At the football game against Park Hill South on Aug. 18, the first home game of the season, senior Harper Ross (see page 16) cheers while holding the “D for defense” sign while she sits on the senior wall for the first time. “Live your life in vivid color and even the dark spots become bright,” Ross said. The theme of this football game was neon. See below for more about this colorful significance in The Griffin Rites staff letter to the class of 2018. (Katie Bullock)
At the football game against Park Hill South on Aug. 18, the first home game of the season, senior Harper Ross (see page 16) cheers while holding the “D for defense” sign while she sits on the senior wall for the first time. “Live your life in vivid color and even the dark spots become bright,” Ross said. The theme of this football game was neon. See below for more about this colorful significance in The Griffin Rites staff letter to the class of 2018.

Katie Bullock

In full color

Dedicated to the class of 2018

May 12, 2018

Goodbye from The Griffin Rites


Laura Williams

From left to right: Juniors Jessica Glaszczak and Kate Bullock, freshman Jason Hopkins and junior Gage Rabideaux sit on the bell bench in the main courtyard. Not pictured: sophomore Elizabeth Hopkins.

To the Class of 2018,

There’s a lot of definitions for the word “color.” In fact, according to Merriam Webster there are 15. But let us start with just number one: “A phenomenon of light or visual perception that enables one to differentiate otherwise identical objects.” 

Well, this class certainly is a phenomenon, and a bright one at that. Each of you is different, and each of you has brought something new and unique to this school. Thank you for that. We live in a world with seven and a half billion people, a world where it is pretty easy to get lost in the crowd and to fade into the background, but this senior class has done anything but fade. Each of you has grown exponentially since you first walked through these doors, and we have no doubt that each of you will continue to grow after you walk out of them for the last time. 

The cover this issue is a picture from the first home football game of the season, the first time many of you sat on the senior wall. The theme for that game was neon, and we think it was pretty fitting considering just how colorful and bright you all are. 

Perhaps it’s a little bit incorrect to have called this letter a goodbye; knowing this senior class, we will all be seeing your impacts for years to come. Whether you go off to become our doctors or our archeologists, or mechanics or our teachers, or maybe our inspirations, good luck friends. 

There is a quote from A.A Milne in Winnie the Pooh that our staff feels represents this year ending, and it goes something like this: “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” We will miss you class of 2018, and we will remember you too, but most of all, we will believe in you and your ability to forever bring color wherever you go.

There is a certain eloquence to a grayscale, to the black and white pictures of the past; but the class of 2018 is not the past, you are the future. Keep your color, your vibrance, your vivaciousness. It will serve you well, as you have served all of us by showing us light enough to help us learn from your differences. 

Senior profiles

Profiles over 16 seniors selected by The Griffin Rites staff on recommendation from students and staff for their exemplary talent in specific areas from all walks of life.

Arfon Abdi

Involved in: Gold Medallion, Key Club, Medical internships, Muslim Student Association

By Jason Hopkins

In Kansas City alone, there are more than 30 well-equipped hospitals available for community access. But in other places around the world, there are none, and with no access to hospitals or any other form of healthcare, people are dying. Senior Arfon Abdi wants to change that. 

“My parents came here from Somalia and after they left there was poor government and poor healthcare,” Abdi said. “A lot of members from my family unfortunately passed away because the areas that they lived in didn’t have doctors, nurses or enough medication to help the people that lived there. It really inspired my aspiration to be involved in my community.”

Abdi is now an active member of Health Occupation Students of America as well as multiple service groups. After high school, she plans to pursue an undergraduate and then professional degree in the medical field before traveling internationally to bring healthcare to impoverished nations. 

“It also kind of inspired my desire for volunteering abroad which is why I want to do Doctors Without Borders to help those in developing countries – not only in Somalia or East Africa, but also in other third world countries,” Abdi said. “Seeing how much they suffer and how much they ask for help, I just want to be that person who steps up and helps.” 

In the fall of 2017, Abdi was awarded the presidential service volunteer award for service to her community. 

“I think everyone goes through different things in life, and you might be a little better off, but then why not assist someone and help them out and brighten their day a little bit,” Abdi said. “Because I am blessed with the time and energy to create change, why not do it?”

Lily Abdulla

Involved in: AVID, Cross country, Gold Medallion, Grifffin Grounds, Key Club, Track and field

By Gage Rabideaux

Senior Lily Abdulla is always running. She runs from Griffin Grounds, to classes, to clubs, to practices and then home to her family. But in the last four years, Lily has also run into herself. 

“Running has helped me grow as a person,” Abdulla said. “Sophomore year when I ran cross country, I didn’t know what my strengths were. Then junior year I found my strength. Before that I was there, but I was lost.”

Having broken the school record in the 400-meter relay and run state for two years, Abdulla will now be running at Park University [PU] on scholarship. A first generation college student, Abdulla did not always believe college would be her path.

“I’ve always been putting my whole entire life into my family and making sure they’re getting what they need. I never stopped and thought about me,” Abdulla said.

While at PU, Abdulla plans to pursue a degree in physical therapy, after which she hopes to save money to help her mother receive a college education as well. 

“My mom never got her education because she dropped out of high school when she was 17 to take care of me,” Abdulla said. “After I’m done with my education I want to save up and be able to pay for her to get hers. I don’t want my siblings to have to say, ‘My mom works at a factory. She’s never here because she’s working 24/7,’ like I did.” 

Regardless of the challenges she faces, with running in her life, Abdulla know she will remain herself.

“It’s like I’m me,” Abdulla said. “I don’t have to be Lily Abdulla student or Lily Abdulla sister or mother or father. When I’m running, I just get to be me. I get to be Lily.”

Nate Blanton

Involved in: Band, Boy’s soccer, Girl’s soccer manager, Science olympiad, Senior shorts, Student Activity Council, Northland Regional Chamber of Commerce Youth Leadership, Principal’s Committee, Senior class president

By Jessica Glaszczak

A firework of pride and excitement, senior Nate Blanton shines as an example of Tonka Pride during every game and pep assembly while he shouts cheers, sings the alma mater and screams the fight song. 

“I try to be the change that I want to see in my school and in peers around me,” Blanton said. “I really want to see the school step up their game because I feel that everyone should be a little like me in terms of their school spirit.”

Blanton also finds pride in the hard work that he sees in both students and staff.

“The people that work here work hard,” Blanton said. “You see that in their work and I like finding pride in that. And then the staff, the staff always does the best for their students and sacrifices their own personal lives sometimes for the good of the student body.”

Blanton also participates in many activities throughout the school. He attributes his many successes in all of these activities not to skill, but to hard work.

“What led me to these [accomplishments] is just putting work in every day, or at least trying to, and just really trying hard,” Blanton said. “There’s no substitute for putting in time into a certain field or anything like that. I like the quote ‘Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.’ I feel like that speaks volumes.”

Blanton plans to continue to work hard going into college in order to become an environmental engineer. 

Gavin Crump

Involved in: Guitar club, track and field

By Elizabeth Hopkins

For as long as he can remember, senior Gavin Crump has been a drummer. To him, music is more than just a hobby, it a passion he has had since he was just two years old.

“I am a drummer, I have been my whole life,” Crump said. “I consider myself a multi-instrumentalist because I also play guitar, and since I play guitar, I can play bass. I’m kind of all over the place in the music realm, but I primarily play drums.”

Crump has also taught himself how to audio engineer, as well as mix, master and record music in his home studio. In December 2017, this talent brought Crump to become the drummer of his friend’s hard rock and metal band, The Ganzfeld Experiment. 

“I’ve always liked to just jam out with my friends,” Crump said. “It’s kind of a musician thing: you like to play with your friends, you like to make new music. Our guitarist, [senior] Jared Herz, saw an opportunity with the three of us.”

Crump, Herz and their bassist senior Thomas Mitchell practice at his home studio, which has been converted into a live practice and control room. In the upcoming months, the band plans to start playing shows around Kansas City, where Crump believes there lies a great opportunity for his band to gain popularity. 

“I definitely believe we will achieve quite a bit of fame locally,” Crump said. “I don’t think that would be very difficult at all because of our influence. I think we will attract a lot of people with our newness, but in terms of nationally or globally, it’s going to be a long road.”

Matthew DeHass

Involved in: Art Club President, Art Department, Gold Medallion, Jazz Band, Orchestra

By Katie Bullock and Jessica Glaszczak

There is a stark contrast between a test and a performance. A test like the PSAT is a competition, a challenge to beat out 99 percent of the nation for top honors. But a performance is a breath, an artistic vision personified by colorful paint or black and white piano keys. Senior Matthew DeHass is familiar with both these environments.

Last fall, DeHass was recognized as a National Merit Scholarship finalist. While DeHass is often involved in this academic side of life, he finds more peace in the art forms he stumbled upon in high school.

“School, it’s work, but I enjoy playing piano,” DeHass said. “I never really took art classes until high school. It was accidental. I had an empty spot at the beginning of freshman year and I said, ‘I guess I’ll take it,’ because I’ve always liked drawing and painting even though it’s really difficult. It’s a lot more interesting. You can always learn when you are painting a person, compared to landscapes and stuff like that.”

Now, DeHass is in AP Studio art, jazz band and symphonic orchestra. Each of the classes has come to teach him something different, but as a whole they have showed him how to do the things he loves, and how to love the things he does. 

“It’s about not thinking of it as a responsibility,” DeHass said. “It makes it a lot easier to handle all these things if you do them because then you want to do them. The most important thing to acknowledge is that we can only do one thing at a time. Things can feel a lot less big when we just focus one step at a time, and complete each step with the confidence that we will finish everything, no matter how the circumstances look.”

Though his major is undecided, DeHass plans to attend the University of Missouri where he hopes to continue in art. 

Danielle Dodd

Involved in: 48th Street Players, Diversity council, Gold Medallion, Key Club, Louder Than a Bomb, Scholar Bowl, Theater department

By Jason Hopkins

There is a front and a back to everything. In theatre, there is the stage and there is that which is behind the curtain. As the technical director of the theatre department and its lighting designer, senior Danielle Dodd has still been integrally involved in nearly every theatre production since her freshman year while rarely making a theatrical appearence. 

“With lighting as in any element of live theatre, you are responsible for creating these moments of color and observation and brilliance onstage,” Dodd said. “While you can have a lot of minimalism in theatre, when it comes down to it you need lights. Lights create their own universe, their own private conversation on the stage.” 

Dodd brings an emotional element to every production she is part of by manipulating lights and their color to create a sense of the characters inner emotional reality. 

“I tend to go for more emotional sort of lighting styles,” Dodd said. “I’m looking less technically speaking and more ‘how does this feel?’ When you’re lighting you’re creating an environment, and mine is more of an emotional environment and less of a realistic environment.”

On March 14, Dodd discovered she had been accepted to her dream school the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, one of the top lighting programs in the nation. 

“I’m a very artistic person and to do anything else with my life would be not only disingenuous but boring,” Dodd said. “Art at its core is an attempt to affect and create something. It’s an attempt to reach out to your audience and grab them by the hand – or heart, as it were – and at my core, I’m an artist.” 

Ry-Jae Fisher

Involved in: Blacks Achieving Greatness, Family and consumer science department, Girls’ Basketball, Girls’ Soccer

By Jessica Glaszczak

Since her freshman year, family and consumer science [FACS] classes have given senior Ry-Jae Fisher the ability to better take care of herself. Fisher has taken the majority of FACS classes offered at Winnetonka including all foods and child development classes and one clothing and fashion class. 

“I want to be well-equipped within the world,” Fisher said. “With FACS, you can be well-equipped within your home and you can basically take care of yourself. 

When she is not at school, Fisher often finds herself cooking for her nieces and nephews who she takes care of regularly. Since starting to care for them, Fisher has decided that she would like to open her own daycare when she is older in order to teach and provide for children in the community.

“It’s kind of centered around my nieces and nephews; all I do is take care of them,” Fisher said. “They’re my joy and pride. Honestly, I just want to make sure that kids out there in the world can get cared for. When younger people see me doing that I feel like they should be able to it when they get older.”

Of all the FACS classes she has taken, Fisher’s favorite is cooking. For her, it is a class that has given her the ability not only to provide for her family, but to connect with them. 

“I like to take care of other people before I take care of myself,” Fisher said. “I like to cook for them. Sometimes they help me in the kitchen and sometimes they just watch. You see the joy they have when you take care of them. It’s really fulfilling.”

After high school, Fisher plans to pursue a degree and career in physical therapy before opening her daycare. 

Autumn Hillyer

Involved in: Art Department

By Katie Bullock

Tides are notorious for their ability to change a landscape, to wash away old beach rocks and replace them with driftwood and white shells. For the last year, senior Autumn Hillyer has become familiar with these natural changes while she portrays mother nature in her AP art concentration.

“I wanted to make a statement,” Hillyer said. “I started off with more flowery forms but recently I’ve been going a darker route, showing how mankind is destroying mother nature with landfills and smokestacks.”

A lover of nature, Hillyer decided to focus her AP art concentration on capturing landscapes within the female form and how they have changed over time. In doing so, she has also captured her own phases within the canvas.

“It’s [art] a way to express yourself,” Hillyer said. “If you look at my art, my paintings you can tell what kind of music I’m listening to by my brush strokes, what kind of mood I’m in by the colors I chose. It reflects you and I think that’s really beautiful. You definitely put yourself into the piece and that’s what I love about it.”

But art has helped Hillyer do more than just preserve her life’s changes within her art, it is part of the reason she transformed enough to need to capture such changes. 

“I love all my art for very different reasons, but I really love the blue lady, who I call ‘Rising tide’,” Hillyer said. “She’s made of water. It’s the very first piece where I actually felt confident in my skills. They all reflect different parts of my life and different statements and changes but that one – even though it’s not my favorite piece ever technique-wise – really showed me gaining self-confidence.” 

Although Hillyer plans to pursue a degree in architecture after high school, she also hopes to continue creating art.

Lia Holman

Involved in: Art Department

By Jessica Glaszczak

“It’s basically putting junk on naked people,” senior Lia Holman said.

Holman, who has taken Advanced Photography twice and also been a teacher’s assistant for that class, is currently in AP Studio Art and Graphic design as well. For her AP concentration portfolio, she is creating a collection of photography pieces that focus on materials and their interactions in contrast to the human body.

“I think it’s so cool how I can manipulate different materials to fit the human body,” Holman said. “I love juxtaposition and that’s part of my concentration because random materials don’t really belong on a human body, but I think it’s cool how they can look like they belong and I like the contrast.”

When creating each piece, Holman finds inspiration for her photography all around her before carefully deciding how to position each of her models and their materials.

“Sometimes I’ll see a sign on the side of the road or sometimes I scroll through Instagram and I see other photographers or models and what they’re doing,” Holman said. “Most of the time I just see what’s around and something pops in my head. I like to start off with color schemes or sometimes I pick my model first and I try to think about what would work best for that person and where we could go.”

As the first student from Winnetonka to receive the Gold Key award, which is the highest art award in Missouri, Holman attributes her accomplishments to her dedication for her passion.

“It’s really about making sure you’re always doing photography so you can improve,” Holman said. “You can’t improve if you don’t continue to do your artwork.”

Cameron Keough

Involved in: Engineering, Guitar club, Jazz band

By Gage Rabideaux

From cadences to calculus, senior Cameron Keough finds math in every aspect of his life. Keough is enrolled in civil engineering, digital electronics and engineering development and design while also taking calculus three at the University of Missouri – Kansas City. But Keough also uses his mathematical mind for music. 

“I’ve been playing guitar since third grade. I saw Slash, from Guns and Roses, and I thought ‘he’s really cool and I want to be like him,’” Keough said. “I just play whenever I have time. I’m kind of occupied with school and college and things like that, but whenever I can, I usually find an excuse to play.”

Keough recently melded music with his engineering project by creating a device for acoustic guitar that allows the player to change the pitch of the strings.

“In acoustic guitar, you don’t have any way to adjust it [intonation of open strings] and that’s what project is for,” Keough said. “With electric guitar you basically use a screw and it moves it [the bridge] up and down to change the string length and pitch. That’s what mind does except you just take the regular saddle out and you put it in and from there, you loosen the strings and move the little saddle piece where you need it. You don’t have to give it to a professional luthier and spend a hundred dollars.”

Although the immersion of math into music may seem like an odd combination, for Keough it makes perfect sense.

“They’re actually hugely intertwined,” Keough said. “Math is the language for everything. It’s the ultimate truth of everything. You can do anything with it. All the problems we have can be solved with math. You can’t argue with it.”

Jackson Mattingly

Involved in: Choir, Gold Medallion, Powerlifting, Theatre department

By Katie Bullock

Since his freshman year, senior Jackson Mattingly has studied and performed over 50 pieces of large ensemble vocal music in addition to an array of small ensemble and solo performance pieces. Having earned multiple state exemplary ratings for these performances, Mattingly has also been heavily involved in the theater department where he has held lead roles in multiple productions. 

“Anything I can do, I will do – just because I love it,” Mattingly said. “It’s a great way to express myself and make art at the same time.”

These performances allow Mattingly to not only express himself, but also step into the shoes of someone else’s narrative. 

“I think that music and theater are both great ways to express yourself and also to express the idea of another person because while you’re the one that’s performing it, it’s someone else’s vision,” Mattingly said. “Having that opportunity to make something real is really important and I don’t think that it should be overlooked.”

After graduation, Mattingly plans to make his change in the world by attending the conservatory at the University of Missouri – Kansas City to pursue a degree in music education and vocal performance so that he can later teach vocal music at the high school level. 

“I think that our school district does a really good job of letting the arts flourish and of letting music flourish but I don’t think that the country as a whole does,” Mattingly said. “I think that being able to make something out of nothing that can touch people’s lives is extremely important. It’s [theater] taught me that every voice is valid, that very idea has merit and should be seriously considered.”

Dillon Osborne

Involved in: Band

By Gage Rabideaux

Senior Dillon Osborne lives for two things: music and teaching. When he is not playing music in band, he is thinking about making a career out of his passions and becoming a music educator.

“The social aspect of band gets me involved,” Osborne said. “It has impacted me for the better, I make new friends from all classes and then I help them make the transition into high school.”

After high school, Osborne plans to attend Missouri State University’s music education program so he may teach band. While he has laid foundations for his life in his mind’s eye, that does not mean making it will be easy. 

“Some of my obstacles are going to be finding the funds for college and the whole new aspect of being away from home,” Osborne said.

While he recognizes both of these as rather large obstacles, Osborne is not letting the difficulty slow him down. His passion for music fuels him to continue working hard and playing harder.

“It’s the feeling of performance that keeps me going,” Osborne said. “The impact, both socially and as a stress relief, makes me love band.”

As his last year comes to a close, Osborne is now closer than ever to his dream and continues to put his all into band where he auditioned for and performed with the Kansas City Metro All-District Band and Jazz band on both the Tuba and the Trombone earlier this school year.

Geoffrey Rooks

Involved in: Broadcasting journalism, choir, theatre department

By Elizabeth Hopkins

Every Griffin knows the face of thespian and Tonka Talks host, senior Geoffrey Rooks. Each morning, Rooks can be seen on the morning announcements which he dedicates his time to as a way to make the world a little happier.

“I’m passionate about entertainment, making people happy through a medium,” Rooks said. “I am passionate about acting and making people laugh. My day gets better because their day gets better. I’ve mainly been trying to get some sort of presence with a really positive aspect to it.”

But besides just literally broadcasting himself to the school, Rooks has also been been building up his social portfolio by getting involved in various activities from choir to theatre which he believes gives him an avenue to get to know and to connect with other students.

“These past few years I haven’t really been active in the Winnetonka community, but senior year was my renaissance year,” Rooks said. “I just got more involved.”

In the future, Rooks plans on working independently as a voice actor in the entertainment industry where his passion lies. He has been doing voice-over projects outside of Winnetonka, hoping to gain some credit to his name.

“I don’t really plan on going to college, I just don’t think it’s right for me,” Rooks said. “I am planning on going straight into work, having voiceover or voice acting work. I don’t know if there’s a career I want other than voice acting, but I’m willing to work with what’s put in front of me.”

Meanwhile, ever the competent comic, Rooks continues to spin upbeat fun to those who watch him in the hopes that his positive personality imbues happiness in others.

Harper Ross

Involved in: Art department, Choir department, Gold Medallion, International club, Key club, Louder Than a Bomb, National Honor Society, Science olympiad, Theater department

When senior Harper Ross woke up on Dec. 18, 2017 the skies were gray. In her poem, “Poet_Artist,” she calls the shade “six o’clock some Sunday morning, maybe better named Sunday mourning.” That morning marked the death of Korean pop artist Jonghyun, and also a pivotal moment in Ross’s life.

This fall, Ross will attend Oberlin University where she will study psychology and film to become an entertainment psychologist based in South Korea to will help struggling artists. This decision came after the death of Korean pop artists Kim Jonghyun, when Ross came to the realization of the Korean mental health problem.

“I felt this would be a good way to give back to a community where everyone dedicates their lives to inspiring others,” Ross said. “This was the least I could do to help them and give back for all the inspiration and strength they’ve given me.”

Ross has been involved in many activities, especially in music and art, both of which will aid her in her future career.

“I’ve now found a way to take my love for music, art,  psychology and helping people and funnel them all into one job, which I never thought would be possible,” Ross said. “But it kind of goes to show that if you have an interest in something and it really touches your heart, you can find a way to bring all of those things together.”

Though Ross long debated pursuing interests in other fields that appeared more practical, she realized recently that she needed to, “follow her heart,” to her passions. 

“To anyone having trouble reconciling what to do with what’s practical, there definitely is a way,” Ross said. “There’s going to be people that look at you crazy when you tell them what you want to do. If it’s something that’s really in your heart, then that’s a sign that you should do it.”

Vincent Tinoco

Involved in: Baseball, Football, Track and field

By Katie Bullock

From the crib to cleats, senior Vincent Tinoco has been swinging baseball bats since he was five years old. Now, after eleven years, Tinoco’s high school career has not only earned him two academic all-state letters and a first team all-conference title, but also a sense of spirit. 

“Sports have taught me a lot. They’ve built my character,” Tinoco said. “Obviously you’re not going to win every single time. You have to learn to hate to lose more than to win because once you get that, you’ll get so much better. Not everything is going to go your way and you just have to learn how to bounce back from that.”

Although Tinoco’s main priority is baseball, he is also involved in both varsity football and track. Last year, Tinoco made it to sectionals and showed up just short of state in track, but he is hoping to advance further this year. Until then, every day before and sometimes after baseball practice, Tinoco can be found working out on the track. 

“It’s more than just showing up and letting people cheer you on and having fun, it’s about the process as well,” Tinoco said. “You can’t love it if you don’t love to do the work as well. You have to love to do the work as much as you love to get the result out of it.”

While there are many words that could be used to describe Tinoco, according to him there is perhaps none more fitting than determined.

“No matter what you want to do, just work on it,” Tinoco said. “No matter if it’s in sports or school, I promise that if you have the determination, the dedication and the will to just put your nose to the ground, look straight ahead and focus on nothing but the goal, you’ll come out on top.”

Alison Walker

Involved in: A+ tutoring, ACE Mentors, National Honor Society, NCAAPS, Symphonic orchestra, PLTW engineering, Robotics

By Jason Hopkins

Being one of the only female Winnetonka students invested in engineering, senior Allison Walker has worked her hardest to carve her path. 

“I figured out in middle school that I really liked math. Some people told me that I’d be good at architecture because of that, so I decided to take the PLTW [Project Lead The Way] classes for engineering,” Walker said.

Walker decided to go into engineering her freshman year and was encouraged by her father who is an electrician. After taking one class, Walker kept going in the engineering field.

“I experimented with the field and the more I experimented, the more I found out I liked it,” Walker said. “It was relatively easy to settle on engineering but there is always the struggle of being a girl in a mainly male-dominated field.”

Also involved in the ACE [Architecture, Construction, & Engineering] Mentor program, Walker has received two scholarships through the program. Currently, her plan is to go to UMKC for engineering. To help herself get prepared for her future, she has decided to become a part-time student and professional. 

“First semester of this school year, I went to a manufacturing plant where I learned professional skills and got to work on projects,” Walker said. “This semester, I am at an internship at Alston Associates, which is an engineering firm.”

Walker has been determined to stay on this path despite the stress of having little time for other things. To keep herself from being overwhelmed, she focuses on the positives rather than the negatives.

Senior destinations

Graphic by Elizabeth Payton

A complied list of where 2018 seniors will be attending college.

Arizona – 

Grand Canyon University – 

Clayre Barkema

Florida –

 Stetson University –

Bailey Kleindienst

Illinois –

Northwestern University –

Hannah Hernandez

Iowa – 

Drake University – 

Taylor Zimmerman 

Graceland University – 

Ry-Jae Fisher

Southwestern Iowa Community College – 

Daniel Newbury

Kansas –  

Johnson County Community College – 

Jozi Hurt

Kansas City Kansas Community College – 

Paul Burton

Gavin Crump

Tabor College – 

Jeremiah Johnson

Wichita State – 

Essence Jewel

Kaitlyn Presko

Missouri –  

Avilla University –

Alexander Pyatt

Central Methodist University – 

Justin Hanson

Jacob Strobel

Maple Woods Community College- 

Tyreese Nolan

Destiny Cooper

Riley Weigers

Kashe Turner

Parham Habibi 

Breann Taylor

Victoria Duensing

Ry-Jae Fisher

Anthony Pressly

Ryan Woods

Jacob Gustin

Roxett Suarez 

Jonathan Orr

Sumaia Juma

Nathaniel Blanton

Missouri University of Science and Technology –

Nicholas Edmundson

Cameron Keough

Missouri State University – 

Dillon Osborne

Heaven Sanders

Jessica Olive

Missouri Western State University – 

Courtney Simpson 

Taylor Mahorney 

Julia Whiles

Taylor Hellums

University of Missouri-Columbia –

Matthew DeHass

Vaida Juma

Northwest Missouri State –

Thomas Mitchell

Riley Stephenson

Bibiana Meza

Park University –

Jerry Keeny

Bryton Koch

Baylee Dolph

Rockhurst University –

Nehe’miah Strother

Truman State University –

Dara Fitzmaurice

University of Missouri Kansas City –

Autumn Hillyer

Elaudy Abreu

Halie Cosman

Kristina Curlett

Katie Kalm

Jonathan Yuth

Lindsey Langdon

Rana Ekilah

University of Central Missouri –

Alejandro Hernandez

Ryann Hill

Anna Braman

Gabriella Matthews

Scott Dugent

Allison Walker


William Jewel –

Christina Criscione

Skylar Seitz


University of Nebraska-Omaha –

Cassandra VanHouten

New York

Marymount Manhattan college –

Kylee Zerbe

North Carolina 

University of North Carolina School of the Arts – 

Danielle Dodd


Oberlin College –

Harper Ross

Griffins soar into the world

Seniors look to their futures in college, in the military and in the workforce

A heart for medicine

In a few seconds of silence, senior Rana Ekilah stands anxiously holding her mother’s hand. She scrolls through her phone looking to see if she made it into her dream college program. The silence quickly breaks as Ekilah screams “I’m accepted! I got in!” She cries and hugs her mother in disbelief. 

Out of more than a thousand applicants, Ekilah was one of 106 people accepted into the 6-year combined Bachelors MD program at UMKC, in which she will be majoring in liberal arts with a minor in chemistry while working towards her Medical degree.

“I’m just super ecstatic that I get to attend this program and represent my school in such a great way because it has been almost seven years since someone from Tonka has been able to attend this program,” Ekilah said. “It’s also great because I’ll be the first doctor on my mom’s side of the family, as well as the first female doctor on my dad’s side. That’s really important for me.”

Ekilah attributes this success to being motivated throughout high school and to her prioir experience with medicine.

“I kept a 4.0 GPA. I started taking medical classes this year, and being suddenly involved in AP helped a lot as well just to show them that I was involved in a lot of college work,” Ekilah said. “Also, just maintaining a lot of involvement in other activities to show that I can balance things well and I also shadowed at the hospital last summer. That experience as well really solidified my interest in the medicine but also showed the committee that selected me how committed toward medicine I am.”

This interest in medicine all started when she was young.

“Ever since I was a little kid, I always loved the idea of playing doctor,” Ekilah said. “And I think it probably came from my mom because she was a nurse and so are my other aunts. I was constantly surrounded by the idea of medicine and working with patients and for some reason I was so intrigued about it.”

For awhile, Ekilah was unsure of what to do for her future. It wasn’t until her junior year, when her father had a heart attack, that she committed to medicine.

“Fortunately but unfortunately… my dad had a very severe heart attack and to that experience with him, seeing doctors work with him and come together to save his life multiple times was very enlightening,” Ekilah said. “The summer afterwards I shadowed at a hospital and it really just solidified my love for medicine and how much I really wanted to do it.”

After going through that experience with her father, shadowing at a hospital, taking AP classes, taking medical classes, filling out the application and being interviewed 11 times, Ekilah was able to sigh in relief knowing that everything she had overcome and accomplished had been worth it.

“I had a very rough year the year before then, and so whenever I found out that I was accepted after thinking that I wasn’t because it was so highly competitive, I literally started breaking down in tears and hugging my mom,” Ekilah said. “I didn’t know what to think at first. I didn’t think it was real. I still don’t think it’s real.”

Graphic by Jessica Glaszczak

Philosophy of a job

“Money can’t buy me love” is a Beatles quote that senior Dylan Chumley takes to heart and uses in his philosophy that a job is simply for economic stability while achieving happiness comes elsewhere. 

“As Mike Rowe says ‘Your job is just a job. It’s just meant to be a job. You’re supposed to do it, get paid, and you’ll find your happiness somewhere else, in doing something else,’” Chumley said.

Chumley has decided to make his own path by going into the workforce rather than going to college. 

“My parents pushed college on me for a very long time and from about eighth grade on, I told them it’s not what I wanted,” Chumley said. “I felt pressure to do something that wasn’t something I wanted to do. And because of that I thought that since there’s always opportunities, doors opening and doors closing, I can find those doors instead of being pushed through the one that absolutely everyone else is being crammed into.”

According to Chumley, the opportunities in the workforce allow for someone to be successful financially.

“Grainger for instance; it’s kind of a manufacturing distribution center, so the Amazon of other stores if you would,” Chumley said. “They have full benefits, they start you off at 15 dollars an hour, which is three dollars under what my mom makes after she has four college degrees. There are managers there, ‘leads,’ in different departments of it that make up to 30 dollars an hour. That’s very well-off compared to what other people I know make.”

Chumley believes that there are more opportunities for him in the workforce than in college. 

“I just see opportunities there [in the workforce] that represent how life actually is with doors opening and closing compared to just being stuck in a job because you put four college degrees into it when maybe you don’t end up liking it,” Chumley said. “While if I go into a job like this, the experience l gain from there can lead me to other jobs, other doors. And I feel like that’s more worthwhile than other such paths.”

Chumley is considering going to the east coast to get a job doing manual labor at an airport, where the benefits are good and the pay is steady. 

Back to the future

At the Cahokia mounds in Illinois nearly ten years ago, senior Helen Wesner excavates a small mole bone from the ground during archeology day. Now, Wesner is looking forward to her future as a bioarchaeologist.

Though Wesner’s love for bioarchaeology started with her visit to the Cahokia mounds, she also attributes her love for bioarchaeology to her AP Art History class.

“[Bioarchaeology is] the study of ancient human beings and how they lived and how they died…” Wesner said. “AP Art History kind of influenced that because it’s a lot of history and I love history.”

In order to afford going to college to earn a degree in bioarchaeology, Wesner plans on going into the military as an aviation mechanic. Many of Wesner’s relatives have been in the military, which is another reason for joining.

“They will pay for all of my college,” Wesner said. “I used to work a lot on cars with my dad, so putting that into an aviation spectrum is kind of cool. I can’t be a pilot because my eyesight is really messed up.”

Wesner’s interest in travel also contributes to her love of bioarchaeology. 

“I’m debating whether I’m going to stay here in America or go over to the Mediterranean,” Wesner said. “[Traveling is] another reason why I want to do it [bioarchaeology]. My ultimate dream is to go to Pompeii and excavate… because everything is preserved so well.”

Senior Quotes

The senior class’s last words to Winnetonka


Katie Bullock

Senior Jackson Mattingly wears a plastic griffin’s mask as he stands on the senior wall at the Aug. 18 varsity football game against Park Hill South at the North Kansas City District Stadium.


“If you’re pretty, boys will do your homework.”

– Miah Ashley


“Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I trust your commands. — Psalm 119:66.”

– Clayre Barkema

“You can’t always see the light at the end of the tunnel, but if you keep moving, you will come to a better place.” —Uncle Iroh, Avatar the Last Airbender. 

– Nathaniel Blanton

“I am Confusion.” – Derrian Davis

– Anna Braman

“Beats rusting outside” – Fender (Robots 2005)

– Paul Burton


“They call me ChumBucket in the winter.”

– Dylan Chumley

“Positive rides, positive vibes, positive life.”

– Shelby Combs

“I hope my future is as bright as my highlight.”

– Destiny Cooper

“Hannah Montana said no one’s perfect, but here I am.”

– Halie Cosman

“If there is something you want to do, go do it. You may never get the chance again.”

– Christina Criscione

“If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball.”

– Gavin Crump

“They say you are what you eat but I don’t remember eating a goat.”

– Kristina Curlett


“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard” – Winnie the Pooh

– Lara Dannemaier

“Live life to the fullest, don’t let anyone stop you.”

– Joshua Daugherty

“I brought the milk in so it wouldn’t spoil.” – Joey Torres

– Matthew DeHass

“Highschool is easy if easy is consistent busy work and days of showing up just to show up so they don’t reduce your grade. :)”

– Robert Delaeter

“Katie just put something funny, I want them to think I’m funny.”

– Danielle Dodd

“There is no shortcut to perfection. All it takes is hard work and more hard work.” – Kim Jonghyun

– Victoria Duensing

“The timing of the future of education and skill is always in your hands.”

-Scott Dugent


As Jesus once said “Ow, stop nailing me to a board.”

-Nicholas Edmundson

“How do you do 100 hours of community service in 24 hours?!!”

-Rana Ekilah


“You ain’t gotta flaunt ya money for everyone to see!”

– Ry-Jae Fisher

“I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.” -Andy Bernard from The Office

– Dara Fitzmaurice


“There are no two words in the English language more harmful than ‘good job.’”

– Jacob Gustin


“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. – Wayne Gretzky, – Michael Scott” 

– Parham Habibi

“A’s & 4.0’s are like unicorns and mermaids: dreams that never come true.”

– EricaRose Hamilton

“Always remember the light at the end of the tunnel.”

– Justin Hansen

“Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.”

– Taylor Hellums

“Only when you are at your lowest, do you realize what kind of person you are going to be.”

– Alejandro Hernandez

“If every porkchop were perfect, we wouldn’t have hotdogs.”

– Hannah Hernandez

“No, it’s actually spelled with two ‘N’s. Like, R-y-a-N-N.”

– Ryann Hill

“Live long and prosper.”

– Autumn Hilyer

“There is no synthetic beauty without some strangeness in proportion.” -Edgar Allen Poe

– Lia Holman

“That wasn’t like high school musical at all”

– Jozi Hurt


“The only time I set the bar low is for limbo.”-Micheal Scott

– Essence Jewel

“You never fail until you stop trying”
-Albert Einstein

– Jeremiah Johnson

“Be who you want, no matter the circumstances, but never forget what’s important.”

– Ka’Von Johnson

“What can I say about school? I laughed. I cried. It was fun.”

– Sumaia Juma

“I’m an educated fool with money on my mind.” – Coolio

– Vaida Juma


“Live your life to the fullest.”

– Katie Kalm

“Do not let others take your anger for their advantage.”

– Jerry Keeney

“If idiots were airplanes, this place would be an airport.”

– Cameron Keough

“Be humble, be grateful and be careful.”
 – John Wooden

– Bailey Kleindienst

“You have a right to disagree, but an expectation to do it respectfully.”

– Bryton Koch


“Yes. I do have a soul.”

– Lindsey Langdon


“Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear”-George Addair

– Taylor Mahorney

“You meme so much to me.”

– Sara Martin

“If tomorrow isn’t the due date, then today isn’t the do date.”

– Gabriella Matthews

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” – Eleanor Roosevelt, – Bibiana Meza

“Yeah, that’s not spaghetti.”

– Thomas Mitchell


“If you do not want it bad enough you won’t get it.”

– Daniel Newbury

“Be you and keep your circle small.”

– Tyreese Nolan


“Open the book and keep turning pages to make history.”

– Jessica Olive 

“Mourn the losses because there are many, but celebrate the victories because there are few.” -Sharon Gless as Debbie Novotony

– Jonathan Orr

“The Man who says he can and the man who says he can’t are both correct, which are you?” -Confucius 

– Dylan Osborne


“Do things that make you happy within the confines of the legal system.” – Ellen DeGeneres

– Kaitlyn Presko

“Just cause I’m big doesn’t mean I take steroids.”

– Anthony Pressly

“Go Fast. Go Left.”

– Alexander Pyatt


“The Office, season 7, episode 19, minute 14:45.”

– Gisselle Quinones


“At one point of someday, everything you did will be exactly what you will be.” – Kim Namjoon 

– Harper Ross


“You can’t just give up! Is that what a dinosaur would do?” -Joey Tribbiani

– Heaven Sanders

“Don’t put anything stupid for your senior quote” -my grandma

– Skylar Seitz

“If you don’t enjoy school there is always sleep.”

-Courtney Simpson

“People may forget what you said or what you did but not how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

– Riley Stephenson

“That wasn’t like high school musical at all.”

– Jacob Strobel

“There is no force equal to a woman determined to rise.”  – W.E.B Du Bois

– Nehe’miah Strother

“Don’t surround yourself with losers or fake people, that will make you one too. Surround yourself with winners, people who will bring you up and value you as a friend.”

– Roxett Suarez


“This world is sick.”

– Bol Tong

“One Dream, One Direction.”

– Kashe Turner

“Sorry I missed the past 2 semesters of your class…I was sleeping.”

– Cassandra VanHouten


“Always be sassy yet classy.”

– Allison Walker

“If its not the DUE date, its not the DO date.”

– Kennedi Walker

“Whats the point of being grown up if you can’t be childish sometimes.” – Doctor Who

– Helen Wesner

“Even if your life is falling apart, have hope.”

– Julia Whiles

“Birds are like the sky’s fish.”

– Riley Wiegers

“But guys I love her.” – Vincent

– Ryan Woods


“I was taking dubs in Fortnite, not school.”

– Jonathan Yuth


“Only those who risk going too far can possibly find how far one can go.” -Thomas Steams Eliot 

– Kylee Zerbe

“Goodbye has never been so easy.”

-Taylor Zimmerman

2018 by the numbers

Results averaged from a senior survey collecting 90 responses

To my best friend

Seniors say a shoutout to their friends

“Angela, Mary, Heaven and Jacob. I love you all.”

-Elaudy Abreau


“Shoutout to Brooklyn for taking my side and supporting me in everything even when I’m wrong 99 percent of the time; a true friend.”

Submitted photo

-Miah Ashley


“To my best friend(s) who have always supported me and have reminded me to laugh everyday. I love you and I’m always a phone call away.”

– Clayre Barkema


“Dylan Chumley – you better graduate, boi!”

-Nathaniel Blanton


“Tyler Freeman, I love you and you are honestly my best friend. Thank you for showing me that I can be who I am without being afraid of being judged. You have helped me become who I am and want to be. Thank you.”

-Anna Braman


“To Sir Nate Blanton: we have been best friends since diapers and through it all we have taken separate paths and had very different experiences but when it comes down to it we are still the little kids playing Star Wars Battlefront 2 together you are more like a brother to me than just a friend and I love you.”

-Dylan Chumley


“Shoutout to Alexis Coltharp, you’ve been my bestie since freshman year, and the only one who has stayed by my side since. I love you so much. I can’t wait to take on college with you. #ROOS.”

-Halie Cosman


“S/o to Ciara Arena for sticking by my side for seven years and many more to come.”

-Cristina Curlett


“Shoutout to Bibiana because I didn’t think that I would ever have a friend like her. She always makes me laugh in Biomed and I just don’t know what I would have done without her.”

-Lara Dannenmaier


“Tyler Anderson for just being an awesome friend.”

-Matthew DeHass


“My gals – you will always be with me, even if our life paths take us apart.”

-Danielle Dodd


“Gisselle Quinnones for being the realist friend. Helping me in my times of need. Always giving me a smile on my face and being a genuine and amazing person.”

-Victoria Duensing


“Shoutout to Haley Clay #ChocolateChip – You are the nicest person I know and I can’t wait to see what we look like when we grow up and how many kids you really have lol.”

-Ry-Jae Fisher


“S/o to the Facebook group chats I muted.”

-Jacob Gustin


“Breann Taylor: I love you so much. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for becoming my friend and not ignoring me, even if you couldn’t remember my name. love your one and only, New Girl.
Sara Martin: I couldn’t have asked for a better neighbor. Thank you for the years before and the years to come. Love ya.”

-EricaRose Hamilton


“I want to give a shoutout the my best friend and girlfriend Taylor Mahorney. You have changed my life for the better. I couldn’t imagine not meeting you my freshmen year. I believe we were destined to meet and be together. I love you so much. You will always be the key to my heart. I wish I could’ve known you for longer than four years but unfortunately we didn’t but oh well I’m glad I got to spend these four years with the love of my life.”

-Taylor Hellums


“Riley Wiegers, we made it.”

-Alejandro Hernandez


“Steven Bishop, I’m lucky I’m in love with my best friend!”

-Ryann Hill


“Shoutout to Laurissa and Hannah for always knowing how to cheer me up and making me laugh until I can’t breathe.”

-Lia Holman


“Devon Richardson, let me start off by saying thank you. Thank you for every single moment, thank you for every word and thank you for being you. It’s been quite the ride hasn’t it? Let me just say that I’m glad that I have you by my side and you’ve stuck by my side no matter how difficult it was and is. Last but not least, I am so proud of you Devon, and I absolutely cannot wait to see what you’re going to blossom into, and what the future has in store for us.”

-Jozi Hurt


“Lily Abdula: The sweetest girl i have ever met. I will keep you in my life together.”

-Essence Jewel


“Matthew Dehass, you are as stellar as your puns are humorous. Nate the Great Blanton, your name speaks volumes for how incredible you are. Bryton Koch, you’re among the most funny and enjoyable people to be around have a conversation with. Kaleb Deason, we spent most of our public schooling lives as best friends; let it continue. Dylan Chumley, you sure know how to make a guy laugh. Johnathan Yuth, Stevie Findley, Curtis Greer and Garette Burnette, you guys are almost like brothers to me; thanks for the good times.”

-Jerry Keeney


“Shoutout to Thomas Mitchell, Nate Blanton, Gavin Crump, Brian Purkable, everyone in the Calculus II class, Sierra Pruneda and everyone that I can’t think of on the spot. You know who you are and you know how much I care and appreciate you. I wouldn’t be where I am today without you guys. [Also,] Ethan Stull-Lasiter and Daniel Newbury. Much love for them both.”

-Cameron Keough

Submitted photo


“Shout out to Jacob Strobel for all of the kindness, memories and encouragement he’s given me since I transferred to Tonka. Thank you.”

-Bailey Kleindienst


“Gus! I’m not going to gush, but thank you for everything, I couldn’t ask for anyone better to tackle life with.”

-Bryton Koch

Submitted photo


“To my wife (and best-friend), Taylor Hellums: Thank you for always being there for me. I don’t really remember my life before you and I can’t picture my life without you. You have impacted me in so many ways and I love you more than words can describe. “

-Taylor Mahorney


“Kashé Rose! I love you so very much! You are not only my best friend in the entire world, but also my sister and and amazing one at that. I can’t wait to see how you impact the world!”

Submitted photo

-Gabriella Matthews


“Shout to Lara Dannemier for being such a good friend.”

-Bibiana Meza


“Axton Kramer, I know you’re gonna do great things out there risking your life for our country right now. Stay safe brother.”

-Thomas Mitchell


“Thanks Ethan for always helping me out through everything inside and outside school, I wouldn’t have made it to where I am right now without your help.”

-Daniel Newbury


submitted photo

“I would like to shout out Courtney, Miah, Amia, Kayce, Lia and many more for showing me that if you have amazing friends by your side you can basically do anything you set your mind to.”

-Jonathan Orr


“To my friends Allison Walker and Essence Jewel, I couldn’t ask for anyone better to be my friends. You guys made high school sufferable and created everlasting memories. You make me strive to be a better person and friend as you are beautiful human beings that I wish more people had to pleasure to cherish your presence. Good-luck to you in this life and wish only for the best for you!”

Submitted photo

-Kaitlyn Presko


“To Breann Taylor and Kevin Griese for being the besets friends anyone could ever ask for. I will never be able to thank you enough for everything you’ve done for me. I’ll miss all of our inside jokes and mall adventures. My favorite day was when we went to Zona Rosa (while it was freezing out) and Kevin decided to get a drink from the vending machine, just for it to be frozen. The look of disappointment on his face was priceless. Also when we were in High School Musical, “hot nuuuttt.” I love you guys so much.”

-Gisselle Quinones

Submitted photo


“To the squad: You guys have been there for me through the highest highs and lowest lows, and I could not have asked for a more incredible friend group. Thank you for being the sweetest, funniest friends ever.”

-Harper Ross


“Jonathan Orr! You have been my best friend from the beginning of the year but we have known each other since seventh grade, I hope we stay close the years after high school.”

-Courtney Simpson


Submitted photo

“Halle Clapham, I wouldn’t be where I am today if you weren’t by my side.”

-Riley Stephenson


“Shout out to mi hermano, I’ll miss you but I’ll be over for dinner so it’s cool.”

-Nehe’miah Strother


“Angela and Elaudy, you two have accepted my crazy/weird personality… Not many people can. I know that we’re all going off to college and off to finding new friends… I’m hoping our friendship will survive “The real world.””

Submitted photo

-Roxett Suarez


“Shout out to Gabriella Mathews for being the most incredible friend I have ever known. She’s innovative and determined to get what she needs and wants. I hope to be like her one day.”

-Kashe Turner


“Taylor Zimmerman!!!!!!!!! Katie Kalm!!!!!!!!!! Thank you so much for always being there for me, even when I don’t deserve it. You girls truly completed my senior year and I can’t be more grateful to be right by your sides through this crazy adventure. I’m so proud of you guys, and I’m so excited to see where we all go in life. I love you both!”

-Cassandra VanHouten


“Megan who has graduated but still my bestie.”

-Allison Walker


“Shoutout to Alejandro Hernandez for being by my side all four years of high school. And who would have thought we would become best friends from me talking crap on you at football practice and you knocking the crap out of me. Love you bro.”

-Riley Wiegers


“The whole squad. They know who they are.”

-Ryan Woods


“Jackson & Dani,
I love you both more than the world. Thank you for always being there for me, listening, laughing and walking by my side. You both helped me through high school and I am so excited to see the amazing things we all accomplish in the future! Much love!”

-Kylee Zerbe


“Shoutout to Kayce VanHouten and Katie Kalm for being my support system and loving me when I didn’t love myself. Couldn’t do it without yall.”

-Taylor Zimmerman


Dear Teachers

Seniors say farewell to teachers and staff

“Mrs. McKerracher, for all the stress and annotations we had to do :).”

-Elaudy Abreu


“I would like to give a shout out to Mrs. Rosario for always being the adult I can come to talk to and for dealing with my ridiculous attitude. Shoutout to Mrs. Shepherd, I only had you for one class my sophomore year but you will always be the role model teacher I aspire to be. Shoutout to Johnny Morris for being that crazy teacher every student needs in their life.”

-Miah Ashley


“Mr. Wilson, Thank you for supporting me during my short years at Winnetonka. I appreciate everything you have done for me. You have encouraged me to keep going and helped me reach my full potential. But most importantly, you made calculus so much less stressful.”

-Clayre Barkema


“Coach Flynn, Mrs. Green, Mrs. Fender, Coach Asquith, Mrs. Brenner, Dr. Smith “Thank you”.”

-Nathaniel Blanton


“Mr. Elam and Dr. Coffman, Thank you for always seeing my potential and bringing me out of my shell. I know it took three years, but I am so thankful for you two and everything you have done to for me. I love you both (in a North Kansas City Schools appropriate way).”

-Anna Braman


“To Mr. Elam and Mr. Johnston I can say that I’m proud to have known them and I shall forever be grateful for the lessons they have taught me about how to be a great man and to strive for the best when good isn’t good enough.”

-Dylan Chumley


“Mrs. Read she always was acting crazy but made class awesome.”

-Destiny Cooper


“Shoutout to Mrs. Caspari, you’ve been such an inspiration to me, you’ve always helped me when I needed it, and you are a very understanding person.”

-Halie Cosman


“Thank you to Luke Young for the motivation and thank you to Mrs. Caspari for helping through tough times.”

-Christina Criscione


“Shout out to Mrs. Sulzen because she helped me realize how much I love art and shout out to Mrs. Caspari because she always makes my day a better day.”

-Lara Dannenmaier


“Denny, the hall monitor was my favorite staff member at the entire school.”

-Joshua Daugherty


“Mrs. Sulzen, for having to deal with me for four years straight.”

-Matthew DeHass


“School moms, bless y’all.”

-Danielle Dodd


“Jason Elam for always pushing me to strive more and for always being there to listen to me. Jennifer Rubin for being a supportive person, helping me grow.”

-Victoria Duensing


“Shout out to all the teachers who made the worst year of my life great, you know who you are. I’ll take care of you for free when I’m a doctor.”

-Rana Ekilah


“All the FACS teachers, Dr. Smith, Mr. Johnston, the ELA department, Mr. Lowry, and Mr. Morse – thank you all for your support and advice to help me grow as a student and human being in the real world.”

-Ry-Jae Fisher


“To Elam: you really believed in me more than I believed in myself, so props to you. But honestly you are such an amazing teacher and a wonderful and supportive person to talk to. Thanks for being a great choir dad!
To O’dell: I’m so glad i got to be in one of your first classes at Tonka! Thank you for all the help you have graciously given me! I love you so much, (in an NKC schools appropriate way).
To McKerracher: You are going to be one of my favorite college professors! Thanks for everything McKraken!”

-EricaRose Hamilton


“I would like to give a shoutout to Mr. Johnston, Mrs. Caspari and Coach Flynn. I just want to say thank you for always pushing me no matter how your day was going. You guys inspired me to be myself and to to keep going no matter what is blocking my path. Nothing can stop me and I know that know thanks to you guys for being the best of the best.”

-Taylor Hellums


“All of my current and previous coaches for making me the person I am today, Mr. Johnston for being the most passionate teacher I have ever had and Mr. Davis…Go Yankees.”

-Alejandro Hernandez


“Dr. Coffman and Mr. Elam, you both push me so hard and I’m so thankful for every opportunity you’ve given me. I’ve learned so much. Thank you.”

-Ryann Hill


“Shout out to Kerri for being there for me and helping me grow in life as well as my art.”

-Lia Holman


Ian Johnston. You’re the best man, I can’t thank you enough for everything you’ve done for me, even when you don’t have to. thank you for being yourself everyday because you impact so many lives. Such a great passionate person.

-Jozi Hurt


“Mr. Johnston: You gave me a love for learning and my time in your classroom will forever live in my memory.”

-Essence Jewel


“Thank you Dr. Smith, Mrs. Hendrick, Ms. Healy.”

-Ka’Von Johnson


“Mrs. Camarda, your classes were totally “Lit”! Mrs. Green and Mr. Anderson, thank you for always taking care of me. Frau Zobrist, Sie sind meine Lieblingslehrerin! Mrs. Mcgiffin, thank you for always being open to a good discussion. Mr. Bullock, I had the most fun being a part of your Orchestra. Thank you for letting me be a part of it. Mrs. Sayre, Mrs Wilson and Mrs. Wayno, thank you all for taking care of me and putting up with my bad puns and jokes. Mrs. Butler, thank you for always being a friendly person for me to visit with. Mrs. Holwick, thank you for keeping me disciplined and steering me away from shallow thinking. Mr. Johnston, thank you for teaching such an interesting and engaging class and allowing me to explore and discuss topics related to the world around me. Carrie Marcantonio, thank you for helping me through Gold Medallion and putting up with me as a student. Mr. Asquith, Mrs. Knapp and Mr. Janzen, thank you all for letting me be a part of your classes and clubs that offered me the opportunity to explore my passion for Science. Mrs. Sexton, thank you for being my NHS sponsor and keeping me busy in your AP Lang class. Mr. Flynn, thank you for teaching me in AP Psych and sharing stories and lessons that were entertaining and eye-opening to me and applicable in my life.”

-Jerry Keeney


“Thank you to Mr. Morse for sparking my interest in math, spending a lot of hours helping in math, helping me through really tough times, the laughs, the deep conversations, and the endless amount of quotes. Thank you to Mrs. Caspari for being extremely caring and understanding. Thank you to Mr. Fish for stepping up for our engineering program and for being someone that I could go to for advice. Thank you to Hr. Hupp and Coach Lay for being cool dudes.”

-Cameron Keough


“Shout out to Mrs. Camarda,  Mrs. McGiffin, Ms. Meinke, Denny and Mr. Hackenberger, each one of you have given me some of my best memories and the most amazing support. I trust the every future Griffin will be in amazing hands as long as you’re all here. Thank you for your words of encouragement, your kindness, and every motivation in between.”

-Bailey Kleindienst


“Mrs. McKerracher! You helped inspire me by showing me that even messy extroverts like us can succeed and do what they love and change the world!”

-Bryton Koch


“Coach Young, I cannot thank you enough for all that you have done for me. I’ll admit, I was hesitant to join the swim team. I had my own personal issues that made me that way, however, I think joining was one of the best decisions I made. You created an atmosphere where I felt at home. Through the ups and downs, you were always there supporting me. I wouldn’t be who I am today if it wasn’t for you and the team. One of the most important things you have taught me throughout my four years on the team is trusting myself to do what’s best for me instead of what others think is best for me. Thank you for not only coaching me in the pool, but in life as well.”

-Taylor Mahorney


“Mrs. Butler is the best person ever. I can talk to her about anything and I’m glad she can answer my questions.” 

-Sara Martin


“I would like to thank Mrs. Rosario for being my at school mom and always making me a better person.”

-Gabriella Matthews


“Thank you to Mrs. Bulter, Mrs. Wilson, Mrs. Sarye for being a daily hello!! Mr Elam, Mr. Willis and Dr. Coffman for being my performance mentors and Mrs. Caspari and Mrs. Galetti for being my moms!!”

-Jessica Olive


“I would like to shout-out Mrs. Caspari for being one of the best and funnies teachers I know, Mrs. Cassity for showing me my love for photoshop and design, and Mr. Bullock for showing me love for music.”

-Jonathan Orr


“Shout-out to Ms. Rubin for being an amazing band director my final year, and to Mrs. Zobrist for always making German class a blast.”

-Dylan Osborne


“Mr. Morse thanks for believing in me and teaching me all about the joy of math! Not only were you able to make me laugh in nearly every class, but you gave incredible advice and wisdom that I will always remember. I will never forget you!”

-Kaitlyn Presko


“To Mr. Barrier for being my favorite teacher since eighth grade.”

-Gisselle Quinos


“Mr. Elam, Ms. Camarda, and Ms. Sulzen: You have been the nicest, most supportive school parents I could ask for. Thank you so much for everything you’ve done for me all four years of high school. I couldn’t have made it through without you!”

-Harper Ross


“The Lunch-Ladies (and gentlemen): They don’t get enough credit what they do for us. School food may be crappy but they try so hard to make it the best. Also, all the teachers I had when I first transferred.”

-Heaven Sanders


“Mr. Janzen! I appreciate you so so much! You have helped me a lot in this one short school year in human anatomy.”

-Courtney Simpson


“Thank you Mrs. Caspari, Mr. Johnston, Mrs. Marcantonio and Mrs. McGiffin for always being my motivation.”

-Riley Stephenson


“Ohh my goodness S/o to Dr.Johnson best principal ever, Mr. and Mrs. Marcantonio, Alma I will miss you (she probably won’t even know who this is), Shawn in the cafe, Mrs. Butler nicest lady ever, Dr. Smith, Brian and Denny y’all the best, Mr. Morse most valuable player, s/o to every teacher that sat through my exhibition and biggest thanks to everyone who has helped and encourage me here at Winnetonka. Y’all will be missed. Much love.”

-Nehe’miah Strother


“Mrs. Andrews, I can honestly say 100%… I would not have made [it through] high school if not for you.”

-Roxett Suarez


“Mr. Johnston!! I can’t explain how much I appreciate you as a human being. You are so unique, kind, loving, trustworthy and respectful. You’re so open with your students and bond with each and every one of us on a different level -which I love. I know I can come to you about anything and I know you’ll always support me through everything in life. I am so grateful I took your AP Human Geo class my senior year so I had the opportunity to create the bond I have with you. You’re always willing to put every problem you have aside just to put a smile on your students’ faces. You teach us so much more than what we need to pass your class or the test. You teach us how to deal with stress, go about life problems, prepare us for our future, and simply how be good people. I will miss your hilarious dad jokes, side comments, and crazy dance moves.Thank you again, so much, for being who you are and making everyone else around you happy too.”

-Cassandra VanHouten


“Shoutout to Dr. Johnson who has been a great principal this year and to Mr. Morse for being a great Calculus teacher.”

-Allison Walker


“SHOUT OUT to Mr. Elam for believing in me! SHOUT OUT to Mrs. Mckerracher for knocking me down a few notches, and getting me ready for the real world. SHOUT OUT to Shawn the lunch guy for being so ding dang awesome and bringing the 48th St players back together!”

-Kennedi Walker


“To all my coaches who pushed me to stay on top of my grades and teaching me what it means to be a man.”

-Riley Wiegers


“Ms. Andrews, Mr .Anderson, Mr. Schmitt, Mr. Stevenson, Ms. Lee, Mr. Morse, Ms. Caspari; shout out to all of you guys helping me get through high school and making memories.”

-Ryan Woods


“Dr. Coffman,
Thank you, for always having my best interests at heart, inspiring my dreams, and giving me a home to grow in. I will forever cherish my time as your student and all the opportunities you gave me.”

-Kylee Zerbe


“Shout out to Mr. Johnston for literally putting his heart and soul into teaching  and being more than just a teacher to not only me, but everyone of his students. You deserve the best in life, much love!!”

-Taylor Zimmerman

Dear seniors

Teachers share advice and shoutouts to the class of 2018

Teachers and staff were asked to give advice and/or shoutouts to the seniors. The first quote under every name  is advice to the senior class as a whole, and the second quote below every name is a shoutout to specific classes or group of students.

College Adviser Darius Caffey

“Some of the best advice that I can give to the senior class, is to always be honest with yourself and be transparent with the people that care about you.”

“A huge shoutout to my 1st graduating senior class in making my first job out of college a good experience.. even though they barely showed up to my events.”

Administrative assistant Lisa Callahan

“Be polite, be respectful, be kind.  Those three things will take you FAR in life and cost you no amount of money!  Remember, you will continue to make mistakes through out your life. LEARN from them.  Best of Luck in your future endeavors!”

English teacher Melissa Camarda

“Haiku to the Class of 2018
You are more aware.
You are more vocal. Thank you!
Stay woke, and please: vote.”

Theater teacher Sheri Coffman

“Act well your part, THERE all the honor lies!”

“Theatre IV Seniors – You have forged an impressive legacy that will long live in YOUR Theatre Department! Thank you for leading by example. Winnetonka Theatre Department loves you and wishes you the very best life has to offer!”

“Industrial Technology teacher Thomas Fish

Don’t be afraid to fail.  We all make G.O.O.F’s. G.O.O.F. = Growth Opportunity Overcoming Failures!  We all learn to fly by crashing a few times!”

Teaching and learning coach Suzanne Forman

“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor others above yourselves. Be joyful in hope, patient in hardship, and faithful in prayer. Never be lacking in zeal. Share with the ALL people who are in need.  And always, always – practice kindness.”

English teacher James Hawes

“Follow your passion, but have a practical backup. Get involved with some club or activity when you go to college. It can be a lonely place when you don’t know anyone. Approach everything with an open mind, but demand evidence.”

“Be Brave & Be Kind.”

AP and Honors Physics teacher Marcy Holwick

“Hard work is good and makes dreams come true.  Never stop working hard and dreaming big.”

Assistant principal Shannon Lawson

“The Class of 2018 has embraced this new Griffin with open arms. I am so proud of each and every one of you and I know you will do big things! Congratulations on your graduation and best wishes for your next adventure. Tonka believes in you!”

“Hey, 2018! Don’t just fly through life, SOAR!”

Math and ACT Prep teacher Vickie McGiffin

“YOU can make a big difference. If you ever have a bad day, make it better by volunteering. A small contribution from you can be the beginning of big changes!”

English teacher Be-Asia McKerracher

“Learning to ask for help is the difference between successful people and people with the potential for success.”

“Shout out to all my College English survivors–lol.  I will miss you! College writing is going to be a breeze now that you know the M, the L, and the A :-).”

Math teacher Joseph Morse

“Enjoy your future and remember to wear your flannel shirts!”

Art teacher Heather Sulzen

“Hey AP Art History seniors! Thanks for being my first group for this class. No matter how you do on the test you should feel proud that we all know a lot more now then we did in August, like how cows don’t eat fish. Congrats on graduating!”

Biology teacher Brittani Tiefenbrunn

“Congratulations Seniors! Your Tonka family is so proud of you! Now, go out and change the world! 🙂
Remember to..
Greet the future with anticipation
Dream big & work hard
Always treat people how you would like to be treated
Enjoy every moment of your new journey
Remember your roots, manners & the way HOME.”

Counselor Tabitha Todd

“Roots alone cannot bring growth.  It takes soil, rain, sunshine and seasons to grow.   Let people in, let experiences prune and change you. You’ll never see beyond the garden you’re planted in if you don’t grow tall enough.”

Administrative assistant Pamela Wiltfong

“Get a college degree. Take that time to find your passion. Once you start working and get a taste of money, you might not finish, and later you will wish you had.”

Math Teacher Luke Young

“There’s what’s right & there’s what’s right, and never the twain shall meet.”

“Tell Sue I said, “What’s up?””

When I was eight

Seniors reflect on their favorite activities when they were younger and what they wanted to be when they got older.

“I loved to go on road trips with my uncles and aunts.”

-Elaudy Abreau


“I loved dressing like a boy, but also wanted to live the life of a Bratz doll.”

-Miah Ashley


“Every since I was eight, I’ve loved to read books and draw.”

-Clayre Barkema


“To hold a platypus.”

-Nathaniel Blanton


“I have always wanted to be a professional singer when I was younger.”

-Anna Braman


“Fly but that was until I figured out I couldn’t…”

-Paul Burton

“I wanted to become a scientist and name a star after my mom.”

-Dylan Chumley


“I wanted to be an astronaut and go to Mars.”

-Shelby Combs


“Be a nurse.”

-Destiny Cooper


“I wanted to be a chef.”

-Halie Cosman


“To play soccer in high school.”

-Christina Criscione


“I wanted to be a CSI investigator.”

-Gavin Crump


“I wanted to be a dentist.”

-Kristina Curlett


“I wanted to open a shoe store in New York with mom.”

-Lara Dannenmaier


“Running all around the neighborhood chilling with my friends.”

-Joshua Daugherty


“Build legos.”

-Matthew DeHass


“Be like Sasuke.”

-Robert Delameter


“When I was eight I wanted to be an actress.”

-Danielle Dodd


“I loved to draw.”

-Victoria Duensing


“The things I loved is that I loved walking and exercising. I even loved making wallpapers in two software programs, which I enjoy.”

-Scott Dugent


“I wanted to be a veterinarian when I was eight. I LOVED animals, but unfortunately my brother is allergic and I never really had one … sad.”

-Rana Ekilah


“Ride horses, singing, dancing, coloring and sports.”

-Ry-Jae Fisher


“I wanted to be a superhero, obviously.”

-Dara Fitzmaurice


“I wanted to be in the Air Force.”

-Jacob Gustin


“I wanted to be a professional fast and furiouser.”

-Parham Habibi


“I loved the fact that I was going to become a big sister.”

-EricRose Hamilton


“I was set on being a CSI and I wanted to be the person who was a hero and was not hiding behind the scenes.”

-Taylor Hellums


“Be a Winnetonka Griffin, become a football player, and get pancakes…a LOT of pancakes.”

-Alejandro Hernandez


“I wanted to be a marine biologist with a side job as a baker.”

-Hannah Hernandez


“When I was eight, I was really sporty and wanted to be an Olympian athlete (oh, how the tables have turned).”

-Ryann Hill


“I wanted to be a chef when I was little, my dad got me a chef hat and everything.”

-Lia Holman


“When I was eight, I wanted to be a vet actually. I read with my stuffed animals and pretended to heal them. I loved the sunshine and I loved being outside. I was totally a tomboy.”

-Jozi Hurt


“I loved to play outside and throw the football and I wanted to be a famous football athlete.”

-Jeremiah Johnson


“Military service.”

-Ka’Von Johnson


“I love the farm in my country.”

-Samaia Juma


“I liked to sing in choir and play tetherball during recess.”

-Vaida Juma


“To be a princess.”

-Katie Kalm


“Watching PBS Kids, playing games on the Nintendo Gamecube.”

-Jerry Keeney


“Playing guitar, going outside and playing the original Star Wars Battlefront 2.”

-Cameron Keough


“I loved riding horses, I’ve always wanted to own one.”

-Bailey Kleindienst


“Draw (for some reason).”

-Bryton Koch


“I wished to be a cat lady and a doctor.”

-Linsey Langdon


“I loved being outside and at the pool with friends. The pool was basically my second home during the summer.”

-Taylor Mahorney


“I wanted to be a vet.”

-Sara Martin


“I wanted to be a ballerina and a cop. I loved fish sticks, the outside and climbing trees.”

-Gabriella Matthews


“I wanted to be a policeman. There’s NO way now.”

-Thomas Mitchell


“I always loved baseball and wanted to become a professional athlete.”

-Daniel Newbury


“I wanted to be a kid because me at eight, I really didn’t dream of being anything.”

-Tyreese Nolan


“When I was eight years old I thought I could do anything and everything like rule the world.”

-Jessica Olive


“When I was eight, I loved cooking and eventually wanted to become a chef.”

-Jonathan Orr


“I wanted to be a police officer.”

-Dillon Osborne


“Playing Pokémon and reading.”

-Kaitlyn Presko


“Played football.”

-Anthony Pressly


“Play video games.”

-Alexander Pyatt


“I loved High School Musical and wanted to marry Zac Efron. I still do.”

-Gisselle Quinones


“I wanted to be a veterinarian.”

-Harper Ross


“I loved climbing trees and being outside in general. I wanted to be Mother Nature.”

-Heaven Sanders


“I wanted to be a baker.”

-Skylar Seitz


“I wanted to grow up faster.”

-Courtney Simpson


“I wanted to be a professional volleyball player.”

-Riley Stephenson


“When I was eight I loved everything pink and princess themed, now I still do. I’m looking forward to a pink barbie hummer in the future.”

-Nehe’miah Strother


“I wanted to move to the United States and play in the snow. Until I did… then I figured out it was just ice.”

-Roxett Suarez


“Halloween, family and friends, going on road trips.”

-Breann Taylor


“When I was eight, I loved Hannah Montana and playing outside.”

-Kashe Turner


“I wanted to be a vet and a mom. I loved my dog, my family, my friends and school.”

-Cassandra VanHouten


“When I was eight I really wanted a pet dog and now I still have the same dog (Sally) that has been with me since I was 10.”

-Allison Walker


“I loved going outside with my friends, riding my bike, going to parks and all that jazz. I really wanted to be a singer when I was eight years old, I wanted to be like Beyonce’ (lol who did I think I was).”

-Kennedi Walker


“I wanted to be a vet.”

-Helen Wesner


“I wanted to be a veterinarian, and I loved to play soccer.”

-Julia Whiles


“I wanted to be an NFL player for the Kansas City Chiefs.”

-Riley Wiegers


“Loved to hit people.”

-Ryan Woods


“Go to recess.”

-Jonathan Yuth


“I wanted to be a singer/actress! My dream was to be in movies. Especially, a remake of Twilight.”

-Kylee Zerbe


“I wanted to be a doctor when I was eight.”

-Taylor Zimmerman


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