Seniors Gingerich and Hindmarsh named SHHS’s Jr. First Citizens

Sean C. Morgan

Seniors Bethany Gingerich and Jake Hindmarsh are Sweet Home’s junior first citizens.

They represented Sweet Home at the annual Rotary Club luncheon Tuesday, Nov. 7, when county junior first citizens are selected from among representatives of eight Linn County high schools, and they joined the group in the annual Veterans Day Parade Saturday in Albany.

Cooper Brooks of Lebanon High School and Stephanie Farnes of West Albany were the all-county selections. Both will receive a $1,000 scholarship from Barker-Uerlings Insurance of Lebanon and free tuition for a term at Linn-Benton Community College, and all of the 14 nominees received a $500 scholarship and other gifts.

“I think it’s an honor especially to be a nominee for the town of Sweet Home,” Gingerich said. It’s an affirmation that she is meeting one of her goals. “I’m doing what I want to do. I’m being a role model.”

She wants to be the kind of person her little sister can look up to, she said.

“I can still be cool and have fun.”

She can participate in sports, she said, and and she can still be involved in the “important stuff.”

“I think it’s a great honor to be a nominee for the award,” Hindmarsh said, adding that his peers in seeking the award were “outstanding.”

“I think it means that my peers think I’m a model student and a model person. I think it’s a great honor.

“You need to be a hard worker. I think grades somewhat reflect that. You need to be good at working with others as well.”

Candidates should be determined and show up and be excited about whatever they’re doing, he said.

A high school committee selects the junior first citizens, said English teacher and Leadership adviser Tomas Rosa. They are judged based on an interview, their GPA and their activities.

Rosa has had Hindmarsh in Leadership for three years, Rosa said. “I’ve seen him grow up over the years. He’s a good kid.”

Hindmarsh is heavily involved with Linn County Search and Rescue, putting in more than 600 volunteer hours, Rosa said, and nearly 200 of those were on active searches.

He once was involved in leading a group of dehydrated youths off a mountain, Rosa said.

“It’s a lot of fun, and it’s a lot of work,” Hindmarsh said of his work with Search and Rescue. “It’s great to see the smile on a family’s faces when we find a loved one – or to bring closure to a family.”

“He’s a super responsible kid, great kid,” Rosa said. “I like being around him.

“One of the things I’ve noticed about Jake, in chaotic situations, he never gets rattled. He never gets stressed.”

Many youths his age would show the stress on their faces, Rosa said, but Hindmarsh keeps his composure.

Rosa said he knows Gingerich a little less. She attends the same church he does, and he’s seen her involvement at Community Chapel.

“I see her volunteering in the nursery (and elsewhere in the church).”

She is president of the youth group, and she has been on two mission trips to Mexico in San Antonia de las Minas

That experience, she said, has definitely had the biggest impact on her .

“We went down there to help them – lead the children’s groups, do devotionals and help around the church. We went down there to serve others. By going down there, I think it served us more than it helped others.”

During the week, they realized that they didn’t need her group’s help, she said. Sure, the work could be done faster, but “us going down there impacted us more.”

Her group saw a different way of life, learning “the importance of community, family and loving each other,” she said. “They’re so close. It’s nothing like the U.S.”

The experience has influenced her plans for after high school.

“I definitely picked George Fox with a purpose because of the faith-based community and opportunities to go on mission trips,” Gingerich said. “You can travel abroad and still be in a Christ-based atmosphere.”

At school Gingerich has some cross-age responsibilities that she takes very seriously and is active in Key Club and Cross Fit Club, Rosa said.

“She a super-positive kid, always smiling.”

Last year, she was expected to do well at state and anchor her track team, but suffered a leg injury three or four weeks before state that ended her season, Rosa said. She stayed positive throughout the experience.

“It’s cool seeing these high school kids grow into adults,” he said. “Jake’s a great kid. Bethany is a great kid.”

Hindmarsh, 18, is the son of Tim and May Hindmarsh. He carries a 4.0 GPA, and he is the student body vice president. He plays golf and runs cross country. He has a student pilot’s certificate.

He plans to apply to the U.S. Air Force Academy, the University of Colorado, Boulder and Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. He believes he most likely will attend the Air Force Academy or the University of Colorado and study aerospace engineering.

He intends to become an officer in the Air Force, and if the Air Force Academy doesn’t accept him, he will join an ROTC program in college.

His goal is to pilot an F-22. If he cannot, then he would like to pilot a bomber.

“Go fast or go high,” Hindmarsh said.

If he cannot be a pilot, he would like to be a combat rescue officer.

After serving in the military, he would like to go to work for SpaceX or the National Aeronautic and Space Administration.

Gingerich, 17, is the daughter of Troy and Deanna Gingerich. She carries a 3.98 GPA. She has participated in several sports, including track, soccer, cross country and basketball. She helps with youth soccer and youth summer camp at her church. She also helps out with junior high and elementary track meets.

She intends to study athletic training, Gingerich said. She would like to be the person who helps athletes on the field or court.

She has thought about physical therapy, but she doesn’t want to work in an office, Gingerich said. She is a sports enthusiast, and she wants to be on the field somewhere. She expects to work at a high school or college level at first, but she would like to work with professional athletes.

Most importantly, she wants to come back to Sweet Home.

“I’m going to come back to Sweet Home, and I will coach,” she said. “I love the impact my coaches have had on me.”

They helped make her a better person, she said. “They made the difference for me.”

She wants to keep moving that forward, especially as her little sister, a fourth-grader, moves into high school.

“I want to make a difference for other students as well,” Gingerich said.

“I definitely think Sweet Home is a great community,” she said – even though some may say otherwise.

“Everyone’s always there for each other, supporting each other,” she said.

“I think Sweet Home is a very supportive community because we’re not very large,” Hindmarsh said. With a smaller school, “you kind of know the teachers better.”

He’s not likely to return to Sweet Home, he said. The kinds of jobs he wants to do aren’t here. Long term, he sees himself going where the military sends him and, eventually, living in Colorado.