Top 20 Seniors Provide Insight

Every year, each high school in the district picks 20 seniors that they believe reflect the values of a Viking, a Ram, or a Jaguar. Students can reflect those values academically, through sports or social involvement, or by exemplifying themselves as a unique individual. This year, The Viking Vanguard picked five of the Top 20 to interview.
Ayden Berg: Mr. Band

One of Puyallup High School representatives, treasurer of band as well as Mr. Band, president of Chess Club, a member of Key Club and Math Club, and now Ayden Berg has become one of Puyallup High School’s Top 20 Seniors. Ayden Berg has a long list of accomplishments throughout his high school experience. 

 “My sophomore year, I was the Band Inspirational Sophomore. So, I’ve done a lot for that program. I was selected as the treasurer this year,” Berg said.  

In addition to his accomplishments in band, Berg has had a recognizable academic career. 

 “I’ve also gotten the AP Capstone diploma through taking Seminar and Research, being an AP Scholar with distinction,” Berg said.  

When Berg was awarded the title of one of Puyallup High School’s Top 20 Seniors, this monumental achievement did not come as a surprise to him.  

“I wasn’t particularly surprised, I felt like I was just living up to the expectations that I had set for myself,” Berg said. 

Before Berg, his brother was one of the Top 20 Seniors too. His goal was to follow in his brother’s footsteps and receive that same achievement. 

 “[I was] following in my brother’s footsteps, being one of the great seniors,” Berg said.  

Berg believes he was selected for this award due to the large amount of work he has done with the school district. 

“I think that my work over this past year working with like the district and administration here at PHS on increasing access to scholarship information and other college readiness information, or like even beyond that, just like general post high planning, I think that was a big contributor to that,” Berg said.  

One key reason that Berg says he keeps up his challenging schedule is due to his desire to help people.
“I want to provide for other people I want to be of service for other people so that they can do the best that they can do,” Berg said. “I think wanting to be there for other people and helping them [motivates me].” 

While it isn’t easy, Berg manages with the support of his parents and siblings.  

“My parents and my siblings have really helped me find what I want to do as well as encouraging me to do whatever I enjoy,” Berg said. 

Berg will be attending the University of Arizona, majoring in architectural engineering.
A piece of advice that Berg has for his fellow students is to get involved and you never know if you don’t try.  

“Get involved in everything that you have the opportunity to, because that is what is going to make high school fun,” Berg said. 

Shayna Jones: Club Hero

Staying on top of everything you are supposed to do during senior year is difficult for many. But for this student, managing her senior year of high school, clubs and activities at PHS, and a social life wasn’t too bad. 

Immediately after finding out she was a Top 20 senior, Shayna Jones says she was shocked, but she says she realized that all the work she put in during and after school was paid off. 

“At first, I couldn’t really believe it. I was like, ‘Are you sure this was me’?” Jones said. “But then I was really excited. I got to get recognized at the school board, so it was a really good feeling knowing that your hard work is recognized.” 

Jones believes that she was chosen as a Top 20 Senior because of her work outside of school, she is a member of multiple clubs at PHS and tries to get involved wherever she can. 

“I am involved in Black Student Union. I’m [in] Viking Knights and Ladies and I was part of the Daffodil royal court. I’m [also] in National Honor Society,” Jones said. 

Senior year can be easy to ignore but there’s many steps you must take before graduating and moving past high school. Jones’ advice for incoming seniors is to make sure they do their work as soon as they can to not get overwhelmed near the end of the year. 

“I would say to stay on top of your stuff. If there’s something you need to get done, just do it. Because if you don’t do it, it’s gonna come at you all at once,” Jones said, 

High school isn’t easy, it’s important to have people along the way to help you through these times. For Jones, she says her parents were her biggest supporters throughout high school. 

“I would say my parents…they really do motivate me to succeed and want me to go further than what they had an opportunity to go to,” Jones said. 

With all the stress from school and clubs, Jones likes to be with her friends in order to take that stress off her shoulders. 

“Outside of school, I enjoy hanging out with friends and going to get a bite to eat. Just things to get our minds off stuff,” Jones said. 

Looking ahead, Jones is planning on getting her degree in social work at PLU and then going into a career. 

“After high school, I’m going to Pacific Lutheran University to study social work and then hopefully I will get my bachelor’s [degree] in social work and then go out and do the job,” Jones said. 

Countless memories are made throughout High School, but for Jones the small moments of kindness are the memories that last forever. 

“I would say my first day of school here. I came here my junior year of high school, so it was very like culture shock to me, because I came from a school in SeaTac. So I’m like, ‘you guys have a pool that’s crazy to me,’” Jones said. “I was sitting alone at lunch and didn’t really know anybody [because] I’m new here. But a girl came up to me and she had basically invited me to sit with her, I will say that was a very good memory.” 

Jones says she hopes to leave a legacy behind at PHS as someone who worked hard and helped out in the Puyallup community. 

“I hope people would remember me as somebody who was involved in their community and really just gave back. So, I think that’s the legacy I want to leave,” Jones said. 

Roby Hooper: #Goals

Two-year captain for soccer. 

Math Club member that tutors his peers. 

Commended scholar through PSAT. 

Top 20 Senior. 

Roby Hooper’s resume reads like a success manual for high school students. 

“It was cool to know that teachers felt that I was a good student, and I could be a top 20,” Hooper said.  

Hooper says he believes he was selected for this award due to his high-level classes and involvement in sports outside of school. On top of his academic and athletic involvement, he is also a commended scholar for the PSAT.  

I did Math Club and math tutoring for all my years at PHS and then I also played soccer for every year PHS too,” Hooper said. 

Hooper must make time for sports, clubs and academics in his schedule. He manages it by following the advice of his teachers who told him to keep up with his work and not fall behind. 

I would say [a piece of advice] is to just stay ahead of your work and not to let things pile up too much,” Hooper said. “A lot of my teachers told me that I could get through my classes if I did that. 

Hooper says a key person that has supported him throughout his academic and athletic career has been his dad. 

“He helped a lot with my calculus math class last year and just supports me through soccer and everything,” Hooper said. “The biggest thing is him coming to all my games and being the loudest supporter there. 

After graduation, Hooper is going to Harvey Mudd College, where he plans to play soccer and study computer science. 

One piece of advice he gives to next year’s seniors is to try their best. 

“It’ll be kind of hard to keep working even though you’re going to be graduating soon, but just keep going in your classes for as long as you can,” Hooper said. 

Hanna Vega: AVID Royalty

Students during their senior year can struggle to get involved in school activities and with their fellow classmates. But for this senior, it was her top priority to be involved with her school and there for her classmates.  

Hanna Vega, an AVID student and one of the top 20 seniors, believes that the biggest highlight of her senior year was being on the Daffodil Royal Court at PHS.   

“I got to meet a lot of people and put myself out there,” Vega said.  

Vega said that her favorite teacher during her years at PHS was AVID teacher Cherokee Ainslie. 

“She’s always shown me to push forward and try my best and supported me along the way,” Vega said. 

Vega’s plans after high school includes going to Pierce College to get prerequisite classes done first. 

“I’m planning to go to college and pursue a Bachelors of nursing to become a registered nurse,” Vega said.  

During her time at PHS, Vega says that AVID was her favorite class. 

”It’s like a family and I’ve been able to learn a lot about college and getting myself prepared and ready for the real world,” Vega said. 

Vega says she is proud of what she has accomplished in high school and considers her hard work to be her biggest achievement.   

“Keeping up with pushing myself forward by taking AP classes and involving myself in my community,” Vega said.  

The biggest challenge for Vega during high school was her mental health and the stress that school life provides.  

”But I’ve been able to persevere through it,” Vega said.  

Vega believes that a big motivator for students is that there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel with whatever you may be struggling with. 

“And I think we all just have to find our own way to get through it,” Vega said.  

Vega said that her father had a big inspiration on her life and the drive she had to succeed in high school. 

“I want to be able to prove to him that I can do great things with my life,” Vega said.  

The biggest pieces of advice that Vega had for incoming seniors included getting involved with school. 

“And don’t put school on the backburner, because it’s just as important in your senior year as it is right now,” Vega said. 

Corban Smith: Track Star

There are plenty of school activities that students get involved in during their senior year of high school. While it provides students with a chance to have fun in their last year of high school, it is important for them to stay ontop of their studies to provide themselves with the best chance to succeed post high school. This student can say that you can be heavily involved in school activities while maintaining excellent grades.  

Corban Smith, track athlete and one of the top 20 seniors, said that the biggest highlight of his senior year was his 3rd period AP Government class with teacher Mychal Limric. 

“I had a lot of fun with my friends in that class,” Smith said.  

Smith said that his favorite teacher over the time he has been here, was the history teacher Will Walker. 

“I really appreciate him as a teacher and as a person. I had his APUSH class last year, and I’m his TA this year,” Smith said.  

Smith’s biggest achievement throughout high school is maintaining his impressive academic record. 

“I have a 4.0 GPA and I took a lot of AP classes. So, I would say I’m proud of my academic transcript,” Smith said.  

Smith claimed that the biggest challenge for him was certain AP classes such as Calculus. 

“Also, track was pretty difficult because I had some injuries and other stuff I struggled with, but overall, it ended well,” Smith said.  

Smith said the biggest motivator for him to do well in school was in building the best future that he possibly could for himself. 

”I wanted to have a good transcript so that I could go to college, as well as earn scholarships so that I could pay for college,” Smith said.  

Smith’s biggest inspiration comes from his sister due to how competitive he is to be as good as her in school. 

”Also, my parents. I look up to my parents, to see how hard they work, motivates me to work hard,” Smith said.  

Smith’s most important piece of advice for incoming seniors is to not slow down with your academics as you get closer to graduation. 

“Just keep going until the end. It can get really hard to be motivated. So, try to keep pressing on so that you don’t lose your drive during senior year,” Smith said. 

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