West Branch hosts 29th Academic Recognition Banquet

West Branch High School held its 29th annual Senior Academic Recognition Banquet Wednesday at Boneshakers at Timberlanes Complex in Salem. The students honored, from left, first row, Meghan Vence, Amanda Minich, Ann Menegay, Elizabeth Ostadali, Emily Robb, Grace Heath, Mikayla Wallace; second row, Jade Manasco, Teghan Boggs, Olivia Sexton, Jeff Joseph, Pastor John Ryser (speaker), Griffin Lough, Collin Lawniczak, Jessica Hartzell and Kayley Stratton. (Salem News photo by Kevin Howell)

BELOIT – West Branch High School held its 29th annual Senior Academic Recognition Banquet Wednesday at Boneshakers at Timberlanes Complex in Salem. This year’s banquet honored 15 students who are in the top 10 percent of the Class of 2019 along with their parents and a teacher chosen by each honored senior. The seniors selected the educator who most significantly influenced their educational career.

Brian Coffee, principal of West Branch High School, welcomed the guests and served as master of ceremonies. Coffee, along with assistant principal Evelyn Woods, 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, the Rev. John Ryser, senior pastor of Damascus Friends Church.

Ryser is a 1974 graduate of West Branch High School as well as a former student of Knox and Damascus Elementary schools. He graduated from Wheaton College in Illinois and finished his master’s degree at American University in Washington, D.C. He has served in ministry for 41 years starting as a youth pastor in Rockville, Md. From there, Ryser and his wife, Phyllis, started the first Evangelical Friends Church in Atlanta, Ga. Ryser then moved to Canton, Ohio as a superintendent for the Friends Church. For 12 years he gave leadership and support services to 100 churches in Eastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania. He took over as senior pastor of Damascus Friends Church in 2006. Since being at Damascus, he has expanded the church to four new locations – Salem, Malvern, Canton and the Hispanic community in Salem.

Ryser is very grateful for the many dedicated teachers he had as well as the education he received from his 12 years at West Branch. In addition to pastoring at Damascus Friends Church, he loves hobby farming, his family (wife, two sons and two grandchildren) and the great people of the Mahoning Valley. In his humble opinion, there is no better place on earth. The title of his presentation was “The Value of You.”

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

The 15 students who celebrated their academic excellence over a four-year period, along with their parents and selected teacher, were:

— Teghan Boggs, daughter of Dori Boggs of Sebring. Teghan plans to study psychiatry at Kent State University. She has been offered a Kent State University Academic Scholarship. Her activities include National Honor Society member, Band vice president and Mentor Experience Program member. Teghan selected her seventh-grade math teacher, Shelley Cingcade.

— Jessica Hartzell, daughter of Kirk Hartzell of North Georgetown and Debra Hartzell of Salem. Jessica plans to study criminal and restorative justice at Malone University. She has been offered a Trustee Scholarship, a Malone Grant Scholarship and a Pioneer Grant Scholarship. Her activities include Academic Challenge vice president, Colorguard Leader and Young & Alive member. Jessica selected her high school Academic Challenge coach and College Writing teacher, Mary Jo Kidd.

— Grace Heath, daughter of Darrin and Jody Heath of Beloit. Grace plans to study biology at the University of Mount Union. Her activities include National Honor Society member; captain for volleyball, basketball and softball teams; and Elk’s Teenager of the Month. Grace selected her second-grade teacher, Linda Bandy.

— Jeffery Joseph, son of Jeff Joseph and Dawn Fish of Beloit. Jeffery plans to study computer science and statistics at the University of Mount Union. He has been offered a Mount Union Trustee Scholarship. His activities include school record holder in the 1600m for outdoor track, state qualifier in cross country and indoor track, cross country and track team captain. Jeffery selected his high school American History teacher and track and cross country coach, Tom Preisse.

— Collin Lawniczak, son of Juliane Lawniczak of North Benton. Collin plans to study mechanical engineering at the University of Akron. He has been offered an Akron Guarantee Scholarship and a Leland S. Buckmaster Memorial Scholarship. His activities include first-team Quad County (football), Mount Union Jr. Scholar and Scholar Athlete. Collin selected his high school engineering teacher, Rodger Sharp.

— Griffin Lough, son of Dan and Wendy Lough of Canfield. Griffin plans to study computer science at Youngstown State University. He has been offered a President’s Scholarship, an Honors College Scholarship and Ohio First STEM Scholarship. His activities include 4.0 GPA, first team all-district, all-county and all-conference in soccer (junior and senior years) and National Honor Society member. Griffin selected his high school world history and government teacher and soccer coach, Matt Thomas.

— Jade Manasco, daughter of Robert Manasco of Canton and Brandy Barnett of Beloit. Jade plans to study computer science and French at Cleveland State University. She has been offered a CSU President’s Award. Her activities include NTHS, BPA Organization vice president and national qualifier – Ohio BPA Advanced Word Processing 2019. Jade selected her software engineering teacher, Michael Sekol from the Mahoning County Career & Technical Center.

— Ann Menegay, daughter of Robert and Kathie Menegay of Homeworth. Ann plans to study business at the University of Cincinnati. She has been offered a Cincinnatus Century Scholarship. Her activities include National Honor Society president, Hugh O’Brien Leadership Ambassador and Buckeye Girls State delegate. Ann selected her high school AP Government & Geography/World Issues teacher, Shane Blommel.

— Amanda Minich, daughter of Anthony and Donna Minich of Salem. Amanda plans to study Spanish education at Grace College. She has been offered a Grace College Provost Scholarship, a Winona Merit Scholarship and Millennial Scholar Academy Scholarship. Her activities include National Honor Society member, Future Teachers of America member and Student Council member. Amanda selected her high school Spanish teacher, Erica Polinori.

— Elizabeth Ostadali, daughter of Allen and Justine Ostadali of Homeworth. Elizabeth plans to study chemical engineering at The Ohio State University. Her activities include 4.0 GPA, National Honor Society member and captain of soccer, basketball and tennis teams. Elizabeth selected her high school biology, biology II, and AP biology teacher, Kristen Tice.

— Emily Robb, daughter of Gregory and Angela Robb of Alliance. Emily plans to study accounting at Baldwin Wallace University. She has been offered a Baldwin Wallace Trustee’s Scholarship and a Baldwin Wallace William & Mary Smithett Scholarship. Her activities include National Honor Society treasurer, Elks Teenager of the Month, Recipient of Honors Diploma and Presidential Award. Emily selected her high school statistics teacher, Mike Sigler.

— Olivia Sexton, daughter of Martin Banks of Alliance and Amanda Ketler of Salem. Olivia plans to study psychology at The Ohio State University. She has been offered a Morrill Scholars Program Excellence Scholarship and an ACT Student Champion Scholarship. Her activities include band president and French Horn section leader, Damascus Friends Church nursery volunteer and National Honor Society member. Olivia selected her fifth-grade Language Arts teacher, Mary Elizabeth Wolfgang.

— Kayley Stratton, daughter of Robert and Crystal Stratton of Salem. Kayley plans to study psychology/pre-med at Otterbein University. She has been offered an Otterbein University Academic Scholarship. Her activities include National Honor Society member, varsity Tennis Team and 4-H member. Kayley selected her high school history and psychology teacher, Tracy Buckley.

— Meghan Vence, daughter of Rick Vence of Alliance and Candace Hlinka of Salem. Meghan plans to study communications and media at Carlow University. She has been offered a Carlow Presidential Academic Scholarship and a Carlow Grant Scholarship. Her activities include National Honor Society member, Art Club member and Marching and Concert Band member. Meghan selected her fourth- and fifth-grade science teacher, Tonya Edie.

— Mikayla Wallace, daughter of Michael Wallace of Homeworth and Rita Rinehart of Sebring. Mikayla plans to study business economics at The Ohio State University. She has been offered a Meiter Scholarship and Alliance Association of Office Professionals Scholarship. Her activities include varsity head cheerleading captain, National Honor Society vice president and Elks Teenager of the Month. Mikayla selected her high school chemistry teacher, Tara Robb.

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