Rockford’s top 10 academic graduates honored

The Squire is proud to present Rockford High School’s top ten students according to their amazing high school grade-point average. We also applaud all graduates on reaching this milestone achievement and wish this year’s students all the best as they move on to the next achievements of their lives.

Julia Ceglowski

Julia Ceglowski

Julia Ceglowski is Rockford’s highest academic student with a grade-point average of 4.644. The daughter of Dan and Andrea Ceglowski, she is sister to Peter, 15. Julia is an Advanced Placement Scholar, a Rockford Public Schools “Example in Excellence” and an All State athlete in water polo.

In other activities besides studies and sports, Julia also enjoys puzzles and reading to younger students at Valley View Elementary School. She is a volunteer at the Kent County Humane Society, where she loves to play with and walk dogs that are awaiting adoption. She also volunteers at Spring Hill Camps and is a tutor.

Julia goes on to Colgate University, where she will study mathematics. At Rockford Public Schools, Julia said she has learned to “never take life too seriously and try new things.”

Kendra Bilardello

Kendra Bilardello

Kendra Anjali Bilardello is ranked second i academic among her graduating class of 2012 with a grade-point average of 4.631. She is the daughter of Dave and Michelle Bilardello and sister to Taylor, 16.

Among Kendra’s accomplishments during her years at Rockford are completion of seven Advanced Placement classes. She is the winner of the Harvard Book Award, a member of the National Honor Society, an Advanced Placement Scholar and has been recognized as Student of the Month. She is also a veteran of Grand Rapids Community College mathematics competitions.

In addition to her hard work in her studies, Kendra is a four-year varsity crew athlete who also played basketball for Rockford for two years. She has been the crew website coordinator and a volunteer for Mitchell’s Run Thru Rockford. She has also coached and refereed community camps and games. Also talented in language, Kendra has completed a Spanish course at La Universidad de Granada, Spain. Kendra is a member of Our Lady of Consolation Catholic Church.

As the next step in her bright academic career, Kendra is going to study at University of Notre Dame in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).

Kendra said her time at Rockford gave her great teachers who taught her to do her best. She said being around giving people taught her to give back and help others. She believes it is important in life to be friendly to others always. A favorite memory she would like to share is Emily Prus talking her into joining the crew team as a freshman. The freshman crew eight-plus went on that season to take first at national competitions.

John F. Malley

John F. Malley

Third in Rockford Public School’s Class of 2012 is John (Jack) F. Malley. John is the son of Michael and Katie Malley and brother to Patrick, 19, George, 16, and Megan, 15. John graduates with a grade-point average of 4.591.

Additional accomplishments for John include being selected into Glynn Honors Program at the University of Notre Dame. Besides classwork, John has been a soccer player, loves surfing, wakeboarding and skiing. He has served as a soccer referee and is a member of Our Lady of Consolation Catholic Church.

John will continue his studies at the University of Notre Dame. His academic excellence has earned him a Provost Scholarship for his continuing studies. He has also been recognized as a Comcast Leader and Achiever.

According to John, his time at Rockford Public Schools has taught him that life can be hard, but every risk is worth the reward.

Ashley Rister

Ashley Rister

Ashley Rister earned the fourth highest academic standing among her peers in the Rockford class of 2012 with a grade-point average of 4.520. Ashley is the daughter of Jim and Sue Rister and sister to Carrie, 16.

Among Ashley’s accomplishments is being a member of the National Honor Society and being recognized twice with the Scholar Athlete Award.

Ashley is a four-year varsity ski team member and was voted captain her senior year. She is also a volunteer coach for Special Olympics—something she has spent many, many hours doing. She is also a member of FCA at Rockford High School and is a Rockford Rotary Interact student. Ashley is a member of Blythefield Hills Baptist Church.

Ashley continues her education as a psychology major at Grand Valley State University’s Honors College. She plans on earning her master’s degree in occupational therapy. Ashley’s academic excellence has earned her the Rockford Chamber of Commerce Scholarship, the Barney Hunt Masonic Memorial Scholarship and the Grand Valley State University Presidential Scholarship.

When asked what lessons she learned while at Rockford Public Schools, Ashley responded, “I learned a lot about working together with other people, being a team player, and problem solving. I’ve also learned how to be self-disciplined and motivated and that hard work pays off.” Ashley said that her favorite part of high school was making friends and being a member of the ski team

Nicole Farmer

Nicole Farmer

Nicole Farmer earned the fifth place in academic ranking for her graduating class with her grade-point average of 4.507. She is the daughter of Faith and Ken Farmer and sister to Brittan Farmer, 24, Katie Farmer, 21, Brittany Snow, 15, and Ashley Snow, 13.

Additional achievements include earning an academic letter, a four-year academic achievement award, and being named Student of the Month in ninth, 10th and 11th grades.

In addition to her academic work, Nicole has been a choir student and has performed in two RHS musical plays, “Les Miserables” and “Fiddler on the Roof.” She also worked at Mr. Burger during her high school years.

Nicole will be continuing her studies at Vanderbilt University, where she plans to study special education. Her academic excellence earned her the National Merit Finalist Scholarship.

When asked what lessons she learned while at Rockford, Nicole responded, “I have learned the importance of balancing my time between school work and extracurricular activities. It is difficult to find time for family and friends. However, you miss out on making memories and cause yourself a lot of stress if all your focus is on school work.”

A favorite memory Nicole takes from her time here is the bog walk with Mr. Eppink’s class. She asks, “What could be better than playing in the mud with your best friends?”

Amy Fedeson

Amy Fedeson

Amy Fedeson graduates from Rockford ranking sixth with a grade-point average of 4.504. She is the daughter of Brian and Jodi Fedeson and sister to Derek, 22, Erin, 21, Renee, 18, and Courtney, 16.

In addition to her studies, Amy is a four-year crew team member and former swimming athlete for Rockford. She also has been in Girl Scouts, where one of her projects resulted in an amazing makeover for North Rockford Middle School’s grounds. (She modestly failed to note this, but at the Squire we recall this amazing project.)

Amy goes on to Michigan State University’s pre-medical program.

When asked about lessons learned here, Amy responded, “Sometimes life stinks, but you just have to buck up and do it.” Among her favorite memories of her school days, she counts the bog walk with Mr. Eppink’s class.

Taylor Manett

Taylor Manett

Taylor Manett earned the seventh academic ranking with her graduating class with a grade-point average of 4.51. The daughter of Sheri and Steve Manett, she is also sister to Peter, 15.

Taylor is a four-time academic letter winner, and six-time Academic All State athlete for her cross country/track achievements. She has been a runner for Rockford for both cross country and track and field.

Other activities for Taylor have included RHS musicals where she performed in “Oliver,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Les Miserables” and “Fiddler on the Roof.” She has also been a member in choir, plays the piano and is a volunteer. Taylor is a member of Our Lady of Consolation Catholic Church.

Taylor leaves Rockford to head to the University of Michigan, where she will study cellular and molecular biology and continue as a student athlete running in cross country and track and field. Her athletic and academic excellence has earned her a full-ride scholarship to the University of Michigan.

When asked about life lessons learned here, Taylor responded, “I have learned how to have an open mind and respect everyone. I have also learned to love learning and to always strive to do my best in everything that I do.”

Taylor said her favorite memory at Rockford was participating on the cross-country and track-and-field teams. “I have gained many friends, great experiences, and life-long lessons from being in these sports at Rockford.”

Alexis Lawton

Alexis Lawton

Alexis Lawton earns the rank of eighth in her class of 2012 with a grade-point average of 4.476. She is the daughter of Geoff and Joan Lawton and sister to Andrew, 15, and Katie, 12.

In addition to her high academic achievement at Rockford, Alexis is also a National Honor Society member, a member of Youth Initiative, has been elected to Student Council. She is an Advanced Women’s Ensemble member and has participated in Odyssey of the Mind. She is a member of Rockford Theater with the Complete works of Shakespeare Abbr. Alexis also performed in RHS musicals “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” She is a member of Rockford Christian Reformed Church.

Alexis leaves her high school career to continue her education in the honors program at the University of Michigan, where she plans to study as a chemistry/engineering major. She has earned scholarships through Odyssey of the Mind, the Regent’s Merit Scholarship and the LSA scholarship.

“I have learned about the importance of giving your all in everything you do,” she said of her experience here. “Whether it is school, sports, music or any other activity, the entire experience is more worth your time when you put your whole heart into it.”

Alexis said that among her favorite memories of her school days here in Rockford is the time she spent working on the school’s musical performances. “Being able to work with such amazing people to create something amazing has been one of the greatest experiences of my life.”

Emily Prus

Alexis Lawton

Emily Prus ranks ninth among her peers of Rockford’s Class of 2012 with a grade-point average of 4.447. She is the daughter of Tom and Amy Prus and sister to Ali, 20 and Flip, 5.

Additional accomplishments for Emily include earning a four-year academic letter. She has also been a member of the crew team. Other activities include participation in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Vice President of the National Honor Society and membership of the small group of Blythefield Babes. She is a member of Blythefield Baptist Church.

Emily leaves Rockford to continue her education at Purdue University, where she plans to study engineering. Her academic excellence has earned her the Purdue University Presidential Scholarship.

“High school taught me not to hesitate,” she said of her lessons learned here. “Things don’t happen on their own. You have to take initiative.”

Among favorite memories, Emily counts those she has known here. “The people of Rockford are the best—teachers, friends, classmates. It has been an honor to get to know them. I think I’ll always remember laughing a lot… I like to laugh.”

Johannus Smith

Johannus Smith

Johannus Smith earned tenth place academically among his peers in the Rockford High School graduating Class of 2012 with a grade-point average of 4.446. He is the son of Fred and Elise Smith and brother to Ray, 16, and Ken, 14.

Additional activities in high school include four years as a student athlete on the varsity tennis team and one year at junior varsity golf. He was also a member of the chess club and attends Berkley Hills Community Church.

Johannus leaves Rockford High School to attend LeTourneau University, where he plans to study mechanical engineering. He has been awarded a substantial scholarship for his academic excellence.

When asked about lessons learned at Rockford High School, Johannus responded, “People who truly care about something do a much better job than those who don’t.”

Favorite memories include making the varsity tennis team all four years and enjoying a successful season in each.

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