons that I will carry into college and her help and encouragement has helped me achieve my academic goals.”

Megan Knox
When Megan moved to Silverton the summer before fourth grade, she said it took her awhile to adjust. She now considers it her home and is thankful it was a wonderful place to grow up.

“Not only are we surrounded by incredible natural beauty living here, but we are also given constant opportunities to become involved in the community,” she said. What inspires her the most is the support  offered to those in need.

“Our population is fairly scattered across the socioeconomic spectrum, but regardless of one’s status, it’s evident that we are very fortunate to live in a community with such a generous spirit,” she said.

“In a time where many condemn those living in poverty as the product of their own indolence, Silverton’s philosophy seems to be to offer a hand rather than judge,” Megan said. “This attitude has had a heavy influence on my social views and career aspirations, and I’m incredibly grateful for that.”

Lauriann Kuenzi
For Lauriann, being a part of Silverton begins with her grandparents, who moved here when they were young. She loves the look and feel of downtown with its quaint shops and the creek running through town “gives it such a cute, homey feel.”

The town is a reflection of its people, she said.  During her junior year, she went to lunch with the Rotary Club because its sponsors the high school’s Interact Club.

“The Rotary Club is made up of what many would call our town leaders; their names are very recognizable and they all have high positions in the town,” Lauriann said. “The entire group was extremely kind, courteous, and welcoming to us. They inspired me with their wonderful attitude and helped me appreciate the people of Silverton so much more. They play a big part in making Silverton an amazing place.”

Karissa Mathae
Karissa said her best example or how the community supports one another was her years in the high school theater department. As a student director, she noticed how people contributed to support the program.

“As I rushed to try to accomplish everything that was inhumanly possible to produce a phenomenal show, I realized I wasn’t really alone,” she said. “I had members throughout the community jumping in to help me wherever I needed. It wasn’t just the star actors that invested into the production, but students from other programs to run the light or sound systems, other teachers to give advice, businesses to spread the word about the show, and parents (who) contribute(d) furniture for a set or hours on a weekend to help build.”

In Silverton, she said, “eventuality every member in the community will contribute and support the project in the end.”

Garrett Palmquist
Before moving to Silverton, Garrett said he was a shy and reserved child who stayed a safe distance away from the metaphorical ledge.  “Today, I am boisterously outgoing and seize every opportunity that comes my way, whether it is in school or sports or unique prospects,” he said. He attributes this transformation to the people of Silverton.

“That is what makes Silverton kids so special: they’re coerced, not pushed or pulled, into discovering themselves and their talents by a loving community of teachers, coaches, mentors, friends, and even strangers,” he said, adding without people like James Andvik, Frank Petrik, and Jackie Renoud, “I would still be that quiet wallflower.”

Without a second thought, Garrett said people in Silverton reach out. “Like a great extended family, (it) genuinely cares.

Meagan Ratliff
As Meagan prepares to make the transition from playing basketball in high school to  Pacific University, she reflects on the lessons she has learned. Her varsity coach of two years, Garron Lamoreau, dedicated his time to the sport. “He was the one who taught me what true dedication took. He taught me to hold myself accountable for my mistakes and that perfection is possible through practice. I am thankful for his endless encouragement and hours of commitment.”

For her senior year, she had a new coach. Tal Wold brought a different coaching style to the game. Meagan said Wold taught her how to be flexible and adapt to new things.  “I appreciated the way he valued the seniors and gave me extended roles on the team,” she said. “He taught me how to be a leader and the ways I should carry myself to influence the younger girls positively.”

Annie Spink
Annie is thankful for everyone who has made a difference in her life and the lives of others. The people she has met at Mission of Hope have especially made an impact on her life – both the servers and the served.

“There is a beautiful generosity in helping others for no personal gain that I’ve always admired and the Mission of Hope volunteers are practically glowing with it,” Annie said. “The interactions I’ve observed between servers and recipients never fail to restore my faith in humanity.”

She feels fortunate to have served such amazing people going through rough times.  “Even the brief conversations with them have made a difference in my life and I know that wherever I end up I always want to help and connect with people,” she said.

Elias Wilson
For Elias, “Every day I come to school knowing that the teachers and other staff will be there to not only to make sure I succeed but help every other person in the school grow and prosper.

Describing the staff at Silverton High as an “extraordinary group of people,” Elias said, “there is no way I would have accomplished what I have without those awesome supporters.” He’ also appreciates the organizations he volunteered for.

“Helping SACA with the food drive and Christmas celebrations has let me see into other people’s lives and know struggles that they may face,” he said. “I want to try to copy the positive support I have received and give it to those people who need it in life.”

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