Seven Sehome Seniors Receive Rotary Club Award

Sarah Hageman

Seven staff-selected Seniors were chosen to receive the Rotary Club Award from Bellingham’s local Rotary Club. The Award recognizes Seniors for various achievements in different subjects like academics, arts, and humanities.

 According to the “Who We Are” tab on, “Rotary is a global network of 1.2 million neighbors, friends, leaders, and problem-solvers who see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change – across the globe, in our communities, and in ourselves.”

 The Rotary Club of Bellingham started in 1917 and has supported a lot of community and international projects. “The Rotary is an organization of business and professional leaders united worldwide, who provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations and help build goodwill and peace in the world,” Martha Zender, Career Center Assistant, said. Every month from October to April, a senior is selected for the award. Each month has its own subject category. The teachers nominate students, and the Sehome staff votes to pick the winner.

 October, the first month, highlights a student who has shown skills in Math. Lexi McGowan (12), was very grateful for the support from the staff and appreciative of the opportunity presented. “I was surprised to be the recipient of the award considering how many others were easily as qualified,” McGowan said. McGowan enjoys math because she likes that there is always a definite answer, unlike English or other classes where there is a lot up for debate and interpretation. McGowan will most likely be at Santa Clara University majoring in biology, in which math is certainly involved. McGowan said she learned to love math in elementary school and every teacher she has had since has kept her interested.

The Visual Arts subject is awarded in November commemorating accomplished artists. This year, Wil Henkel (12) won for his ceramic talent and hard work. Henkel appreciates when ceramic art is recognized. “I think a lot of times, art and especially ceramic work of students can go relatively unnoticed by the larger school population. So it was cool to be awarded for that,” Henkel said. This was his first award or recognition. Although Henkel is not planning on taking any ceramic classes in college (at Fairhaven College- Western Washington University), he will continue to pursue art in other ways. “I want to open a small studio with my friend Jesse Selch (Sehome alumni class of 2017) post high school. I already have most of the equipment and would love to start selling my work,” Henkel said. Some of Henkel’s work is on display at Jansen Art Center in Lynden for the month of May.

Lonnie Schang nominated Henkel for the award. Henkel says that Schang plays a big role in his ceramic accomplishments by “providing a welcoming environment, allowing kids to explore and create. He also keeps his room open early and late which has really allowed me to improve my skills”. He says that Schang is just a good human.

The feeling is mutual. “[Henkel] is possibly the most prolific ceramic artist I’ve ever had in my 32 years of teaching. He is so self-directed and self-motivated and he is always challenging himself and trying to learn new things. He is inspirational. Love the kid,” Schang said.  

In December, the Humanities award went to Lucas Cunningham (12). Like McGowan, Cunningham was surprised to receive the award. “I had no idea the award existed before I found out [that] I won,” Cunningham said. “It was really rewarding for me to feel appreciated by the school community.” Cunningham hopes to study creative writing or screenwriting along with environmental science at Pomona College in California.

Cunningham feels that he has grown a lot as a writer in the last two years and would like to shout out Mrs. Nyman and Mrs. Casey. Gwen Nyman (Staff) was Cunningham’s teacher in 9th grade and then again in 12th grade. “Lucas is definitely one of brightest students I have ever had the pleasure of teaching,” Nyman said. When Cunningham was in 9th grade, Nyman had to find ways to challenge him, but now in AP Lit, Nyman has fun having scholarly discussions. Nyman is proud that Cunningham recently won the Sue Boynton Poetry award. She’s also happy that Cunningham has aspirations to become a screenwriter.  “I told him that if he makes a famous movie, he has to invite me to walk the red carpet,” Nyman said.

January’s category awards for Theater was given to Nate Southcott (12). Southcott has been a part of the Thespians Troupe #4614 for 4 years and has been in every main-stage production. He has been the Vice President and a General Officer of the Thespians. As a group, the Thespians won Silver honors at state; Southcott won Most Memorable Monologue and performed in The 39 Steps. Southcott was proud to have been picked by Sehome’s faculty for this award. “It was gratifying to be awarded for something I’ve been working on so hard” Southcott said. Although Southcott was accepted into University of Southern California’s theater program and intends to double major in performing arts and political science.

Theater is really important to Southcott, as he has grown close to the family-like community in his time with the program. “It’s hard to do a show and not feel closer to everyone who was in it. I’ve made some of my best friends here,” Southcott said. Kandace McGowan, Sehome’s drama teacher, has played a huge part in Southcott’s love for theater. “She has a huge role in my accomplishments. She facilitates an open and welcoming culture where you can feel accepted. Without her continued support, I would have never been as talented and skilled.”

Ariana Raduege (12) showed musical excellence and was awarded February’s Music category award. Raduege plays the cello in Sehome’s Chamber Orchestra and Advanced Orchestra. Raduege has gotten nominated for the masonic league of Bellingham award, placed at SJMEA’s Solo and Ensemble and gone to state. Raduege got a good scholarship to her college of choice and got into the music major program. She is going to continue music in college but is not planning on becoming a professional cellist. At St. Olaf college in Minnesota, she will be pursuing doing a double major in music and environmental science. Raduege loves the cello because it is fun to do with friends. “Pretty much all my friends I’ve made from Orchestra” Raduege said. The $100 cash prize went toward buying a new bow for her cello.

In March, Jacob Van’t Hoog (12) received the Science category award. Van’t Hoog will be going into the University of Washington’s Computer Science program. “I love learning about the mechanisms that exist at extremely small and extremely large scales to make the universe function,” Van’t Hoog said. “There’s endless layers of complexity everywhere.” Van’t Hoog said that all of the science teachers he has had are incredibly supportive, dedicated, and inspirational for him and many other students.

Van’t Hoog enjoyed the lunch in because it was especially impactful to hear from the other groups of students.  The winners of the “most inspirational’ award had some incredible stories about overcoming obstacles and contributing back to the community.

This last month, the final award was earned by Araceli Guzman (12), voted to be the most inspirational. “It feels very honorable. I did all this volunteering, all this community service and I didn’t notice that anyone else was noticing that I was doing all of this work so I feel really privileged to be recognized by staff.” Guzman said.  Guzman has always had a passion for volunteering. “I really look forward, especially at college, to reach out and look at opportunities where I can help and volunteer and dedicate my time,” Guzman said. At the University of Washington, Guzman plans to major in business with hopes to establish a business where she can help people and share her story. Right now, Guzman volunteers at Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit organization that helps build homes for low income families. Guzman loves volunteering because she gets to truly feel like herself. She just loves to help and interact with others.

ASL Teacher Erin Furda, who is also Guzman’s avid teacher, is an important figure for Guzman. “She is awesome. She has always helped me with everything. And in anything that I need help with she is always there regardless of anything and she is supporting my decision in going to college and kind for helping me with scholarships. Just knowing that I have her support and her trust really helps me,” Guzman said.

Each of these students received the Rotary award this 2018-2019 school year. Sehome students can now get excited to see which of their peers will receive the awards for the 2019-2020 school year.