16 Dayton-area valedictorians you should know


Miami Valley high schools are honoring their top students in the Class of 2017 as valedictorians and salutatorians.

Here’s a sampling of valedictorians from around the region — students headed to local schools like Wright State and Ohio State, and distant universities such as Columbia and Cal-Berkeley. We asked all local high schools for information on their valedictorians and salutatorians.

» SPECIAL PRESENTATION: Meet more than 200 valedictorians and salutatorians in the region

Shailaja Mahalingam, Beavercreek

I am one of the five valedictorians of Beavercreek High School for the Class of 2017. I will be attending The Ohio State University for a major in chemical engineering with a possible minor in materials science.

Aside from academics, I have played violin for 13 years and participated in the Dayton Philharmonic Youth Strings and Youth Orchestra.

Thanks to the wonderful teachers and enriching education Beavercreek City Schools have provided me, I am excited to begin this new chapter of my life.

Patrick Dillon, Lebanon

Dillon will attend the United States Air Force Academy and major in aerospace engineering, as he hopes to become a pilot in the Air Force.

He scored a 31 on the ACT and earned a 4.51 grade-point average, while competing on the varsity soccer and wrestling teams. Dillon was a member of the National Honor Society, and earned several awards — the Harmon Civic Trust, Warrior Leadership Award, Scholastic “L” Award, Principal’s Award and Superintendent’s Commendation.

Patrick is the son of Jeff and Michelle, and he has two siblings, Adam and Anna.

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Noelle Townsend, Fairborn

Townsend will major in neuroscience and behavior at the University of Notre Dame with plans to become a physician. She earned the valedictorian distinction with a GPA of 4.879.

While at Fairborn, she was the class historian for two years and was involved in cross country, student congress, and National Honor Society. She volunteered though the school’s Interact and Leo clubs.

Townsend achieved Top Scholar status each year, was named Student of the Quarter, and had perfect attendance while in high school.

AP Chemistry teacher Phillip Kirk wrote “Noelle has a deep desire to understand how the world works. She works very hard to find the answer to her questions.”

Rebecca Reese, Wayne

Rebecca Reese is a senior at Wayne High School and is graduating as Valedictorian of her class. She is the vice president of Student Council, a clarinet section leader in the marching band, and runs distance events for the track team.

Rebecca is also a member of the Senior Cabinet, National Honor Society, is a Warrior Guide and is also involved in Pep Band.

Rebecca is the daughter of Chris and Jennifer Reese and plans to attend Wright State University on a full scholarship studying Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. One day she hopes to study personalized medicine by working with mouse models.

Joel Baker, Dayton Regional STEM School

Joel will be attending Calvin College to triple-major in chemical engineering, chemistry, and theology.

He was the service director of National Honors Society, second place winner of Junior Council on World Affairs, and the winner of the Dayton Peace Accords 20th anniversary Logo Contest.

Baker, of Kettering, enjoys volunteering with his church and leading several small groups. He has also gone on multiple mission trips to Monterrey, Mexico doing work with orphanages.

Brittaney Fu, Bishop Fenwick 

Brittaney Fu is looking forward to majoring in biology at The Ohio State University. While Brittaney is not sure what she wants her to career to be, she is passionate about science and it will be her primary focus of studies.

Brittany will be graduating from Bishop Fenwick with a 4.38 GPA and the Gold Merito Award for Academic Excellence. She is also a part of the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra and volunteers at Atrium Medical Center.

Elizabeth Ordeman, Oakwood

Ordeman will attend University of California, Berkeley to major in microbiology.

This Oakwood valedictorian was very busy in high school, running track and cross country, swimming for the Lumberjacks and taking part in Ohio Model United Nations, the high school musical and speech and debate.

A talented musician, Ordeman was a member of the OHS Honors Orchestra and the Dayton Philharmonic Youth Strings.

“Elizabeth not only excels in the classroom but also has demonstrated good character throughout her time at OHS. Becoming the valedictorian of Oakwood High School is an accomplishment that is representative of the excellence that continues to be a strong tradition in our school,” OHS Principal Paul Waller said.

Zacchaeus Martin, Trotwood-Madison

Co-Valedictorian Zacchaeus is graduating from Trotwood-Madison in three years with a 4.52 grade-point average, while simultaneously earning an associate’s degree from Sinclair Community College, where he was on the Dean’s List.

He plans to major in psychology with a religion minor at Wittenberg University.

Zacchaeus belonged to the National Honor Society and Sinclair Young Scholars at Trotwood. He volunteered with the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery and Dayton Children’s Hospital and participated in the Boy Scouts Adventure Club.

Lauren Hecht, Springboro

Hecht plans to attend Wright State University this fall to pursue a major in biology and a minor in public health. Her goal is to attend medical school and become a physician. She hopes to study abroad and, eventually, to help impoverished regions around the world.

During her time at Springboro High School, Lauren has balanced her academics with numerous activities, including National Honor Society, Interact Club, Panther Kick Off Mentor, Ski Club, Student Council and Club Med. She has also participated in the Springboro Schools’ soccer, cross country and basketball programs, as well as Ohio Galaxies FC Soccer Club.

Hecht has earned the Scholar-Athlete Award for soccer, basketball and cross country; the Principal’s Award of Educational Excellence; and an Honors Diploma.

Keenan Fraylick, Tippecanoe

Fraylick is the son of Cindy and Matthew and will attend Purdue University as an aerospace engineering major. He may pursue a career in aerodynamics, and hopes to work for NASA or Boeing to satisfy both a childhood dream and a love for the skies and cosmos

Keenan is an Advanced Placement Scholar, Top Scholar, Presidential Scholar candidate, National Honor Society member, All-State Academic, and All-GWOC Academic. He is also the captain of the THS award-winning cross-country team, a youth leader for his church, and co-founder of the high school’s Privateering Club. Keenan is a dedicated volunteer in his community who taught at a summer camp, tutored students in mathematics, and assisted with Special Olympics.

Keenan names Engineering Principles teacher Mrs. Annette Malott as his favorite teacher. Wherever his journey takes him, Keenan wants to leave a lasting footprint on this world with his ideas and designs.

Hong-Ann Do, Stebbins

Hong-Ann Do, was born on October 26, 1998, in Dayton, Ohio. Her parents emigrated from Vietnam to America, where they settled in Dayton.

While attending Walter E. Stebbins High School, Ann participated in several extracurricular activities, in addition to maintaining a rigorous courseload. Ann earned black belt degrees in Shaolin Kung Fu and Taekwon-Do, as well as being a member of the women’s tennis team and swim team at her school.

She was also the vice-president of the Calculus Club, the co-president of the Robotics Club and a member of Society for Academic Excellence. After graduating, Ann will be interning at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base during the summer. In the fall, she will be attending Columbia University to pursue an undergraduate degree in engineering with hopes of becoming an entrepreneur.

Zach Byrum, Middletown Christian

Zach will attend Cedarville University where he plans to major in pharmacy. He is the valedictorian for his class with an unweighted GPA of 4.0.

At Middletown Christian, Zach is the executive student body chaplain and a member of the National Honor Society. Some of his special honors include, DAR Good Citizen Award, Kiwanis Golden Rule Award, and the Honda OSU Math Medal.

Zach has played on the varsity golf team for four years, earning a place on the Metro Buckeye All-Conference First Team for the past two years. Zach is also very active in his church, where he is on the audiovisual team, participates regularly in youth group, and referees for Upward Sports.

Chelsey Strawser, Miami Valley CTC

Chelsey is a sports medicine student at Miami Valley Career Technology Center, and lives in Lewisburg.

The daughter of Vanessa and David Strawser plans to attend Defiance College to major in Pre-Medicine, and will also be playing soccer there.

She earned a 4.0 GPA and won a scholar-athlete award, as well as membership in the National Honor Society and National Technical Honor Society. Outside of academics, she played soccer and basketball.

Kara Combs, Northmont

Kara is a top 1 percent graduate and a valedictorian at Northmont High School.

She has been a nationally recognized member of the Academic Challenge Team and has been instrumental in bringing a team to the middle school. Kara also participated in the Blood Drive and Student Government.

Kara will be studying industrial and systems engineering at Wright State University.

Spencer Brokaw, Vandalia-Butler

Spencer will attend Indiana University, where he will major in marketing. He said he decided on that field of study because he enjoys it and it’s a natural fit for his personality.

He said his best high school memory was getting caught skipping school by the high school administration while he was dressed in Ferris Bueller attire.

His advice to underclassmen is that grades aren’t the end of the world. “Don’t take those you love for granted and try your best to enjoy the time you have remaining in high school.”

Kaylee Elkins, Miamisburg

Elkins is the middle daughter of Mark and Sandra Elkins.

During high school she was a member of the varsity golf team and was an athletic trainer. She is a member of the National Honor Society, and served as an active class officer for all four years of high school.

She attends the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, where she serves on a youth leadership committee, leading in many local service projects and youth programs.

In the fall, Kaylee plans to attend the Ohio State University to study electrical engineering with a concentration in humanitarian engineering and biotechnology.



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