Tara Bone, contributing writer

It has become a tradition for Cache Valley Family Magazine to recognize one outstanding graduating senior from each Cache County and Logan City School District high school. Highlighted seniors are selected from nominations provided by each school’s counseling department. We are honored to share these stories of exceptional students and thank each high school counseling department for their collaboration.

Cache Valley Family Magazine is pleased to award the Paul Norton Memorial Scholarship for the third year. This scholarship honors Paul Norton, who mentored Cache Valley Family Magazine publisher Emily Buckley in her first professional position after college. Paul shared the Roman philosophy 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 held a successful career in the Public Broadcasting System, as Vice President of University Relations and Development at Utah State University, and later as Director of Communications at Logan Regional Hospital. He was known for taking an interest in every person he met. 

This year’s scholarship recipient is Logan High School’s Henry Aguilar. He was selected from the six nominated students in this feature. He stood out for his ability to rise above challenges, postive attitude, strong work ethic, and dedication to future goals. 

Congratulations to these and all the graduates of the class of 2024! We wish you success as you chart your life’s course. 

RIDGELINE HIGH SCHOOL: Jimmie Willis, III

When Jimmie Willis, III entered Ridgeline High School (RHS) as a freshman, he says he was a blank slate without a personality — a kid who desperately wanted to fit in and find a place. Four years later, Jimmie leaves RHS a leader and friend who’s seized every opportunity to lift those around him. 

A defining moment for Jimmie was during freshman orientation when an older student shared how she wanted each freshman’s voice to be heard. He took her message of inclusion to heart and decided then he wanted to be recognized a someone anyone could talk to and someone his four siblings and parents, Jimmie Jr. and Arianna, could be proud of. 

Jimmie started by sharing his talent for rap. As a freshman, he performed a song he wrote in the school’s talent show. Jimmie says he’s always been passionate about writing, dancing, and performing. From that first performance, he timidly auditioned for a school play with encouragement from teacher Sarah Lynch, and never looked back. 

As a senior, Jimmie was honored as RHS’s Theatre Student of the Year and served as Improv Troup president. He’s also performed with other community theatre companies. Jimmie served as RHS’s Student Body Vice President and worked to be an advocate for all students. He helped organize the school’s 

Diversity Week and says he loved coordinating the week’s assembly where students representing various cultures shared talents. Jimmie also served as the Diversity Representative his junior year and participated in the school’s HOPE Squad, a program committed to suicide prevention. 

Jimmie says he’s deeply grateful for his experiences. When he was 8 years old his parents left Los Angeles for Nibley. “They gave me an awesome opportunity to make a better life for myself and I do my best to partake of every opportunity,” Jimmie said. “I like to appreciate the things around me with the people I care about.”

He loves the beauty of Cache Valley and says for him, a fulfilled life will be getting married, starting a family, and savoring the little things like enjoying a sunset. He plans to attend Utah State University this fall to study business. 

His advice to incoming freshman: “You never know what you can accomplish if you don’t put yourself out there.”

MOUNTAIN CREST HIGH SCHOOL: Brooke Keller

Brooke Keller of Mountain Crest High School (MCHS) has the heart of a champion. In the demanding sport of wrestling — and life — she’s demonstrated both physical and mental strength beyond that of a typical teen. But the story of Brooke’s inner strength begins first when her champion heart was forced to grow from a broken heart. 

In the 5th grade, Brooke’s mom Jessica was diagnosed with cancer. For the next four years, Brooke helped take care of her mom and five siblings. Though doctors said she only had six months to live, her mom fought year after year. Brooke says, “She was a fighter,” and adds, “I’m a fighter.” Jessica died on June 3, 2020. 

“It was really hard and sad,” Brooke said. “A death in the family is something you don’t get over, but I know I grew stronger from that challenge. I’ve had good days and bad days, but everything is OK because there is a plan. In my darkest moments I could turn to Jesus Christ.” 

Brooke worked through the hard with her faith, family, supportive coaches and teammates, and friends and says she kept going because she knew her mom wants her to. She is a 2-time 4A State Wrestling Champion, was named 2024 4A Wrestler of the Year, and earned 9th place at the national wrestling competition in Iowa. During the entire state competition this year, Brooke wrestled only a total of 5 minutes and 30 seconds; pinning each competitor quickly. 

She’s also been very involved at school because she loves learning about people. She was a MCHS band member, MC theatre stage crew “guru,” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint seminary council member, and a participant in many clubs. She’s enjoyed being part of MCHS’s G.R.I.T. Program, the school’s mental health and suicide prevention program. On top of all of that, she’s a published poet and fits in part-time work at Hyrum’s Pizza Plus where she’s learned to make their famous breadsticks (if you know, you know).

Brooke is grateful for her dad Bret and bonus mom Emily, and MCHS’s amazing teachers who love and support their students. 

This summer she’ll spend two and a half weeks in Bolivia building a school for children with special needs. She plans to attend Utah State University this fall and then serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

Her advice to incoming freshman: “Hold on to your morals and you’ll change for the better.”

GREEN CANYON HIGH SCHOOL: Wesley Olson

At just 7 years old, Green Canyon High School’s (GCHS) Wesley Olson started coding and fell in love with the magic of seeing something he created appear on a screen. Since then, his computer programming skills have flourished as he’s used his gift for programming and love for people to build the communities around him. 

According to GCHS counselor Kylie Stoddard, Wesley is a beacon of innovation and creativity whose commitment to his craft has strengthened the school’s community. Wesley recently developed an app for GCHS that will serve as a centralized platform for students and faculty to find easy access to school announcements and information, schedules, and upcoming events. 

Wesley says the app will launch this fall and he hopes it will benefit everyone associated with Green Canyon. He’s loved his high school experience and said, “I feel like the teachers adore every student and really care about everyone.” 

Wesley was also an active member of the GCHS robotics program and helped revive the school’s VEX robotics competition. He says he enjoyed being part of the team where he met others with a “geekiness” for programming and engineering, but just loves hanging out with people. 

Wesley recently worked in game development for the Australian-based company Chipcoat Studios and has worked with multiple clients to create Minecraft plugins. Though he’s found success in programming, he’s had to work hard and overcome challenges. He said he’s had a lot of support from his parents, Julia and Kevin, and though he and his family have health issues that can make navigating life challenging, they’ve inspired him to keep going. Music also gets him through. He loves music and listens to his eclectic playlist when coding. 

Wesley’s main goal in life is to learn. He’s excited to continue his education in computer science at the University of Utah this fall. Visit his website at invertedowl.com to learn more about Wesley’s work. 

His advice to incoming freshmen: “Try your best — it isn’t that terrible if things don’t go as you planned. Sometimes, half the time I try things don’t work out. Keep trying.”

CACHE HIGH SCHOOL: Isabel Jones

Izzy, as she’s known by family and friends at Cache High, is known to be positive, fun, a straight-A student, a leader, and a friend to all, but her road to graduation success wasn’t easy. It took hard work, perseverance, and support from loved ones to make the future she wants possible. 

As a freshman, Izzy experienced debilitating social anxiety and found herself unable to do things she knew she was capable of — such as attending school. She started at Cache High working independently online but was unable to attend in-person class. During this difficult time, Izzy says her parents, Jennifer and Max, showed endless understanding and kindness and she can’t thank them enough. 

After about a year of working hard to catch up to her classmates remotely, Izzy’s counselor, Launi Evans, said Izzy found the courage to start taking classes on campus. She excelled. “To say Izzy was successful is not an exaggeration,” Mrs. Evans said. 

At Cache High, her teachers inspired her to be her best and prepared her for college. She recalls an important turning point during high school. “When I realized I could have better future options, I knew I wanted to work for a life I believe I deserve.” 

Izzy enjoys the creative process, and especially loves writing poetry and painting. She is grateful for teacher Emma Heath and how she taught her to use poetry to change her mindset. In art, her favorite mediums to experiment with are paint and sand. She feels these creative outlets help her express and level out her emotions. Her black lab Oculus has also been a comfort the last three years, and Izzy is a believer that if you surround yourself with the things you love, anything is possible. 

Though she’ll miss the good friends she’s made, Izzy is looking forward to moving to Ogden and attending Weber State University this fall. Her goal is to put her creative skills to work in cinematography as a film director. 

Izzy has learned a lot in and out of the classroom during the last four years. Her advice to incoming freshmen: “It’s important to realize high school is often romanticized; it’s not like the movies. It will take time to fit in, but don’t give up on it.”

LOGAN HIGH SCHOOL: Henry Aguilar

Henry started at Logan High School (LHS) like most freshmen; he enjoyed spending time with friends and family, learning, and playing sports. He never dreamed that to successfully complete his senior year and earn his diploma he’d have to win the fight of his life.

As a junior, Henry started experiencing intense headaches, difficulty sleeping, and loss of peripheral vision. An active and happy youth, Henry had enjoyed boxing, basketball, mixed martial arts, weightlifting, football, and a year of lacrosse — a year that he says will “always hold a special place” in his heart. His mom, Daisy Santana, took him to the emergency room in February 2023 and he was diagnosed with a CNS germinoma brain tumor. Four days later Henry had brain surgery and a week after that started four rounds of chemotherapy. 

He was quarantined during this difficult time and says it was a shock to be isolated from school and those he loved. Finally in September it was official that Henry had beat the cancer. Throughout treatment, and after when Henry went back to school and started the work to be eligible for graduation, he says he and his mom were a team. “My mom is my inspiration,” he said. 

His mom adds, “Whatever reason we had to go through this, we made it — he’s strong.” She says Henry has always been strong. As a premature baby, doctors told her Henry wouldn’t survive. Then she was told he’d endure a heart murmur and experience learning difficulties, but he proved them wrong and keeps smiling.

Henry’s counselor, Trudy Peterson says his infectious positivity is a beacon of hope. She shares that he’s befriended a LHS freshman who was also diagnosed with brain cancer. “Despite the hurdles, Henry is unwavering in his commitment to academic excellence and personal growth,” she said. “He embodies the true spirit of our school community, and his uplifting presence brightens the days of those around him.” 

Henry looks forward to his future with gratitude and excitement. Since his days playing with toy Hotwheels and going to the Cache Valley Cruise-In, he says he’s always loved cars and it’s his dream to work on them. This fall Henry plans to attend Bridgerland Technical College in the automotive service program. 

Henry encourages incoming freshman to find joy in every moment: “Make new friends, go to the games, and cheer! Do something that makes you happy and you can have fun with.”

SKY VIEW HIGH SCHOOL: Eva Jones

Eva Jones has excelled in a range of activities as a student at Sky View High School (SVHS). From joining the cross country team even though she has exercise-induced asthma, to becoming an FFA officer when she initially didn’t know anything about the organization, she’s pushed herself out of her comfort zone again and again. Why? People. 

“I love people!,” Eva said. “I’m a people person through and through and I love to full send!” 

Eva moved to Smithfield before her junior year and was hopeful to meet friends and create new experiences. She joined the cross country team because, as she says, what better way to get to know the most friendly and mentally strong people than to talk and run with them? She overcame her asthma and said she was grateful to be on the team and serve as a team captain. 

Eva is an avid reader and loves to write … about people! As a school newspaper staff member and FFA Reporter, she loved to interview people and share their stories. A highlight was traveling to the National FFA Convention and share the successes of SVHS’s dairy evaluation team. She stumbled on to FFA in a plant and soil sciences class where she was asked to compete. She competed and said she “fell head over heels” with the FFA organization. 

Another passion of Eva’s is art. She said she’s always loved to draw but SVHS art teacher Lester Lee introduced her to watercolor. She says she’s learned much from Mr. Lee and is now completing her AP Art portfolio that explores Seasonal Affective Disorder and the need humans have for physical and spiritual light. 

From all her SVHS experiences, Eva says she’s most grateful for representing her school in the Sterling Scholar program. The program brought all her passions together in the English category and allowed her to reflect on her experiences. When not busy at school, Eva works as a tutor at Birch Creek Elementary and enjoys weightlifting, hiking, and being with her parents, Melissa and Vince, and her five siblings because “they’re such a party.” 

This fall, Eva plans to study at Utah State University and later serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She hopes to double major in English and journalism and minor in illustration. 

Her advice to incoming freshman: “You miss every opportunity you don’t take. What’s the worst that can happen? Go for it and see what happens.”