Going forth: MLHS top 10 seniors weigh in on year

·8 min read

Jun. 10—MOSES LAKE — The Moses Lake High School top 10 seniors for 2021 had a few choice words to describe their final year in high school.

"Depressing. Boring. Uneventful," said Macie Loutherback.

"It was difficult to stay motivated," added Samuel Otey.

"Gratitude for anything we got to do," said Lauren Tolley.

"But we had to be creative, though, with the things we could do," said Taylor Hofheins.

The class of 2021 is graduating as the state is slowly emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic, and spent two years online, wearing masks and maintaining a proper social distance in class and on campus. They didn't get many of the things the class of 2020 got, even as they graduated in the middle of the pandemic, because as Loutherback noted, the class of 2020 had several months of in-person schooling in the fall and early winter which included a homecoming dance and a football season, before the SARS-CoV-2 virus hit and school was shut down.

"I think last year's senior class ended up getting more than we did," Loutherback said. "I think we kind of got the short end of the stick."

Still, these 10 students — nine of whom agreed to be in a group photo and participate fully in an interview — have all managed to get solid grades, stay involved in activities on and off campus, and get accepted to college.

Angela Carley said she plans to go to Washington State University in the fall — first year online — and hopes to eventually to "go into something along the lines of data analytics."

Carley was in band all four years of high school, but said her senior year she stepped outside her comfort zone and enrolled in speech and debate.

"The one I looked forward to the most was speech and debate because of the great community and because it helped me find my voice when I thought that wasn't possible," she said.

Carley said watching her mom overcome obstacles in her life has been a tremendous influence and showed her "to never give up even when things look near impossible."

She also advised incoming freshmen next fall "don't conform."

"Even if it feels like you need to try and appeal to other people and how they view you, you are special and have a unique perspective that does not need to be overlooked," she said.

William Chen said he plans to attend the University of Florida where he hopes to study computer science and eventually become a computer programmer.

"I chose computer science because programming is something that I have done throughout high school and I was interested in programming ever since I was 10," Chen said. "I have tried multiple forms of programming already and loved each equally."

Chen said that while he wasn't involved in many on-campus activities, he was very involved with various programming-related groups off-campus, learning enough so that he could eventually help others with their projects, and eventually won first prize in "a small competition" for a game he created.

Chen also said that with the number of classes he's taken in school, time management and stress have all been issues. He also advised incoming freshmen to find someone they can trust to talk to about their challenges in school.

"For me, that person was primarily my mom, but for you, that person could be anyone," Chen said.

Taylor Hofheins will attend Whitworth University and plans to major in health science and minor in Spanish. With an interest in medicine, Hofheins said she "would love to attend medical school" and become a pediatrician.

"I have decided to take this route because of my interest in medicine and love for kids," Hofheins said.

Hofheins played softball and volleyball, was a member of National Honor Society, named a Big 9 Scholar Athlete and received a $22,500 scholarship from Whitworth University.

However, Hofheins said balancing her classwork and athletics has always been a challenge, and said the effort has taught her "how to balance all aspects of my life and prioritize the most important things."

"Enjoy each second of your high school career and take advantage of as many opportunities as you can," she told next fall's incoming freshman. "Each one will impact your high school experience and push you to be a better student and person."

Macie Loutherback plans to attend the University of Idaho and study fermentation and food science with an eye toward eventually working in agriculture.

During her years at MLHS, Loutherback participated in National Honor Society, band, track and field, swimming and diving, Science Olympiad and FFA, and won a number of local scholarships.

"My parents have always encouraged and pushed me to try my hardest. I attribute a lot of my success to their constant encouragement," Loutherback said.

Like a lot of her classmates, Loutherback said managing her time, particularly balancing all of the extracurricular activities with schoolwork, was a challenge.

"I think all the freshmen need to remember to have a positive attitude and strive for excellence," Loutherback advised next year's freshman. "It is so easy to be distracted with all of the 'fun high school' things, but success comes with sacrifice."

Samuel Otey said he will attend the University of Southern California this fall and will major in human biology with the hope of one day becoming a neurosurgeon or an orthopedic surgeon.

Otey said during his four years at MLHS, he participated in a number of school clubs, as well as Key Club, the National Honor Society, FFA and received a number of awards and scholarships, including an AP Scholar with Distinction from the College Board.

"Key Club allowed me to grow as a leader and learn what philanthropy is about," Otey said. "I certainly would not be the person I am today if not for my involvement in these clubs."

Otey said he has high academic expectations of himself, calling himself a perfectionist who doesn't "willingly accept anything less." However, he also said the "social aspect of high school" was his most difficult challenge.

"I have found that it is easy for me to make friends within a school setting, but interacting with those same people outside of school can prove difficult," Otey said.

Carmelo Ruiz plans to attend Eastern Washington University in the fall, where he intends to study criminal justice.

Avery Sandhop will attend Whitworth University in the fall and major in health science, though she said she's still exploring future career possibilities, including possibly medical school or nursing.

"I will end up somewhere in the healthcare field," Sandhop said.

Sandhop has danced since she was 4, was with the Molahiettes drill team all four years in school and a team captain during her senior year. She has received a number of scholarships and was named a Big 9 Scholar Athlete of the Year.

"A challenge throughout high school has been balancing my activities with my schoolwork," Sandhop said. "Drill team has kept me busy from early mornings to late nights so it was sometimes challenging to stay on top of my rigorous classes."

Sandhop advised incoming freshmen to work hard for their goals.

"If you put the work in, you can achieve anything you put your mind to," she said.

Lauren Tolley said she will attend Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, this fall, where a number of family members have studied or are currently studying and where she hopes to study medicine.

"I thrive on productivity, so a career where I am helping people more easily and efficiently complete tasks of daily living sounds endlessly fulfilling to me," Tolley said. "I will be going to school with my brother and sister this fall."

Tolley was a varsity diver all four years at MLHS, was involved in Key Club, where she did over 350 service hours, participated in the Science Olympiad and Knowledge Bowl, and noted managing her time with all her activities was a challenge.

"I made it all happen and somehow with only one speeding ticket," she said.

Olivia Waites plans to attend Brigham Young University-Idaho in Rexburg this fall, but said she's still not sure what her future career plans are.

Waites played soccer and basketball all four years of high school and ran track her senior year. She was also in the National Honor Society, in the Running Start Program at Big Bend Community College, and was named a Big 9 Scholar Athlete.

Waites encourages next year's freshmen to live in the moment and get their school work done as quickly as possible.

"Don't procrastinate your schoolwork," Waites said. "Don't get caught up worrying about the future."

Tyler Wiseman will attend Brigham Young University with an eye toward pursuing a degree in chemical engineering because he wants to have a job "that involves both math and science."

Wiseman played basketball and tennis at MLHS, joined the school's Knowledge Bowl team his sophomore year, and received a half-tuition scholarship to BYU.

Wiseman said the biggest challenge he faced was keeping up with his class assignments and taking online classes, especially at BBCC, during the COVID-19-related lockdowns.

"Online school made it harder for me to be motivated in school," Wiseman said.

He advised incoming freshmen to stay caught up with their assignments and turn classwork and homework in on time.

"I tend to procrastinate, so working on assignments before they're due helped me a lot," Wiseman said.

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached at cfeatherstone@columbiabasinherald.com.