Vals, sal lead SHHS Class of 2023

Benny Westcott

Four valedictorians and one salutatorian will lead the Sweet Home High School Class of 2023 graduation exercises, scheduled from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, June 9, at Husky Field, 1012 22nd Ave.

Valedictorians Amadia Newcomer, Evan Towry, Zoey Erevia and Brookelyn Burke earned perfect 4.0 GPAs. (To qualify, students must earn an honors diploma, which requires advanced classes in science, math, English and social sciences.) Sole salutatorian Quinton Schamp earned a 3.98.

Brookelyn Burke

The 17-year-old daughter of Amy and Aaron Burke has two brothers, Dylan Richards, 25, and Jaxson Burke, 12.

During high school, Burke was active in basketball, softball, soccer, National Honor Society, and leadership class. She was also the student body president, Sportsman’s Holiday Court queen, girls’ basketball team captain and a Mona Waibel Hero Award winner.

In her free time, she enjoys playing basketball, hanging out with friends and being outdoors and with family.

She has multiple favorite high-school memories, like winning May Week two years in a row and her senior night for basketball. However, if she could change one thing about her experience, she would have attended all four years in person, without the year lost online to the pandemic.

While her favorite subject was science, her most-loved class was leadership because it taught her how to be a problem-solving leader.

Burke had one word for incoming freshmen: involvement.

“Go to the volleyball game, dress up for the spirit week, because you are only in high school once,” she said. “Might as well go all out.”

She felt her most important lesson at the high-school level was that perfection isn’t everything.

“Sometimes you’ve got to give yourself some grace and then move onto the next assignment,” she said.

After high school she plans to attend Pacific University to major in kinesiology and play college basketball, followed by grad school and an eventual career as a chiropractor.

Zoey Erevia

Erevia, 18, is the daughter of Aurora Bechtel and Heather and Richard Erevia. She has four siblings: Gaven Erevia, 20, Kailee Ward, 19, Hannah Ward, 17, and Natallie Walker, 13.

Erevia, a National Honor Society member, was also active in sports. She played volleyball all four years of high school and wrestled for two years, placing fourth at state in the latter. As a senior, she was the team captain of the girls wrestling team.

In her free time Erevia enjoys hanging out with all of her friends and family.

Her favorite high school memory is getting stuck on the freeway “for a long time” during her wrestling team’s trip to the state tournament in Portland this year.

If she could change something about her high school experience, Erevia says she would have taken more college classes.

Her favorite subject is math, because “When you get what you’re doing, it’s really fun.”

Erevia’s advice for incoming freshmen is to not be afraid to work hard, because “hard work does pay off.”

The most important thing she learned at the high school was to not take any moments for granted. “Now I’m all finished with high school and I’m going to miss all my friends and teachers,” she said.

After graduating, Erevia plans to attend Oregon State University to study kinesiology and pre-med. She wants to go to medical school in the future.

Amadia Newcomer

The 18-year-old daughter of Kandi and Michael Newcomer has a 16-year-old brother, Ty.

In high school, Newcomer was active in choir, drama and peer court, and volunteered with the Sweet Home Friends of the Library, which she enjoyed, as well as reading and “anything regarding music.” In fact, she plays a couple of instruments and writes music.

Her favorite high school memory is of distance-learning during her sophomore year. Before starting her choir classes, she and her peers would fill out Google Slides describing their day. Anything school-appropriate was fair game. So Newcomer and her best friend, Chris Kurtz, would roast each other.

If she could change one thing about her high school years, she said, she would have focused on having more fun.

“I’ve been very goal-driven and focused mainly on my academics, and I wish that I would’ve participated in more school activities,” she said.

Newcomer’s favorite class was choir.

“Ms. [Alison] Hay made the class a safe and accepting place, and I knew that if I was ever having a bad day, I wouldn’t be judged for it,” she said.

Her advice for incoming freshmen: “While it is important to get good grades, it’s not the end of the world if you don’t do as well as other people. We all have our different strengths, and you shouldn’t get on yourself for having those different strengths.”

Her own most important lesson was that joy existed in little things.

“School and life can get pretty hectic sometimes and a good way to not get overwhelmed is to take a breath and appreciate the little things,” she emphasized.

After high school, Newcomer plans to continue working at a KFC for the summer. When fall arrives, she plans to study botany at Oregon State University.

Quinton Schamp

The 17-year-old is the son of Michele Peters and Brian Schamp.

During high school, Schamp was active in the design team, designing and manufacturing products, many on his own, for sale.

He also worked on a series of film projects with his friends as part of QTV Networks. He took second in forestry business math and speech and third in written expression at the Future Natural Resource Leaders Career Development Events competition.

In his free time, the Ford Family Foundation Ford Scholar enjoys listening to music, being creative and spending quality time with friends and family, exchanging laughs and stories. His favorite memories of high school are those he shared with his friends.

However, if he could change his experience, he may have removed the pandemic.

“But I realize that quarantine shaped us into who we are in a way,” he said, “so in the end I wouldn’t change anything.”

His favorite classes involved hands-on experiences focused on design and development, with Ammon Mills’ product design sessions being his favorite.

“SHHS has many classes like this to offer,” he said, “and I would like to emphasize that Mr. Mills provides many amazing opportunities for students to learn in his classes related to product design and marketing.”

He advises incoming freshmen to try as many things as possible.

“High school is intended for each student to learn, and your best chance of being successful in that is by diversifying your skills and knowledge,” he said.

“If you sign up for a class and you don’t end up liking it, that is only a way of learning that it may not be something for you in the future.”

Among his most important lessons was “Even when adversity shows itself, you cannot break stride.”

“It is important to remain productive and help those around you,” he said. “Do what you can to take care of yourself without causing detriment to your future.”

After high school, Schamp plans to attend Oregon State University, where he hopes to major in engineering and minor in design and innovation management.

Evan Towry

The 18-year-old son of Shannon and Ray Towry has three siblings: Owen, 20, Katelynn Towry, 23, and Makayla Towry-Miller, 24.

During high school, Towry played soccer and basketball, serving two years as the former’s team captain.

In that sport, the goalie’s been a four-year varsity letterman, three-time Honorable Mention All-League player, team MVP, most improved player and Academic All-State.

He also participated as the student body manager in the high school’s leadership class and served four years on his class board.

The National Honor Society member has amassed more than 40 college credits, 450 hours of community service and an honors diploma while maintaining a 4.0 GPA and participating in extracurricular activities.

When he’s not studying, Towry enjoys lifting weights, spending time outdoors with friends and family, and, of course, playing soccer.

He’s on the roster of a Eugene club team that qualified for the June 23-29 USYS Far West Regional Championship in Boise for a chance to compete at the July 17-23 U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships in Orlando, Fla.

His favorite high-school memory involved snowboarding while attending Zoom classes. However, if he could change anything, he said he would try more new things, like playing different sports and clubs, or spending time with more of his classmates.

Towry’s favorite subjects were anatomy and physiology because they opened his eyes to the medical field. He said he loved Jim Costa’s AP Government class, because the instructor always found ways to challenge his students’ analytical thinking and encourage learning about government and its influence.

He advises incoming freshmen to seek discomfort.

“Whether it be spirit week dress-up days or trying new things, growth comes from exploring the unknown,” he said.

Using math, he noted that the most important thing he learned at SHHS was how to find the derivative of a function.

After high school, Towry plans to play soccer in college while pursuing a degree in math or science.