Toronto schools honor district’s top 10 scholars

TORONTO – The city school district unveiled its top 10 students and those who earned honors during the honors banquet held Sunday at the city junior/senior high school.

The top students at Toronto this year include Chelsea Henry, valedictorian for the Class of 2014; and Rain Johns, salutatorian. The remainder of the top 10 includes of Holly Eckard, third; Danielle Mason, fourth; Emily Williamson, fifth; Lindsay Bodnar, sixth; Amber Fuller, seventh; Samantha Filler, eighth; Kathryn Spadafora, ninth; and Zac Calabrese, 10th.

After a welcome by Maureen Taggart, high school principal, and Superintendent Fred Burns, the banquet was served, after which educator Carol Murray introduced guest speaker Michael Paris.

Paris, a 2004 graduate from Toronto High School, was a member of the National Honor Society and graduated valedictorian of his class. He went on to Baldwin Wallace College and pursued a major in criminal justice and played football. He decided to change his major and moved back closer to home to attend Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. He graduated in January 2009 with a bachelor’s of science degree in biology. He now works for Eclipse Resources, an oil and gas operator, as the district field operations landman in charge of coordinating rig lines and production in the five counties of Ohio.

Paris told graduates the coming choices wouldn’t be easy as they move on with their lives.

“I want you to pay attention,” said Paris. “Life is hard. There are going to be times you have to do things that are hard. Listen to me, and listen to (your parents).”

Paris said while attending Toronto High School, his life revolved around girls, sports and his friends. But his parents wanted him to focus on his studies, and straight As were expected in his household.

“School was on the back-burner,” he said, adding he wanted to play football. “I wanted to be an FBI agent. I thought that would be totally cool.”

Paris said sports became a job in college, taking up much of his time. He then said he decided to change his major to forensic science, which he also thought he’d enjoy.

“I got into (the program) and didn’t really like it,” he said. “It wasn’t for me.”

Paris said he then changed majors again, but eventually was kicked out of pharmacy school for missing an online test.

“I was so mad at the world,” Paris continued, adding he eventually found a job in Florida, where he again became complacent and failed. He returned home, eventually finding a job in the gas and oil industry. He warned students of becoming too complacent.

“Just when you think things are OK, that’s when your world gets flipped upside down,” he said, adding graduates needed to stick to goals. “You have to have goals and values. Your goals have to realistic. I’m telling you this because life can be hard. You have to keep pushing and keep fighting.”

The criteria for being an honors student include being named to the principal’s list at least once in the school year; being named to the honor roll three times this school year; being a current member of the National Honor Society; or achieving a 3.2 or higher cumulative grade-point average as a senior. Seniors named honor students are Chelsea Anderson, Alyssa Antill, Lindsay Bodnar, Zachary Calabrese, Holly Eckard, Samantha Filler, Amber Fuller, Sebastian Grimm, Chelsea Henry, Rain Johns, Danielle Mason, Kaylee Peckens, Mary Pettus, Sam Pinkerton, Kristen Pursley, Savannah Ray, Brianna Schramm, Dianna Segle, Kathryn Spadafora and Emily Williamson; and junior , Jordan Allison, Makayla Bauman, Matthew Dayton, Maria Dunlope, Alec Haynes, Ben Hlivko, Emily Rodesh, Deanna Swearingen, Donna Tharp;and sophomore awards, Emily Anderson, Drew Bigler, Mollie Chetock Zachary Daniels, Matthew Emery, Erin Heaton, Josey Jones; and freshman awards, Serena Burkey, Sante Carducci, Jazalyn Glenn, Gavin Grim, Crystal Ford, Dustin Henry, Jack Karaffa, Allyson Kuntz, Megan Lauris, Desiree Meadows, Hannah Parker, Joseph Nemitt, Meghan Rawson, Noah Smith and Maxwell Tice.