Rockford recognizes the top ten academic students of Class of 2017

Congratulations to this year’s RHS Top Ten

In a field of over 600 graduates in this year’s Class of 2017, these ten scholars have earned the top ten spots by Grade Point Average. Please see our page recognizing their achievements and letting you know what is the next step in their academic careers on page 12 and 13. Way to go to all our fine graduates on completing their high school education!


Ryleigh Stull

GPA: 4.69

Rockford congratulates Ryleigh Stull for the amazing accomplishment of earning the highest GPA of her graduating Class of 2017 with a 4.69. Ryleigh is the daughter of Bob Stull and Melissa Pischner-Stull. She is sister to Tara Stull, age 15.

Ryleigh will be attending the University of Michigan and studying neuroscience.

As a treasured memory of her time at Rockford High School, Ryleigh recalls the summer before her senior year when she went on a trip to Europe with amazing teachers and friends.

Her advice to students yet to experience high school is to get involved in extracurricular activities early on because it’s a great way to meet new people and have new experiences.


Karan Joseph

GPA: 4.669

Karan Joseph is the son of Promodh Joseph and Preeti Vakhariya. Karan’s outstanding academic work and talent earned him a grade point average of 4.669, the second highest in Rockford’s graduating Class of 2017. He is brother to Reeya Joseph.

When asked about his plans on continued education, he said he plans to attend the University of Michigan and go into the medical field.

“One memory from Rockford High School was my experience on Homecoming Court,” he said. “It was surreal to walk across the stage in front of all my peers. I will never forget that day.”

As far as advice to incoming high school students, he said, “Make sure to work hard and stay focused. Rockford High School provides you with many opportunities academically. Even if you don’t consider yourself to be academically inclined, challenge yourself. Your teachers are there to help and guide you. Make the most of your four years; it goes by quicker than you think.”


Jacob DeVries

GPA: 4.618

Jacob DeVries earned third place in his graduating Class of 2017 at Rockford High School with a grade point average of 4.618. He is the son of Bill and Susan DeVries and brother to Allison and Owen DeVries.

After graduatation, Jacob will go on to study at the University of Michigan in the field of Chemical Engineering.

“My favorite high school memory is going to football and basketball games to support the teams. It was always fun to cheer on my friends while they played.”

His advice to incoming students at Rockford High School is to make the most of their time in class. “Participate in as many things as possible, go to sporting events, and hang out with friends. High school is an exciting time and you do not want to miss a thing.”


James Anderson

GPA: 4.602

James Anderson earned fourth in academic ranking in the Rockford High School Class of 2017. He is the son of Dana and Jason Anderson and brother to Emily, age 20, and Owen, age 9.

“I plan to continue my education at the University of Michgan School of Engineering. By choosing the University of Michigan, I will not only be attending one of the most elite engineering schools in the country, but I will also have the chance to row for one of the best club teams in the nation.

James was asked to share a memory of his time at Rockford High School. “I made many memories that will surely last a lifetime, such as being a big part of the first Varsity boat from Rockford to win scholastic nationals, or eating 17 tacos at Trinis during a massive taco night. My favorite memories from Rockford, however, were meeting and sharing laughs with my two best friends: Kirsten Brinkmeier, a few places to my right; and Karan Joseph, a few to my left. We experienced so much already, I can’t wait to see what the University of Michigan will have in store for us.”

His advice to incoming students is to be active. “Be active in meeting new people, be active in joining sports or clubs, and be active in pursuing whatever you want, because the only way to make memories is to go out and make them.”


Annika Severson

GPA: 4.600

Annika Severson has earned the fifth spot academically for the Rockford High School Class of 2017 with a grade point average of 4.600. She is the daughter of Pete and Annette Severson and sister to Erica Cook, Kelcie Martin and
Jenna Severson.

Annika will be attending the University of Michigan Ross Business School next fall.

“While I do not have a specific highlight of my time at Rockford, my growth as a person and as a student is largely contributed to the unwavering support and guidance I have received our administration, counselors, and teachers at Rockford. I will be forever grateful for these relationships and the impact they have had on me, and most certainly, my future.”

Her advice to incoming students about their time at Rockford High School she said, “Discover your passions, embrace all that you are, act on your ambition, and when life doesn’t go as planned, give yourself grace. To summarize, one of my favorite quotes, ‘Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.’”


Montana Mott

GPA: 4.547

Montana Mott has earned the sixth spot academically for his Rockford High School Class of 2017. He is the son of Jay Mott, Jodi Peterson, and Scott Peterson, and brother of MacKenzee Mott.

After graduating from Rockford High School, Montana will study Computer Science Engineering at the University of Michigan.

“A collection of memories stand out to me more than any single memory could — all the memories where I felt true camaraderie with my peers. These wonderful memories include putting on an amazing theatre production, performing with the Rockford Wind Ensemble, and competing in math competitions with the Rockford Math Team. Nothing beats seeing what you can accomplish as a group of Rockford High School students.”

“Don’t shy away from opportunities due to a fear of failure. You’ll never know if you can succeed if you don’t give it a chance. As high school comes to a close, I realize how short it really is. Get involved in all kinds of things and make every moment last a lifetime.”


Kirsten Brinkmeier

GPA: 4.537

Kirsten Brinkmeier has earned the seventh spot academically of the Rockford High School Class of 2017. She is the daughter of William and Jennifer Brinkmeier and sister to Jon and sister-in-law of Elizabeth.

She will attend the University of Michigan and major in the STEM field.

“While the last four years have been predicable, some of my favorite memories include meeting James Anderson, enjoying late nights with close friends in Canada, avoiding school by escaping to the beach, catching my now late turtle Xavi, becoming an expert on the Grand Rapids dining scene, sitting on the edge of city roofs to catch the sunset, adventuring on Spring Break in Homosassa, being carried across a river on Christmas Eve by James, spreading smiles with free cookies and keeping a fish in the Jamsten locker.”

She advises to those entering high school, “Don’t feel limited by high school responsibilities; find a balance that includes exploring your world and enjoying each person in your life.”


Ellie Johandes

GPA: 4.516

Ellie Johandes has earned the eighth spot in academic achievement for the Rockford High School Class of 2017 with a grade point average of 4.516. She is the daughter of Steve and Diann Johandes and says to them, “Thank you for always supporting me.” She is sister to Abby “Ab Dog” Johandes, who she calls “rower extraordinaire.”

Ellie will study Biochemistry a the University of Michigan in their LSA Honors Program, “Where I will continue to be amazed by the complexity of our universe.”

Asked to share her favorite memories of Rockford High School, Abby said, “Being part of the Lady Rams Cross Country Team. It didn’t matter whether we were practicing, racing or participating in shenanigans at camp, we always had fun. My favorite memory was the Portage meet when we placed despite the freezing rain (and then the announcer pronounced our names wrong at the podium). We still joke about it!”

Her advice to younger students, “You will never HAVE time for anything unless you MAKE time. Be sure to carve out time daily for your interests and passions: join a sport or club, read, write, make art, whatever, as long as they are things you want to do. Always remember that school is more than getting good grades, it should be a place where you grow as a human being. In addition, find three things to be grateful for every day. This lets you appreciate the life you have and really helps if  you have a “bad day,”


Taylor Plekker

GPA: 4.509

Taylor Plekker earned the ninth spot academically in the Rockford High School graduating Class of 2017 with a grade point average of 4.509. He is the son of John and Nancy Plekker.

Taylor will go on to attend Kettering University to study Mechanical Engineering.

“I found Mrs. Decker’s classes extremely difficult as English is not my forte but I am so glad that I had her as a teacher. She was always willing to help with anything pertaining to writing or to the English language in general and was a huge resource when I was writing both college and scholarship application essays. I attribute my improvement in English over the last three years to her teaching.

When asked to give advice to incoming high school students, Taylor said. “Get involved with a team, club, group, activity, or something similar. They provide both mentors and friends, along with helping to break down the large student body at Rockford into more manageable groups to meet new people”


Nicole Coughlin

GPA: 4.504

Nicole Coughlin has earned the tenth spot for academic achievement in the Rockford High School Class of 2017 with a grade point average of 4.504. She is the daughter of Dave and Donita Coughlin and has two older brothers, Connor and Trevor and is twin sister to Carly.

Nicole will continue her education at the University of Michigan to study Health Sciences.

“My favorite memory of Rockford High School is being a part of the gymnastics team and winning the state championship three years in a row.

“My advice is to get involved in a lot of different activities and cherish your time in high school, because it really goes by quickly.”