Tara Bone, contributing writer
This year’s graduating seniors were sophomores when COVID-19 shut down schools and upended “normal.” They pushed through online school and canceled activities. When schools reopened, they juggled mask-wearing, COVID-19 testing and quarantines, and all the unique challenges that came along. Some students lost family and friends during the pandemic or struggled to take on more responsibility when family members became sick. Many are still working through mental health issues. Trying to get back to “normal” has been challenging for students and educators, but the class of 2022 is resilient. The seven amazing students on the following pages, one from each Cache Valley high school, represent the ability of the human spirit to succeed amidst adversity. Their stories are inspiring examples that offer hope during uncertain times. Thank you to each high school counseling department for their nominations, and to every teacher in every school for your resilience.
Awarding the First Cache Valley Family Magazine Paul Norton Memorial Scholarship
Emily and Bryan Buckley, owners of Cache Valley Family Magazine, have established the Cache Valley Family Magazine Paul Norton Memorial Scholarship in an effort to encourage continued education for a Cache Valley high school graduate who has exhibited a dedication to excellence through challenges.
Bryan is a first-generation college graduate and Emily attained her higher education despite many family challenges in her early life. This scholarship honors Paul Norton, who mentored Emily in her first professional position after college. Paul shared the Roman philosophy that is worth repeating to every young person seeking success: Luck exists where preparation and opportunity meet. He said, “You never know when you’ll be presented with an opportunity, so prepare yourself for the success you seek.”
Paul Norton was a Utah State University alum who had a successful career in the Public Broadcasting System, then served as Vice President of University Relations and Development at Utah State University, and later as Director of Communications at Logan Regional Hospital. Through his success, he was known for taking interest in every person he met, especially young people just beginning their educational and career pursuits. He passed away this year, after a long and courageous battle with Parkinson’s disease.
This year’s scholarship recipient, Charlsie Reeder from Mountain Crest High School, was selected from the seven nominated students in this feature. Charlsie stood out for her ability to rise above challenges, work hard, and set goals.
Congratulations to these and all the other graduates of the class of 2022! We wish you success as you chart your life’s course.
High School Grad Spotlights
Ridgeline High School: Logan Castleton
Ridgeline High School’s (RHS) Logan Castleton lives each day in gratitude, with a focus on living every moment of life to the fullest.
Logan loves music and enjoys working in his home studio writing songs and performing them for others on the piano. As a freshman he attended the Denver School of the Arts, majoring in piano before moving to Cache Valley with his mom, two sisters, and brother to be closer to family. He has performed in many venues through his involvement with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. From Utah to New York City, his music uplifts and inspires.
He doesn’t like to focus on it, but Logan has Hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a heart disease he was born with that will require him to have a heart transplant sometime in the future. During his life, he has had 15 heart surgeries. Recently he had a stent put into his heart to prolong his life. But he chooses to focus on life, not the disease.
“I’ve learned and am still learning that no matter when my heart transplant comes, I can trust that if I live my life with every moment that I can find peace and joy in this life regardless of my disease. And I have!” Logan said. “There is so much to life that I’ve been a part of that I wouldn’t have enjoyed if I was concerned and had tunnel vision about the sickness of my heart! It is still difficult and it will be. But I’m learning to trust in this situation that Christ can help me overcome this trial, and that He needs me in this life to pursue goals.”
Over the years, Logan has learned that the most important thing in his life is his Savior, Jesus Christ. Logan says He’s taught him to put his focus, love, and trust in Him. So, Logan is setting goals and living life. He is an activities representative on RHS’s student council, a member of the school’s Hope Squad, and volunteers for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. He recently led a school fundraiser to make life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses come true.
Logan’s own wish was granted when he was gifted his home recording studio from the Make-A-Wish Foundation. He has written, recorded, and produced multiple songs that are available on Apple Music and all platforms. He says music has been a huge gift in his life. He’s currently working on an arrangement of the songs I Know that My Redeemer Lives and I Feel My Savior’s Love. Logan hopes to “express the Savior’s love for all through it.”
Logan is grateful for his mother, Jennie’s, constant love and example. “My mom has always been there for me,” he said. “I know she’ll always put the Lord first. I had the best environment to grow up in, and she does a lot, even if she doesn’t see it.”
After graduation, Logan will work before attending Brigham Young University in the fall. The following year he plans to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints.
Preston High School: Joey Argyle
It only takes a few minutes talking to Joey Argyle from Preston High School (PHS) to recognize he has boundless positive energy, his mind is working turbo speed, and he’s ready to launch into his future with both feet and a whole lot of ideas.
In elementary and middle school, Joey was very shy, but wanted to change that. He says his sole goal entering high school was to become more social. It wouldn’t be easy though because he struggled with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), but says he was determined to change his life for the better.
“I always wanted to be social, but it was hard for me, especially when mental health isn’t a strength of mine. I brought the talents and gifts with me [to succeed].” Joey adds, “I wouldn’t be the man I am today without my ADHD.”
From shy guy to a self-described “social media guy,” Joey used his knack with technology to reach his goal. Joey is a YouTuber with thousands of subscribers. He has approximately 4,000 followers on Tik-Tok and over 5,000 downloads on mcpedl.com at Joey gaming. Because Preston is known for Napoleon Dynamite, he decided to build a Minecraft 1:1 scale recreation of the real-life Preston High School that’s featured in the movie at mcpedl.com.
He has plans to increase his social media presence with hopes to “uplift and inspire people to follow their dreams.” This fall he plans to attend Utah State University and study graphic design and continue coding. Joey loves to camp anywhere “as long as there are mountains and trees.” He often goes with his parents, sister, and their two dogs Dobby and Moo.
Joey enjoyed his high school experience and was so proud to be elected a member of PHS’s Executive Council. He worked hard to bring PHS students together using social media. Even though Joey is a natural with all things tech, he believes technology can’t replace real relationships.
His advice to incoming freshmen: “Build connections with people and those connections can last a lifetime. We’re social creatures; we’re more connected, but still divided because people put a wall up called a cell phone.” He encourages students to put the cell phone down and be open to talking to others.
Green Canyon High School: Sophie Lindsey
Green Canyon High School (GCHS) student Sophie Lindsey’s passion for community service and education was sparked as an 8th grader during a school service project, and her drive to serve others has only grown.
For that first project, she made 200 plus beaded bracelets at Christmastime for women receiving help at CAPSA, a local nonprofit domestic violence, sexual abuse, and rape recovery center. Sophie said at that time she “fell in love with service and the CAPSA mission statement.”
She feels service is a way to bring people together and build friendships. “Service is so uplifting and connecting with other people,” Sophie said. “When we’re united, it helps us grow closer together.”
Sophie has served on the CAPSA youth council for four years. She’s actively worked with other youth in the Valley to raise awareness and provide support for victims of abuse and violence. A highlight of her CAPSA service was coordinating “Safe Date Night,” an event at the Cache Valley Fun Park for youth where education about healthy relationships and victim assistance was provided.
At school, Sophie has served as a freshman mentor and ambassador and worked with the Key Club — a service organization. Ambassadors at GCHS are student government members who help new students feel welcome and coordinate service projects during the year. Sophie planned two projects: packing Thanksgiving meals with the Hearts to Home organization and working with North Logan City to organize a ‘Super Hero Kids Camp.’
Sophie loves children and hopes to combine her passion for service with her desire to help children. She is very involved with the Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) organization. Last year she competed in the FCCLA Early Childhood Education category where she took first place in state and competed in nationals, and this year will compete again at nationals. Sophie is GCHS’s Family and Consumer Sciences Sterling Scholar and a state finalist.
Somehow, during high school, Sophie found time to work at Stonefire Pizzeria, complete college credits in AP and concurrent classes, and be part of GCHS’s swim team. Her perseverance and dedication to swim team is a reflection of how Sophie pursues all goals. She says, “I joined the swim team as a freshman with almost no experience, but kept pushing myself. This year I was chosen as a team captain and finally made it to state in the 100 butterfly!”
However, this year hasn’t been without challenges. Her parents divorced and Sophie says it affected her in a lot of ways she wasn’t expecting. But she feels she’s learned a lot from the experience and is grateful to have grown closer with her sisters and both parents. She plans to take what she’s learned and apply it in her future work in the family services arena. She plans to attend Utah State University or Southern Utah University this fall.
Mountain Crest High School: Charlsie Reeder
At the onset of Charlsie Reeder’s senior year at Mountain Crest High School (MCHS), she told her mom, “I’m going to put my whole effort into having a great year.” What she didn’t know, is during the following month her world would turn upside down and her grit pushed to the limit.
Important things to know about Charlsie: Her friends call her Charlie, she believes in miracles, and her favorite place to be is on the back of her horse, Mercy, riding up Blacksmith Fork Canyon on a trail ride with family. In 2021, Charlie was among 40 youth from across the country selected to raise and train a weanling in the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) Young Horse Development Program. Charlie worked hard during the program, demonstrating her horsemanship and training skills to pro-trainers that placed her in the top 10 of the program.
When her mom and dad traveled to pick up her horse at the beginning of the program, 10 miles outside of Lander, Wyoming, a 120-mph gust of wind rolled their truck and trailer. “It [surviving] was a miracle; there were a lot of tender mercies that day,” Charlie said. “That’s why I named my horse Mercy.”
During this accident, her mom McKenzie suffered injuries and then almost a year later in the fall of Charlie’s senior year she died unexpectedly. During this time COVID hit her dad and as the oldest of two siblings at home, the responsibility to care for her family fell to her. It was a difficult time and Charlie recalls that it was her horse Mercy that “pulled me out of my mentally dark state.”
“One of the hardest things for me to realize was the responsibilities of housework and keeping home running fell to me,” Charlie said. “I couldn’t think ‘mom will come home,’ I realized it’s got to get done, so get up and do it.”
This ‘get up and do it’ attitude is reflected in Charlie’s day-to-day routine. She attends school every day, where she has been heavily involved in the Future Farmers of America (FFA) program. She’s served as the MCHS FFA treasurer and secretary. After school, she works at the Cache Valley ENT Allergy Clinic where her mother worked. At 6 p.m. she heads home to clean house, oversee outside chores at their place in Wellsville, do homework, and prepare for another day. On weekends, she works at the A-Bar Land and Livestock Dairy.
But Charlie says, “I love to work, it’s a stress reliever for me, and what teenager doesn’t love money?!” Charlie’s resilience, positive attitude, and work ethic have paid off. In the fall, she plans to attend Bridgeland Technical College to earn her medical assisting certificate.
Charlie wants to thank her teacher and FFA advisor, Megan Haslam for being a role model in her life and someone she strives to be like someday. “She’s seen me at my highest as well as my lowest,” Charlie said. “She has given me countless pep talks about life. Thank you.”
Cache High School: Daniella Cervantes
Graduation for Daniella Cervantes of Cache High School has come at the end of a long road of challenges. But through them all, Daniella’s fight never faded, and she looks forward to bright new beginnings.
From kindergarten to 12th grade, Daniella was enrolled in 18 different schools in at least four different states. Between foster homes, homeless shelters, and abusive environments, Daniella fought over and over again to stay in school. Even family members questioned if she’d graduate from high school.
“A lot of people told me I wasn’t going to graduate,” she said. “It never was not my plan to graduate. My life before 18 years old was always going to be a struggle, but my goal now is not to rely on others and to be independent from others pulling me down.”
Daniella said she knew from a young age she needed an education to establish a good career and different life.
As a child, she found inspiration in the experiences of Anne Frank. She looked up to Anne because she was going through hard times too. When Anne found solace in journaling and writing, Daniella was inspired to do the same and in turn her journal became her best friend. Moving from place to place didn’t allow Daniella to establish friends, but her journals were always with her.
Another positive experience that impacted Daniella’s life was being part of the coed Sea Scout Ship Troup 110 in Tacoma, Washington. From October 2019 to May 2020, Daniella worked as a deck hand on the Charles N. Curtis ship where she worked on specific sea skills and provided service to the surrounding community. It was a bright spot as she continued her efforts for education.
Though she battled through difficult experiences, Daniella found her passion for writing and it paved the way to better days. She feels writing helped her see how her life changed after effort and how far she’d come after challenges. In the fall, Daniella plans to attend Utah State University where she’ll work toward a degree in Secondary Education in English.
She is grateful to the teachers and counselors at Cache High School for working with her as she pursued her dreams of graduating. Her advice to incoming freshmen: “There is a lot of bad in the world, but there is still a lot of beauty and happiness to look for. Why would you want to live life being sad? Don’t take life too seriously; look for the good.”
Logan High School: Kirubel Mesfin
Logan High School’s (LHS) Kirubel Mesfin is described by his high school counselor as a leader in the LHS community who makes friends easily and is known for his effort to be fair and inclusive. He was having a typical senior year, maintaining his high honor roll grades, managing the LHS soccer team, and working at McDonalds until a horrific car accident almost took his life on March 28, 2022.
Kirubel and his brother Surafel were hit by a water truck on their way to school. Both were seriously injured and life-flighted to Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City. Kirubel underwent emergency brain and heart surgery and suffered broken arms, wrists, hips, and spine. Miraculously Kirubel is now home and focusing on recovery and moving forward. He says the accident was a learning experience and that he’s glad he and his brother made it out together.
“This accident was made from a tiny mistake and it cost me and my brother. But miracles were made and now we are on the road to recovery! Someone told us we were walking miracles and that God has something planned for us and I truly believe that,” Kirubel said.
“One takeaway from this experience is to always wear your seatbelts because it could save your life like it did for us. As I’m recovering I’m doing things I never had the time to do like spending more time with my family, reading books and articles, and my favorite — SLEEP.”
To show support for Kirubel, his brother, and their family, the GoFundMe account ‘Kirubel and Surafel Mesfin-Medical Assistance’ was created. The LHS boy’s soccer team dedicated their season to Kirubel, and the entire LHS community is cheering Kirubel on during his recovery.
Because he had already earned enough credits to graduate, Kirubel will have the opportunity to graduate and participate with his 2022 graduating class. “As a school, we were already proud of what this young man has accomplished and who he is as a person,” LaRon Bond, LHS counselor, said. “We are confident that he will meet these next challenges head on and will prevail.”
Kirubel has shown he will overcome any challenge. Kirubel said for him, taking the ACT test was a tough obstacle that tested his ability to study and achieve.
“This was a great way of testing my studying skills. I did well on it, boosting my morale and relieving all my stress,” Kirubel said. He believes the experience helped him become more confident and positively affected his future goals.
His advice to incoming freshmen: “Be you; high school is where you find who you really are and whatever that is, STICK WITH IT because it can take you a long way. Do everything you can and be involved. At the end of the day, four years will go by in a blink of an eye. So, don’t think twice and DO IT!”
Sky View High School: Karina Ashby
Cache Valley’s rich agricultural history based on the values of work, family, faith, and community are at the core of who Karina Ashby from Sky View High School (SVHS) is. Karina is prepared to work hard to reach her goals.
At school, Karina found joy as a SVHS marching band section leader for saxophone during her sophomore, junior, and senior years. She participated in jazz band and symphonic band every year. “I really love it,” she said. “It’s more than music or the performances; I learned a lot of life skills and how I can strive to become a better person.”
She also completed many concurrent enrollment and AP classes and worked to maintain good grades. But it wasn’t always easy. She shares that she struggled to overcome chronic migraines and deal with stress and learned to balance her time and set realistic goals. “I looked at who I am on the inside so I could do the things I loved,” Karina said.
Karina balances her time between a lot of things. She has five siblings and lives on her family’s farm in Newton. She also works at the nearby JP Larsen and Sons Dairy. Karina loves being outside as she works and values the skills of hard work and responsibility she’s learned. “You learn to just get the job done,” she said.
The opportunity she’s had to live and work in a tight-knight community is not lost on her. “I love the closeness of living in a small town,” she said. “We have each other’s back and it’s showed me the importance of helping people and that family is really important.”
Karina is involved in a lot of community service and has a particular interest in Cache Valley’s history. With the community, she helped restore a historic cabin and is part of The Patriot Gunslingers, an 1880s historical reenactment group. The group travels through Cache Valley and Idaho performing. She is also involved with church service, the Newton library, and served as a volunteer for the Top of Utah Half Marathon.
When she’s not busy with school, work, or volunteering, she loves to hike and camp — her favorite place is Logan Canyon. She likes to bake desserts, listen to music, and dance. Specifically, western swing and she recently learned Eastern Swing.
Just two days after graduation, Karina will travel to Alaska with her sisters to work at a fishing lodge for the summer. After that, she plans to serve as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Wherever she goes and whatever she does, Cache Valley will always be part of Karina Ashby.