Top of the Class of 2013: Tempe's Desert Vista High School (located in Ahwatukee) - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Education News

Top of the Class of 2013: Tempe's Desert Vista High School (located in Ahwatukee)

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Posted: Wednesday, May 1, 2013 12:00 am | Updated: 5:22 pm, Wed May 22, 2013.


Ryan Smith

Ryan is a gifted learner, talented athlete and is involved in the DV Orchestra.

He has taken challenging honors and AP courses across the curriculum spectrum since his freshman year, and is currently taking the highest math class offered at Desert Vista, Calculus 3 – Differential Equations. While he is undecided in his major his inclinations point towards a math related field like engineering, or possibly chemistry. Ryan is currently taking AP Chemistry and considers it to be his favorite subject. Ryan has shown academic ability and the determination to obtain his goals and has been named a National Merit Scholar finalist. Mr. Smith has held an elected office in the DV Orchestra council since his sophomore year. He has been selected for the Chandler Youth Symphony. Ryan’s passion is displayed in his commitment to cross country, lettering on the varsity cross country team all four years of high school, named Male, Junior Scholar Student Athlete of the Year. Through cross country Ryan understands the importance of setting personal and team goals. His greatest experience in cross country has been the team aspect to an individual sport.

Suhitha Veeravelli

Suhitha participates in several off and on campus organizations, with the overwhelming emphasis of her involvement in science and medical research. She has earned recognition for her leadership as a volunteer at Chandler Regional hospital, and continues to participate in research at ASU and St. Joseph’s Hospital, all of which are an excellent compliment to her extra-curricular participation in Quiz Bowl, science club and HOSA. Suhitha has taken advanced science classes all throughout high school. For the past two years she has taken two honors or AP science classes each year, earning high marks. She is a strong student across the academic spectrum, ranked first in her class of 710 students. She has also been named both a Flinn Scholar and National Merit Scholar finalist. In addition to her academic strengths, Suhitha participates in various activities on and off campus. Last summer Suhitha traveled to China with NSLI-Y AFS Summer Program, giving her the opportunity to study Mandarin language and culture, as well as tour the country and participate in community outreach projects. Suhitha has gained a global perspective from the program and will be able to apply her scientific and social behavioral knowledge into practice.

Annie Dai

Annie's analytical mind translates into her chosen activities as well. Throughout high school she has participated in HOSA, and the Desert Vista Science Club. For the past three years she has held a leadership position in HOSA. With her leadership and expertise, the team won Arizona State competition, and traveled to Nationals. Annie earned National Semi-Finalist recognition in Forensic Science. Annie's legacy to Desert Vista will be her leadership in HOSA, and the clubs dominance in local and national competitions. She views her role as President this year as an opportunity to develop the program, and the underclassmen, to continue the tradition on for many years to come. She works closely with the program sponsor, Mrs. Musheno, to create a fun and creative mentorship program within the club. Annie volunteered and coordinated the New Student Welcoming program. She created a schedule for the new students, coordinated other student volunteers, and enlisted the assistance of key players on campus, working closely with our assistant principal. Annie's insight into the needs of this group of students comes from her move from Texas to Arizona during high school. She can relate to the fears associated with attending a new school, and worked to achieve a more welcoming environment for our new students. Annie identified a need, volunteered to help and created a model to follow for next year's orientation, based on compassion and understanding.

Jenny Chen

According to Jenny, one important activity for her is Speech and Debate, specifically as Captain of Limited Preparation category. As Captain she has refined her leadership skills through her responsibility for mentoring the younger debaters, organizing and communicating practice and competition events, and working directly with the coaches to meet the needs of her team. Jenny takes her captain role seriously, yet works diligently to ensure that the time spent with her team is not only worthwhile, but fun. She is best known for her ability to think fast on her feet and present well to various audience groups. She has earned accolades at local and national competitions, including National Harvard Tournament Quarter-Finalist Extemporaneous Speaking this past winter. As a scholar Jenny shines across the curriculum spectrum. She is noted as an AP Scholar with Distinction, having taken eight AP exams with scores of four or five. She is exceptionally strong in languages, and will be well on her way to a minor in Spanish upon completion of AP Spanish Literature this year. Jenny is also recognized in our math department among a running list of students earning a score of 800 on SAT Math. Another aspect of Jenny's talents is her artistic application to her schoolwork and recreational pursuits. The academic endeavors that she is most proud are artistic in Nature. She has created 3-D artistic representations for class projects as well as original drawings. She uses art as a creative release both in her school work and he leisure activities.

Jonathon Gauthier

For the past two years Jon has been working as a website developer, and most recently as a software developer engineer. His skills have grown because of the professional conversations in which he has been able to participate. He is proud of the work he has been able to accomplish. Even though he is young, he is respected for his expertise in this work environment. Additionally, Jon has been named a National Merit Scholarship finalist. During his senior year, Jon is taking an independent study class led by Mr. Willis, DV’s computer programming teacher. They have focused their study on the math logic that supports computer programming languages. Jon will also continue to help teach the computer programming classes with Mr. Willis. Jon started assisting last year, and enjoys the opportunity to use and teach the knowledge he has acquired. He has acknowledged what every good teacher knows; that applying knowledge and teaching others is a developmental step in the learning process.

Connor Thunshelle

Connor is, above all, competitive. He appreciates the opportunity to apply his science and mathematical knowledge in Science and Quiz Bowl competitions regionally and nationally. He has most notably taken two honors science classes each year, currently enrolled in Organic Chemistry and is conducting biological research in an advanced studies class. He has furthered his interest and research in neurobiology at Barrow’s Neurological Institute as a research intern. His scientific experiences have led him to desire a degree in neurobiology and the pursuit of a research career. Connor also competes as a member of the DV Cross-Country Team. He enjoys participating in a team environment, practicing before school each morning at 5:30. His leadership has brought continuity to a team of individual runners, and has been a driving factor leading to the development of Connor’s self-discipline and time-management skills. Connor has a deep appreciation for the concept of individual participation for the common good. Last year Connor was a runner-up in the Arizona state high school championship. Music also plays a large role in Connor’s development. He is the principal viola in DV’s top orchestra and has been awarded top chair assignments in the Phoenix Youth symphony as well. While Connor does not intend to further his formal education in music, he will continue to pursue musical outlets for his talent with other club affiliations. Connor’s legacy at Desert Vista will be the re-vitalization of the STAND Club. Connor has worked diligently to grow the movement through education and fundraising. According to Connor, the mission of STAND is, “a student network that actively fights genocide and seeks to unite students around the world in a permanent anti-genocide constituency.”

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