Niles celebrates top 10 seniors

NILES — Niles High School recently released its list of its top 10 graduating seniors.

10. Kaylee Thompson

Graduating 10th in her class is Kaylee Thompson, daughter of Kenneth and Melinda Thompson.

Thompson will graduate with the Board Scholar Award and has been on the varsity cross country and track teams for all four years of high school. She has competed in multiple state championship races in both sports and has been the captain on both teams for the past two years. She is a member of the National Honor Society and Explosive Indoor Track Club, and has also been able to hold a part-time job for the past two years while achieving high academic and athletic achievements.

Thompson will be attending Grand Valley State University this fall, studying sonography while participating on the cross country and track teams.

In her spare time, Thompson enjoys running, baking and spending time with her family.

Thompson offered advice to underclassmen hoping to see themselves in the top 10 of their graduating class.

‘My advice to underclassmen would be to be dual enrolled in college classes,” she said. “This is a great way to earn college credit and boost your GPA. It is important to study if you want to do well in your classes. This is especially important if you take college or AP classes. Lastly, ask for help if you need it. Teachers/professors will be more than willing to help you if you just ask.”

9. Skyler Brawley

Graduating ninth in her class is Skyler Brawley, daughter of Dan Brawley and Aida Torres. Brawley has been nominated Student of the Month three times, received the Scholar-athlete award, qualified for golf state twice while earning an all-state academic award, MVP award for soccer.

She will be going to college at Michigan Tech to study computer engineering or environmental engineering. In her spare time, Brawley loves trying to learn random new things like solving a Rubik’s cube or learning to hold her breath underwater for three minutes. Her biggest interest right now is making it to the Wings etc. Wall of Flame.

Her advice to underclassmen hoping to see themselves in the top 10 of their graduating class is: “The best time to wear a striped sweater… is all the time. Also try to always do the extra credit, it helps your grade in the long run.”

8. Allison Scott

Graduating eighth in her class is Allison Scott, daughter of Nicole Scott and Randy Scott. Scott has been active in the ECA program, tutoring at Lake Michigan College and receiving the Presidential Scholarship for Lake Michigan College. She is attending Lake Michigan College and has been accepted into the sonography program that starts this summer. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, reading and baking.

Scott offered her advice to underclassmen hoping to see themselves in the top 10 of their graduating class.

“Always stay organized and never fall behind on your assignments. Prioritize what is important and set goals,” she said.

7. Emelyn Tucker

Graduating seventh in her class is Emelyn Tucker, daughter of Jim and Dianna Tucker. Tucker has been active in varsity volleyball, varsity tennis, equestrian team, student council and National Honor Society. She will be attending Lake Michigan College, majoring in diagnostic medical sonography. She enjoys playing tennis, riding horses and traveling.

Her advice to underclassmen hoping to see themselves in the top 10 of their graduating class is: “High school is an amazing experience, but it is just a stepping stone for the great things that are to come. You will have many great opportunities after and High School is just the beginning of your great adventure.”

6. Thomas Nate

Graduating sixth in his class is Thomas Nate, son of Jenny Nate and Jim Nate. Nate was president of National Honor Society, student of the year for: biology, accelerated algebra 2, pre-calculus, Spanish 2, chemistry, and AP calculus AB, captain of the golf team, and winner of Stephen N. Tyler Award.

Nate is attending Grand Valley State University and pursuing a career in finance. He enjoys playing many sports, most notably golf, basketball, and bowling. In his spare time, he is the pro shop manager at Orchard Hills Country Club and enjoys spending time with friends and family.

Nate offered advice to underclassmen.

“Stay organized, spend time doing homework correctly and studying efficiently,” he said. “Always ask teachers for help or clarification. Make sure to enjoy the experience.’

5. Drew Gourlay

Graduating fifth in his class is Drew Gourlay, son of Darrin and Amy Gourlay. Gourlay’s achievements include Academic All-State Individual Baseball 2019 (junior), Academic All-State Individual Football 2019 (senior), Academic All-State Team Soccer 2018 (junior), Academic All-State Team Football 2018 (junior), Academic All-State Team Baseball 2018 (Sophomore), Academic All-State Team Honorable Mention Football 2019 (senior), Academic All-State Team Honorable Mention Soccer 2019 (senior), Scholar Athlete (freshman), All-District Team Soccer 2017, 2018 (sophomore, junior), All-Conference Team Soccer 2019 (senior), All-Conference First Team Bowling 2019, 2020 (junior, senior), Phi Theta Kappa Lake Michigan College 2019, 2020 (junior, senior), State Qualifier — Individual — MHSAA Bowling 2020 (senior), dean’s list — Lake Michigan College 2019 (senior), three-sport athlete (freshman, sophomore), four-sport athlete (junior, senior). Gourlay plans to attend the University of Michigan College of Engineering to become a Civil Engineer. In his free time, he enjoys sports, hanging out with family and friends and math.

His advice to underclassmen is: “Life is a bunch of open doors, if you work hard, you get to close the ones you don’t want to go through. If you don’t work hard, the doors are closed for you and there aren’t as many options. Do your work. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself and others in academics as well as athletics.”

4. Daniel Bates

Graduating fourth in his class is Daniel Bates, son of James Bates and Nancy Bates. Bates has had perfect attendance all four years of high school and has achieved Board Scholar and also Board Career and Technical Education Scholar. His future plans are still undecided.

In his free time, Bates enjoys solving puzzles.

He offered the following advice to students who want to be in the top 10: “Show up to class, do all the assignments and take as many weighted classes as possible.”

3. Willow Brawley

Graduating third in her class is Willow Brawley, daughter of Aida Torres and Dan Brawley. Willow has been a Parliamentary Procedure State Finalist, participated in Niles’ first Varsity Girls Soccer District win in more than 25 years and a varsity golf state qualifier. She plans to major in Government at Cornell University. In her spare time, she enjoys being her friend’s therapist and cooking.

She offered advice to underclassmen.

“Always take advantage of every opportunity that will benefit you,” she said. “Whether it be participating in a sport or club, doing extra credit, or prepping for your SAT, you won’t regret it.”

2. Maeli Louise Rogers

Niles High School’s salutatorian is Maeli Louise Rogers, daughter of Joel and Anita Rogers. Rodgers was active in varsity track and cross country, voted Most Improved Runner (cross country 2017) and National Honor Society secretary. She plans to attend the University of Michigan to study nursing and Spanish. In her free time, she enjoys playing the piano and recorder and crafting.

She offered the following advice to underclassmen hoping to see themselves in the top 10 of their graduating class.

“Striving for a top level GPA is a long term commitment.  It is important to value every class which means focusing on every assignment,” she said. “Yes, mistakes can be made and some tests can be failed, but the margin of error is rather narrow. An A- is not an A. People will laugh when you fret over getting a B on a test, but you have to understand that too many mistakes will irreversibly lower your GPA. When scheduling courses, pay attention to their weight (e.g. take AP psychology for the Psychology requirement). While taking a lot of weighted courses is necessary, you can get away with taking some courses for your personal benefit.  I was in PHCA which wasn’t the best decision for my GPA, but it was very helpful for deciding my future career.  If you want to be in the top ten, you have to work for it; never back down.’

1. Michael Kaufmann

Niles High School’s valedictorian is Michael Kaufmann, son of Dr. Kenneth Kaufmann and Chrissie Kaufmann.

He is a National Merit finalist, programming captain and co-captain of FIRST Robotics Competition Team Ground Zero, member of St. Mary’s Boy Scout Troop 579, and served as senior patrol leader during his junior year. Kaufmann also attended the Berrien County Math and Science Center, hiked at Glacier, Badlands and Isle Royale national parks.

He plans to attend the University of Michigan Ann Arbor, college of engineering for a BSE in computer science.

In his spare time, he would like to hike at all the national parks, and enjoys robotics, camping, programming, gaming, chess (especially against Mr. Helm) and collecting national park posters.

His advice to underclassmen hoping to see themselves in the top 10 of their graduating class: “Find something you are passionate about and work hard at it,” he said. “I found that I really enjoyed programming and robotics and now plan to have a career in computer science.”


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