The Belvedere Room at The Toledo Club was the place to be on Thursday, April 28, when the best and the brightest of Toledo Public Schools were honored at the annual Celebration of Excellence.

The valedictorians and salutatorians from the eight TPS high schools with graduating seniors were honored with a dinner and a special program, as were the recipients of scholarships from the Toledo Public Schools Foundation.

Students brought along special educators and family members who helped them on their journey and were treated to a speech from Eastern Michigan University communications professor Dr. Dennis Patrick that was heavy on practical advice. (DO read the syllabus and go to professors' office hours, DON'T sit in the front row and text while the professor is talking ...) The dinner was sponsored by Eastern Michigan.

Click here to learn more about the students who were honored: 2016 Celebration of Excellence program

The valedictorians and salutatorians were also asked what school experience caused them to say, 'I am TPS Proud.' Here are their stories: 

The Bowsher High School valedictorian is BAILEY ALLISON KOHRING and the salutatorian is LINDSEY ANN STOCKDALE.

Bailey, whose special guest at the Celebration of Excellence was music teacher Matt Fritz, says her TPS Proud moment involved a trip that the members of the National Honor Society recently made to a nursing home to play board games with the residents and to simply talk with them. She says, “I know this will be one of my TPS Proud moments because we are bringing joy to people.

Lindsey’s special guest was guidance counselor Matt Krueger. Her TPS Proud moment involves her experience as a Bowsher volleyball player. She writes, “This summer after tryouts, a foreign exchange student joined our team. There were many issues with language barriers but our team made a true effort to include her in every way possible, and she wound up being one of the star players on our team!”
Congratulations to Bailey and Lindsey.

KRISTEN ANN FINK is the valedictorian for Rogers High School and MONAY SHA’RON J. WILSON is the salutatorian.

Kristen's special guest was Honors Physics teacher Mary Kreuz. Kristen says she has always been TPS Proud but she feels it especially at track and cross country meets. She writes, “I’ve met a variety of people from other TPS schools. Many athletes I have met are exceptional: They’re dedicated and show sportsmanship – we compete in races but are cheering each other on at the end of the day. I’ve had nice conversations with the other coaches and created lifelong friendships with other athletes – it feels like everyone is part of the same community at meets. It feels amazing when people from all over the city are rooting for you; as well as seeing so many people around you working hard. Things like this make me TPS Proud.”

Monay plans to attend the University of Toledo, where she wants to major in finance or criminal justice. Her special guest was Dawn Hofmeister, teacher of Contemporary Foods and Child Development. She says her favorite TPS Proud moment was a field trip to McTigue Elementary her freshman year while in Mrs. Hofmeister’s Parenting/Child Development class. She writes, “During my time spent in the kindergarten classroom, I interacted with children of various ethnic backgrounds, intelligence levels and learning styles. As a result, I discovered firsthand the many demands that are placed on today’s teachers. This trip helped me develop and practice my leadership and public speaking skills. It helped me realize that I could make a positive difference in a child’s life simply by reading them a book or helping them with a craft project. This experience sparked my interest in helping others as well as the importance of community involvement.”
Congratulations to Kristen and Monay.

The Scott High School valedictorian for 2016 is BLAKE ALYSE MINTER and the salutatorian is KAMARIA NICOLE GLOVER.

Blake, whose special guest was science teacher Roxanne Allen, says she is proudest of the support that Scott gets from current and former students and others. She writes, “Every year around Homecoming, I feel the warmth of the community. Everyone comes together in preparation for the Homecoming football game, dance and coronation. People outside the Scott community come and join us and have a good time. I also get this feeling when I attend our annual Scott picnic. The mingling of the community makes me TPS Proud.”

Kamaria's special guest was Kyle Clark, a Social Studies teacher and AVID mentor. Kamaria writes of her TPS Proud moment, “The best experience I had was when every school was mourning because of the sudden loss of a [Woodward High School] girl whose nickname was LeeLee. In my community service class, we made posters for her and they were sent over to Woodward. Her death was something that was sad for everyone yet united us as a school and school district.”
Congratulations to Blake and Kamaria.


MEGHAN ELIZABETH VOGT is the valedictorian of Start High School and MILES STEPHEN SIBLEY is the salutatorian.

Meghan, whose special guest was English teacher Mary Mandley, says her proudest moment while in high school came when she volunteered for a blood drive.

Miles, whose special guest was Social Studies teacher Thomas Regalado, has a unique take on being TPS Proud. He writes, “I am proud of going to a school that is diverse in its student body. One of the most important things [in today’s world] is embracing diversity.”
Congratulations to Meghan and Miles.


Toledo Early College High School this year has two valedictorians as well as a salutatorian. MARIAM SAMI ABOU-DAHECH and MARWA ISSA HASSAN are this year’s valedictorians and SARAH ELIZABETH NEEPER is salutatorian. 

Mariam, whose special guest was University of Toledo English teacher Michael Hiser, writes, “I am TPS Proud because of the opportunity to be able to attend Toledo Early College. If it wasn’t for this TPS school, I wouldn’t have been pushed to reach my academic potential. Also, I wouldn’t have been ready to take college courses as a freshman in high school. Ultimately, if it wasn’t for my experience at this school, I wouldn’t be graduating this year with 64 college credits already completed, and that in itself is enough for anyone to be TPS Proud.”

Marwa, whose special guest was history teacher Mona Al-Hayani, writes, “I am TPS Proud because by attending Toledo Early College, I was exposed to a variety of different experiences. For example, I volunteered at the Toledo Hospital, participated in the National MS Walk, the JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes and ran in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. Through these experiences, I was introduced to so many different types of people. My high school career also greatly prepared me for college as I’ve been taking classes at the University of Toledo throughout all of high school. I will graduate with 58 college credits and I am eternally grateful for this opportunity that I was awarded because I know that it is a unique one.”

Sarah's special guest was Social Studies teacher Randy Nissen. She writes of her TPS Proud moment, “Without my high school education at Toledo Early College, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to meet such a diverse group of people who have given me more of a global worldview. In addition to becoming a more well-rounded person, I will graduate with 60 college credits, giving me a huge head start over most high school graduates. I am TPS Proud because TPS has made me a better student and person.”
Congratulations to Mariam, Marwa and Sarah.

AUDREY ROSE AHRENDT is the valedictorian of Toledo Technology Academy and OLIVIA SYNCLAIR MCFARLIN is TTA’s salutatorian.

Audrey, whose special guest was English teacher Emily Kriegel, writes of her TPS Proud moment, “Last year, a fellow classmate’s house caught on fire. His brother passed away and he had severe injuries. We came together as a school and did different fundraisers to support his family. We raised a [great deal] of money through this. This is an experience that made me say that I am TPS Proud.”

Olivia, whose special guest was engineering design teacher Deb Carper, says her TPS Proud moment came when Dr. Durant traveled to Tennessee to watch the school’s FIRST Robotics Team compete at a competition. Olivia writes, “He drove all the way down to support us - who else gets to say that? I love my FIRST team and so does the superintendent and it certainly makes me feel TPS Proud.” Olivia was not at the Celebration of Excellence because she was with the robotics team at the FIRST Robotics world championships in St. Louis.

Congratulations to Audrey and Olivia.


KAITLYN PEARL WHITMER is the valedictorian of Waite High School and BRITTANY MARIE MCDANIEL is the salutatorian.

Kaitlyn, whose special guest was orchestra teacher Frank Ramon, writes, “The best example I have of an experience where I was TPS Proud was when I volunteered to help with the freshman kick-off day and I got to see how many people care … about the future of this city’s youth. The volunteers, who were my classmates, made the freshmen feel a lot more welcomed.”

Brittany writes of her TPS Proud moment, “Waite has a large number of special education students and it is always amazing seeing other students help them out. One of the guys came into my gym class and started to try making a basket from half court. The guys in there gave him the ball back every time he missed -- and we all clapped as he finally made it. He ran out with a huge smile on his face and I honestly had tears in my eyes.” Brittany invited Joe Boyle, who teaches World War II, U.S. History and American Government as her special guest, but unfortunately due to illness, was not able to be at the Celebration of Excellence.
Congratulations Kaitlyn and Brittany.

CALEB JON FOUTS is the valedictorian of Woodward High School and LINDSAY HACKNEY is the salutatorian.

Caleb, whose special guest was visual arts teacher Cassandra Paniagua, writes, “I was TPS Proud when my entire AP Government class levied for TPS, unifying across the city and rallying support. We were all working for a better future.”

LINDSAY’s special guest this evening is Stephanie Flores, an English II and Senior Composition teacher. Of her TPS Proud moment, Lindsay writes, “Last year, I went to UT for orientation about their early college classes. Students from every school in the TPS area were led outside where Dr. Durant was waiting with area news crews. It was a surprise to everyone. It felt so good to be one of those students standing in the crowd. I felt proud to be standing next to Dr. Durant as he honored the group of privileged TPS students.”
Congratulations Caleb and Lindsay.

Posted on April 29, 2016