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22 high schoolers who will change the world

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This year’s class list of Utah Valley Magazine’s 22 High School Students Who Will Change The World is making waves for all the right reasons — which is why we took roll of these scholars at Provo Beach Resort. These seniors are navigating the stormy seas of high school with a sunny perspective and a “just-keep-swimming” attitude.

Consider this story a high school hang-out session. Grab some ice cream, play some games and get to know these world-changers one by one.

Clockwise left to right: Elena Mitchell, John Baadsgard, Karanda Heimuli and Kade Hillstead.  (Photo by Dave Blackhurst)

Clockwise left to right: Elena Mitchell, John Baadsgard, Karanda Heimuli and Kade Hillstead. (Photo by Dave Blackhurst)

Elena Mitchell

School: Walden School for Liberal Arts
Parents: Mark Mitchell & Velinda Williams-Mitchell

Elena Mitchell always has her hand in something creative — whether it’s her science fair project about the surface of Mercury, sewing her own prom dress or interning with museum exhibit designers at Thanksgiving Point. Throw student government, soccer, clarinet and guitar into the mix, and you have one well-rounded and busy student.

Elena’s AP English teacher Derek Henderson says, “Elena’s powerful intelligence is matched by an equally powerful generosity of spirit. She’s brilliant, funny, kind, and delightedly curious about the world around her.”

Most common phrase? I’m hungry.

What trials have you overcome? My parent’s divorce and a difficult move when I was 15 were challenging, but I am actually grateful for the way they impacted my life.

Who is your hero?  King Alfred the Great. He taught himself to read and write and encouraged the people he ruled, who weren’t the rich and powerful, to gain an education.

Favorite local place to eat? Ginger’s Garden Cafe. It’s healthy, delicious and right around the corner from my house.

Biggest blessings? So many teachers and staff at my school would do anything for me. I also have many (8!) wonderful siblings.

Plans after high school? Attend the University of Utah to study environmental and civil engineering. I’ve been to New Zealand, Australia and India, and my desire to see the world has grown from visiting these beautiful countries. My bucket list is long!

How will you change the world? I love discovery in science. I researched stars at The California Institute of Technology. I presented our research at the American Astronomical Society. I want to continue contributing in this way throughout the rest of my life.

John Baadsgard 

School: Maple Mountain High School
Parents: Ross & Janene Baadsgard

In addition to being an academic powerhouse, John Baadsgard participates in extracurricular activities including the school newspaper, literary magazine and Maple Mountain’s Science Olympiad Team. He is also a gifted musician who sings in multiple school choirs, teaches piano and acts in school plays. Somehow, he still finds time for service — from peer mentoring to planning birthday parties for residents at the local rest home. His love of service will continue with an LDS mission to Copenhagen, Denmark, immediately after high school.

Assistant principal Dave Knudsen says, “John excels in academics, has many friends and serves those around him. He always pushes himself to be the best at all he does.”

Favorite school subjects? Music, science and mathematics.

Favorite quote? Live to bless, not to impress.

What trials have you overcome? Despite a serious injury to my right hand, I have excelled in piano and become the Instrumental Music Sterling Scholar from my high school.

Biggest blessings? My huge and amazing family (10 children).

Favorite local places to eat? Two Jack’s Pizza, Sizzler or Golden Corral.

Most influential teacher? My piano students. They often teach me more than I teach them.

Most common phrase? Practice makes progress.

Plans after high school? After my LDS mission I want to major in neuroscience at BYU and go on to obtain a graduate degree.

How will you change the world? While I do hope to invent medical technology that allows for a better quality of life, I believe I will make the biggest difference by helping one person at a time. If I can help one person see the world in a more positive way, I have changed the world.

Karanda Heimuli

School: Payson High School
Parents: Kepi & Carma Heimuli

Karanda Heimuli’s outgoing and energetic personality is felt by everyone with whom she comes in contact. She leads her school as a senior class officer, Key Club vice president, LDS Seminary class president and Parent Teacher Student Association president. She lends her voice to school choirs and her time to non-profits, including Let’s End Poverty.

Principal Ben Ford says, “Karanda is a kind and conscientious person with a happy personality and an optimism that is contagious. She always wears a smile and most importantly, nothing ever gets her down.”

Favorite school subjects? English, math and music. Science has never been my strong point, but I enjoy it anyway.

Favorite quote? “Go into the world and do well; but more importantly, go into the world and do good.” Minor Myers

Who is your hero? My parents and my grandparents. They’ve made so many sacrifices for me and taught me about hard work and service. They’ve always impressed upon me the importance of living up to my family name.

What trials have you overcome? I ran for student council five times before I made it. Each campaign helped me grow and taught me a lot about myself. I don’t regret any of the years I ran.

Biggest blessings? I like to look at everything in my life as a blessing. I have a house, clothes on my back, and food on my table. My parents love me and they love each other. I was blessed with three amazing siblings who make me laugh, and I have the most amazing friends in the world.

Plans after high school? Attend LDS Business College and earn a Social Media Marketing degree. I hope to work for a newspaper while I’m in college or after I graduate. My long-term goals are to get married, have a family, and one day work for a non-profit organization.

Kade Hillstead

School: Springville High School
Parents: David & Kara Hillstead

Kade Hillstead is passionate about sports — and it shows. He is a key member of Springville High’s varsity football and basketball teams. When he isn’t playing sports, he is hitting the books with classes like AP Statistics and AP Calculus. He also serves on Springville High’s HOPE squad and will be going on a humanitarian trip to India in June 2015 to teach children English.    

Principal Mike Brown comments, “Kade is one of the most competitive and passionate young men I have ever been associated with. He is outstanding in both football and basketball and is still an honor student.”

Favorite quote? “It’s not about how hard you can hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.” — Sylvester Stallone

What trials have you overcome? The passing of my brother.

Biggest blessings? My family has been with me through thick and thin. They are my greatest friends and my greatest blessing.

How do you deal with stress? I like to ride my TW200 motorcycle up Hobble Creek Canyon to see the beautiful scenery and feel the serenity of the wilderness as I ride.

Favorite local place to eat? Bombay House.

Most influential teacher? My 5th grade teacher Mr. Daybell taught me the power of humor.

Most common phrase? “You gotta be kidding me!”

Plans after high school? Attend college, serve an LDS mission, college sports, have a family.

How will you change the world? I want to be a role model to show you can become whatever you desire if you put in the work — no matter where you’re coming from.

Advice to your 9th grade self? Be kind to yourself and enjoy the ride. Things will be tough, but they will work out.

What famous person do you want to meet? Abraham Lincoln. He had the courage to go for what he wanted and follow through.

Left to right: Emily Lewis, Taylor Reece,  Josi Braithwaite, Donavan Minutes. (Photo by Dave Blackhurst)

Left to right: Emily Lewis, Taylor Reece, Josi Braithwaite, Donavan Minutes. (Photo by Dave Blackhurst)

Emily Lewis

School: Lone Peak High School
Parents: Chad & Michele Lewis

As the 6-foot-4 Lone Peak volleyball team captain, Emily Lewis will take her talent to BYU this fall on an athletic scholarship. Beyond sports, Emily reaches out to her fellow classmates as a leader in the school’s CARE team. She helped put on a special assembly on the topic of suicide prevention and recently traveled to Mexico to build a school.

Principal Rhonda Bromley remarks, “I was amazed with how hard she worked and how much she cared and loved the people, especially the children.”

Favorite subjects? I love AP Human Geography and Sociology. I struggle with Calculus, but Mr. Smith makes it worth it.

Who is your hero? My mom. She is the most selfless person I know. She reassures and gives me confidence everyday. In the world we live in today, girls need confidence. My mom reminds me of my potential and who I am.

What trials have you overcome? The pressure of having two successful parents. My dad played football in the NFL and my mom was an All-American volleyball player. People expect me to live up to a standard. This pressure used to weigh on me, but I learned to love the pressure and use it as fuel.

Biggest blessings? My parents, my six siblings who are my best friends, my healthy body, the LDS Church and incredible friends.

Favorite local place to eat? Koi. Anything sushi!

Most common phrase? “I love that.”

Favorite movie? “The Count of Monte Cristo” and “Remember the Titans.”

Advice to your 9th grade self? Reach out to everyone. Don’t hesitate because someone is older or seems intimidating. Now that I am a senior, I realize everyone has days when they’re sad or insecure.

How will you change the world? By meeting people from all over the world and helping them gain an education. I want to change the world by sharing a light with all types of people.

Taylor Reece

School: American Fork High School
Parents: Aaron Reece & Wendy Reece

Taylor Reece has made his mark with a camera and a message. He used a 1-minute video featuring special needs students from his school to put an end to the word “retard.” His video was prompted by a national campaign called “Spread the Word to End the Word.” Taylor is also the student producer of American Fork High’s weekly show, Kave TV. When he’s not filming or wakeboarding, he’s cheering in the student section called the “The Cavemen Crazies.”

Taylor’s drama teacher Neal Johnson says, “Taylor worked hard not only in my classes, but outside of class to make sure each student felt valuable and appreciated.”

Favorite subjects? Video production, film and surprisingly I really enjoyed taking law enforcement this year.

Favorite saying? Personality goes a long way.

Favorite place to eat? JCW’s. I go there once a week.

Who is your hero? My parents. My dad has always been supportive and there for me even when he was struggling with and overcoming drug and alcohol addiction. My mom because she is a single mom and always worked hard to take great care of my sister and me.

Biggest blessings? The greatest friends and family. I’ve also been blessed with a sense of humor and a good attitude, which come in handy when I am in hard or stressful situations.

Plans after high school? Serve an LDS mission, attend Utah State University for my generals then go to a film school to further my video and cinematography skills. I’m also interested in working with people in recovery alongside my dad.

Advice to your 9th grade self? Please don’t shave your head during spring break to be funny. You will regret it.

How will you change the world? One video at a time.

What famous person do you want to meet? Quentin Tarantino.

Josi Braithwaite

School: Spanish Fork High School
Parents: Brian & Jennifer Braithwaite

Talented and driven, Josi Braithwaite is a natural athlete and participates in tennis, track and cross country. She also plays percussion in Spanish Fork High’s concert band, serves on student council and volunteers with Let’s End Poverty.

Assistant principal Jo Lynn Ford says, “Josi has a 3.977 GPA, is very involved and is an incredibly kind and respectful student.”

Favorite quote? “It takes courage to become who you truly are.” — E.E. Cummings

Favorite local place to eat? Stone Drug.

Who are your heroes? The Founding Fathers.

What trials have you overcome? Not deviating from my true self and not letting others dictate how I feel. In high school you experience rejection, heartbreak and failure, and we often think we want to be someone else. If we’re brave enough to decide who we want to be and stand firmly, we will never regret it.

Biggest blessings? A supportive mom who lets me make my own choices and has taught me great work ethic.

How do you deal with stress? Cleaning and running are very therapeutic for me.

Most influential teacher? My tennis coach, Blake Johnson.

Plans after high school? I’m heading to George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, to study business management in hopes of becoming a business consultant. I sincerely want to help people and organizations become more successful.

How will you change the world? I want to make others feel accepted, included and unified. I want to help people realize the potential they have and the great things they are capable of.

How do you spend Friday nights? I’m usually at a football game, playing in the pep band at a basketball game or curling up with a good 1980s movie.

Donavan Minutes

School: Provo High School
Parents: Andrea Betts & Dug Minutes

Not only is Donavan Minutes a three-sport-athlete — football, wrestling and baseball — he served as captain for each of these teams. As a Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Ambassador and member of the National Honor Society  council, Donavan has completed more than 250 hours of community service throughout high school. Donavan is also Provo High’s SkillsUSA chapter president.

Principal Karen Brown comments, “Donavan is a well-rounded student who takes advantage of our academic offerings, participates in many activities and gives back to his school, all while remaining in the top 12 percent of his class.”

Favorite classes? Welding, autobody, printing/silkscreening. I also enjoy AP Psychology and AP Language.

What trials have you overcome? I was in a longboarding accident and suffered a serious concussion that caused permanent short-term memory loss and impacted my reading comprehension. Instead of dropping out of my honors classes, I decided to push myself harder and continue with rigorous courses. I have worked extremely hard with a neural therapist and mental exercises.

Favorite local place to eat? El Azteca in Provo.

Plans after high school? I want to attend either University of Utah, Willamette University or Carroll College, and I am thinking about getting a degree in environmental science.

How will you change the world? I want to join the Peace Corps at some point. As a career, I plan to become a firefighter so I can constantly help people.

What famous person do you want to meet? Although she is not famous, I would like to meet my great-grandmother, Lois Dotson. She passed away when I was three months old and is the woman who molded my mom into the person she is.

Left to right: Jeanelle Long, Britain Covey,  Christian Moody and Dean Smith.  (Photo by Dave Blackhurst)

Left to right: Jeanelle Long, Britain Covey, Christian Moody and Dean Smith. (Photo by Dave Blackhurst)

Jeanelle Long

School: Liahona Academy
Parents: Kevin & Sherry Long

Jeanelle Long lives to perform — whether it’s acting in a play, dancing or singing. She is an active member of her school’s theater department and is headed to BYU on a theatre scholarship this fall. She is also a member of her LDS stake’s youth committee.

Teacher Jordan Long says, “Jeanelle has influenced her classmates, parents, students, teachers and community through her performance and understanding of the importance of theatre. We believe Jeanelle will continue to be a powerful influence for good as she pursues a career in acting as well as other aspects of her life.”

Favorite TV show/movie? “So You Think You Can Dance” and “Little Rascals.”

Who are your heroes? My five older brothers.

What trials have you overcome? When I was 11 my brother passed away from leukemia while he was serving an LDS mission. It was really sad and hard, but I became stronger, wiser and more faithful.

Favorite local place to eat? Slurp!

Most common phrase? “I need to sleep.”

Plans after high school? I want to teach, direct, choreograph and coach Shakespeare teams. I also want to keep performing, get married and have a family.

How will you change the world? Through performing for audiences in ways that will cause them to understand themselves, become better people and better understand each other. My true desire is to increase kindness, understanding and love in our world.

Advice to your 9th grade self? Don’t stress, it all works out. Also, you can be honest and nice at the same time.

How do you spend Friday nights? If I’m not in a show, memorizing lines or at rehearsal, I’m at the nearest party!

What famous person do you want to meet?  Joan of Arc and William Shakespeare — at the same time.

Britain Covey

School: Timpview High School
Parents: Jerolyn & Stephen M.R. Covey

Britain Covey made a name for himself at Timpview as the quickest quarterback in town. In 2014, The Deseret News named him Mr. Football, and this fall he will be on the University of Utah roster. But he is not a one-sport pony — he plays on the basketball team and runs track. Britain also participates in his school’s HOPE squad, the Parent Teacher Student Association and the Anti-Bully club. As if that didn’t keep him busy, Britain is Timpview’s Men’s President, an Eagle Scout and an AP student.

Coach Cary Whittingham says, “With a high level of skill, ability, desire, intelligence, leadership, and quality of character, Brit is one of those students/athletes who comes along only once a decade.  Timpview football was fortunate to have Brit lead the team as our QB to back-to-back state championships.”

Favorite classes? Psychology and student govt.

Favorite quote? “Men don’t follow titles, they follow courage.” — William Wallace

Favorite movies/TV shows? “Warrior,” “Psych,” “Man vs. Wild.”

Who are your heroes? My brothers and Dad. They never cease to be my examples.

What trials have you overcome? I’ve lost a few cousins in the last two years, which was quite tough.

Favorite local place to eat? Tucanos.

Most influential teacher? Mrs. Bowers or Coach Bateman.

Most common phrase? In the words of Cinderella, “Have courage and be kind.”

Plans after high school? Play football at University of Utah, go on an LDS mission and fall madly in love.

How will you change the world? Work myself into a position of leadership, then use that influence to improve the culture of society and inspire others.

Advice to your 9th grade self? Keep a small journal to write down funny, everyday experiences with your friends, because after four years you’ll forget most of them.

Christian Moody

School: Merit Academy
Parents: Lorena & Jamison Moody

Christian Moody is a renaissance man. He runs cross-country, is a member of Merit’s science demo team and is currently performing as Cornelius Hackl in his school’s production of “Hello Dolly.” Did we mention he is also student body president?

Science teacher Xanthe Hardy says, “Christian wants to change the world through scientific discovery and is well on his way to becoming a chemical engineer. His classmates are over the moon about his ever improving rocket fuels, exploding fruit, and his secret recipe thermite reactions.”

Favorite TV show? “Studio C.”

Who are your heroes? My parents.

What trials have you overcome? Academic challenges. Making sure I get good grades has been a trial at times!

Biggest blessings?  I have been blessed with so much, but my church, my family, and my friends are definitely my three biggest blessings.

Most common phrase? “What’s up?”

How do you deal with stress? I try to make sure I am calm and have had enough sleep. Then I work on tackling the source of that stress. I find that prayer and naps help me, too!

How will you change the world? I want to work hard to solve problems facing the world today, like finding an alternate source of fuel. I want to help make the world a better place through hard work, team work and learning from others.

Advice to your 9th grade self? Get involved! High school and life are so much better when you choose to be involved.

What famous person do you want to meet? Jesus Christ because he is someone I am trying to follow! He is the world’s only example of perfection and has done so much for me.

Dean Smith

School: Timpanogos High School
Parents: Darren & Mary Jo Smith

Dean Smith is part of the Young Entrepreneur’s Academy at UVU where his team’s business, Ashatari, received top honors at the regional level. The budding entrepreneur is also a member of the Future Business Leaders of America and will be competing in the organization’s national business competition in Chicago later this year. But Dean is not all-business. He was a member of the Sundance Ski Team and is currently the president of the Chinese Club. He decided to try wrestling for the first time his senior year and was named to the All-State Academic team.

English teacher Sharon Bodily says, “Dean’s tenacity and determination to reach his goals in life are exemplary . . . He is disciplined, goal oriented, ambitious and willing to take risks.”

Favorite quote? “Once you’ve wrestled, everything in life is easy.” — Dan Gable

Favorite movie/TV show? “Frequency” and SportsCenter.

How do you deal with stress? The gym. It’s a daily, non-negotiable habit that calms me down and gives me peace of mind.

Favorite place to eat? Ernie’s Sports Deli.

Who is your hero? My dad. He is the best role model I could ask for. I have never heard him complain despite being one of the hardest working people I know.  Seeing him sacrifice for others my entire life has been priceless.

Plans after high school? I will be attending West Point (United States Military Academy) in New York. After two years, I will serve an LDS mission. Upon graduation, I will serve five years of active duty in the U.S. Army.  Concurrent with that service, I plan to earn a master’s degree in finance — investment banking has been a lifelong dream of mine.

How will you change the world? I want to create businesses that help the world on a larger scale.  Money isn’t rewarding, but helping others is. We are all so blessed, and I want others to have the same abundant opportunities I have had.

Left to right: Mary Deng, Samantha Burton,  Justin Hymas and Kirstin Josie. (Photo by Dave Blackhurst)

Left to right: Mary Deng, Samantha Burton, Justin Hymas and Kirstin Josie. (Photo by Dave Blackhurst)

Mary Deng

School: Meridian School
Parents: Wang Shengxi & Dang Changzheng

Mary Deng is from China and came to Meridian School speaking very little English. She worked extremely hard to master the language and now speaks it fluently and is an honor roll student. She is a talented dancer and singer who participates in Meridian’s fine arts programs like glee club and dance company. Mary is also a part of the global non-profit group The Wonderment Project.

Meridian Head of School Tasi Young says, “What is most impressive about Mary is her compassion and desire to help other students. In her free time, she has taken it upon herself to mentor and tutor younger students in math, English and in extra-curricular activities. She has a love for life and is able to share that enthusiasm with students from different cultures and backgrounds.”

Favorite class? AP Calculus.

Favorite movie/TV show?  “Project Runway.”

Who is your hero? My mom.

What trials have you overcome? The first year I came to America, I had a hard time being brave enough to speak English out loud and communicate with my classmates. And some American kids made fun of my accent and grammar. Then I met my best friend. I followed her lead, worked with my teachers and started pushing myself. I finally got straight As.

How do you deal with stress? Sleep.

Favorite local place to eat? Four Seasons Hot Pot & Dumplings in Provo.

Most common phrase? “What?”

Plans after high school? Attend University of Washington.

How will you change the world? Become a better me. I can influence others and use my story to encourage the students who struggle with school work.

Most influential teacher? Tasi Young.

Samantha Burton

School: American Heritage School
Parents: Daniel & Sarah Burton

Samantha Burton has spent her high school years excelling in the classroom and on the basketball court. She is a National Merit Scholar Semi-Finalist and was recognized with an “Excellence in English and Literature” award. When it comes to basketball, as team captain and varsity point guard, Samantha has helped her team celebrate two undefeated seasons and two championships.

Assistant Principal Liz Jacob says, “Samantha is our student body president, an A student, a starter on the basketball team and an overall great girl!”

Favorite classes? I love anything English — analyzing literature is my passion. On the flip side, math is not one of my strengths.

Favorite movie/TV show?  “Remember the Titans,” “Glory Road” and “Design Star.”

Favorite quote? “Our destiny is not determined by the number of times we stumble, but by the number of times we stand up, dust ourselves off, and stride forward.” — Dieter F. Uchtdorf

What trials have you overcome? I have moved schools so many times, and that has been difficult for me. But I’ve learned to be outgoing and to make friends, and I have loved every place I’ve lived.

How do you deal with stress? Chocolate and movies.

Favorite local place to eat? Thanksgiving Point Deli.

Most common phrase? “If I want it, I can do it.”

Plans after high school? Attend BYU and become a mom.

How will you change the world? By blessing my kids and by being kind to all I come in contact with.

Advice to your 9th grade self? Most people want to be interesting. What they don’t realize is that it is better to be always interested.

What famous person do you want to meet? Audrey Hepburn.

Justin Hymas

School: Pleasant Grove High School
Parents: Sam & Sherri Hymas

Whether he is playing tennis or singing in the a capella choir, Justin Hymas always has a smile. He serves as Pleasant Grove High’s student body president and is a proud Eagle Scout.

Principal Tim Brantley remarks, “Justin is beloved by the students, as well as the faculty and staff at PGHS. He is inclusive and brings excitement and joy to our school. Justin is one of those gifted people who makes others around him better. He is an influence for good at all times and all places!”

Favorite classes? I love history and physics, but I struggle with English.

Favorite quote? “Come what may and love it.” — Joseph B. Wirthlin

Favorite movie/TV show? “The Hobbit” and “Swamp People.”

Who is your hero? My dad.

What trials have you overcome? Getting over being afraid to try new things.

Biggest blessings? Family and friends.

How do you deal with stress? I try to take it all in stride and realize that the problem at hand is not the end of the world.

Favorite local place to eat? Costa Vida.

Plans after high school? Serve an LDS mission and then attend BYU.

How will you change the world? I want to be the best me I can and see where my dreams take me. I want to help others be their best selves.

How do you spend Friday nights? School events or hanging with my buddies.

Advice to your 9th grade self? Don’t be afraid to try new things.

What famous person do you want to meet? Abraham Lincoln. He did some incredible things even when the odds where against him.

Kirstin Josie

School: Lehi High School
Parents: Troy & Michelle Josie

Don’t let the heels fool you — Kirstin Josie can kick a soccer ball like nobody’s business. She’s also the student body vice president and involved with SkillsUSA, National Honor Society, HOPE squad, Keys to Success Representative and volunteer soccer trainer.

Principal David Mower says, “Kirstin is an example of an ideal student, athlete and leader. She stands out. Teachers, coaches and students speak highly of her and always see her as a positive influence. Her personality, work ethic, kindness and intelligence will make her a success in any pursuit.”

Favorite classes? Anything with science. One of my favorite classes has been organic chemistry. I have to work hardest in math, with calculus being the most difficult!

Favorite quote? “If you desire to make a difference in the world, you must be different from the world.” — Elaine S. Dalton

What trials have you overcome? I broke my tibia at the start of my senior soccer season. I knew there was nothing I could change about my broken leg, but I could control how it changed me.

Biggest blessings? My family. I love spending time with them and they even make an effort to laugh at all my jokes! I am also blessed with great friends and the opportunity to be a part of two amazing soccer teams.

Favorite local place to eat? Swig.

Plans after high school? UVU for a semester, LDS mission, continue pursuing my education in dental hygiene at UVU, then eventually put my career on hold to start a family.

How will you change the world? By being kind and providing little acts of service toward others, which can cause a ripple effect bigger than we expected.

Advice to your 9th grade self? Start applying for scholarships now, get involved and have fun!

What famous person do you want to meet? Thomas S. Monson.

Left to right: Joshua Wilde, Kenny Van Ausdal and Jonathan Meyers. (Photo by Dave Blackhurst)

Left to right: Joshua Wilde, Kenny Van Ausdal and Jonathan Meyers. (Photo by Dave Blackhurst)

Joshua Wilde

School: Westlake High School
Parents: Clint & Rocio Wilde

Eagle Mountain’s Joshua Wilde is a tech-savvy teen with the world at his fingertips. He has created several apps including games like Splash Zone and Mix it Up. His love of technology inspired his Eagle Scout project that involved creating an app called Campgrounds in Utah. The app displays an interactive map of 80 campsites along with amenity, price and contact information.

Westlake’s Sharon Mardesich says, “Joshua is highly passionate when it comes to technology and is always learning new ways to make technology user friendly.”

Favorite movies? “Star Wars,” “Inception,” “Interstellar.”

What trials have you overcome? I moved to Texas from Utah during fifth grade, then from Texas to Utah before sophomore year. This was tough because I had to make friends all over again each time.

Favorite place to eat? In-N-Out.

Most common phrase? “Did you know that SpaceX is launching another rocket tomorrow?”

Plans after high school? Serve an LDS mission and then go to school. I would like to either go into astrionics (software development for rocket components) or be the founder and CEO of a software development company.

How will you change the world? Through software that enriches people’s lives. Or through rockets that send people out of the world — hopefully to Mars.

Advice to your 9th grade self? Be more outgoing, happy and take advantage of every opportunity to make friends.

What famous person do you want to meet? Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, two of the most high-tech and innovative companies in the world.

Kenny Van Ausdal

School: Salem Hills High School
Parents: Ken & Peggy Van Ausdal

A student council member and the co-president of Salem Hills High School’s Art Guild, Kenny Van Ausdal finds joy in service.

Principal Bart Perry comments, “Kenny is an incredible artist, a state runner-up Sterling Scholar in visual arts and a 4.0 student.  He works as a peer tutor with our severely disabled students, and they adore him. Kenny is one of the happiest people I have ever met. His smile will brighten any room and he is loved by everyone.”

Favorite classes? Art, sociology and photography.

Favorite quote?  Anything from Bob Ross.

Who are your heroes? My older sister, my grandma, Ammon Clark and my parents!

What trials have you overcome? Self doubt.

Biggest blessings? Family, friends, eyes and hands. I don’t know what I would do without them.

How do you deal with stress?  Draw, thrift shop, paint or eat.

Favorite place to eat? Guru’s Cafe. I love their quesadillas.

Plans after high school? Paint, work, serve an LDS Mission, study art at BYU and paint some more.

How will you change the world? By being a bright spot in others’ lives. I want people to feel validated, loved, and recognized when I interact with them.

Advice to your 9th grade self? Start showering every day.

How do you spend Friday nights? Playing with friends, going to Velour, drawing, or doing something at school.

What famous person do you want to meet? Claire Boucher, an artist who goes by the name Grimes. I wouldn’t even have to talk to her. Just to walk by her would be enough.

Jonathan Meyers

School: Orem High School
Parents: Ken & Sara Meyers

Jonathan Meyers is the founder of Critical Mass, Orem High’s first ever contemporary a capella group. Jonathan also sings his heart out for school choirs and Frequency, the Covey Center’s a capella group. When he’s not hitting notes, he’s practicing with Orem High’s golf team, playing intramural basketball or studying for one of his eight (yes, eight) AP classes.

Assistant Principal Mark Larson says, “Jonathan is our music Sterling Scholar and exemplifies everything we want in a representative of Orem High. He created an extracurricular a cappella group that was the first high school group from Utah to qualify to perform at a prestigious competition in San Antonio.”

Favorite classes? AP chemistry, choir and statistics.

Favorite quote?  By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.

Who is your hero? McKay Crockett, director of Vocal Point. He’s a pioneer in the Utah a capella world, but he’s not too cool for other people.

Biggest blessings? Family, friends, the gospel of Jesus Christ, music, Utah mountains.

Most common phrase or habit?  I beatbox all the time.

How do you deal with stress? Play basketball for half an hour and just work it off. Keeping a calendar/planner has also been a life saver.

Favorite place to eat?  Cafe Rio.

Plans after high school? BYU this fall and then shooting for an Ivy League grad program. I’m interested in biochemical engineering, and I plan to serve an LDS mission in the next year.

Advice to your 9th grade self? Don’t be afraid to go big. Some of the things I’m doing now I could’ve done earlier, but I was too scared to put myself out there.

Left to right: Cache Fulton, Maddy Butler and Jenny Gritton. (Photo by Dave Blackhurst)

Left to right: Cache Fulton, Maddy Butler and Jenny Gritton. (Photo by Dave Blackhurst)

Cache Fulton

School: American Leadership Academy
Parents: Brent & Jennifer Fulton

Cache Fulton is as well-rounded as high school students get. He is a member of the basketball team, soccer team, show choir, Utah Valley Children’s Choir and student government.

School counselor June Jensen says,  “Cache has set his standards high. In addition to all his school activities, he is very involved in his LDS Young Men’s programs holding various leadership positions. In his spare time he managed to carry a 3.98 GPA, which includes concurrent enrollment classes. He also works 10 hours a week during sports season and full time in the summer.”

Favorite classes? Math and science. I’m not a big fan of English.

Favorite movie/TV show? “Megamind” and “Psych.”

Who are your heroes? My parents. They are just people doing the best they can every day. They don’t need praise or recognition to keep working hard. They work because they have their testimonies of what they need to be.

What trials have you overcome? I overcame a terrible case of shyness where I could hardly talk to anyone outside of my family without shaking and sweating.

Favorite teacher? Mr. Lunt.

Most common phrase? Everything’s gonna be alright.

Plans after high school?  I plan to work through the summer and then serve an honorable LDS mission. After that, I plan on attending UVU and entering into the medical field. I also want to marry a beautiful young woman and start a family.

Advice to your 9th grade self? Hang in there. All the hard times will be for your benefit. Your awkwardness will dissipate. Don’t mess around and do stupid things because every moment counts. Just keep moving forward; never become complacent. You never walk alone.

Maddy Butler

School: Maeser Academy
Parents: Heather & James Butler

Maddy Butler is a go-getter who already has some impressive accomplishments under her belt. She founded the Saratoga Springs Film Festival and volunteers with the Salt Lake City Film Festival. At school, she is the student council historian, a member of the golf team and was named Maeser’s Business Sterling Scholar. Her science project earned 1st place and she enjoys volunteering as a debate coach.

School director Robyn Ellis says, “Maddy started her own film festival for the city of Saratoga Springs and has written and published a book. She is working on a sequel, and will be heading to BYU-Idaho this fall to pursue her dreams.”

Favorite classes? Creative writing, government and AP Statistics.

Favorite quote? Every 60 seconds you spend angry or sad you lose a minute of happiness.

Favorite movies/TV shows? “Harry Potter,” “The Office,” “New Girl,” “The 100” and “Alias.”

Who are your heroes? My parents and J.K. Rowling.

What trials have you overcome? Learning to ignore people who say you can’t or want to make your feel inferior.

Biggest blessings? My family, faith and school.

How do you deal with stress? I have never found a problem Harry Potter can’t solve.

Favorite place to eat? Blue Lemon.

Most common phrase? “Bring it on.”

Plans after high school? After finishing my undergraduate degree I would like to get a master’s in political science and become a U.S. ambassador or work as an analyst for the CIA.

Advice to your 9th grade self? Personal worth is not something you earn, it’s innate.

How do you spend Friday nights? Watching Netflix with homemade popcorn and my family.

Jenny Gritton

School: Mountain View High School
Parents: Julie & James Gritton

Jenny has danced her way through high school as the vice president of Mountain View’s dance team and the soprano section leader in choir. She is also involved in various organizations including math club, hip hop club, National Honor’s Society, AP Art and DECA.

Principal Taran Chun remarks, “Jenny is a graceful, powerful and beautiful dancer. And you will not hear a more beautiful soprano voice than Jenny’s. She is humble about her significant talents and works to build up those around her. Jenni also excels academically and has taken AP Courses in Calculus, English, Psychology and Art. Jenny will make a difference in this world!”

Favorite classes? I love math — especially calculus — and psychology and biology.

Favorite movie? “Tangled.”

Who is your hero? Abraham Lincoln.

What trials have you overcome? Staying positive after one of my best friends attempted suicide; compared to that any other trial could’ve been a stubbed toe.

Biggest blessings? I live in a world of countless opportunities with the greatest friends cheering me on.

How do you deal with stress? Venting. I call up a close friend or a distant acquaintance and try to put my stress into words. Or I dance. Dance is just as, if not more, effective.

Most common phrase? S.O.S.

Plans after high school? I’ll be attending Chapman University in southern California where hopefully I’ll decide what direction I want to take my life!

How will you change the world? Brightening strangers’ lives through little things like smiling, saying hello, complimenting them. Imagine how different the world would be if everyone was more willing to interact with the people around them!

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