Oak Harbor’s top students look back, forward

Here’s a look at some of the memories from the top 11 students with the highest grade point averages

On Saturday, June 15, students of Oak Harbor High School’s graduating class will earn their diplomas and turn those tassels as they look forward to a new chapter in their lives.

Here’s a look back at some of the memories and achievements from the top 11 students with the highest grade point averages in the class of 2024.

Maggie Root

If you attended a Wildcat sporting event within the last few years, you may have seen Maggie Root cheerleading out on the field or court.

In fact, one of her favorite high school memories includes competing with her cheer team during her junior year, when she grew close to her teammates and made some her best friends.

Besides cheer, Root also juggled a number of other extracurricular activities, including band, track, ASB, National Honor Society and Link Crew. On top of all that, she kept up with her studies and maintained a 4.0 GPA.

“I feel as though I learned a lot not only academically but also personally,” she said of her high school experience.

After graduation, she plans to study pre-med in pursuit of becoming a pediatrician at Washington State University.

Conner Banta

For Conner Banta, his high school experience reminds him of one of his favorite childhood movies, “Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed” — filled with friends and funny moments, and the lesson that even if you feel like a screw-up sometimes, you can never count yourself out completely.

Like his peers, his freshman year was mainly hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic. That year, he participated on the wrestling team for his first and last time. He spent the next three years of high school “completely enthralled” with the robotics club, enjoying building complex machines and giving back to the community.

His most cherished high school memory comes from the time when his robotics team managed to pull off an unexpected win with a few last-minute points.

“I remember being on the field feeling so triumphant and happy that all of the work my team put in had paid off,” he said.

Following high school, he will be headed to Gonzaga University to study mechanical engineering.

Spencer Grubbs

Maybe more so than his fellow top seniors, Spencer Grubbs’ high school experience was a roller coaster ride. He had just moved across the country from Florida and was starting fresh during a pandemic.

“It hurt some of my social skills and shattered my self-confidence, but I overcame that through my involvement in the arts, specifically the drama program, and surrounding myself with people that cared and supported me,” Grubbs said.

As an upperclassman, he found his niche as the drama club vice president and the choir club president, participating in shows like “Mamma Mia!” and “Clue.” He also served as the Knowledge Bowl team captain for two years and participated in NJROTC and National Honor Society.

To his surprise, he was elected Homecoming King. All he could think about was how proud his freshman self would have been.

After this summer, he’s off to the University of Washington to be part of the honors program.

Ashley Roundy

Balancing her academics with her busy life as a student athlete was a challenge Ashley Roundy overcame. Along with participating in eight AP classes, she went out for track her freshman and sophomore years, played tennis her junior and senior years and soccer for all four years of high school. She joined choir as an underclassman and later the National Honor Society. She was also part of Leadership for three years.

She struggled with constant lethargy and focusing in her classes following a severe anemia diagnosis her sophomore year, but she persevered and recovered her junior year.

“One of my favorite high school memories is playing card games with my friends during lunch and having the opportunity to tag along with my best friend while she went to State for girls tennis in Vancouver, Washington,” Roundy said.

She’ll be going to the University of Oklahoma to major in biochemistry. She has also been admitted into the pre-med program which will help her get on track to becoming a pediatrician.

Claire Paul

For Claire Paul, her fondest high school memory involves her cross country team’s trip to Seaside, Oregon during her senior year.

“Our team was really close this last year, and it was so much fun spending time with them,” she said.

Sports remained a passion for Paul, who ran cross country and track all four years of her high school career. She played basketball her freshman year and managed the boys basketball team as an upperclassman.

She was also a part of National Honor Society, Link Crew, AVID Tutoring, Leadership, DECA, Band (Concert & Wind Ensemble) and attended a total of five AP classes.

Keeping up her grades while competing as a student athlete was difficult, but she successfully made time for homework.

She plans to study sports management at Washington State University in the hopes of becoming a sports lawyer or an agent for professional athletes.

Gina Snyder

If Gina Snyder could describe her high school experience with one word, it would be growth.

“I am no longer as quiet, secluded, and devoted to simply getting good grades,” she said. “Now, with working on grades, I work on myself, on making friends, and on making memories that I will look back on.”

She tried out many sports to find out what she liked best, eventually settling on tennis, which she competed in for four years. Her favorite high school memory includes a time when her team was playing “king of the court” because it reminds her of how much she loved that year of tennis and the supportive team that made her feel like she belonged.

Besides participating in Key Club, Snyder also took high school classes and college courses as a Running Start student.

After high school, she plans to finish up her associate’s degree and direct-transfer in biology at Skagit Valley College. She hopes to transfer to Eastern Washington University to pursue a master’s degree in public health to become an epidemiologist.

John Culligan

Launching bottle rockets in his honors chemistry class proved to be one of John Culligan’s favorite memories of high school.

Throughout his four years, he found himself participating in a variety of extracurriculars and classes, including robotics, band, drama and orchestra.

When asked why he was being recognized as one of the top graduating seniors, he replied, “I assume it’s because of my GPA but I’m not entirely sure. I also think I’m a generally cool person so maybe that too.”

Like many of his fellow high-achieving classmates, Culligan struggled to find a balance between doing too much and doing too little. He overcame this hurdle and became the fullest version of himself.

Following graduation, he’ll attend Johns Hopkins University to study political science.

Madison Dodson

AP Chemistry proved to be a challenge for Madison Dodson, who found herself studying the hardest she ever had in her high school career.

“It was stressful but also exciting at times,” Dodson said of her high school experience. “I learned a lot, not only in an academic way but also about myself and who I want to be as a person and how to act in certain situations.”

She participated in a range of extracurriculars, including Key Club, orchestra, National Honor Society, the art guild and varsity swim.

Her favorite high school memory was the girls swim senior night because everyone was very excited and happy but also sad, and all the seniors on the team were celebrated in a way that made everyone feel very loved. She also enjoyed celebrating Friday Night Lights with her friends.

She’s headed to the University of Washington this fall to study neuroscience either on the pre-med track or to get her master’s degree and maybe PhD to go into research or academia.

Lauren Broberg

Since she’s only lived in Oak Harbor for the last six months, Lauren Broberg has had a bit of an unusual high school experience.

In December, she moved from Annapolis, Maryland, where she had been a part of Zoology club, Board Game club, D&D club, and French Honor Society at her old school, Broadneck. Her biggest challenge at Oak Harbor High School was coping with trimesters instead of semesters.

She credits her supportive family for helping her to adjust to her cross-country move. Her favorite high school memory was joining her brother’s D&D campaign, which has been running strong for the past four years and helps her keep in touch with distant friends.

“I just focused on schoolwork and floated through high school,” she said. “I had my ups and downs, and there were a lot of weird people and occasions, but y’know, that’s just high school.”

Post-graduation, she plans to take a gap year and get a job or internship. Eventually she’ll go to a community college and then transfer to a larger college, where she’ll possibly major in physics or math.

Danielle Ramsahai

Throughout her four years, Danielle Ramsahai attended three different high schools due to her family being in the military.

“Many may see this as a negative, but I look at the way that it shaped me,” she said. “It led to being well-rounded, and now I’m in the top 10!”

She credits hard work and persistence for getting her where she is today.

During her time in Oak Harbor, Ramsahai had a job at Sushimoto as a hostess and participated in a STEM camp. Her favorite memories consists of laughing with her friends in class.

She described her high school experience as unique, fun and fulfilling. It taught her a lot, not just academically but also morals and values. Lifelong friendships have made high school enjoyable.

She plans on studying microbiology-biomedicine in college and then going on to be a pediatric surgeon.

Declan Johnstone

For Declan Johnstone, his favorite high school memory was the first time he saw his puppy, Blu, waddling around the living room.

“I would describe my high school experience as challenging, but as an opportunity for lots of growth and a way to make meaningful memories,” he said.

Mostly, he focused on academics – AP classes – though he did enjoy the three years he participated in Key Club.

After online and hybrid classes, he found it hard to stay motivated to keep up with his in-person classes, but it was a challenge he soon overcame.

After graduation, he’ll be off to university to study biochemistry.