It's not a coincidence that one of the school’s smartest and brightest students wants to research vaccines and medicines.
Ashby Trotter, who played tennis in the fall and competed on the swim team in the spring, plans on double-majoring in biotechnology and microbiology/immunology before enrolling to complete a doctorate’s degree in biotechnology. With the coronavirus upending plans across the globe, Trotter wants to make a difference in the medical arena.
“I want to develop medical technology to aid patients and to make medical care more affordable and efficient,” said Trotter, who, along with Aspen Easter, are this year’s Churchill County High School co-valedictorians.
But before Trotter, Easter and their senior class can move onto the next chapter of their lives, one final bucket list item remains: graduation.
Although it won’t be like any previous graduation ceremony this year’s event, which is closed to the public, will be recorded on video and available on the school’s website. KVLV will also broadcast the recorded speeches and student “shoutouts.” Graduates and their immediate families will drive a route on the high school campus where the graduate will exit the car, cross the stage to receive a diploma and return to their car before leaving campus.
Glen Plake, a National Hall of Fame skier, is this year’s guest speaker and his speech, along with Trotter and Easter’s speeches, can be heard on the radio and in the compilation video that will be available on the school district’s website.
In these uncertain times, Easter calls on everyone to act like the state flower.
“Sagebrush bury their roots deep and grow just close enough together to have neighbors,” she said. “They are strong and determined plants. We have survived many disasters and all of us have had our own battles. It is OK to say it is getting harder to fight on. That is why we all have each other. I would rather have nothing and keep many safe than take everything and risk everyone. My love for my community runs deeper than my desire to be recognized.”
With Trotter representing the Greenwave Scholar program and Easter highlighting the Jumpstart program, the high school will recognize four Greenwave Scholars and hand out 10 honors diplomas. Along with Trotter, Greenwave Scholars, who have a 4.8 or higher grade-point average, include Jade Beland, Natalie Carrero, Madison Guerrero and Tiffany Sorensen. Honors diplomas will be handed out to Trotter, Beland, Carrero, Guerrero, Sorensen, Easter, Cameron Bateman, Daniel Tapia, Cassie Webb and Marie Lawson.
This year’s student body representatives include Rylee Ott, president, Morgan Lawry, vice president, Jaidyn Delgado, treasurer and Whitney Bernard, secretary. Aspen Mori is the senior class president and is accompanied by Trotter, vice president; Sarah Courser, secretary; and senior class representatives Eva McHaney, Rose Vasquez and Tully Barton.
Courser has been involved with student council since her freshman year and was active in Students Taking on Prevention (STOP), Future Health Professionals (HOSA) and PEP Club. For this senior, she was hopeful for a normal graduation, including walking across a stage and accepting her diploma. While those two things don’t change – mainly, the privacy of the event – Courser plans on attending Boise State University to become a labor and delivery nurse or an ultrasound technician.
There’s no denying, though, that the pandemic hasn’t affected her family atop of graduation and planning on going to college.
“It has affected our social lives and just our life in general,” she said. “We were put in a strict lockdown to protect my grandma and stepdad from catching the virus and we hardly were able to leave, so it was just hard because there is only so much you can do.”
Others in the senior class echo similar concerns and frustrations about the pandemic and how it has affected their final two months of high school and cast some uncertainty on the future. Sometimes, though, it’s the little things that are missed more and taken for granted.
“I was looking forward to having those last special moments with not only my close friends but with my whole class,” said Ariana Magana, who played volleyball in the fall, and plans on attending UNR. “I have many ups and downs on handling the scenario. I go back and forth with staying optimistic and being positive, but then feel upset and let down knowing we won’t get a traditional graduation ceremony. I plan to keep staying positive and just hoping it gets better.”
Rebecca Taylor, who performed in choir and band, was looking forward to her family watch their daughter walk across the stage. But she was also hopeful to experience several of her final senior moments like her sister did last year.
“Last year, my sister did all the fun stuff and I told myself that during my senior year, I’d be able to have fun too,” she said. “That I would be able to hang out with my friends, live my life before I have to be serious. I was looking forward to my family seeing me walk.”
Reese Bradley, like many in her class, feels like the final moments were taken away by the coronavirus. Now, they can only wonder what it would have been like to have a senior prom and dance for the final time.
“I was looking forward to also going to our last senior prom, our last time to dance and laugh with each other while we bust out our coolest and newest moves,” she said. “I was also so excited for our Grad Night, our official last night as Seniors, but most importantly our last night together before we move on to bigger things.”
Bradley, who won’t forget the football games and cheering from the student section, has a message for the future senior classes: don’t take anything for granted, and that includes homework.
“All I can say is to all the underclassmen, as much as you hate homework, and waking up early to get ready for school, don't take it for granted,” said Bradley, who plans on moving to Utah to become a radiologist. “You will never realize how much you will actually miss these things until it is taken from you and you're forced to stay home and not be allowed enjoy those quirky moments at school.”
Ashley Agaman, who played softball and volleyball last year before a knee injury kept her out this season, said the graduation is not only a milestone for her classmates but it’s also a moment of achievement for the entire family.
“I have waited along with my classmates 12 years to graduate,” said Agaman, who plans on becoming an orthodontist. “It’s not only for us but it is for our families to see us walk across the stage. Some parents only have one kid and wait for this and only get to see it once.”
Caleb Haynes, who plans on opening his own business after finishing school, will miss his teachers and the Friday night football games.
“I will miss the teachers who helped me through my high school years,” he said. “I will miss the energy of a Friday night football game. There’s so much about these past four years that have changed me as a person and helped me grow as a person.”
Almost three months ago, this year’s class was preparing for the final leg of its high school journey, including attending prom, contending for athletic and academic championships, performing in concerts and walking across the stage and turning the tassel to the other side of the cap.
Then the coronavirus happened, changing everyone’s plans, and forcing schools to shutter their doors and continue education remotely. But because of the resolve from the educators and the senior class, graduation will not be cancelled. Students will still walk across the stage and receive their diploma, completing the last chapter of their high school journey.