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Meet the Class of 2020 — Vol. 2

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.

 

“Coop” Derifield
School: Green High School
Caleb “Coop” Derifield, the son of April Johnson, of Wheelersburg, and Andy and Michelle Derifield, of Franklin Furnace, comes from a long line of Green Local graduates.
As a member of the Class of 2020, he has participated in a wide variety of academic and extracurricular activities, including: Beta Club, student government, Glockner’s Dare to Dream Entrepreneur Competition, baseball, track-and-field, basketball and his true love…football.
Although Coop received several football honors over the years (1st Team SOC, 2nd Team SOC, All-District Team, and All-Ohio Special Mention), his most treasured memories are of his teammates and fans. It was the pride, enthusiasm and support shared between players and the Franklin Furnace community during Green’s return to the playoffs in 2017 that he will always remember and take with him into the future.
When we talk about Coop’s future, we have to start with his past. Caleb “Coop” Derifield was born on Sept. 13, 2001, in the shadow of the tragic events on 9/11. Although he was too young to remember those events, he grew up with a recognition and appreciation of those called to serve…first responders, health care workers and military personnel (past and present).
That call to service was, and remains, strong with Coop. As a result, he worked extremely hard and completed his high school credits and requirements early in order to graduate in January 2020 and begin his service in the United States Army.
He is currently stationed at Fort Sill, Oklahoma as a fire support specialist. He looks forward to graduating from AIT in July and moving forward with his service here in the United States or overseas at a permanent duty station.
It is with tremendous Bobcat Pride and Appreciation that we recognize Caleb “Coop” Derifield as Green Local’s Senior Spotlight 2020.
Additional proud family members include grandparents, Diane and the late Andy Derifield, Sr. and Leroy and Jenny Kegley; siblings, Dylan, Baley and Kori Derifield; Trevon Johnson; Trevor and Maddy Veach.

 


Kelsie Lynn Hegemeyer
School: Chesapeake High School
Honors/extracurricular activities in school: Graduated top of the class with a 4.1 GPA, NHS Vice President, 1st team All-OVC soccer, Academic All Ohio in track, Special Olympics volunteer, prom committee and yearbook member.
Hobbies/groups/organizations outside of school: Before being stuck at home, I spent most of my time outside of school at work or with my friends, but I also enjoy being active and exploring.
What is your favorite memory of high school?: I have so many good memories, I don’t think I can pick just one. I can say that I’ve enjoyed how our class has grown together through these hard times.
What are your plans beyond high school, as far as further education/career choice?: I plan to attend the Ohio State University to major in marketing and management.
What will you miss most about your school?: I’m definitely going to miss our small-town pride and the amazing people and community we share.
What is the best advice you have received from a teacher or mentor?: Don’t let these hard times break you down, because of them, you will be unstoppable.
With traditional graduation and end-of-school events impacted, what has this experience been like for you?: Everything was really hard at first. Of course we all dreamed of a traditional graduation, but I’m grateful that our school provided us with an online option, despite the circumstances.
What have you been doing since schools were closed in March?: I’ve been staying home, working on school online, trying to enjoy every day that it is nice outside and playing lots and lots of board games with my family.
What support have you received from friends/family/the community as you go through this experience?: The support I have received is incredible —my sister threw me a surprise prom, as ours was canceled, and our community is continuously sharing their many kind words and congratulations.
Where would you like to be 20 years from now?: I hope to have a steady and successful job, along with a family to come home to every night, and to have fulfilled a part of my dream of traveling.
Other thoughts or comments about your experience: I am extremely grateful for our supportive and determined community. Thank you to everyone working to provide the seniors with a memorable ending to this special chapter of our lives.

 


Riley Schreck
School: Ironton High School
Honors/extracurricular activities in school: National Honor Society member and treasurer, Spanish Club member and treasurer, Spanish Honorary, Math Club member, Math Honorary Vice President, four years of Volleyball, four years of Basketball and four years of Softball
Hobbies/groups/organizations outside of school: Hobbies are playing sports and watching Netflix; Member of Sharon Baptist Church
What is your favorite memory of high school?: Making school history on our 2019 softball team as the first district champions.
What are your plans beyond high school, as far as further education/career choice?: Playing basketball at Alice Lloyd College, majoring in secondary education.
What will you miss most about your school?: Definitely the extreme school spirit that was shown in intense pep rallies and during Friday night football.
What is the best advice you have received from a teacher or mentor?:“Life doesn’t depend on you getting an ‘A’ on this test.”
With traditional graduation and end-of-school events impacted, what has this experience been like for you?: It has been really crazy and unfortunate, but I have been really appreciative of how hard my school is trying to honor us seniors. They could’ve thrown in the towel, but they have done some really nice things for us.
What have you been doing since schools were closed in March?: I have been doing the basic things like homework, sleeping and watching Netflix. But I have also been playing cards and croquet every night.
What support have you received from friends/family/the community as you go through this experience?: My family has been super supportive through this by giving us stuff to do and just reaching out, and this goes the same for friends and community members. I’m just really thankful for everyone trying to help us seniors out.
Where would you like to be 20 years from now?: I’d like to be at a school in the Tri-State area, teaching math and coaching girls sports.
Other thoughts or comments about your experience: I just really want to thank my twin brother, Nolan, for helping me and being my best friend through quarantine and life in general.

 


Jason Smith
School: Open Door School
Honors/extracurricular activities in school: Bell Choir, manager of the basketball team, helper in the Jet Café
Hobbies/groups/organizations outside of school: Jason loves attending church at Wayside Chapel, where he is very close to all the members. He also loves watching movies, eating out and shopping on Amazon.
What is your favorite memory of high school?: His favorite memories of Open Door School are first all the friends he made and, second, attending the prom.
What are your plans beyond high school, as far as further education/career choice?: After graduation, he hopes to work part time and attend Persons Centered Services.
What will you miss most about your school?: He will miss his teachers, especially Ms. Patten and Ms. Robin.
What is the best advice you have received from a teacher or mentor?: The best advice he received from a teacher was to work hard.
What have you been doing since schools were closed in March?: Since being out for COVID-19, Jason has been spending a lot of time on the computer. Once a day, he goes for a ride to get out of the house, but says he’s starting to get tired of having to stay in the car everywhere he goes.
What support have you received from friends/family/the community as you go through this experience?: Jason depends on family to help him get out of the house at least once a day. He has spent a lot of time at home, talking to family members about his hopes and dreams, which helps him feel connected. It’s especially important to Jason to feel that he is heard when he discusses his concerns about the future.
Other thoughts or comments about your experience: Jason has been very happy during his time at Open Door. He says he will miss everyone there, but he thinks he will be happy as he moves on to PCS. He also wants to make sure Ms. Heim knows he’s sorry if he hit her too hard with that pie last year. He thinks she is a really good principal.

— Vol. 1 of this feature can be seen here.