Meet the valedictorians, salutatorians of our diocese’s Catholic high schools


Lucy Adlfinger / Valedictorian

Parents: Matt and Doreen Adlfinger

Town: Milan

Parish:St. Pius X, Rock Island

College Choice: Saint Louis University

Anticipated major: Health Sciences

High school activities: National Honor Society, Key Club, Pathfinders, Habitat for Humanity, ICTM, WYSE

Catholic school advantages: Whether it was through praying the rosary in the morning, celebrating Mass, or learning in the classroom together, in our years at Alleman my classmates and I were able to recognize God’s role through our education. Attending a Catholic high school has taught me that education is essential, but using what we learn to help in the service of others is most important. In this way, my Catholic education extended beyond the classroom to what truly matters.

Memorable moments: I will never forget the Senior Farewell Mass celebrating our upcoming graduation with the entire school. This memory is one I will always cherish because it was one of our final moments together in high school and the last time we would be celebrating Mass together. Being together for a final time celebrating the culmination of all that we as a class achieved throughout our four years was special because it solidified our bond while also looking forward to our futures as we go our separate ways.


August Darrow / Salutatorian

Parents: Clarence and Sara Darrow

Town: Rock Island

Parish:St. Pius X, Rock Island

College Choice: University of Notre Dame

Anticipated major: Economics

High school activities: Key Club, Habitat for Humanity, National Honor Society, ICTM math competition, WYSE science and engineering, Students Against Destructive Decisions, Pathfinders.

Catholic school advantages: Going to a Catholic high school has allowed me to keep God and my religion in my studies. These are very important in learning and understanding science and history especially. My years of religion classes taught me how to be a better disciple of Jesus and how to interpret and apply the Bible and Scriptures in my life.

Memorable moments: My freshman orientation was very memorable because that was when I met all of the people I’ve come to be close with over the past four years.

The state cross country meet my senior year was significant because a lot of the team and my friends came down to Peoria to cheer me on in my race. It was also the end of my seven-year running career. The experience showed how hard work pays off and how supportive the Alleman family is.


Connor Lucey / Valedictorian

Parents: Brad and Kelly Lucey

Town: Bloomington

Parish:Epiphany Parish, Normal

College Choice: University of Notre Dame

Anticipated major: Engineering

High school activities: National Honor Society (President), Student Council, cross country, Scholastic Bowl, Bridge Building, Mu Alpha Theta (Vice President), Interact Club, WYSE (Chemistry State Qualifier, Sectional Champion)

Catholic school advantages: Attending Central Catholic High School has instilled in me a strong work ethic and I have grown in my faith through the highly demanding curriculum and the constant presence of the Catholic faith in and out of the classroom. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without the influence of the priests and teachers who have guided and taught me since preschool.

Memorable moments: Participating in the March for Life in Washington, D.C., was a very meaningful experience, and it was important to me to take part in such a morally worthwhile movement. No cause is more serious than the pro-life movement and it was humbling to join the throngs marching for the rights of unborn persons. Being a part of the Scholastic Bowl team provided many great memories as well, and I will never forget the camaraderie in our Regional-winning team.


Rachel McBeath / Salutatorian

Parents: Randy and Jenny McBeath

Town: Bloomington

Parish:St. Patrick Church of Merna, Bloomington

College Choice: Saint Louis University

Anticipated major: International Business and International Studies

High school activities: Tennis, Interact Club, Spanish Club, band

Catholic school advantages: “I think the greatest advantage of attending a Catholic high school is the community that they create. Attending Central Catholic is like being in a family, everyone is so supportive and unites around the faith. This environment helps everyone to succeed.”

Memorable moments: “One of my most significant memories of high school was taking AP U.S. History. At my school, the class is notoriously difficult, but the teacher was fantastic. All of the students worked as a team to take on the challenge of the course and it ended up being my favorite class of high school.”


Aurora Flavel / Valedictorian

Parents: Dan and Tricia Flavel

Town: Ottawa

Parish:St. Columba Parish, Ottawa

College Choice: University of Iowa

Anticipated major: Biology

High school activities: Softball, volleyball, Key Club (representative), National Honor Society, WYSE team, Order of the M, Student Ambassador

Catholic school advantages: In my Catholic high school, class sizes are smaller, which allows for more one-on-one time with a teacher, which greatly benefits students. But beyond that, Catholic high schools help to develop well-rounded, kindhearted individuals that are rooted in their faith before sending them into the world to make a difference.

Memorable moments: One of my most significant high school memories is finishing in the Elite 8 in the softball state tournament my senior year because we made school history by holding the record for most wins in a season and winning the first sectional championship in Marquette softball history.


Ryan Mann / Salutatorian

Parents: Glenn and Mary Mann

Town: Ottawa

Parish:St. Columba, Ottawa

College Choice: Saint Mary’s University of


Anticipated major: Philosophy, while discerning a vocation to the diocesan priesthood for the Diocese of Peoria at Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary

High school activities: President of Student Government Association and Key Club, student ambassador, cast/crew for various theatrical productions, council member for Peterstown TEC

Catholic school advantages: The greatest advantage of attending a Catholic high school is undoubtedly the focus on our Catholic faith. While our schools are excellent academic institutions, they strive to do far more than simply teach facts and figures; the core mission of a Catholic high school is to proclaim the Gospel to its students and to prepare them to live as faithful witnesses for Christ and His Church. My years at Marquette have been immeasurably beneficial for the development of my relationship with Christ and the discernment of my vocation.

Memorable moments: My most significant memory from high school is my Senior Retreat. Over the course of three days at Nazareth House this past March, my classmates and I were able to forgive old grudges, grow closer to Christ, and to foster a true sense of family.


Logan Plack / Valedictorian

Parents: Mike and Juli Plack

Town: Kickapoo

Parish:St. Mary, Kickapoo

College Choice: Purdue University

Anticipated major: Biomedical Engineering

High school activities: Varsity soccer, varsity track, Teens for Life, Lumen Christi

Catholic school advantages: The advantage of Catholic high school is that it helps make you both a better person and student.

Memorable moments: My first is winning 3A soccer sectionals. When the fans rushed the field after penalties, I was so proud of my team and happy to pull upsets as the underdog multiple times during the season. My second memory is the 2017 March for Life. The sheer amount of people there impressed me as we were walking up the hill and it was exciting a big player in the White House supported our cause.


Collin Fricke / Salutatorian

Parents: Lyle and Mary Fricke

Town: Edwards

Parish:St. Thomas the Apostle, Peoria Heights

College Choice: Saint Louis University

Anticipated major: Biomedical Engineering

High school activities: Eagle Scout, men’s swim and dive team, National Honor Society President, Student Ambassadors, Drama Club, yearbook photographer, Scholastic Bowl, Lumen Christi.

Catholic school advantages: I was the first person in my family to attend Peoria Notre Dame. I have become a part of a faith-based community that is the foundation of everything the school has to offer. Peoria Notre Dame seeks to educate the whole person — mind, body, and spirit — a Jesuit mission that will continue for me at Saint Louis University.

Memorable moments: Every day before a swim practice or a meet, the team joined together on the pool deck to say a Hail Mary. This was important for me because amidst turmoil and stressful situations, I was able to step back and regain my focus. I remembered the important and was prepared to offer my very best.

Relationships with my peers were extraordinarily significant. I became familiar with the classmates who shared my course load: those who partook in the honors classes. We worked together and got to know one another, and it was in this way that I became friends with those who shared my values, work ethic, and aspirations. For these people I am incredibly grateful.


Megan Mazander / Salutatorian

Town: Peoria

Parents: Shawn and Kathy Mazander

Town: Peoria

Parish:St. Mary, Kickapoo

College Choice: Saint Louis University

Anticipated major: Neuroscience

High school activities: Cross country, track, secretary of Student Ambassadors, Teens for Life, Lumen Christi Core Team, secretary of Anchor Club, yearbook, prom committee, St. Jude Club, National Honor Society

Catholic school advantages: I believe that attending a Catholic high school keeps in perspective what the knowledge being attained is ultimately to be used for. Incorporating my faith into my studies reminds me that whatever I learn and discover should be used to better people’s lives in order to bring them closer to Christ.

Memorable moments: One significant memory I have from PND is the State Cross Country meet from this past fall. I ran all four years, but this was the first year I was able to compete at the state meet, and it was extremely rewarding as I crossed my final finish line to see all my hard work paying off.


Angeline Needs / Valedictorian

Parents: George and Barbara Needs

Town: Peru

College Choice: Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Anticipated major: Mechanical Engineering

High school activities: Cross country, swimming, track and field, Scholastic Bowl, Interact Club, Student Government, WYSE Academic Team, and spring musicals

Catholic school advantages:  I believe the most important advantage of attending a Catholic high school is the faith-based education.  The faculty being mentors to students and supportive of the students’ faith also sets apart Catholic high schools.  Furthermore, the community built within a Catholic high school is incredibly strong compared to other high schools. We are able to rejoice in God-given victories and bond together during times of trial.

Significant memories: The first memory I thought of is the 2016 Cross Country Sectional. The cross country team has become a tight-knit family and being able to see our hard work pay off and advance to sectionals was an amazing experience.  The second memory was learning how to use flower petals to test pH in Mr. Fitzpatrick’s AP Chemistry class.  Before Mr. Fitzpatrick showed us the different flower petals we could use, I had no idea that plants could be used in so many amazing ways.  Mr. Fitzpatrick really opened my eyes to the wonder and possibilities in the natural world.


Andrew Kim / Salutatorian

Parents: Paul and Renee Kim

Town: LaSalle

College Choice: University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Anticipated major: Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering

High school activities: Scholastic Bowl, varsity tennis

Catholic school advantages: Attending a Catholic high school helped me grow stronger not only in my knowledge of the world, but also in the knowledge of my faith.

Memorable moments:  The most memorable experience from my high school career would be the senior retreat the chaplain organized. My entire senior class grew stronger together and edified as a community.


Elisha Li / Salutatorian

Parents: Winnie Yeung and Zhen Yi Li

Town: Peru

College Choice: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Anticipated major: Interdisciplinary Health Sciences (concentration: health and aging, pre-physical therapy track)

High school activities: Cheerleading (two time MVP, senior captain); pianist (12 years, 46th Annual Granquist Music Competition 1st place soloist, 3rd place duet);  piano instructor at Maestro and Mi Music Academy, Student Ambassador;  Interact Club (treasurer); WYSE Team

Catholic school advantages: I believe that attending a Catholic school allowed me to become part of a family. I felt a sense of community every day. I had the opportunity to form relationships with my teachers and have interactive classes. In addition, my family is a non-religious family, but attending a Catholic school has influenced my views and as a result I am considering becoming baptized into the Catholic faith.

Memorable moments: At our senior retreat, we have an “open mic.” It is an opportunity to express any and all feelings, good or bad. This event was notorious for being a chance to call out the people you have bad relationships with and placing blame on other people. We were all very nervous about this being an awkward time. However, this experience actually turned out to be a heartwarming and open experience. Almost everyone spoke and thanked their friends, told stories about seemingly insignificant memories that will never go away, and apologize to ex-best friends. I, along with most of the senior class, was sobbing by the end of this time, but I felt renewed and loved.

Also, the St. Bede versus LaSalle-Peru basketball game. This is the biggest basketball game of the year. The game is always fun, and us cheerleaders always put on a halftime routine. I remember being so incredibly excited to perform, but minutes before halftime, a woman in the stands collapsed. It was one of our cheerleader’s mother, who had cancer. The game was delayed and the paramedics were called. It was a hectic time and very scary. This continued during halftime and we could not perform our routine. After everything had been resolved, the LP and SBA coaches agreed to take an extended 3rd quarter break to allow us to perform. We received an amazing response from the audience. It was so fun and I will never forget it. I was so proud of my cheerleaders.


Nicholas Labayog / Valedictorian

Parents: Dorothy Labayog and Jomel Labayog

Town: Danville

Parish:St. Paul, Danville

College Choice: University of Loyola Chicago

Anticipated major: Biology/Pre-med

High school activities: Soccer (varsity captain), archery, track and field, Film Club Founder, Student Council, class president, National Honor Society, STAND, Scholastic Bowl, RYLA, Topless Toppers (school spirit group)

Catholic school advantages: One of the biggest advantages I would say is the very personal and caring atmosphere. You build a real relationship with all of your teachers and they all know your strengths and weaknesses. They are more than willing to go above and beyond to help you succeed, more so than I would say at other schools.

Memorable moments: The most significant memories I have from high school will be the three years I spent in English with Mrs. Turner. Mrs. Turner is an amazing teacher and was always able to make her lessons enjoyable. Now that doesn’t mean her class was easy, it was far from that, but the way she taught and the time she spent with us individually was what made her class memorable. She was always the teacher you could talk to if you were feeling stressed and she was always full of advice for our future, preparing us inside and outside of the class for what we would be getting ready to experience.


Kristen Cahill / Salutatorian

Parents: Bill and Kathy Cahill

Town: Danville

Parish:St. Paul, Danville

College Choice: Lakeview College of Nursing

Anticipated major: Nursing

High school activities: archery, dual enrollment classes

Catholic school advantages:  All of the teachers at Schlarman truly want to be there and they really care about all their students. Since our class sizes are so small, it allows teachers to get to know all of our strengths and weaknesses. I believe the reason I have been successful, and the reason I will continue to be successful, has to do with the solid foundation I received at Schlarman.

Memorable moments:  The most memorable experience from my high school career is homecoming week. This is the week where you can really see how much of a family Schlarman is. The fun activities throughout the week bring out the best in people and it really helps you to grow together as a class.


Gauri Shankar


Parents: Uday Shankar and Shaku Shankar

Town: Champaign

College Choice: University of Missouri-Kansas City

Anticipated major: Liberal Arts (6 year BA/MD program)

High school activities:  Ballet, tap, and jazz at the Christine Rich Studio Dance Academy; National Honor Society (vice president); Sociedad Honoraria Hispanica Spanish Honor Society (vice president); Math Team (captain); Spanish Club (vice president);  Student Council senior class representative;  peer tutoring coordinator and tutor

Catholic school advantages: Going to a Catholic high school allowed me to learn the basics of Catholicism in a close-knit environment. The small class sizes, devoted teachers, and hard-working students all fostered an environment in which academic excellence could be achieved.

Memorable moments: Working with the dual language students at Dr. Preston L. Williams Elementary School in Urbana with the Spanish mentoring class at STM was one of my favorite memories, because I was able to utilize the Spanish and Math I had learned in the classroom and the social skills I developed to help the students in our community.

Another enriching experience was being the person in charge of organizing the production and donation of over 50 pediatric care bags for children receiving immunizations at Frances Nelson Health Center.

Sonia Park / Valedictorian, and Skylar Li / Salutatorian

Sonya Park and Skylar Li of The High School of Saint Thomas More in Champaign have returned to Korea and could not be reached by The Catholic Post. An Illinois State Scholar, Sonya Park will attend the University of California at Berkeley in the fall. Skylar Li is also an Illinois State Scholar, was active in Art Club, and received the STM Math Department Award. She will attend the University of California in Davis.

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