Helmich is HNHS valedictorian; Wohlford is salutatorian

Emma Helmich (left), the 2017 Huntington North High School salutatorian, smiles as HNHS Guidance Counselor Stephanie Rodgers reads off her list of accomplishments during the Valedictorian-Salutatorian-Teacher of the Year breakfast held Wednesday, April 19, in the high school’s media center.
Emma Helmich (left), the 2017 Huntington North High School salutatorian, smiles as HNHS Guidance Counselor Stephanie Rodgers reads off her list of accomplishments during the Valedictorian-Salutatorian-Teacher of the Year breakfast held Wednesday, April 19, in the high school’s media center. Photo by Rebecca Sandlin

At a breakfast attended by teachers, administrators and family members on Wednesday, April 19, Emma Helmich was named Huntington North High School’s 2017 valedictorian and Reagan Wohlford was selected as salutatorian.

In addition, Music Department Chair/Dir-ector of Choral Activities/Auditorium Director Dan Baker was named the 2017 Huntington North High School Teacher of the Year.

Huntington North Principal Russ Degitz said the breakfast, held in the school’s media center, was a recognition of hard work and achievement by both students and teachers.

“This morning is all about a celebration,” said. “There are times where, in the midst of busy schedules, in the midst of day-to-day where it can be difficult to think about those important things, to take time to recognize the hard work that has been put into these efforts … I think it goes without saying that the two young people that we’ll recognize here will be incredibly successful and do some great things in the years to come.”

Guidance Counselor Stephanie Rodgers introduced Helmich, the daughter of Bo and Anne Helmich. Emma Helmich entered her eighth semester at HNHS with a grade point average of 11.6909 on an 11-point scale, working toward an Academic Honors diploma.

“Emma has made a lasting impact here at Huntington North over the last four years, not just with what she has done, but also with those she has made a connection to,” Rodgers said. “I am sad to see her go, but I am so proud of what she has and will accomplish within the coming years.”

Helmich’s accomplishments cover academics, sports, work and community involvement. In academics, as a junior and senior she has qualified as a semifinalist, and most recently as a finalist, for the National Merit Scholarship Program. During her high school career she represented HNHS as a Junior Rotarian, has been an active member of the National Honor Society, part of the Top 25 of her class since her freshman year, co-treasurer for class council all four years and a team member of the Academic Super Bowl.

As an athlete, Helmich has been involved in both swimming and volleyball. She holds the school record for the 100-yard butterfly, is a two-time conference record holder. two-time state meet competitor and was first team all-conference for swimming. She has also worked as a lifeguard and swim coach.

Helmich’s community involvement includes volunteering at 4 Cups Coffee as a barista and working at the community garden.

“Emma’s awareness of our community’s needs, and her ability to find creative ways to give back to those around her are phenomenal traits to have and I am sure she will carry them with her as she moves through life,” Rodgers said.

After graduation, Helmich plans to study political science and neuroscience at Wellesley College in Massachusetts.

 “I want to thank our administrators, my parents and especially the teachers for giving me this opportunity to succeed and also to explore and grow into myself,” she said. “Thank you all for being here for me the last four years. I really appreciate it.”

Guidance Counselor Elaine Willour introduced Wohlford, the daughter of Mark and Jacqueline Wohlford, as the 2017 salutatorian. Reagan Wohlford currently holds a GPA of 11.5926. She has been on the Top 25 list for all four years of high school, is a member of the National Honor Society, where she holds the office of secretary and has participated as a chemistry tutor. She has also been a member of the high school’s Diversity Club and Spanish Club.

Wohlford has also made time to be active in a number of community activities, including a student leader in Youth for Christ and helping pack weekend meals for the Blessings in a Backpack ministry. She has also served food at New Life Meal Ministry, helped with Senior Pak to deliver groceries to the elderly and has participated on a youth missions trip to help build a house for a single mother. She attends church at Faith Chapel United Methodist Church.

In addition, Wohlford has worked at Kim’s Katered Affair, Clear Creek Golf Course and currently works at JJ Java.

After graduation, she plans to attend Butler University and major in biology and Spanish, with the goal of a career in emergency medicine.

Wohlford said she appreciated everyone who “pushed me to be in this position that I am now,” thanking her parents, peers and teachers for their support and guidance.

“Your compassion in your own subjects pushes me to further enjoy those subjects,” she said. “All of your support and patience in answering my ‘out there’ questions has been appreciated.”

Degitz introduced Baker, describing him as a highly-respected member of the staff and a leader in the high school in many ways.

“As I visit Mr. Baker’s classroom, I am consistently amazed at the craftsmanship he utilizes in working with his students. His commitment to his students begins with high expectations that he possesses for them. He requires students to challenge themselves and do so in a manner that promotes reflection, and unique ways of engaging with their music,” Degitz said. “Mr. Baker possesses a genuine passion for working with students and challenging them to reach their fullest potential … He is a major supporter of all things Huntington North … Ultimately, Mr. Baker walks the walk when it comes to putting our students first.”

Baker responded by thanking his colleagues for “being so awesome to work with.”

“Anytime I’m doing something outside the choir room, it’s always a positive experience, and I wanted to thank you all for that, and also making our kids better every day,” he said. “That’s something that’s extremely important to me.”

Baker is also in the running for the district-wide teacher of the year Award, which will be presented in May.