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Saluting North Idaho’s top grads

by DEVIN WEEKS
Staff Writer | May 12, 2020 1:13 AM

The Class of 2020 is filled with stars so bright, even a worldwide pandemic can't overshadow their accomplishments.

This is the start of a series that will highlight the top graduates of North Idaho's high schools. Valedictorians and salutatorians, we salute you!

LAKE CITY HIGH SCHOOL

Catherine James, valedictorian I am the youngest of two children and love to spend my time with my family/friends or adventuring outdoors as much as possible. My favorite destination is Bali, Indonesia.

Activities/clubs/sports: Through my time in high school I have participated in the debate club, DECA, National Honors Society, Business Professionals of America and volunteered at Kootenai Health.

Hobbies: Spending time with friends and doing anything active outdoors such as playing tennis, hiking or doing yoga. I also love to read and travel overseas.

Favorite books/movies/music: My favorite books are “I’ll Give You the Sun” by Jandy Nelson and “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho. My favorite musical artists are Lana Del Rey and Felly, and my favorite songs are “Born to Die” by Lana Del Rey and “Candy Flipp” by Gyyps, Felly. My favorite movies include “Chasing Mavericks” and “Us.”

Favorite school subject: Spanish

Senior quote: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” - Anaïs Nin

What has been your proudest moment in your school career? Being named valedictorian was the proudest moment in my school career.

What has been the biggest challenge you overcame to become top of your class?

The biggest challenge I had to overcome was procrastination. Throughout middle school, I was a serial procrastinator, which meant doing my assignments or studying at the very last minute. By overcoming procrastination, I was able to finish my assignments long before they were due to ensure they were of high quality and to be well-prepared for tests.

What is one of your favorite school memories, from K-12?

Competing at the DECA Nationals Competition in Orlando, Fla., in 2019.

What are your plans for after high school?

I will attend college at the University of South Carolina as an international studies major on a pre-med track.

Who has been your biggest influence through your academic journey?

My entire family (my parents and my sister) has been my biggest influence through my academic journey. I have been so lucky to have parents that motivate me constantly and give me unconditional support. I have also been lucky to have a sister that has set the bar so high. My sister graduated as the valedictorian of her senior class and inspired me to strive toward the same.

What will you miss most about high school?

I will miss events such as football games and Fight For the Fish.

What advice do you have for younger students that will help them excel in their studies?

Take classes they are passionate about. I found that I did best in the classes I was passionate about and not just taking them to fulfill a requirement or because my friends were in them. I would also advise younger students to build relationships with teachers because teachers can give so much help and will be more willing to help a student if they reach out. In this same sense, I found it was imperative for me to have a social life while also focusing on school. Spending time with my friends gave me the motivation I needed to do well in school and also helped to balance my life.

What is your legacy to your school?

I was fortunate enough to have upperclassmen mentors when I was a freshman debater. As an upperclassman, I gave back to the debate program by coaching freshman debaters and giving them the support necessary to be successful in debate. By doing this, I hope I helped strengthen the debate program and gave my time so the program can prosper in the upcoming years.

•••

Daniel Olvera, salutatorian My name is Daniel Olvera and I have lived in Coeur d’Alene all of my life. I grew up in a big family of six siblings and have always tried to stand out in such a large family. I attended Lake City High School this year and participated in many clubs and extracurricular activities that fill my day. I want to thank my parents and my friends for all of the encouragement and the positive influences.

Activities/clubs/sports:

I have been a part of various clubs offered at Lake City and in the community. During my high school career, I was a member of Chess Club, Environmental Club, Scholastic Team, Business Professionals of America, the tennis team, Boy Scouts of America, the Jazz Band and the Advanced Orchestra.

Hobbies:

Some of my hobbies are playing the double bass, hiking and backpacking.

Favorite books/movies/music:

My favorite books are the “Lord of Rings” series. My favorite movie is “Limitless,” and I like oldies music.

Favorite school subject: History.

Senior quote: “Having a beard is like drinking alcohol, you can't do either at BYU.”

What has been your proudest moment in your school career?

Going to the Seattle Heritage Festival sophomore year and placing well there.

What has been the biggest challenge you overcame to become top of your class?

The biggest challenge was probably the course load that I took on.

What is one of your favorite school memories, from K-12?

One of my favorite moments was field days during elementary school.

What are your plans for after high school?

I am going to attend Brigham Young University and hopefully travel overseas as part of a foreign exchange if travel opens back up.

Who has been your biggest influence or your biggest cheerleader through your academic journey?

My parents. Both have played pivotal roles in helping me through my academic journey.

What will you miss most about high school?

I will most miss the friends that I have and the memories I have made.

What advice do you have for younger students that will help them excel in their studies?

Just do your work and stay up on your classes because your teachers want to see you succeed and will help you do that.

What is your legacy to your school?

I was a part of the original jazz band quartet that still continues to this day and will hopefully continue into the future.

•••

Paul Wineinger, salutatorian I was born in Kansas City, Kan., and moved to Coeur d' Alene in 2003. I've lived here ever since and enjoyed the surrounding opportunities. I have two siblings, one brother and one sister. My dad works at the hospital as an anesthesiologist, and recently my mom transitioned from being the home executive to a part-time employee at St. Pius X Church.

Activities/clubs/sports:

Playing chess and visiting with an eldery gentleman named Bernard at the Renaissance Assisted Living Facility for the past four years. Also:

Varsity tennis athlete for four years, team captain the past two years.

Vice president of Lake City High School’s chapter of National Honors Society. Member of Scholastic Team senior year. Member of Environmental Club for two years, and vice president of the club senior year. Shadowing District Court Judge John Mitchell for my senior project.

Attending Boys’ State the summer of my junior year.

Fifth and sixth grade basketball coach at Holy Family Catholic School for the three years. Server at St. Pius X Catholic Church soup kitchens on Fridays the past year.

Member of Union De Amor Mission trip to Honduras through St. Pius X Catholic Church during my junior summer.

Working with the Coeur d’Alene School District senior year to start an afterschool food program at Lake City High School (Unfortunately, it is yet to be implemented due to concerns of food quality and supply).

Hobbies: Hiking, traveling, pingpong, golf.

Favorite books/movies/music:

Favorite book: “1984.” Favorite movie: “The King's Speech” or “UP.” Favorite music: The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Tyler the Creator.

Favorite school subject: History

Senior quote: "Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising everytime we fall." (Confucius)

What has been your proudest moment in your school career?

My proudest moment was in fourth grade when I made it through all the letters of the alphabet in Mad Minutes for math problems four times in the year, where each letter represented a sheet of problems and the first alphabet was addition, and then it was subtraction, followed by multiplication, and finally division. Actually now that I think about it, I only got about halfway through the division one.

What has been the biggest challenge you overcame to become top of your class?

Staying on top of my work, because I tend to procrastinate.

What is one of your favorite school memories, from K-12?

I went to Holy Family Catholic School from pre-K to eighth grade and my favorite memory in school took place there and that was Field Day at the end of every school year.

What are your plans for after high school?

I'm currently looking at a couple of smaller liberal arts colleges in the Northeast. As for career plans, I'm rather wide open to possibilities but at the moment I'm thinking of going into law or medicine.

Who has been your biggest influence or your biggest cheerleader through your academic journey?

My biggest cheerleaders are my mom and dad both in academics and every other aspect of life. I would say the competition and collaboration with others in my grade over the years has been the largest influence on my academic success.

What will you miss most about high school?

I'll miss the community, my fellow students and perhaps, in a larger way, the teachers.

What advice do you have for younger students that will help them excel in their studies? Stay up to date on all your work, even when it seems bothersome.

What is your legacy to your school?

This year I started and ran a group of National Honors Society students that visited the residents at the Renaissance, an assisted living facility. I hope this group continues well after I'm gone and it inspires a sense of responsibility to one's community in the greater Lake City High School student body.

Any lasting thoughts?

I guess this is my podium of sorts, so I'd like to share my personal philosophy. Whether it's visiting the elderly, working on a collaborative mission trip, coaching the youth or any other form of community outreach that speaks to me, I've realized I have a calling to serve. I'll admit there are days where I would rather stay home and watch "The Office," but knowing what I know now I am compelled to step forward and help. I've realized over the past few years through my experiences with Bernard that sometimes it just takes one person seeing not the need, but rather their humanity for one to know they have dignity and purpose.

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