Hundreds graduate this year from Idaho’s Catholic schools
The following story appeared in the June 10 Idaho Catholic Register.
A graduation Mass was held for graduates from the Tri-Parish Community, serving the communities of Cottonwood, Greencreek and Ferdinand. Botton row, from left, Dani Sonnen, Erin Wassmuth, Shae Dinning, Ali Rehder, Olivia Klapprich, Mackenzie Key, Travis Alfrey and Wade Goeckner. Top row, from left, Wesley Tucker Hall, Lane Schumacher, Wyatt Ross, Kyle Schwartz, Fathre Paul Wander, Evan Schwartz, Jeffrey Arnzen and Deacon Ryan Uhlenkott. (Courtesy photo/Debbie Chicane and Tri-Parish Community)
By Gene Fadness and Emily Woodham
This year’s graduating class from Bishop Kelly High School is distinctive not only because it is the largest in the school’s nearly 60-year history, but also because more than half the 232 graduating seniors’ time has been dealing with the effects of a the COVID-19 pandemic.
Students had to learn remotely during the fourth quarter of their sophomore year in the spring of 2020 and all sporting events were canceled. While they were able to return to classes during their junior year, they wore masks and opportunities to gather as a community were limited. Some sense of normalcy returned for their senior year, though there were still days when they had to wear masks and isolate and quarantine as viral numbers dictated.
“All through this time, they have shown remarkable courage, grace, resiliency, fortitude and compassion,” said Bishop Kelly President Rich Raimondi, during his remarked at the school’s May 28 commencement ceremony. The class is also unusual in that it is the last class to graduate under Raimondi’s leadership who retires this year after 12 years as president.
That same fortitude can be said for all of Idaho’s Catholic schools that offered either in-person or a hybrid of remote and in-person learning for each of the last two school years.
This issue of the Idaho Catholic Register profiles just a few of the many who graduated this spring from the two high schools and 16 Catholic elementary schools in Idaho. These profiled were selected by their schools not just for academic excellence, but also for their contributions to church and community. They are just a few of the many who exemplify the high standards of Catholic education.
According to figures provided by Bishop Kelly, 92 percent of graduating seniors are going on to 84 colleges in 30 states and one foreign country (Colombia). They were offered a BK-record of more than $31 million in merit-based scholarships. Ninety of the 232 graduates have a 4.0 grade-point average or greater while another 40 graduated with a 3.75 GPA or greater. Students can earn a greater than 4.0 GPA by earning top scores in advanced placement, or AP, classes.
The Class of 2022 includes three National Merit finalists, one semi-finalist, five Commended Scholars and four Presidential Scholar candidates. A record number of graduates will enroll in service academies and ROTC programs or enlist directly in the military.
More than 100 seniors, almost half the class, served as campus ministers by helping to lead Masses, retreats and food and clothing drives. The class provided more than 20,000 service hours to ministries such as St. Vincent de Paul, parish and local food banks, Corpus Christi House and Interfaith Sanctuary. The Knights for Life Club promoted sanctity of life issues and hosted a weekly rosary.
BISHOP KELLY HIGH SCHOOL
Bishop Kelly’s Tyler Stoker volunteers at Grace Assisted Living as his service project, which is required for all those graduating from Catholic schools. To Tyler, the service project does not feel like a requirement. He’s far exceeded the minimum hours required because he loves visiting the residents of the senior living center to chat, to help them make Christmas wreaths and play the piano. “They’ve taught me how to play pinochle,” he says.
The service to the elderly comes naturally for Tyler and his family. When his grandmother, Nona Rae Robinson, whom he describes as a “role model” in faith, became ill with muscular dystrophy, Stoker’s family did more than just offer to help. They moved in with her.
“Some don’t get to have their grandmothers in their life at all. The fact that I can walk downstairs and grandma is there is an amazing blessing,” said Tyler, whose parents are Kevin and Nicole Stoker.
That proximity to his grandmother won’t last much longer, however, as Tyler heads to college at far-away Hawaii Pacific University where he will major in marine biology.
Initially, it was the cross-country team that attracted Tyler to the downtown Honolulu campus, but he later learned that the university’s academic offerings in marine biology dovetail with his career goals. For a research project last year, he studied the potential of marine bacteria to consume plastics, a major pollutant in the world’s waterways and beaches.
Tyler attended both Sacred Heart Catholic School and St. Mark’s Catholic School during his elementary years. He has always loved science and math and excelled in most STEM classes (science, technology, engineering and math) classes at Bishop Kelly.
Unlike many students who like science and math, he also has a passion for the liberal arts, including English, music and art. He’s played piano for 14 years. “I can’t read sheet music, but I play by ear, which is how I got into choir.” He just recently performed in his last choral concert, “which made me regret not joining choir earlier. BK has a phenomenal choir department,” he said.
He served as vice president of Knights for Life, which, two years ago had only two students and now has about 40.
Tyler started running cross-country in eighth grade and has continued doing so through his high school career.
ONE OF TYLER’S cross-country teammates is Daniel Russell who leaves later this month for the Air Force Academy, one of a tiny minority of high school graduates to be accepted into one of the nation’s elite military academies.
Daniel wants to study aeronautical engineering at the Colorado Springs campus and perhaps become a pilot.
“When my parents took me to an air show in the sixth or seventh grade, I was awestruck,” he said. He talked to his parents, Michael and Julianne, about a career in the Air Force “even though I wasn’t too serious about it at the time.” Not too long ago, he came across an essay he wrote during his freshman year about going into the Air Force and becoming a pilot. “So, I guess, it’s always been in the back of my mind.”
One of the reasons he chose the military was the influence of his grandfather, Don Curtis, who passed away in late 2020. “He was in the Navy, and I was very inspired by his service. He was extremely humble,” Daniel said. During his retirement, Mr. Curtis volunteered as a docent at the Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial in Boise.
Dreaming about becoming an Air Force pilot and actually getting accepted into the Air Force Academy are entirely different things. Bishop Kelly High School prepared him well. For Daniel, excelling in courses in AP Physics, Calculus, Algebra II and Geometry made it more likely that a member of the Idaho congressional delegation would nominate him to be accepted into a military academy. Both U.S. senators and his district’s congressman did so.
“I like to be challenged, and BK definitely challenged me,” he said. He also applied and was accepted to other schools, including Notre Dame. He realizes that choosing a military academy means he foregoes a typical campus social life. In fact, he gives up his summer. Basic training starts in just two weeks. He’s not overly concerned about the rigor of physical conditioning. That’s because many weekdays for Daniel included a 6-mile run as part of BK’s cross-country team.
Daniel sees a lot of similarity between the tight-knit, disciplined com-munity he discovered as a cross-country runner and the life he anticipates at the Air Force Academy.
He began running the summer before his freshman year and has been training with the same group of young men since. “I love the culture and community that experience gave me,” he said. “These are a group of guys that I could be myself around, be totally open. We go to Mass together as a team and hang out on the weekends. Cross-country established a friend group for me that became a family with whom I could practice my faith and be myself.”
Daniel acknowledges his good fortune. “It’s easy to talk about the great things that have happened in my life and my future plans because I was extremely blessed to grow up in a household like I did – one that gave me the chance to go to a school like BK, which gave me such an awesome opportunity to grow in academics and athletics. It will be sad to leave all that, but my family and BK have definitely shaped me.”
SO WHAT DOES a student do who is interested in fields of study as diverse as cybersecurity and theater arts?
Audrey Thomson’s solution is a double major at Santa Clara University. The Jesuit school is a good place to study computer science, located in the heart of the Silicon Valley. The Bay Area school is also in a cosmopolitan area with a lively arts scene, that will allow her to pursue her other passion in theater.
Audrey is accepted into the Honors Program at Santa Clara, which will allow her to register for classes sooner than many other students, creating more opportunity to take Honors level classes. (One that appeals to her is called “Difficult Dialogues in Modern-Day Topics,” which equips students to engage in issues “that could be tense and controversial and do so in a well-adjusted manner.”)
While a career in cybersecurity is appealing, a life in musical theater is also a distinct possibility after participating in choir all four years at Bishop Kelly and acting in eight school productions as varied as “Dracula,” and “Tom Sawyer.” If she does well in musical theater at Santa Clara, she’s not adverse to leaving for the other coast to pursue her dream of appearing in a Broadway musical.
Both Bishop Kelly and her elementary school, St. Mary’s in Boise, prepared her well for the opportunities that await, Audrey says.
“When I looked at the requirements for classes in my major at Santa Clara, I was amazed at how well Bishop Kelly prepared me,” she said. “And St. Mary’s did a really good job preparing me for BK.”
When she started at BK, she was, at first, intimidated but found that her math classes at St. Mary’s prepared her well for geometry just as English equipped her for writing essays. She’s especially appreciative of the Spanish immersion program at St. Mary’s and plans to continue her study of Spanish at Santa Clara.
In addition to singing, Audrey enjoys playing piano and works as a front gate attendant at the Boise zoo. She is the daughter of Eric and Sara Thomson of Boise.
LIKE AUDREY THOMSON, Emily Schauer appreciates the foundation established by Catholic elementary education to equip her for her high school years.
The daughter of Jason and Cari Schauer, Emily attended her K-4 years at St. John Eudes in Los Angeles and grades 5-8 at St. Joseph’s in Boise. When she enrolled at Bishop Kelly, she noticed right away the difference in readiness between students who attended public schools and those who attended Catholic schools.
“My friends from public school were have a harder time adjusting to the courses at BK,” she said. “BK is pretty challenging, but I’m grateful for that because it played a pretty big part in shaping me into who I am today. The community I found there and the opportunities I’ve had, I don’t think I would have got those if I had gone to a different school.”
In addition to a demanding subject load, Emily spent a good part of her time at BK in the pool. She swam all four years, qualifying for state championships during three of those four years. A club swimmer since she was 5, her favorite events are the 100-meter backstroke, the 200-meter freestyle, 500-meter freestyle and some relay events.
Emily also sang in the choir as a second soprano and enjoyed being part of the team that planned the music for school Masses. She belonged to the book club, enjoying fiction and fantasy.
English was her favorite subject, so Emily plans to major in creative writing at the University of Idaho this fall. She will also participate in theater arts and swimming.
A favorite activity over the years has been her participation in the week-long summer camp for St. Mark’s Parish. She turned her love for that camp into her service project, serving last summer as a counselor at the camp. “It taught me a lot about being responsible for a group of kids, and it allowed me to grow in my faith life,” she said.
ST. JOHN BOSCO ACADEMY
Dani Sonnen has attended St. John Bosco Academy in Cottonwood since her pre-school days and this year graduates with high honors.
“Dani has held leadership roles throughout her years at school. She served as student body vice-president her junior year, which involved planning events and mentoring younger students,” said Alea Wassmuth, director of communications and development at St. John Bosco. “She has been a house leader throughout high school, co-leading a group of 10 students in grades K-8.”
Dani will attend Lewis and Clark State College in Lewiston, where she will major in business management and psychology. After graduating from the two-year school, she hopes to attend Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, to complete her education. “Once I graduate from college, I plan to get married and raise a family. I love the Catholic community that I grew up in, and I hope to send my children to St. John Bosco Academy,” she said.
Because St. John Bosco is small – only three are in its graduating class this year – it is like family, Dani said. “I personally know each student and teacher. The teachers and staff truly care about the students’ education and are dedicated to helping the students grow in knowledge and faith in Christ,” she said.
Dani completed more than 80 hours of service during high school. “I have visited nursing homes, organized and hosted overnight girls’ retreats, assisted with decorations for school fundraisers, and roadside litter pick up,” she said.
She has also been involved with her 4-H Club for 11 years. She reigned as Idaho County Fair Queen from 2020-21 and as a 4-H Ambassador from 2018-2020, she said.
Her favorite subjects are history and theology. She enjoys spending time outdoors, swing dancing, working with animals and painting.
Dani was co-captain of the volleyball and basketball teams. She was also involved in the drama department and loves acting. The second of six children in her family, she is a lector at her parish.
“Saint John Bosco has strongly impacted my faith life because God was incorporated into each of my classes. From praying before each class and memorizing Bible verses to reading daily devotions from Mother Teresa, I received a strong Catholic education, which I will be forever grateful for,” she said.
“I also love that twice a week our entire school attends Mass, and we are given the opportunity to go to Confession weekly.”
ST. EDWARD’S, TWIN FALLS
ADAM DeWIT attended St. Edward’s from the time he was in preschool. “I have loved being at St. Edward’s Catholic School. St. Edwards has shaped the person I am today. I have learned about virtues and how to practice them in my daily life,” he said.
His favorite subject is math. He plays football, basketball and baseball. He likes spending time outdoors, especially camping, hunting and fishing with his parents and two older siblings.
Faith and the saints are important to Adam. “My favorite saint is St. Hubert. He became an evangelizer known for brave ventures into the Ardennes forest of Belgium, where he would convert pagans who worshiped idols,” he said. “He is also the patron saint of hunting and fishing, which I love to do.”
His experience at St. Edward’s has enriched his faith. “I am a loving and compassionate person who cares for others’ well being. I will make an impact on the world by sharing my knowledge and skills, as well as by giving back to others,” he said.
AHARA FEATHERSON’S favorite subjects are social studies and religion. Her favorite hobby is painting. She also enjoys watching movies and playing corn hole with her family.
“My proudest moments at school are when I get a good grade on a test or quiz,” she said. “St. Edward’s has impacted my faith by furthering my education and opening my eyes to see what the Catholic faith really is about.”
Ahara will be homeschooled for high school. “I am looking forward to being homeschooled because I can get more done in as much time as I need,” she said.
“What school means to me is socializing with friends, helping others, meeting people who bring you closer to your faith, and getting a good education,” she said. After high school, she would like to become an interior designer and to expand her own business nationwide.
VALERIA ARINAGA has attended St. Edward’s beginning in preschool. “My school has impacted my life because I’ve learned so much from my faith and learning. My school is important to me, and I know all the teachers here. I’ve had many different friends growing up here,” she said.
Her favorite memories are school field trips for kayaking and swimming. She also enjoys playing soccer, painting and traveling, especially with her family. Her favorite subjects are literature and language arts.
HOLY FAMILY, COEUR D’ALENE
SYLVIA STROW is the second of four children in her family, all of whom have either attended or are attending Holy Family.
Her favorite subjects are English, language arts and art. Among her favorite hobbies is competitive swimming with the Coeur d’Alene Area Swim Team. She also likes to bake and read and do art outside of class. She was the winner of the “Inktober” drawing contest.
“I liked that my class was small, and therefore, we became a close knit group of friends,” she said.
“My school has increased my faith by surrounding me with Catholic experiences each day. My favorite saint is St. Francis of Assisi because of my appreciation of nature and its beauty,” she said.
“I am looking forward to various electives in high school, especially art classes. I am excited to swim for Lake City High School.” After high school, she hopes to study art therapy and swim at the collegiate level.
Sylvia and her family are parishioners at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Coeur d’Alene. “Our favorite things to do together are hiking, bike rides and watching movies,” she said.
JOHN DOREE’S favorite subjects are history and math. “My favorite memories of school are playing in basketball games and going to school Masses. My proudest moment at school is when I got on the Principal’s List in sixth grade,” he said.
He and his family are parishioners at Pope St. Pius X Parish in Coeur d’Alene where he volunteers as an altar server. “My schooling has strengthened my faith in God and Jesus,” he said. Because of his family’s Irish heritage, his favorite saint is St. Patrick of Ireland.
His family plays golf together. They are also Notre Dame football and Gonzaga basketball fans. “I like playing and watching sports and hanging out with my buddies.”
Holy Family Catholic School has prepared him well to move forward in life, he says. “I am looking forward to continuing my education at Gonzaga Prep, playing sports and getting a great education. I want to go to Notre Dame after high school and hopefully play golf there.”
Holy Family Principal Sue Styren said John Doree and Sylvia Strow “not only excel academically, but they are excellent representatives of our mission statement and our schoolwide learning expectations. “They are both reverent, respectful and exemplify the qualities we reach for in our graduates.”
ST. MARK’S, BOISE
DANIELLE TAUGHER’S began at St. Mark’s when she was in first grade, but her favorite memory of the Boise school will be her final year when she participated in the Eighth Grade Retreat.
“Mrs. (Angela) Paz made it extra special by making sure everyone was included and opened doors to new friendships. Our class bonded more than I ever thought possible,” she said.
Her favorite subjects are history and art, and she has a hobby that is unique for girls her age. “I love to sew, especially baby quilts.” She also enjoys spending time babysitting, camping, hiking, fishing with dad, riding horses with her cousin and especially family time. Even though she is the youngest of five and her siblings are now adults, the family stays close. “My family is so much fun! We love to go on adventures together, whether it is just hanging out around the house, playing games or doing puzzles. We love joking around and laughing with each other. When anyone is missing, it leaves a hole, and they are missed.”
She and her family also volunteer at St. Mark’s Parish. “I help with take-down and set-up for different activities, clean pews, make food for the poor, help my family with Oktoberfest decorations, and set-up and clean-up,” she said.
When it comes to saints, she especially admires St. Teresa of Calcutta and the children of Fatima, Saints Francisco and Jacinta and Servant of God Lucia. “I like to dedicate the work that I am doing for the day to different things: sometimes the poor souls in purgatory or something that is close to my heart that day,” she said.
“Having God in my everyday school routine has formed good habits,” she said. “As I have gotten older and learned scripture more in depth, it encourages me and instructs me how to apply it to my daily life. It has been a great blessing to learn side by side with people who have similar beliefs.”
Danielle will attend Bishop Kelly High School this fall. “Bishop Kelly is a bit intimidating as it is much bigger than St. Marks. However, I am looking forward to continuing and growing with BK’s theology classes.” She hopes to become an elementary school teacher.
ISAIAH JOHNSON was baptized Catholic when he began living with his grandparents in during his first grade year. His grandparents sent him to a local Catholic school near their home in California, and he has been in Catholic schools ever since. His grandparents, Steven and Geraldine Johnson, adopted Isaiah and his younger brother, Jeremiah, and moved to Boise.
“Going to Catholic school, I have learned so much about our faith, and I’m proud to be Catholic,” Isaiah said. “My favorite saint is St. Francis of Assisi for his love of animals, and that was also the name of the first Catholic school I attended in California,” he said. “Attending Catholic school has given me a great education and allowed me to share my faith and make really excellent friends.”
His favorite subject is math. “I used to be so proud when I was the only one to get 100 percent on my math tests. I like anything that involves engineering or building things. Legos are the best, but I even build with plain wooden blocks when I play with my little cousin.” He especially looks forward to geometry and physics in high school. He was awarded a scholarship to Bishop Kelly from the St. Josephine Bakhita Foundation.
An athlete in volleyball, he travels statewide with the Idaho Strike Boys Volleyball Club. He is a member of Boy Scout Troop 94, which is sponsored by St. Mark’s. He also likes spending time with his family. “As a family, we enjoy camping, and riding the bike trails around Boise.” He and his family are parishioners at St. Mark’s, where he volunteers as an usher. He also volunteers for Vacation Bible School and other events at the parish.
ST. JOSEPH’S, BOISE
WILLIAM KERBY’S proudest moment at St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Boise was when he was elected student body president at the end of his seventh grade year. “I was very proud to have the opportunity to lead my school,” he said.
With a 4.0 GPA, he is a member of the National Junior Honor Society. “I’ve always loved to challenge myself in school, and math has been something that I have always found joy in. I love problem-solving and find parts of math very satisfying.”
He is looking forward to going to Bishop Kelly next year. His two older sisters attended BK, and his mother, Katie Hays, is the director of communications for the school.
William enjoys playing sports year round with football, basketball and track. “I also like to express myself creatively. I like to do a lot of art, something of which my mother and grandmother also have a passion for. Painting and pottery are some of my favorites.”
His family loves spending time together. “We are very active. We love to go for hikes, bike rides, or hang out and play in the backyard. My family also loves to go camping during the summer,” he said.
William is an altar server at his parish, the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist. “My school has advanced my faith life greatly. During my younger grades, my schooling connected me to Jesus. I could really see that Jesus wanted us all to love each other and be accepting to all,” he said. His favorite saint is St. Christopher.
In college, William hopes to blend his love for art and math by majoring in architecture.
AUDREY PARSONS loves her class at St. Joseph’s. “My class has always been tight-knit. We all care about one another, kind of like siblings.” she said. “Our eighth grade class tried to make the middle school become a community, which has been difficult because of COVID-19,” Parsons said. She believes they’ve succeeded despite the pandemic. “The entire middle school knows one another’s names and interacts on a daily basis.”
Audrey was elected to the Student Council as the Eighth Grade Class Representative. She pushed for and helped with food drives, a 3-on-3 basketball tournament, and a dance. “The dance was important because it was our first opportunity to have one since COVID.” Serving on the student council was important to her. “I really loved being able to make a difference at St. Joe’s,” she said, where she also served on the yearbook staff.
Her favorite subjects are writing and math, particularly finding the answer to a really tough problem. Her favorite hobbies are running, reading and doing arts and crafts. She also enjoys creative writing in her free time and has started, but has yet to finish, several novels.
During her eighth-grade year, she volunteered as a student helper with the second grade class. She also volunteered in St. Joseph’s after-school care program, helping kids with homework.
Highlights of her final year were competing in the Hallissey Basketball Tournament and on the Treasure Valley Catholic Schools track and cross-country teams. “Before every game or meet, we pray as a team. It’s during these moments that I’m most proud of being a Catholic – hearing all our voices praying together and thanking God is truly empowering. It makes us different from other schools, and I feel like it makes us more of a team.”
Audrey and her family are parishioners at Our Lady of the Rosary in Boise. She was altar server at her parish and at St. Joe’s. “St. Joe’s has definitely played a big part in my faith. I’ve grown up learning about the Catholic faith, and being told to always treat people how you want to be treated, which is now second nature to me. My favorite prayer is the Prayer to St. Joseph because I’ve said it since kindergarten and it will always remind me of St. Joe’s.”
This fall she will attend Bishop Kelly. “I definitely want to go to college, I know BK will get me ready for anything.”
ALL SAINTS, LEWISTON
LUKE CROSBY has been a student at All Saints Catholic School since kindergarten, so school is family. “I’ve been here nine years, so everyone is family.”
His favorite memories are a boat trip during his fourth grade year and a field trip during his sixth grade year to MOSS, the McCall Outdoor Science School, a University of Idaho educational camp.
His proudest moments have been basketball, especially attending the Hallissey Tournament in Boise and “keeping my grades up to A’s and B’s.” His favorite subject is social studies.
“My time at school has been really fun. The teachers are always there for me.” School has also positively impacted his faith life. He and his family are parishioners at All Saints Parish in Lewiston. “We like to go to church together and spend time with each other at our cabin on the mountain behind (the town of ) Lucile.”
Luke’s favorite hobbies are baseball, basketball, fishing, hunting and camping. His favorite saint is St. Anthony.
“In high school I am looking forward to seeing more kids, having a bigger facility, and having more opportunities to try new things like clubs and sports.” After high school, he plans on joining the military.
KATIE WREN, like Luke Crosby, has been a student at All Saints since preschool. “My school means so much to me. I can’t believe that after 11 years, I’m never going to be a student here again, but I can’t thank all my teachers enough for all they have done in my education journey.”
One of her favorite memories at All Saints was going to the McCall Outdoor Science School with her class. “The camp helped all of us bond. I got closer with everyone,” she said.
Her proudest moment was winning a national award at the Catholic Daughters of America song contest. Winning that contest gave her more confidence in herself, she said.
Her favorite subject is U.S. History. She enjoys dancing and is a member of a dance team that competes with other studios in Idaho and a studio in Washington. “I dance about nine hours a week, and I love competing with friends.”
She also loves spending time with her large family that includes eight older siblings. “I only get to see my older siblings around holidays, but I love making new memories with all of them. I love it when we play board games together.”
She and her family are parishioners of All Saints. She likes listening to podcasts on Spotify by Father Nathan Dail, chaplain of St. Paul’s Student Center at Boise State. “He knows how to explain harder topics to a younger audience.”
Katie looks forward to making new friends at Lewiston High School and going to school again with her brother, Nick, who is three years older.
After high school, she hopes to become a physical therapist or a pediatrician. “I plan to follow in Nick’s footsteps, because he is on his way to becoming a doctor.”
ST. MARY’S, MOSCOW
SEELEY JOHNSON was student body president at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Moscow. “It felt like a big accomplishment and has encouraged my confidence,” she said.
Her favorite memories come from her seventh grade year. When her small class of herself and three boys finished their math early they were allowed to see who could finish math problems on the white board the fastest or go outside and play basketball.
Seeley’s favorite subjects varied from year to year, she said. This year, she enjoyed language arts.
“St. Mary’s means a lot to me. It’s like a big family to me. Everyone is supportive and kind, and they watch you learn and grow,” she said.
Seeley, like so many her Catholic school contemporaries, says her school has impacted her faith journey in many ways. “One is in how I pray. At my previous school (a private school in the Midwest), prayer felt structured and planned, but now I feel like I can have a conversation with God, just like a friend. I also feel that my view and understanding of the Bible has broadened.”
The oldest of four children, Seeley and her family like going on bike rides, playing board games and watching movies. Her hobbies include cross country running and reading. “I very much enjoy reading, I especially enjoy how authors take me on adventures and show me new places.”
She is looking forward to attending Lewiston High School and meeting new people. She hopes to attend the University of Idaho after high school, and then travel after college.
STS. PETER AND PAUL, GRANGEVILLE
KADEN SCHAFF and his family live 30 minutes from Sts. Peter and Paul, but they made the long commute because they believe in the value of Catholic education.
“I really like how it’s Christ-centered, how we put prayer first before everything we do. I have learned a lot about my faith at school,” Kaden said.
His favorite subjects are math and science. He also enjoys wrestling and football. Among his favorite volunteering projects was raking up leaves in senior citizens’ yards. He also enjoys giving to the local food bank. He is an altar server and lector at his parish, St. Catherine of Siena in Kamiah.
A highlight this year was a school trip to Boise to tour the Capitol and the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist. The Cathedral was significant because his favorite saint is St. John. “He’s my favorite because he stayed at the foot of the Cross when Jesus died. He was the only one of the Apostles to be there and stay until He died.”
“Kaden is an example of how a strong faith life practiced in the home can have a real impact on the faith of the children,” said Rhett Mahoney, principal at Sts. Peter and Paul. “He is always willing to help when asked.”
ST. MARY’S, BOISE
STEPHEN SMITH began attending St. Mary’s Catholic School in Boise in kindergarten. His favorite subjects are math and science. He enjoys working with electronics, especially building circuits, in his free time. He also likes playing baseball and the clarinet.
“Going to a Catholic school has helped me grow in my faith and in my knowledge,” he said. “I had a lot of great teachers through the years. I had a lot of great friends.”
He and his family belong to St. Mary’s Parish, where he is an altar server. He will attend Bishop Kelly this fall.
ALONDRA TENA is making the most of her summer before she attends Bishop Kelly this fall traveling in Europe. Because she is overseas, she could not be reached for an interview.
Like Stephen, Alondra began attending St. Mary’s in kindergarten. She was valedictorian of her graduating class. Her mother, Liliana Santiago-Tena, said Alondra enjoys helping the younger children at the school. Alondra also likes using her fluency in Spanish and English to help the large Hispanic community at St. Mary’s.
Alondra’s favorite hobby is volleyball. She will attend Bishop Kelly this fall.
SACRED HEART, BOISE
“NOAH HORN is a faith-filled leader who is extremely knowledgeable about his faith,” said Stephanie Ballis, development director at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Boise. “He is a tremendously good influence on his peers, he always encourages others to do the right thing. He lives his faith daily through his kindness and service to others,” Ballis said. “He never hesitates to lead prayer or to take on a project.”
Noah attended Sacred Heart beginning in kindergarten. His favorite subjects are history and math. His favorite memories include playing basketball in the Hallisey Tournament. It also meant a lot to him to portray Jesus in the eighth grade “Living Stations of the Cross.”
He particularly credits Maria Joyce, the fifth grade religion teacher at Sacred Heart, for helping him in his faith life. “She really loves to teach us about the lives of the saints, and through that it helped me develop a closer relationship to God,” Noah said.
Noah relished being in a school where his faith could be shared. “Being around people who care about their faith, especially the teachers, who through every subject try to involve God, that is pretty cool.”
Noah and his family are parishioners at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist. He enjoys volunteering at the church with his family, especially for the food bank.
He will attend Bishop Kelly High School this fall and wants to play basketball and football, he said. After high school, he would like to pursue a career in sports or in real estate.
VERONICA PETERSON is known for her artwork and her kindness. “A deep thinker, she strives for excellence in all her pursuits,” said Sacred Heart’s Stephanie Ballis. “Her thoughtfulness and awareness of others are legendary among the staff and students. In fact, she volunteers to help with everything. We know that she will use her gifts to make the world a better place.”
Veronica’s favorite subjects are math, English and literature. A student at Sacred Heart since her kindergarten year, Veronica is thankful for great teachers and good friends.
She enjoyed participating in the Future City competition, in which students use math and science to create plans for cities in the future. She also liked the school’s drama club.
She and her family belong to Holy Apostles Parish in Meridian, where she is an usher, helps with coffee hours and volunteers for the parish Vacation Bible School program.
St. Veronica, for whom she is named, is one of her favorite saints. “I also really like St. Francis of Assisi because of his connection to animals.”
Earlier this month, she was still undecided as to whether she will attend Bishop Kelly or Renaissance High School in Meridian. In college, she’s considering majoring in culinary studies or engineering. She is particularly interested in aerospace engineering and would like to work for NASA or teach astronomy.
ST. IGNATIUS, MERIDIAN
ADDISON SCARRATT is grateful for her education at St. Ignatius Catholic School in Meridian. “I liked all the people there, and how the community felt loving. Everybody was kind,” she said.
Her favorite subjects are math and science. She wants to be an aerospace or biomedical engineer.
She enjoys art, skiing, and competing in gymnastics. She has also enjoyed volunteering. This year for her Faith-in-Action service project, she worked with children in foster care. Once a month, she volunteers for the “Foster Parents’ Day Out,” program that gives foster parents time to relax while volunteers babysit and play with the foster children. “I like seeing all the kids and making their day by helping them,” she said.
Addison and her family are parishioners of Holy Apostles in Meridian where she is a senior altar server.
Learning more about her faith is a favorite component to her education at St. Ignatius. “I appreciate in our Catholic school how we pray every morning. It’s a good way to start,” she said. One of her favorite prayers is the Nicene Creed. She also likes studying the Bible. “I like to find Bible verses and apply them to my life and reflect on them in a journal.”
This fall, Addison will attend Bishop Kelly High School.
ANDREW KLEIN’S favorite subjects are math and history. “The teachers for both those subjects, Mr. Cook and Ms. Thomas, are awesome. They’re really engaging and they know the content well. I enjoy math and equations. I find history engaging and important to learn.”
Andrew will attend Bishop Kelly in the fall and is seriously considering engineering for a career. “I’m excited about all the sciences and options that BK has.”
One of his favorite hobbies is competing with BK’s mountain bike team, which is open to younger kids. He has been with the team since sixth grade. He also plays tennis.
Although he is not Catholic, Andrew appreciates the environment at St. Ignatius, he said. “I enjoy the community there. I feel like that I’m a part of the community and that I’m valued there,” he said.
He helped clean city parks for his Faith-in-Action service project. In previous years, he participated in a food drive for the Meridian food bank. He also made and sold dog biscuits, donating his profits to the Humane Society.
“I would like to thank Mr. Cook because he helped push me. He teaches all the middle school math classes. He’s very passionate about his work, and I appreciate that,” he said.
HOLY ROSARY, IDAHO FALLS
RYAN TOCHERI started at Holy Rosary Catholic School in Idaho Falls in 2013, with two other classmates who continued through each grade until their sixth grade graduation. (Holy Rosary is a K-6 school.)
“My time at school has been amazing. I’ve had awesome teachers who have taught me things that I will never forget,” he said.
Ryan’s favorite memories include the “Charlotte’s Web” movie party in third grade, pizza parties and organizing a store to sell items for a class project. He also has fond memories of receiving First Communion and serving as a lector during Mass.
Ryan loves his family and is especially close to his younger brother, who has special needs. “My family’s favorite things to do together are camping, going to sports tournaments, and golfing.”
His favorite subjects are writing, math and reading. Learning about his faith was also important. “Attending Holy Rosary helped me maintain a strong relationship with God.” His favorite saint is St. Aloysius Gonzaga “because he has a college named after him, was a Jesuit priest and is patron saint of students, which is what I am.”
“My school means so much to me. I’ll go back to visit and challenge Mrs. Van Pelt, our principal, to basketball,” he said. In junior high, he looks forward to the challenge of eighth grade math and trying new electives such as creative writing and physical education.
ISABEL SCHUENNEMAN’S proudest moment was winning $100 in April for an essay contest about her school.
“My school is a home away from home. It is a place where the staff and teachers are always nice and kind. It makes you feel happy to go there every day,” she said.
Isabel’s favorite subject is reading. She also loves to paint and ballet dance. Favorite memories include sixth grade graduation, a field trip to Craters of the Moon near Arco, and dressing up as saints for All Saints Day. Her favorite saints are St. Bernadette and St. Rose of Lima.
Isabel is the second of four children in her family. “Some fun things we do as a family are camping, watching movies together, going fishing and going shopping with my mom and sister.”
She is looking forward to being a part of a bigger school and seeing her friends in junior high. However, she said she will miss Holy Rosary and the smaller classes.
ST. NICHOLAS, RUPERT
LIKE HOLY ROSARY in Idaho Falls, St. Nicholas in Rupert is a K-6 school.
Arabella Martinez began attending St. Nicholas when she was in preschool. “Throughout the years, Arabella has been a great leader in our school,” said Karren Charles, the fifth and sixth grade teacher.
“She is always available to listen to her fellow students, and helps point them in the right direction. Her passions include Church, learning about God, and volunteering at the Humanitarian Center,” Charles said.
Arabella’s favorite subject is writing. After high school, she is thinking about a career in business or real estate. She is also thinking about becoming a nun.
FATIMA RODARTE has also been at St. Nicholas since preschool.
“Fatima is a great example for the younger students to follow,” Charles said. “She is always kind, and always willing to help others.”
Her favorite subject is social studies. She is always full of questions about history. She has won many awards in gymnastics, involved in the sport since she was 3. Her passions include Church, serving God, volunteering at the Humanitarian Center, and is adept at “organizing everything,” Charles said.
After high school, Fatima wants to study business and political law.
St. Nicholas Parish in Rupert honored all its graduates, from both college and high school, during a recent Mass. (Courtesy photo/St. Nicholas Parish)
St. Edward’s Catholic School in Twin Falls recently expanded to include grades 7 and 8 as it was when originally founded. This is the first eighth grade graduating class since the 1960s. From left, Valeria Arinaga, Ahara Featherston, Jakob Trapp, Joshua Nava, Preston Pool and Adam DeWit. (Courtesy photo/St. Edward’s School)
The Class of 2022 from St. Mary’s Catholic School in Boise. (Courtesy photo/St. Mary’s Parish Facebook page)
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