Seven spectacular Spartans: Hard work pays off for BHS valedictorians

There were many ways to the mountaintop.

And Bainbridge’s best and brightest found many paths to get there.

Bainbridge Island High School is boasting 13 valedictorians in the Class of 2012, yet all took their own routes to the top. Some say it was their study habits, while others say it was the love of learning that brought them so far.

Bainbridge High School will hold its graduation ceremony at 4 p.m. Saturday, June 9 at the school’s stadium.

“This is a very, very bright class,” said Bainbridge High School counselor Ruby Howing.

Howing can back up that statement. The class-wide grade point average for the 340 graduating seniors is an impressive 3.262.

But they’re not just good in the classroom.

“We’ve got a lot of athletes,” Howing said. “So it’s not just being book smart, they get well-rounded.”

This week, the Review profiles the first seven standout Spartans in the group of 13 valedictorians.

Kendall Beckett

A member of the varsity cheerleading team, Kendall Beckett didn’t let her extra-curricular activities get in the way of her studies. She earned the honor of valedictorian and plans to continue her hard work when she attends Stanford University in the fall.

Beckett plans to major in international relations, and minor in math.

“I like subjects on a global level,” Beckett said.

She credits Bainbridge High School as part of her success as a student. She said the school’s teachers and environment are key in helping students like her achieve.

“There’s definitely a very motivating environment in terms of academics,” Beckett said. “And being with students that are motivated as well.”

She found it helpful to work with other motivated students while at Bainbridge High. Settling for less wasn’t a choice.

“There are definitely hard-working students, and people are driven to succeed,” Beckett said. “It’s kind of an expectation rather than an option.”

Haley Brandt-Erichsen

Haley Brandt-Erichsen found it difficult to find her footing at Bainbridge High School as a freshman, but once she found out what made her happy, it helped her to succeed in her studies.

It’s advice she offers to other students.

“Remember to be yourself,” Brandt-Erichsen said. “I tried to avoid that most of freshmen year and it left me very unhappy.”

But she strove to overcome it.

“After freshman year I got over myself and I think I’ve been a lot happier ever since,” she said.

In addition to becoming comfortable in her own skin, Brandt-Erichsen also maintained a routine to keep herself grounded.

Caffeine also helped.

“I figured out how to get myself up relatively early in the morning,” she said. “And I drank a lot of tea.”

It worked. In addition to her studies she kept herself busy while at BHS as a member of the track and field team, debate team and the math club.

Isabel Gueble

Isabel Gueble is more than just a brain. She boasts a variety of activities such as varsity soccer, JV gymnastics and fencing.

She also volunteered for the Puget Sound Restoration Fund and maintained a job at the island’s Baywater Shellfish.

Gueble plans to transfer her focus to Stanford University in the fall, where she plans to study mechanical engineering — following in the footsteps of her father — as well as sustainable energy.

She became interested in sustainable energy while studying the topic at BHS in her senior year.

“It really made me aware of how many problems we have in this world,” Gueble said.

She advises her fellow students remaining at BHS to concentrate on what makes them tick.

“They should follow the stuff they are interested in,” she said. “That is what sets them apart.”

While she is excited to life beyond high school, Gueble is aware of the unique island community she will leave behind.

“I will miss the community, and how close it is,” she said.

Ali Holmes

Ali Holmes learned to balance work and studies while achieving her valedictorian status. She worked at Beads of Bainbridge in downtown Winslow as she pulled in her impressive grades.

Holmes is headed to Walla Walla, where she will attend Whitman College and not limit herself to just one field of study.

“I think I want to do a double major in fine arts,” Ali said. “And possibly minor in Japanese.”

She claims good old-fashioned hard work is what earned her the title of valedictorian, and not so much a system of study.

“I’m in to hard work I guess,” Holmes said. “I wouldn’t say it’s (study) habits, it’s really more of a mindset.”

Joli Holmes

Joli Holmes will join her twin sister Ali at Whitman College in the fall.

She plans to look focus on science.

“Probably biology, or chemistry or biochem,” she said.

Holmes spent her time at BHS with the track and field team as well as the cross country team, which she thoroughly enjoyed.

“The Bainbridge cross country team is probably what I’ll miss the most,” she said.



Hana Newman

From soccer to key club, Hana Newman was as good out of the classroom as she was at her desk. She also coached soccer and was a camp counselor.

Newman will attend the University of Washington in the fall with her sights set on a pre-med degree and minor in math. She hopes to one day become an obstetrician.

Hana found the teachers at Bainbridge High to be a valuable resource.

“I like the atmosphere,” she said. “The teachers are what I’ll miss the most. Whenever I needed something I could go talk to my teacher, which is nice.”

Newman also enjoyed spending her high school years taking classes with her twin sister.

She credits her habits of engaging her work head-on for helping her through her studies. That’s what she tells her fellow students.

“Start early, you don’t want to get behind on anything,” Newman said. “And ask questions if you have them, no teacher is going to turn you away.”

Owen Richfield

Owen Richfield’s hard work will take him all the way to the Big Easy: New Orleans, La. where he will attend Tulane University.

The university has offered him a full-ride scholarship and he jumped to the opportunity.

“I got full tuition there,” Owen said.

He knows what he will use that money for, too.

“I’m looking right now to do neuroscience,” Owen said. “But I may also want to do something in public health.”

He participated in Akido and rock band in addition to playing classical piano while studying at BHS.

With so much to do, he developed a well-rounded philosophy to help him succeed in his studies.

“Focus, remember and learn how to struggle,” he said.

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