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Meet the Class of 2020 — Vol. 1

Seniors across Lawrence County were set to take part in the traditional end-of-year activities, like prom and spring sports and were making plans for their graduation ceremonies when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and Gov. Mike DeWine was forced to close Ohio schools for the remainder of the year.

School districts have worked to give the Class of 2020 some sort of graduation, whether it is through drive-through ceremonies, virtual graduations or delaying the event until mass gatherings are allowed.

The community has come together to show their support for these graduating seniors.

At The Ironton Tribune, we wanted to expand our graduation coverage to honor them as well. We asked each high school in the county to select a few seniors for this feature, whether it is one with top honors or or someone with an interesting story or something to say.

We will be running these profiles through next Saturday, when we will print our annual graduation special section.

We salute the Class of 2020 and their strong spirit and know that a bright future awaits them.

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Austin Jackson
School: Chesapeake High School
Honors/extracurricular activities in school: National Honor Society (president), Beta Club, Varsity Basketball (captain), Varsity Golf (captain), Quiz Bowl, Academic All-Ohio (golf), Student Council
Hobbies/groups/organizations outside of school: Buddy League Basketball official, PEAKE Homework tutor, Dare to Dream and youth group leader.
What is your favorite memory of high school?: I’ll never forget the feeling when cut the net in Jackson for the first time. We weren’t supposed to win and that made it that much better.
What are your plans beyond high school, as far as further education/career choice?: I will attend The University of Alabama with a major in electrical engineering, and I plan to go onto medical school, where I will study to become a radiation oncologist.
What will you miss most about your school?: I will definitely miss the camaraderie among the school. At CHS, you were always surrounded by friends and people who wanted to become better in various ways.
What is the best advice you have received from a teacher or mentor?: One of the best things I was told was that sometimes you have to do stuff for yourself. Not to prove anyone wrong or to satisfy people, but for you.
With traditional graduation and end-of-school events impacted, what has this experience been like for you?: It has been indescribable. I’ve imagined the movies that will be made and books that will be wrote. I’ve made enough plans with friends to be busy for months.
What have you been doing since schools were closed in March?: I have been preparing for college and working on scholarships. Also, I have been working out, trying to regain muscle, since my surgery in March.
What support have you received from friends/family/the community as you go through this experience?: The people close to me and my community have done everything they could to help make this bizarre experience something that I will remember outside of this virus.
Where would you like to be 20 years from now?: I would like to be working as a radiation oncologist in the southeast, and I would like to provide a scholarship that aids students in going to southern institutions.

 

Dustin Gallaway
School: Open Door School
Honors/extracurricular activities in school: Bell Choir, helper in the Jet Cafe
Hobbies/groups/organizations outside of school: Fishing and playing and walking at the lake. Going outside and playing on the trampoline and playing games on the Xbox One.
What is your favorite memory of high school?: Getting up in the mornings and looking forward to seeing all of his teachers and friends, going on trips to different places, learning different things and meeting new goals.
What are your plans beyond high school, as far as further education/career choice?: He would like to start a work program after he has surgery on his leg and get his hearing back so he can communicate and stand.
What will you miss most about your school?: He will miss getting up and getting ready for school and seeing his bus driver that he really loved, and his teachers and other kids in the classroom. He was always ready for school in the mornings.
What is the best advice you have received from a teacher or mentor?: Never give up and keep going strong.
What have you been doing since schools were closed in March?: He has been watching TV, playing on his tablet, making plans for his birthday in June, family has visited and we have visited them at a safe distance, been going outside a lot on warm days.
What support have you received from friends/family/the community as you go through this experience?: He has had a lot of support and teachers checking on him when he was sick and at the hospital.
Other thoughts or comments about your experience: He is really going to miss everyone at Open Door School. He loves everyone there. Thank you for all that you have done for Dustin. He will miss you all.

 

Holli Leep
School: Fairland High School
Honors/extracurricular activities in school: Top Graduate, Franklin B. Walter All-Scholastic Award, WSAZ Best of the Class, National Wendy’s High School Heisman, Varsity Cheer and Varsity Softball
Hobbies/groups/organizations outside of school: Rome Church of Christ Youth Group, Brittany’s Prom Representative
What is your favorite memory of high school?: My favorite memory of high school is going to the UCA National Cheerleading Competition in Disney World with my cheerleading squad and finishing fourth in the nation.
What are your plans beyond high school, as far as further education/career choice?: I will attend Otterbein University, majoring in molecular biology, and I have been accepted to their Early Admission to Medical School Program.
What will you miss most about your school?: Spirit week and school dances, the two most exciting parts of the year.
What is the best advice you have received from a teacher or mentor?: Mr. Hayes, my biology and anatomy teacher, always gave encouraging advice, and he believes in my goals and dreams as much as I do.
With traditional graduation and end-of-school events impacted, what has this experience been like for you?: This experience has been depressing, but it has taught me to appreciate every moment and never take anything for granted.
What have you been doing since schools were closed in March?: I have been watching Netflix, reading and spending lots of quality time with my family.
What support have you received from friends/family/the community as you go through this experience?: The community has honored the seniors with signs, a parade and Facebook posts. My family put on an awesome “Senior Prom” for me at home with decorations, dinner and dancing.
Where would you like to be 20 years from now?: In 20 years from now, I hope to have a medical practice as a dermatologist.  I hope to have a big family and live in the suburbs of a big city.

 

Peighton Rowe
School: Ironton High School
Honors/extracurricular activities in school: National Honor Society, Spanish Honorary, Mu Alpha Theta, varsity softball and volleyball, Tiger for Christ, IHS varsity singer, drama department, Pep Club representative, recycling club co-founder, Key Club, etc.
Hobbies/groups/organizations outside of school: I have played traveling softball for the past 10 years. I enjoy listening to music and staying fit by working out.
What is your favorite memory of high school?: Being the first regional semi-finalist softball team in school history.
What are your plans beyond high school, as far as further education/career choice?: I will be attending Georgetown College on a softball and academic scholarship to study chemical engineering.
What will you miss most about your school?: The community as a whole. There is no town like Ironton and our school is a reflection of that. I’ll miss the spirit and support I feel in the halls/field.
What is the best advice you have received from a teacher or mentor?: Live your life for today, because tomorrow is never promised. We can all agree that we don’t know what the future holds, but we can make a difference today.
With traditional graduation and end-of-school events impacted, what has this experience been like for you?: Looking at this positively, I feel lucky God has blessed me with more family time before I leave for college.
What have you been doing since schools were closed in March?: Training for college softball and enjoying the time with my family. I have been able to do many things with them I never thought we would have time for again.
What support have you received from friends/family/the community as you go through this experience?: IHS has done a great job making this year memorable for the seniors. The community and staff have honored our class, and I can’t express how grateful I am.
Where would you like to be 20 years from now?: I see myself happy. I want to follow a career path that brings me joy. I hope to be a role model for my children and an active family and community member.
Other thoughts or comments about your experience: Thank you to IHS staff, community, parents, class mates and my dad for showing me how lucky I am to be an Ironton Fighting Tiger. There is not a better place to go to school and grow up. Go Tigers.

 

Ryan Goodson
School: South Point High School
Honors/extracurricular activities in school: I am involved with the National Honor Society, Rho Kappa, Mu Alpha Theta, Student Council and Quiz Bowl team, marching and symphonic bands, Track team and Varsity Soccer.
Hobbies/groups/organizations outside of school: I have volunteered with the Red Cross, Special Olympics, and Briggs Library. I attend Huntington First Church of the Nazarene and volunteer with the children’s department and children’s quiz team.
What is your favorite memory of high school?: I will always cherish my last year of playing soccer with the teammates that I have played with since the first grade.
What are your plans beyond high school, as far as further education/career choice?: I will be attending the University of Kentucky, majoring in Human Health Sciences in the selective College of Health Sciences while following the Pre-Med track.
What will you miss most about your school?: I am grateful for all of the teachers that have been willing to help in any way as well as my friends always being there for me.
What is the best advice you have received from a teacher or mentor?: “Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.” Proverbs 16:3
With traditional graduation and end-of-school events impacted, what has this experience been like for you?: Though I understand it was necessary, it’s disappointing that our events were canceled. I was looking forward to our history honor society trip, prom and graduation to name a few.
What have you been doing since schools were closed in March?: I have mostly been doing schoolwork since I had a full schedule of classes. I recently studied for and took the AP calculus test and wrote my valedictorian speech.
What support have you received from friends/family/the community as you go through this experience?: I am thankful for all of the community and local businesses attempting to bring recognition to the graduating class of 2020.
Where would you like to be 20 years from now?: I hope to achieve my career goal of becoming a sports medicine physician and I hope to travel and see the world.

 

Karsyn Ball
School: Symmes Valley
Honors/extracurricular activities in school: Beta Club president, Student Council president, Senior Class vice-president, FCA, 5-Minutes for Life, Ohio Academic Honors, Symmes Valley Honors, Highest ACT in the Symmes Valley senior class, Big Sister
Hobbies/groups/organizations outside of school: 4-H, Lawrence County Junior Fairboard, Carteens, 4-H camp counselor, Camp G.R.A.C.E councilor
What is your favorite memory of high school?: Being elected president of the student body
What are your plans beyond high school, as far as further education/career choice?: Attend Morehead State University in pursuit of a career, as either a trauma surgeon or a forensic pathologist
What will you miss most about your school?: My teachers.
What is the best advice you have received from a teacher or mentor? In the end, I have to do what makes me happy and ignore what everyone else thinks or wants. That’s the only way I’ll find my true path.
With traditional graduation and end-of-school events impacted, what has this experience been like for you?: I have absolutely loved being home and working on the farm with my family. For me, this was a great way to end my senior year.
What have you been doing since schools were closed in March?: Spending quality time with my family and ensuring that I am fully prepared for college in the fall.
What support have you received from friends/family/the community as you go through this experience?: My friends and family have supported my decisions and my community has continued the prolonged fight to ensure that the seniors at Symmes Valley have received the recognition they deserve.
Where would you like to be 20 years from now?: I would like to be in the career of my dreams and happy in my life, my faith and my family.
Other thoughts or comments about your experience: While this year has been rough on my peers, I have enjoyed being away and I am looking forward to the next chapter of my life.