East Allen County Schools has announced the valedictorian and salutatorian of the Class of 2020 at each of the district’s five high schools. The announcement also lists the grade-point average, awards, plans and more for each of the 10 students.

East Allen University

Jesus Gonzalez

Valedictorian — 4.3

What university/college are you planning to attend? Indiana University

What type of degree and/or advanced training are you planning to pursue? Biology

Why have you chosen this particular field of study? I want to pursue a career in the medical field, primarily in veterinary sciences, but I’m not completely set on it.

In what extracurricular/community activities did you participate? Vice president of student council, tutor, National Honor Society, Dream Service Project

What awards, recognitions or scholarships have you received? Dean’s list, National Hispanic Scholar, Rising Star of Indiana, top student in art, top student in social studies, Provost’s Scholarship from Indiana University, Hudson and Holland Scholars Program, 21st Century Scholar, IU Groups

What are your insights on your high school experience? The time I spent in high school was a stressful and tiring time, yet it was made all the better thanks to the wonderful staff and individuals that attended and how close-knit everyone actually was. My high school experience would not have been the same or even remotely as great if I had gone to a different school.

What are your hobbies/interests outside of school? Playing video games, volunteering, working with animals.

Parents: Lucia Romero, Jose Jesus Gonzalez

DeMisha Billingsley

Salutatorian — 4.28

What university/college are you planning to attend? Indiana University

What type of degree and/or advanced training are you planning to pursue? Biology and Spanish and Master’s Degree in Neonatology

Why have you chosen this particular field of study? I chose this field because I have always wanted to base my career around kids or babies. Once I watched “Grey’s Anatomy,” it increased my love for the field of pediatrics but it also influenced me to narrow down my specialty.

In what extracurricular/community activities did you participate? National Honor Society, student council and Vincennes Tutor

What awards, recognitions or scholarships have you received? Rising Star of Indiana, dean’s list, Young Leaders Northeast Indiana, National Honor Society, Hudson and Holland Scholars Program, IU Groups and nomination for being a leader at East Allen University

What are your insights on your high school experience? My high school experience was filled with work and responsibility. At the time I regretted taking all of the stress upon myself, but I’m glad I stuck with it. I’ve learned skills and gained friendships that I don’t believe I could have gotten anywhere else. This school has prepared me for life outside of high school, in my pursuit to further my education. I will be able to manage my time and know when my responsibilities should outweigh my want for a good time.

What are your hobbies/interests outside of school? I enjoy playing volleyball, having fun, spending time with my friends, family and working when I’m not at school.

Parents: Lisa and Demond Billingsley

Heritage High School

Alivia Beard

Valedictorian — 4.36

What university/college are you planning to attend? Indiana University Fort Wayne

What type of degree and/or advanced training are you planning to pursue? Health sciences on a pre-med path

Why have you chosen this particular field of study? I truly enjoy helping those in need and I have wanted to be a doctor since I was a little girl.

In what extracurricular/community activities did you participate? Volleyball, basketball, track, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, National Honor Society

What awards, recognitions or scholarships have you received?

Principal’s list, scholar athlete, Rising Star of Indiana Heritage nominee, Academic All State Volleyball, Top Ten in 2020 Class

What are your insights on your high school experience? I’m thankful for all of my high school memories, but at times it was overwhelming. High school is busy and a lot of work, but it taught me many life lessons and strengthened my work ethic.

What are your hobbies/interests outside of school? Spending time with family.

Parents: Bill and Sandra Beard

Claire Castleman

Salutatorian — 4.35

What university/college are you planning to attend? Purdue University Fort Wayne

What type of degree and/or advanced training are you planning to pursue? Elementary Education

Why have you chosen this particular field of study? I truly enjoy helping those in need and I have wanted to be a doctor since I was a little girl.

In what extracurricular/community activities did you participate? Volleyball, basketball, track, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, National Honor Society

What awards, recognitions or scholarships have you received? Principal’s list, scholar athlete, Rising Star of Indiana Heritage nominee, Academic All State Volleyball, Top Ten in 2020 Class

What are your insights on your high school experience? I’m thankful for all of my high school memories, but at times it was overwhelming. High school is busy and a lot of work, but it taught me many life lessons and strengthened my work ethic.

What are your hobbies/interests outside of school? Spending time with family.

Parents: The late Linda Castleman, Jerry and Teena Castleman

Leo Jr. Sr. High

Noah Wilder

Valedictorian — 4.36

What university/college are you planning to attend? Indiana University

What type of degree and/or advanced training are you planning to pursue? Biology/pre-med

Why have you chosen this particular field of study? This field is important to me because I have always wanted to serve others so they could achieve their goals and ambitions.

In what extracurricular/community activities did you participate? Academic Superbowl, Spell Bowl, National Honor Society, cross country, track team, Life Teen youth group, basketball scoreboard attendant, peer tutor, alter server, church lector

What awards, recognitions or scholarships have you received? Academic All-State, Indiana Rising Stars, Principal’s Honor Roll, exemplary attendance, Indiana Wesleyan Invitational, cross country varsity letter

What are your insights on your high school experience? If you set high expectations for yourself, you’ll rise up to meet them.

What are your hobbies/interests outside of school? Basketball, soccer, running, Denver Broncos and the Oklahoma City Thunder

Parents: Scott and Amy Wilder

Bethany Pepple

Salutatorian — 4.35

What university/college are you planning to attend? Indiana Wesleyan University

What type of degree and/or advanced training are you planning to pursue? Biology and psychology

Why have you chosen this particular field of study? Throughout high school, I’ve loved biology-related sciences. The intricate systems in the human body particularly fascinate me.

In what extracurricular/community activities did you participate? National Honor Society, student council, varsity basketball, Students Sharing Hearts Club, Academic Super Bowl and youth group

What awards, recognitions or scholarships have you received? Heritage Scholarship (Indiana Wesleyan University), Leadership Award (basketball), Good Citizen Award (Daughters of the American Revolution)

What are your insights on your high school experience? The memories made and relationships formed are priceless. And, I know my hard work will pay off!

What are your hobbies/interests outside of school? I enjoy spending time with family and friends, listening to music, photography, calligraphy and watercolor art and watching Netflix or YouTube.

Parents: Brad and Jill Pepple

New Haven High School

Kelsey Coomer

Valedictorian — 4.27

What university/college are you planning to attend? Purdue Fort Wayne

What type of degree and/or advanced training are you planning to pursue? Elementary education

Why have you chosen this particular field of study? I was inspired by my mom to become a teacher. On my days off of school I would sit in her classroom for fun and I fell in love with teaching by doing so. I feel like being a teacher is how I will make my biggest impact on the world. I love children and I see education as one of the most valuable tools anyone can have in life. I want to pass my love for learning on to generations to come.

In what extracurricular/community activities did you participate? Cheerleading, National Honor Society and student council.

What awards, recognitions or scholarships have you received? Student council president, on honor roll all four years of high school, New Haven’s 2018 Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership representative. I have earned half-tuition in scholarships from both of my schools of choice.

What are your insights on your high school experience? High school is what you make of it. If you come in with a good attitude and an open mind every day, it will be the best four years of your life. It is in your best interest if you take advantage of every opportunity presented to you. You never know what you will miss out on. High school allowed me to learn about what I wanted to learn about and it gave me many tools to succeed in the real world.

What are your hobbies/interests outside of school? I play the piano and I love to travel.

Parents: Larry and Kim Coomer

Neo Sebastian Martinez

Salutatorian — 4.1

What university/college are you planning to attend? Purdue Fort Wayne

What type of degree and/or advanced training are you planning to pursue? Computer engineering and/or business and economics

Why have you chosen this particular field of study? I’ve chosen computer engineering as a field to possibly study because computers are evolving and technology is only going to advance as the years go on. I’ve also given business and economics a thought because of the functions of money and its flow.

In what extracurricular/community activities did you participate? Student council for three years, employed by Dairy Queen, played soccer for two years.

What awards, recognition or scholarships have you received? 21st Century Scholar, Principal’s Honor Roll all four years, known for studying hard and working for what I want.

What are your insights on your high school experience? High school is such a short period of time to find your strengths and weaknesses in life and in education, but after that it’s only finding ways to better the person you will become. I always love seeing people be successful whether they are accomplishing small goals or huge ones. To be able to see my classmates graduate and to see them achieve so much success is astonishing.

What are your hobbies/interests outside of school? I work, like to write, enjoy family, exercise and play video games.

Parents: Marlaena Martinez and Jack Martinez

Woodlan High School

Chase Vachon

Valedictorian — 4.35

What university/college are you planning to attend? Purdue Fort Wayne

What type of degree and/or advanced training are you planning to pursue? Computer science

Why have you chosen this particular field of study? I want to make computers easier to use.

In what extracurricular/community activities did you participate? Soccer, golf, show choir, National Honor Society, volunteer coach with youth baseball and basketball.

What awards, recognitions or scholarships have you received? Rising Stars of Indiana

What are your insights on your high school experience? Hard work and determination pay off, but do not forget to enjoy yourself along the way.

What are your hobbies/interests outside of school? Reading, playing the piano and guitar, spending time with friends and family.

Parents: Charles and Jevne Vachon

Madison Werling

Salutatorian — 4.32

What university/college are you planning to attend? University of Saint Francis

What type of degree and/or advanced training are you planning to pursue? Biology with a pre-med track

Why have you chosen this particular field of study? I want to be a doctor or a physician assistant because I want to help others and enjoy studying the human body.

In what extracurricular/community activities did you participate? Soccer, FFA, National Honor Society, student council, prom committee, Athletic Leadership Council, Unified Basketball at Woodlan, Parkview volunteer and St. Paul Youth Group volunteer coach with youth baseball and basketball.

What awards, recognitions or scholarships have you received? Rising Stars of Indiana, Indiana Academic All-Star nominee, girls soccer MVP, soccer 2nd team all-conference, ACAC academic all-Conference

What are your insights on your high school experience? The amount of time and effort that you put into high school determines how rewarding your experience will be.

What are your hobbies/interests outside of school? Soccer, hanging out with friends, and going to the lake.

Parents: Marc and Heather Werling

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