BY MATT BENNETT • PHOTOGRAPHY BY DAVE BLACKHURST, utahvalley360.com
Average is unacceptable to this year’s batch of high schoolers who will change the world.
But we’re not just talking about GPAs and ACT scores. Sure, these seniors are ambitious, but what they really have in common is their ability to be an “Influencer,” to borrow a term from a group of local authors. (These 18 students are likely Googling that book title as they read this. Maybe you should, too.)
These altruistic students have made the most of their locker-living years, but they’ve also persuaded others to do the same. They befriend outcasts and view their schools and families through optimistic eyes. Their easy smiles and warm hearts have made impressions on their Utah Valley schools that will not soon be forgotten. In short, these lessons weren’t wasted on the young. Don’t let them be wasted on you either.
Get to know 18 up-and-comers — where they eat, what advice they have for parents of teenagers, and what they plan to do after tossing that graduation cap.
Springville High School
PARENTS Val & Ann Anderson
How will you change the world? By simply doing my best to make a positive contribution at every opportunity that comes my way.
Personal motto If you believe it, you can achieve it!
Favorite place to be My cabin. I love to four-wheel and hunt and be in the mountains.
Advice for parents of teenagers Kids need to learn their own lessons and have their own experiences. By all means give them as much advice as you can, but too much control will lead to a negative relationship.
Who do you love My mom. Come on.
Plans after high school
Attend BYU, serve an LDS mission and hopefully get married and have children. Many, many children.
Most influential teacher
Everything about Mr. Waddoups is awesome. He has taught me how to love writing and have fun with my assignments while at the same time learning a lot.
Favorite movies The child in of me has always loved “The Emperor’s New Groove.” The rebellious teenager inside of me loves “Hot Rod.” However, the movie of all movies is definitely “Shrek.”
Favorite books As cliché and embarrassing as it is to admit, my favorite books are the Twilight series. Totally kidding! I’ve never read that series. I’m definitely a “Harry Potter” guy.
Favorite word “Food” because it is delicious and makes everything better.
Most common thing your parents say to you Because my parents and I are always on the go, the most common thing I hear is “love-ya-see-ya-bye” all in one really quick, mashed-together word.
Timpanogos High School
PARENTS Edward J. & Karen Bodily
How will you change the world? I hope to teach secondary education so I may educate and inspire students to find direction in their life.
How have you transformed as a person in high school?
Looking back I can see I have learned important lessons of humility and respect, which have helped me mature drastically. I feel more competent about myself and my abilities, but I understand I still have plenty of improvement to make.
Personal motto “Ready to take on any challenge foolish enough to take on me.” –Dwight K. Schrute
advice for 9th graders Four years is not as long as you think it is. Before you know it, time has slipped by.
biggest blessings My church, my family, my friends, my influences and my education.
Favorite place to eat Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Sammy’s, Fuddruckers, and Crown Burger.
Music that puts you in a good state of mind Classic rock or jazz. Both serve as a calming agent.
When life becomes difficult, how do you cope? Taking a nap has always helped me clear my mind, relax and regenerate my enthusiasm.
Keys to happiness Lose yourself in serving and befriending others. Never inwardly doubt your self-worth, but always remain humble.
Who do you love Jimmer Fredette.
Favorite movies “The Dark Knight,” “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, “The Man Who Knew Too Little.”
Favorite books Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, New Testament, Old Testament, Band of Brothers and history books in general.
Favorite word Cowboy.
Pleasant Grove High School
PARENTS Travis and Wendy Briggs
Personal motto “Glance backward, look heavenward, reach outward, press onward.” — Thomas S. Monson
advice for 9th graders
biggest blessings My family and the support of those who love me; my faith and the chance to live in such a great community.
Favorite place to be Anywhere with sweet potato fries on the menu.
Advice for parents of teenagers Be involved, present, positive and lead by example. When life becomes difficult, how do you cope? Lists, lists and more to-do lists. Write it all down, prioritize, take a deep breath and tackle one thing at a time.
How do you motivate others? Encouragement is absolutely essential in motivating others. I go out of my way to let others know I care.
Keys to happiness Personal confidence, good values, goals and a smile.
Who or what do you love? The Boston Red Sox, my softball field, Ron Weasley and my parents.
Plans after high school BYU in the fall and eventually dental school. I will pursue a combined career of a public speaker and educator in the dental field and a mother.
Most influential teacher Mr. Beck has helped me uncover my leadership potential and has shown me the confidence I needed to accomplish everything this year.
Favorite movies “Kate & Leopold,” “Ever After” and “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.”
Favorite books Harry Potter. (Ron Weasley = dream date.)
Favorite word Play ball.
Most common thing your parents say to you Do you live here?
WestLAKE High School
PARENTS Blair & Christy Buxton
How will you change the world? Whether it is through the music I play or some other means, I will change the world by making it a happier place to live.
How have you transformed while in high school? My experiences in high school taught me I am the one who decides if I am “cool” or not.
Personal motto Be irreplaceable. If someone could easily live the life you are living, you are not putting enough effort into it.
Favorite place to be Flying airplanes with my dad or on stage performing with my guitar.
Favorite place to eat
Sugarhouse Barbeque. Get the tangos, they are to die for.
Music that puts you in a good state of mind Happy music — Jason Mraz, Ingrid Michaelson, Jack Johnson, etc.
Advice for parents of teenagers It’s a bad cliché, but I would say that “they don’t care how much you know till they know how much you care.” Also, parents should push their children to do hard things.
How do you motivate others? By showing them the best in themselves. Everyone has the ability to be incredible if they want to be.
Plans after high school
Attend USU on scholarship and study aerospace engineering after completing a two-year LDS mission.
Most influential teacher
Scott Mansfield. He taught me to learn for the sake of learning rather than to get an “A.”
Favorite book “Spiritual Roots Of Human Relations” by Stephen R. Covey
Favorite word? Nailed it!
Most common thing your parents say to you?
You can do this.
Lehi High School
PARENTS Scott & Christine Eastmond
How will you change the world? One person at a time.
How have you transformed while in high school? I have become much more outgoing and involved.
qualities of a good friend
A good friend is someone who always looks out for everyone’s best interests, who is always loyal and caring. A good friend is also someone who is fun to be with and who will help make you a better person.
Personal motto Just keep swimming … Just keep swimming.
advice for 9th graders Get involved in as much as possible and work as hard as you can. High school can be so much fun, but it is the beginning of your future!
biggest blessings My biggest blessing is my family. The support they give me and the lessons they have taught me are invaluable.
Favorite place to be On the wrestling mat.
Favorite place to eat JCW’s
How do you motivate others? I try to motivate others through my example as well as by helping them feel good about themselves. This encourages them to work harder and help out in life.
Keys to happiness Serving others is the biggest key to happiness.
Who or what do you love? I love my family, I love my friends and I love good food.
Plans after high school
BYU in the fall, go on a mission for the LDS Church in a year and eventually Harvard’s MBA program.
Most influential teacher My student council adviser, Gig Griffith.
Favorite word Unbelievable.
Most common thing your parents say to you “I brought you into this world, I can take you out of it!”
Payson High School
PARENTS Ben & Jolynn Ford
How will you change the world? Living up to my potential and helping others do the same.
How have you transformed while in high school?
I have become more comfortable in social situations and defined my personality.
qualities of a good friend
Personal motto If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.
advice for 9th graders There are always opportunities to get better at whatever you are doing.
biggest blessings Parents.
Favorite place to be
In the gym.
Favorite place to eat
Mi Rancherito or Hogi Yogi.
Music that puts you in a good state of mind
Advice for parents of teenagers Help them, but let them make their own decisions.
When life becomes difficult, how do you cope? Work out.
How do you motivate others? By example.
Keys to happiness Practice enough so you can score in a game.
Who or what do you love? Basketball, hot tub, my sisters and my brother.
Plans after high school Play basketball on the college level.
Most influential teacher Melissa Brotherson.
Favorite movies “The Hangover” and “The Guardian.”
Favorite book “Lone Survivor.”
Favorite word 3 points.
Most common thing your parents say to you Stroke the ball.
Provo High School
PARENTS Vernon & Elaine Heperi
How will you change the world? The world can be changed through average people living their life the best way they can.
How have you transformed while in high school? I’m a lot more confident in just being myself, and I have better friends who help see me through everything.
advice for 9th graders High school isn’t everything. There’s a wider world out there beyond halls that seem so important now. Don’t lose sight of that.
Favorite place to be Thanksgiving Point Gardens with a camera, a notebook and nowhere else to be.
Favorite place to eat Anywhere with good food, but I’m especially partial to Red Robin’s fries.
Music that puts you in a good state of mind Old country music by artists like George Jones and Johnny Cash. I also listen to Bob Marley when I’m stressed.
Keys to happiness Passion, self-mastery and a smile.
what do you love?
I love writing stories. There’s just something about watching a story take form on paper that gives me the chills.
Plans after high school Get a degree in English from BYU. I’ll never stop writing down my stories, and hopefully I’ll be able to publish them one day.
Favorite movie “Inception.” It completely blew my mind.
Favorite book “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen. I love her biting commentary and, of course, I absolutely love Fitzwilliam Darcy.
Favorite word “Eloquence,” because its something I’ve always strived for in my writing.
Most common thing your parents say to you Work first, play later.
Salem Hills High School
PARENTS Brian Howell & Carolyn Prody
How have you transformed while in high school? I am no longer afraid to stand up for others as well as myself.
qualities of a good friend Willing to listen and help through the hard times, but most importantly a good friend will tell you when you’re being stupid.
biggest blessings First, the LDS Church. Second, my loving family. Third, my supportive friends.
Favorite place to eat Tie between Tucanos (garlic sirloin) and Tepanyaki (throwing steak into my mouth).
Music that puts you in a good state of mind Mumford & Sons, Death Cab for Cutie, Radiohead, Muse.
Advice for parents of teenagers Sometimes you have to make your kid do things he or she doesn’t want to do.
How do you motivate others? Appeal to their logic and try to make them be reasonable. Get them away from their biases and prejudices and have an open mind.
Plans after high school Sell TV door-to-door in the Midwest, serve an LDS mission, go to Utah State, get married and have a family.
Most influential teacher Ms. Updike taught me compassion in 7th grade. I learned respect for those who had endured devastating hardships like the Holocaust.
Favorite movies “The Dark Knight,” “Unbreakable,” “I Am Legend.”
Favorite bookS “The Road,” “The Five People You Meet in Heaven,” and the Book of Mormon, of course.
Favorite word Atrocious.
Most common thing your parents say to you Please stop bothering your sister.
Timpview High School
PARENTS Scott & Rachel Jacob
How will you change the world? I believe you change the world first by changing yourself and then the people around you.
How have you transformed while in high school? Self-confidence is key. I went from being a shy and worried freshman to someone who absolutely loves saying “hi” to people and talking with everyone.
qualities of a good friend Someone who makes you laugh, listens to you, gives you space and helps you when you need help.
advice for 9th graders Be who you want to be. You are the handicap that you must face, so don’t settle for less.
Favorite place to eat The Cheesecake Factory.
Music that puts you in a good state of mind Earth Wind and Fire all the way! Maurice, Verdine and Philip are my boys!
what do you love? Lame puns, noodles with Parmesan cheese, driving with the window down and starry nights.
Plans after high school I will attend two semesters at BYU before I hope to serve a two-year LDS mission. After that, I will finish my education and pursue a career in English, communications or law.
Most influential teacher Mrs. Alison Van Orden – she is a remarkable example, a true friend and someone who helps me see myself.
Favorite movies “Dan in Real Life,” “What About Bob?” and “It’s A Wonderful Life.”
Favorite word Alleluia or creamsicle.
Most common thing your parents say to you “Did you close the garage door?”
Spanish Fork High School
PARENTS Daniel & Tammy Johnson
How will you change the world? One patient at a time. I can help other people live better lives by being the best orthopedic surgeon I can be.
How have you transformed while in high school? I have come to learn what is important in my life. Sports and social life are fun, but they should never top the list.
Favorite place to be
Outdoors, whether it be on the baseball field, in the mountains or in my yard.
Favorite place to eat Tucanos
Music that puts you in a good state of mind Oldies, such as Beatles, the Beach Boys and James Taylor.
Advice for parents of teenagers Encourage your kids to do their best, but don’t be too harsh or controlling.
How do you motivate others? I motivate others by being a good example and trying my best to work hard and be encouraging.
Who or what do you love? The things I love most in my life are my parents because they taught me how to work hard, my friends for always being there for me, baseball, wrestling and my dog, Cash.
Most influential teacher Mrs. Daniels, my calculus teacher. She is always encouraging me to do my best and have confidence in myself.
Favorite movies “Friday Night Lights” and “V for Vendetta.”
Favorite books Louis L’Amour western novels and “The Hunger Games” series.
Favorite word My favorite word is bamboozle. Bamboozle means to trick someone. I like this word because it sounds awesome and is fun to say.
Karl G. Maeser Preparatory Academy
PARENTS Radames & Vera Lima
qualities of a good friend Someone who lets you walk into their house without ringing the doorbell and then raid their fridge. That’s the true sign of friendship.
advice for 9th graders Don’t procrastinate! That is still an ability I have to acquire, but I wish I had started working on it earlier.
Favorite place to be In bed.
Favorite place to eat Buca di Beppo or anywhere I can get a good plate of rice and beans.
Music that puts you in a good state of mind Mumford & Sons, John Mayer, Queen, Nickel Creek, Michael Buble, Panic at the Disco, Relient K, and Paramore.
Advice for parents of teenagers Be a good parent first and a friend second. We’re never too old to be disciplined. And secretly, we’re listening. But don’t expect us to admit it.
How do you motivate others? By walking the walk. If I want to get people to do something, I’ve got to do it, too.
Keys to happiness Don’t get caught up with minuscule problems or setbacks. Enjoy this strange journey we call life because we only get to go through it once, or so I’ve heard.
Plans after high school Start BYU in the fall and probably change my major three or four times. I’m going to let the road of life just take me and hopefully choose the road less traveled. I heard it makes all the difference.
Most influential teacher I owe a lot to Cindy Pedersen, my debate coach, who has helped me find my true calling — arguing logically. But my favorite has always been Mr. Veatch, 4th grade.
Favorite word Definitely.
Lone Peak High School
PARENTS M’Kay & Angi McGrath
How will you change the world? I probably will not invent something miraculous or cure cancer, but what I can do is believe in the goodness of others. I will try to change the world by making as many people as I can feel valued and important.
How have you transformed while in high school? High school has taught me to not pre-judge people.
Qualities of a good friend A good friend is someone who is always there for you no matter what the circumstances. Someone who is honest, non-judgmental and who really takes time to get to know you.
Personal motto Be involved. Be kind. Be happy.
advice for 9th graders Live it up! High school goes by much faster than expected so enjoy it now. Get as involved as you can, meet and befriend as many people as possible, and never care what others think. Just be you.
Biggest blessings My family, my friends, and to live where I live. And my cozy bedspread.
Favorite place to be Mountains
Favorite place to eat Café Rio
Advice for parents Always be there for your teenager. Be that person who shows love, warmth, and acceptance. Let them know they can always come to you. Be open and support them in all they do.
Keys to happiness Kindness, service, being yourself, doing your best.
Favorite Movies “A Knight’s Tale,” “National Treasure,” “A Cinderella Story.”
Favorite Books Harry Potter (just like the rest of the world).
Favorite word Serendipity, because it’s fun to say.
Maple Mountain High School
PARENTS Ron & DeAnn Nielsen
How have you transformed while in high school? As I have gotten older and hopefully more mature, my priorities have changed. I not only care about doing well in school, having good friends and my performance on the softball field, but I care about what kind of a person I am while I am doing those things. I want to be known as a kind, considerate person.
Qualities of a good friend A good friend makes you want to be a better person.
Personal motto “Don’t be a goofus.” My coach has said this to my team on many occasions, and it has stuck with me.
Favorite place to be My family’s cabin by Strawberry Reservoir. I love being in the mountains with my family. I love hiking, horse riding and catching toads with them.
Music that puts you in a good state of mind Pretty much all music puts me in a good state of mind except scream-o.
When life becomes difficult, how do you cope? I’m a list maker. I get the most important things done first and then I do the others. I also enjoy running with my dad and going to softball practice. These activities help me take my mind off things.
Keys to happiness I try to live by the quote “Enjoy the journey.”
Plans after high school
I am going to Snow College to get my associates degree. After that I’ll go to the University of Utah to get my bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
Favorite movies I love chick flicks. The sappy ones people laugh at are generally my favorites.
Walden School of Liberal Arts
PARENTS Keith Roland & Kathy Dally
How will you change the world? I know I can’t change the world by myself, so by encouraging people to really pay attention to what’s going on in the world I think they’d be
surprised by the personal opinion they discover without the influence of “what they should think.”
Personal motto Keep on keeping on.
Advice for 9th graders Take advantage of every opportunity your school gives you. Go on a study abroad. Enjoy learning! Find what you love in a class and focus on it!
Favorite place to be Traveling on a bus/plane/train/rickshaw to a foreign destination.
Favorite place to eat Sage’s Cafe in Salt Lake City and Guru’s in Provo.
Advice for parents of teenagers Make your teenagers study abroad! It’ll open their eyes and change their life and give them a greater appreciation of the world.
When life becomes difficult, how do you cope? I call my mom, vent and shoot film. It slows me down, and I can go outside and just wait for great color or some nice shadows to fill my frame full of people.
what do you love? I love Seattle! I just planted my own garden. I’ve also found a new passion for cooking and baking desserts. And, of course, I love photos and people who take them.
Plans after high school Go to the University of Washington studying international studies, study abroad and become a photojournalist. Even if it means an unstable paycheck each month, I can make it work.
Favorite books Anything non-fiction and about history. Love Thy Neighbor: A Story of War.
American Leadership Academy
PARENTS Mark & Diann Soffe
How will you change the world? By believing I can change the world! I want the people I come in contact with to feel like they have been helped and loved.
Biggest blessings Definitely my family and my testimony.
Favorite place to be My home! More specifically: my bed. A close second is a tennis court.
Advice for parents of teenagers Create a home where they always want to be. If there is contention, don’t argue, wait for a while and then talk. Don’t ask them to do anything you wouldn’t be willing to do.
Keys to happiness Understanding who you are, why you do things and developing a good relationship with God and others.
Who or what do you love? My family, ice cream, sun and sleep.
Plans after high school UVU for my associates, then an occupational therapy master’s program. And I want to work as a medical assistant in a clinic through all of it.
Most influential teacher I’ve had so many incredible teachers, but I can’t get over my second grade teacher, Mrs. Gonzalez. She always made me want to go to class.
Favorite movies “Dark Knight,” “Slumdog Millionaire,” “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Emperor’s New Groove,” “Heavyweights.”
Favorite books “Fountainhead,” “Walk Two Moons,” “Ella Enchanted,” the Book of Mormon.
Favorite word Fetcher or devil.
Most common thing your parents say to you “Go to bed.”
Mountain View High School
PARENTS Tim & Dalita Stay
How will you change the world? I hope to change the world through giving service.
How have you transformed while in high school? I have become more outgoing and more determined. I know that if I want something I should go after it.
Qualities of a good friend Someone who will help you when times are bad, who will stand by your side and who helps you become a better you.
Advice for 9th graders Be involved. High school is the greatest place to try out different things and figure out what interests you.
Favorite place to eat My dad’s grill. He makes some of the best grilled pineapple, vegetables and steak ever.
Music that puts you in a good state of mind My favorite music right now is The King Singers. They sing some of my favorite songs a cappella.
Keys to happiness Finding the right balance between work and play. Do too much of either, and you’ll find yourself in a bad spot.
Plans after high school I’ve been accepted at BYU and I want to enter the engineering program, go on an LDS mission, get my master’s degree and marry a beautiful woman who is kind, intelligent and fun.
Most influential teacher Chris Ecalono, my third grade teacher, who taught me those who excel in life are those who not only have talent, but who work hard to develop those talents.
Most common thing your parents say to you They’d like me to say it’s “We’re proud of you,” but really it’s “When are you going to do that?!”
Orem High School
PARENTS Robert & Laurel Steele
How have you transformed while in high school? I have definitely become more confident, outgoing and willing to try new things.
Personal motto Reach out.
Advice for 9th graders
Take advantage of opportunities, both recreationally and scholastically, because it’s likely you will not have another time in your life when you can do those things.
Biggest blessings My big family has been such a great blessing to me, especially my parents. I have had wonderful friends throughout school who have had a positive influence on me. I’ve also been blessed with a healthy body that allows me to do the things I love most.
Favorite place to be Provo Canyon on a sunny day in the summer. Whether it’s hiking Bridal Veil Falls or jumping into the Provo River, I simply love it. It is such a beautiful place and there is so much to do. Plus, it’s close to home so I can go there often.
Favorite place to eat Pretty much anywhere that serves complimentary bread or chips and salsa! Carrabba’s and Mi Ranchito.
Music that puts you in a good state of mind Hawaiian music calms me down and clears my mind.
Keys to happiness Oftentimes we are just trying to get through this class, this day, this week or this year, when we really should be finding joy and realizing our blessings every moment of our lives.
Plans after high school Get my nursing degree, get married to an awesome guy and have an adventure every day.
Favorite word Scrumtrulescent.
Most common thing your parents say to you I love you.
American Fork High School
PARENTS Eric & Angella Vernon
How will you change the world? One day at a time; one goal at a time; one person at a time.
qualities of a good friend Someone who truly cares about you as a person.
Personal motto Alma 26:12 “I am nothing…but in His strength I can do all things.”
advice for 9th graders At the end of the day, don’t have any regrets. Take a chance and try new things.
Favorite place to be AFHS football field. I’ve worked hard on that field and spent so much time there with both football and lacrosse.
Favorite place to eat
Cafe Rio or Brick Oven.
Music that puts you in a good state of mind Eagles, Billy Joel and Jack Johnson
Advice for parents of teenagers Tell your kids you love them every day. When they know you care, they’ll think about that before they make a decision.
Keys to happiness A good meal shared with friends and family.
Plans after high school
BYU for a year. Mission.
Most influential teacher
Mr. Wicks, my junior high school English teacher. He taught me to look outside myself and see someone else’s point of view, something that has helped me immensely throughout high school.
“Remember the Titans” and “Amazing Grace.”
Favorite word Jimmer.
Most common things your parents say to you
“Can you help your sister with her math?”
“Get off Facebook right now!”
“Church starts in 10 minutes, what are you doing?”
“Who are you texting?”
“Thank you for being home before midnight.”