West Branch top graduating students honored at banquet

West Branch High School held its 28th annual Senior Academic Recognition Banquet Tuesday night at Boneshakers honoring the top 10 percent of the 2018 graduating class. From left, first row, Emilee Sanor, Tyler DeShields, Kirsten Plocher, Allison Slutz, Hannah Sprague, Kylie Coffelt, Julia Bock; second row, schools Superintendent Timothy Saxton, Canaan McDaniel, Katie Mikes, keynote speaker Justice Judi French, Brant Alazaus, Ben St. John, Delanie Pagnucco and Jarrod Sutton. (Salem News photo by Kevin Howell)

BELOIT–West Branch High School held its 28th annual Senior Academic Recognition Banquet Tuesday night at Boneshakers at Timberlanes Complex. This year’s banquet honored 13 students who are in the top 10 percent of the Class of 2018 along with their parents and a teacher chosen by each honored senior. The seniors selected the educator who most significantly influenced their educational career.

High School Principal Brian Coffee welcomed the guests and served as master of ceremonies. Coffee, along with assistant principal David Reel recognized the students’ accomplishments as they were honored. Lori McLaughlin, West Branch Board of Education president, gave the invocation.

Timothy Saxton, superintendent of West Branch Schools, introduced the guest speaker for the evening, Judith L. French, justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio.

French became the 155th justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio in January 2013 and was elected to her first full term on Nov. 4, 2014. She is the 10th female justice in the court’s history. She has traveled throughout Ohio, visiting all 88 counties in her first two years on the bench. With a history of public service and special interest in civic education, French is committed to serving as a resource for the people of Ohio.

In 1993, she joined the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency as deputy director for legal affairs. From 1997 to 2002, she worked for Attorney General Betty Montgomery as an assistant attorney general, and later as chief counsel. From 2002 to 2004, she served as chief legal counsel to Gov. Bob Taft. In 2004, she was elected as a judge on the Tenth District Court of Appeals, which hears appeals from Franklin County courts and state administrative agencies. In December 2012, Gov. John Kasich appointed her to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court of Ohio.

The daughter of a schoolteacher, French appreciates her Ohio roots and education, and she is committed to being a part of civic education in Ohio. She grew up in Sebring and graduated from Sebring McKinley High School in 1980, when she started her undergraduate studies at The Ohio State University. She received three degrees from OSU: a B.A. in political science, an M.A. in history, and a J.D. with honors. She currently resides in Grandview Heights, near Columbus, with her husband. They have two children.

The Academic Recognition Banquet Committee, including Coffee, Arlene Bruderly, Jill Boyle, Treva Cline, Suzanne Denny, Mona McNeely and Lori Schlueter, planned the evening’s celebration.

The 13 students who celebrated their academic excellence over a four-year period, along with their parents and selected teacher, were:

— Brant Alazaus, son of Shawn and Marti Alazaus of Alliance. Brant plans to study business and further his baseball career at Walsh University. He has been offered an Academic Merit Scholarship and Athletic Scholarship. Activities include varsity baseball player, Hot Stove Baseball umpire and National Honor Society. Brant selected his fifth grade science teacher, Denise Ginocchi.

— Julia Bock, daughter of Frederick and Gayla Bock of Salem. Julia plans to study nursing at Mount Vernon Nazarene University. Activities include National Honor Society, mission trip to Show Low, Ariz., and West Branch Gymnastics Team. Julia selected her high school vocational agriculture 1 & 2 teacher, Rebecca Zeisler.

— Kylie Coffelt, daughter of Bryan and Julie Coffelt of Beloit. Kylie plans to study biology at Duke University. She has been offered a Duke Softball Scholarship. Activities include varsity softball, helping lead the team to the school’s first ever NBC title. Kylie selected her high school Spanish teacher, Laurie Crisan.

— Tyler DeShields, son of Walt and Penny DeShields of Beloit. Tyler plans to study criminal justice/secret service agent at the University of Akron. He has been offered a University of Akron Guarantee Scholarship, an Elk’s Teenager of the Year for West Branch Award, an OHSVCA (Ohio High School Volleyball Coaches Association) Son/Daughter Scholarship, an OHSBCA (Ohio High School Basketball Coaches Association) Son/Daughter Scholarship and John Krizay Scholarship. Activities include three-sport athlete (baseball, basketball, football) and captain, ranked third in senior class with a 3.98 grade point average and Elks Teenager of the Month (September). Tyler selected his third grade science/math teacher, Stephanie Adams.

— Canaan McDaniel, son of Dean and Paula McDaniel of Beloit. Canaan plans to study business and law at Grove City College. Activities include tennis and soccer, a 3.9 grade point average and a number one rating for three years in vocal solo for OMEA Solo Ensemble. Canaan selected his kindergarten teacher, Becky McKenzie.

— Katie Mikes, daughter of Tammy Mikes of Alliance. Katie plans to study conservation biology at George Mason University. She has been offered a George Mason Recognition Academic Award. Activities include employment at Old Carolina Barbeque (senior year), Washington Youth Summit on the Environment in 2017 and Buckeye Girls State (2017). Katie selected her high school French teacher, Madeleine Clendenin.

— Delanie Pagnucco, daughter of Marty Pagnucco of Alliance and Robin Gruszecki of Salem. Delanie plans to study business/accounting at Youngstown State University. She has been offered a Red and White Scholarship. Activities include National Honor Society and Pep Club treasurer, employment at Jersey Mike’s and Pag’s Excavating and volunteering at Rodman Public Library. Delanie selected her high school individual sports teacher, Frank Edie.

— Kirsten Plocher, daughter of Todd and Jody Plocher of Salem. Kirsten plans to study biology at the University of Mount Union. Activities include cross country and track, National Honor Society president and 2017-18 Lady Warriors basketball team captain. Kirsten selected her strength coach, Mike Bartos.

— Emilee Sanor, daughter of Todd and Raeann Sanor of Salem. Emilee plans to study music education at Malone University. She has been offered a Bowling Green Academic Scholarship, a Walter and Emma Malone Scholarship, a Malone Music Scholarship and a Robert and Ellen Thompson Scholarship for working families. Activities include district and state level honor bands, Damascus Friends Church preschool Sunday school teacher and first-team varsity Academic Challenge all league (2017, 2018). Emilee selected her middle school band teacher, Bryan Stehura.

— Allison A. Slutz, daughter of Thomas and Debora Slutz of Salem. Allison plans to study biomedical humanities at Hiram College. She has been offered a Hiram College Dean’s Scholarship and an Ohio National Poultry Breeders Association Scholarship. Activities include Ohio Tennis Coaches’ Association Gold Racquet Award, Buckeye Girls State and National Honor Society. Allison selected her high school tennis coach, Elaine Bonar.

— Hannah Sprague, daughter of Steven and Dina Sprague of Alliance. Hannah plans to study animal science – pre-vet at The Ohio State University. Activities include National Honor Society vice-president, Environmental Club and Fellowship of Christian Athletes leader. Hannah selected her high school biology 1, 2 & AP teacher, Kristen Tice.

— Benjamin St. John, son of Scott and Ann St. John of Beloit. Benjamin plans to study bible theology at Malone University. He has been offered an Emma & Walter Malone Scholarship, a Sekerak Endowment Scholarship and a Malone Honor Scholarship. Activities include ROC at Salem Youth Center leader and Boy Scout Troop 2 Eagle Scout. Benjamin selected his high school science teacher and cross country coach, Kevin Buckley.

— Jarrod Sutton, son of Doug and Valerie Sutton of Salem. Jarrod plans to study forensic science at Bowling Green State University. He has been offered a Bowling Green State University Freshmen Academic Scholarship. Activities include varsity soccer team captain, varsity track and National Honor Society. Jarrod selected his high school boys’ soccer coach, Matt Thomas.