San Lorenzo Valley High School’s Senior Class of 2023 students with top honors are (from left) Daniel Schafer-Dews, Grace Shipp, Madeline Davis, Catherine Wise and Braelyn Carroll. Both Carroll and Davis are this year’s valedictorians, while Schafer-Dews, Shipp and Wise are salutatorians. (Contributed)

From participating in varsity cheer to starting a book club to competing in cross country, San Lorenzo Valley High School’s valedictorians and salutatorians have spent their high school years getting things done—even remote learning during Covid, forced evacuations due to the CZU Fire and school closures thanks to relentless storms couldn’t diminish the brightness of these stars.

This year, five senior students were selected for top honors: Valedictorians Braelyn Carroll and Madeline Davis, and Salutatorians Daniel Schafer-Dews, Grace Shipp and Catherine Wise. (The assignment of the valedictorian and salutatorian titles are based on students’ GPAs and number of classes taken during their high school years.)

Read on to learn more about these outstanding students and what they’ve accomplished over the past four years in their own words.

Braelyn Carroll

Weighted GPA: 4.33

School participation: I have been a part of varsity cheer, fashion club, National Coalition Building Institute (NCBI), theater and competitive dance during my time in high school.

Secret to her success: I would say the most important thing I’ve learned is the importance of balance in each component of life. Maintaining your academics is far more difficult when other parts of your life are going awry (social, personal, health, etc.) so it’s important to focus your energy on what you can do to control each piece.

Favorite class: I have been most impacted by my English Foundations class freshman year and AP (Advanced Placement) Art—both have really broadened by perspective.

The future looks bright: After graduating, I plan to go to UC Berkeley to study mechanical engineering.

Madeline Davis

Weighted GPA: 4.33

School participation: I’ve participated in cross country and track and served as one of our cross-country captains for the past two seasons. I’ve also been part of the SLVHS Bible Club, California Scholarship Federation and National Honor Society.

Secret to her success: I think my senior quote says it all: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Favorite class: It’s difficult to choose the class that impacted me most at SLVHS. I’ve loved all the Spanish classes I’ve taken, especially Ms. McCabe’s AP Spanish class. AP Physics (albeit online) really prepared me to face the rigor of future classes, but I think my favorite AP would have to be Ms. Darrough’s AP English Language and Composition. Under Ms. Darrough’s excellent teaching, I received the most intensive, practical writing and reading instruction I’ve ever received. It was a challenge, but I absolutely loved it!

The future looks bright: Next year, I will be attending Arizona Christian University. Right now, I plan on majoring in communications and continuing to run cross country at the collegiate level. 

Daniel Schafer-Dews

Weighted GPA: 4.27

School participation: I have participated in water polo, swim team and the surf team. When it comes to school clubs my favorite is Cribbage Club.

Secret to his success: My secret to success is journaling. I save all my stress and anxiety for the hour that I journal every day. This allows me to tell myself, “You are here; you are now,” and give myself space in my day to think about what is right in front of me.

Favorite class: The most impactful class that I took during high school was Mr. Morris’ English Foundations class. Not only did Mr. Morris introduce me to journaling, but he also taught me how to have fun with my academics by taking myself less seriously.

The future looks bright: Next year I am attending Cal Poly San Luis Obispo as a business major and public health major. I enjoy the different facets of public health such as environmental science, mental health, cultural impacts on health, and discrimination around health care. I hope that a major in business can help me create a more well-rounded approach.

Grace Shipp

Weighted GPA: 4.2

School participation: I am Vice President of our Key Club and have been a member for all four years. This year I started a book club, and I am also involved in the language and culture club.

Secret to her success: One thing I have learned is that it is OK to take time to yourself if you need it. I am a huge introvert and so sometimes I need to miss events to have energy for things more important to me. Also, it is important to be comfortable with your teachers—they are a great resource, and it makes classes 100 times better if you can ask for help and engage.

Favorite class: AP US History is my favorite class I’ve taken. I learned a lot about the way I learn through that class and produced some work I am very proud of.

The future looks bright: I am attending Willamette University and plan to major in Mathematics.

Catherine Wise

Weighted GPA: 4.22

School participation: I competed in varsity soccer for four years (I was co-captain as a senior), four years of indoor volleyball, two years of beach volleyball, two years in the Boulder Creek Fire Department Internship, NCBI, and Link Crew. I also attended the National Student Leadership Conference held at American University in Washington, D.C., for college credit.

Secret to her success: I’ve learned how important it is to have good time management skills, and that you have to focus on your own needs sometimes. It’s okay to give yourself permission to take time for yourself and do what you need to do. That balance is essential to managing the stresses of my schedule.

Favorite class: My most impactful class at SLVHS was either AP Language and Composition or AP Statistics because I had to put in a lot of time and effort to succeed and get good grades. My other favorite class is my sports medicine class at Soquel High School—I enjoyed taking a course that helps supplement my future and educates me about the health field.

The future looks bright: After high school I am attending Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego. They have a direct admit nursing program, and my goal is to work in an emergency department.

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Christina Wise covers politics, education, art & culture, and housing issues. She has a degree in Communication from San Diego State University, and has lived in the San Lorenzo Valley since 1996. She's a community advocate and a mother of two.


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