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Six stellar Spartans: BHS valedictorians are ready to make their mark on the world

Ariel Levari - Brian Kelly / Bainbridge Island Review
Ariel Levari
— image credit: Brian Kelly / Bainbridge Island Review

Some are drawn to the world of business while others have more scientific aims.

One thing is for certain. Bainbridge High School’s class of 2012 are an impressive, and smart, crowd.

The senior Spartans took their final walk through their high school’s halls last Friday and many are already preparing for their next steps of studying at the university level.

This year’s senior class of 340 students — boasting an average GPA of 3.262 — produced a total of 13 valedictorians.

Last week, the Review featured half of Bainbridge High School’s outstanding valedictorians. This week, we take a look at final six impressive Spartans.

Ariel Levari

When he wasn’t a section leader of the school’s jazz band or writing and recording his own music, Ariel Levari was hard at work with his studies.

But music isn’t his only passion.

“I’m into medicine of some kind,” Levari said.

The valedictorian plans to attend the University of Washington to explore the field of medicine and hopes to pursue a career in science.

He will transfer over his study skills to the university. After all, they have brought him this far.

“Getting done things when I get them and staying on top of my work,” Levari said of his approach. “Generally working hard — doing the most amount of work with the least amount of effort, maximizing my time.”

While Levari is looking forward, he knows what he loves and won’t leave it behind — the Northwest.

“I love the Northwest,” Levari said. “I wanted to stick around here a bit longer.”

Erin Blackford

Erin Blackford came to Bainbridge High School later than many of her fellow students, spending just the past two years at the school.

But she has come to admire the community that surrounds it.

“The kids here, since they’ve grown up together, everybody knows each other and everybody is pretty friendly with everybody else,” Blackford said.

“It’s great to have a school where you know kids really well. You see them walking downtown and you run into them at the grocery store,” she said.

She will miss the community she has grown fond of as she heads off to Brigham Young University in the fall, where she will keep her options open as she explores higher education.

“I’m looking maybe more toward either English or business,” she said.

Blackford notes her desire to learn in general was what helped get her through her high school studies — it wasn’t just about grades.

“I didn’t really focus on the grades, I was focusing on learning stuff,” Blackford said.

“While the letters are important, it’s not as important as really understanding and seeing how it can actually be useful in your life.”

Alex McMillan

Alex McMillan has been blessed with knowing what he wants.

He has been drawn to the science field, specifically mechanical engineering. But beyond that he knows where he wants to be.

“I’ll be attending the University of Edinburgh in Scotland,” McMillan said. “A couple years ago my family visited Scotland and I really liked the city of Edinburgh.”

Scotland may be becoming somewhat of a family tradition for him and he will have a bit of help fighting homesickness.

“My sister, who is a grade above me, she is attending a school in Scotland,” he noted.

The outstanding student also spent his time in high school playing soccer, including this year when the team took the state title.

McMillan advises his fellow students remaining at BHS to stick with it and not give themselves any slack.

“Just to keep on going, especially the last year after getting accepted to college,” McMillan said. “You still need to keep working. It might be hard and you might want to get lazy a little bit, but keep persevering.”

Bryn Olason

Bryn Olason will dart straight to the University of Southern California in the fall, where she will study business administration.

But more importantly, she will row.

“I’ve been talking with the coach,” she said. “And I got into USC on my own and I’m going to walk-on to the team.”

Olason began high school playing basketball, but the court didn’t call to her as much as the water.

“I’ve been rowing for three years now I was in the stroke seat of the Varsity 8,” Olason said. “I had a great time, I really enjoyed it. I used to play basketball, but

I really love crew now.”

While she rows off to more southern shores, she says she won’t forget her home in the Puget Sound community.

“I’ll definitely miss the community,” Olason said. “All the people I’ve met here and my family and friends.”

Kendall Karcher

Coming back on to the Bainbridge High School campus was a bit of a change for Kendall Karcher. She has spent much of her time aiming her efforts at Olympic College where she has been studying under the Running Start program, completing her high school degree while also contributing toward her college credits.

The experience taking on college level classes has given her a bit of an edge in terms of getting where she wants to be.

“I’m going to the University of Washington,” Karcher said. “Hopefully

I will study neurobiology, but it’s a competitive major, and then minor in Spanish and chemistry.”

Karcher is certainly an active student.

While acing her classes she also found time to start up the Young Democrats of Bainbridge High School. She was the club’s first president.

Karcher is a bit of a perfectionist, something she is a bit proud of, after all, as it has helped her reach her goals — one of which was to be valedictorian.

“I’m a little weird,” Karcher said. “I have a goal of getting 98.6 in every class — body temperature. So

I might have gone a little over the top with that.”

But not every student has to strive for scientific percentages in their classes. Karcher advises other students to just focus their efforts, and maybe keep their cool.

“I would advise them not to take really difficult classes in areas that aren’t doing anything for them and focus on what they really like to do,” Karcher said.

“And not to freak out as much as I did.”

Carolyn Milander

It is difficult to miss Carolyn Milander, who is rarely seen without a smile and bursting with enthusiasm.

She wants to bring that attitude to her goal of becoming a nurse.

“I am off to Olympic College to pursue a degree in nursing,” she said. “I want to be a nurse and help people in a meaningful way.”

Milander is looking to work in pediatrics or obstetrics, but is open to wherever she finds herself, as long as she is helping people.

She credits her family with giving her a good start and a good outlook on life — something that has helped her through her studies.

“I would say that where I am now is because of my family,” Milander said. “My parents really supported me, inspiring me, encouraging me to do my best today. Take one day at a time, so you remember these moments.”

Her mom gave her some of her favorite advice, too.

“My mom always told me that ‘Boredom is an opportunity to be creative and imaginative,’ and I’ve always loved that,” Milander said. “If you have a positive attitude, it will do you wonders.”

But it was more than just encouragement.

“Dad made me an egg-white omelet every morning; it kept me going,” she said.

Milander values the time she has spent at Bainbridge High School, mostly because of the people she has met there.

“I love Bainbridge, and I want to live here when I’m older,” she said.

“I love the community. You don’t find an island like this everywhere. It’s that small-town, active Bainbridge community.

I love it.”

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