Ross Beatty High School announces highest ranking seniors

Published 10:53 am Thursday, May 9, 2019

CASSOPOLIS — With the turn of a tassel, four years of hard work and determination will be rewarded for seniors at Ross Beatty High School in Cassopolis. Among those graduates are 10 standout students who have gone above and beyond to secure their place as top-ranked.

On June 9, valedictorian Madison Suseland will lead her classmates through the final chapter of their high school experience. Suseland, the daughter of Sharon and Jeff Suseland, has some advice for her younger counterparts.

“Although high school may be tough, you can use those difficult experiences to blossom into a stronger person,” she said.

While maintaining her 4.0 grade point average, Suseland also participated in FFA as the chapter secretary, second vice president and president. She was also the Region One secretary.

She was a member of the National Honor Society, student senate (serving as sophomore class president, student body vice president and president), and French Club. Her awards included FFA academic excellence for three years, FFA Greenhand, chapter and state degree, Agricultural Issues state winning team member, Prepared Public Speaking state winner, and “All A” honor roll all four years.

Suseland’s experiences with FFA are some of her fondest memories.

“My favorite memory from high school was attending my final state [FFA] convention, seeing my fellow chapter members do well, and performing my speech in the Wharton Center at Michigan State University,” she said.

After graduation, Suseland plans to attend Suffolk University to major in English and become a book publisher.

Salutatorian Chayla Gould is the daughter of Cheyenne Burton and Jonathan Gould, and granddaughter of Patricia Laing. During her four years of high school, she was active in robotics, National Honor Society, French Club and Student Senate.

Her advice to underclassmen is, “Focus on your work. Your GPA is important, but don’t forget to have fun and build connections with those around you.”

Gould, who plans to attend the University of Michigan in the fall, was awarded the DAR Good Citizen Award and was a dean’s list nominee. Though she will be finishing the last chapter in the book of her high school experiences, she will not forget the memories she made, “having field day with my classmates, participating in games and having a good time.”

Completing the list of top-ranked seniors:

Lane Francis, the son of Reid and Janet Francis, is ranked third in his graduating class. He was active in soccer, football, baseball and track. He was an all-conference kicker for football and received an all-district award all four years of soccer. Francis plans to play soccer in college and earn a mechanical engineering degree.

Francis has a piece of advice for soon-to-be freshman Rangers.

“Don’t take any day for granted,” he said. “Always work hard at everything you do no matter what.”

• Ranked fourth in his class, Nicholas Prestly is the son of Clyde and Cathy Prestly. He participated in FFA, Robotics, French Club, 4H, NHS and Student Senate.

Prestly’s awards include being appointed Michigan FFA State Secretary, FFA State Degree, three-time academic excellence, PHD Award, Star Discovery, Greenhand, state-winning Ag Issues and Parliamentary Procedures team.

Prestly plans to attend MSU with a major in pre-med. Experiencing new things is the advice Prestly gives to underclassmen. His favorite memory was being elected as the 2019-2020 Michigan FFA state secretary.

Austin Bruens, the son of Tara and Gordie Bruens, is fifth-ranked in his graduating class. His activities included Robotics and French Club and being on the “All A” honor roll. He plans to study film studies at MSU. As the end of his time in high school comes closer, Bruens offered one simple piece of advice for those wishing to achieve similar success: “Do not procrastinate.”

Alyssa Wright is the daughter of Robert and Melody Wright. Ranked number six in her class, Wright was active in 4H, SADD and National Honor Society, as well as being named on the “All A” honor roll. Wright plans to attend Michigan State University in the fall.

“If I could give advice to the students beginning their first year, I would tell them to get good grades, but also make friends and socialize,” Wright said.

Skyler Westphal is the son of Heidi and Burton Westphal. Ranked number seven in his class, Westphal was a programmer for RoboRangers, participated in Penn 4H, and National Honor Society as well as wresting and football as an underclassman. He was also on the honor roll all four years of high school.

Westphal plans to attend the University of Michigan and obtain a bachelor’s degree in computer science. Westphal advised underclassmen that all four years of high school are important.

“The trick is to strive for success from the start,” she said.

Makinna Gay is the daughter of Lori and Aden Gay. The eighth-ranked student participated in volleyball, soccer and NHS. She plans to go to SMC and then transfer, studying sports medicine and business. Her favorite high school memory was playing soccer, and she advised young Rangers to “always stay true to yourself, even if it is hard.”

Hannah Harris is the daughter of Mike and Shannon Harris. Ranked number nine in her class, Harris was in FFA for four years, serving as chapter reporter, vice president and president. She also served as region one president. She was active in 4H, National Honor Society, four-year honor roll, academic excellence award at FFA state convention, and earned Greenhand degree, chapter degree and state degree through FFA. Harris plans to attend Kellogg Community College and transfer to MSU.

“Don’t get caught up in the high school drama. It is so temporary,” she said. “Focus on you, and grow through what you go through.”

• Rounding out the top 10 is James “Dylan” Green, son of James and Victoria Green. He was active in National Honor Society and FFA. He was captain of the varsity football and wrestling teams, and also played baseball for four years.

The soon-to-be-graduate earned Honorable Mention All-State Quarterback, All-State Wrestling fifth place, first team all-conference baseball and football, RBHS football offensive MVP in 2018, and is the two-time recipient of the Natham Broehm Most Outstanding Wrestler award in 2018 and 2019. Green plans to attend Hope College in the fall, studying engineering, and also playing on the college football team.

Green’s favorite high school memories were participating in sports. He advised younger students, wishing to one day find themselves in the group of top graduates to set their goals early and high.

“You will be surprised by how much you can accomplish when you give 100 percent of yourself,” he said.