After graduating from 8th grade, the St. Patrick School Class of 2015 scattered to a handful of area high schools including West Catholic, Catholic Central, Lowell and the West Michigan Aviation Academy. While there, they have earned spots on the honor roll, become co-captains of varsity sports teams, taken AP classes for college credit and joined the National Honors Society.
While each member of the class excelled in his or her own way, two students stand out for their particularly high achievements. Zackery Post and John-Luc Richmond were named valedictorians of Lowell High School and West Catholic High School, respectively, and both credit their time at St. Patrick School as helping them prepare for this success.
Scholar-Athletes with Big Plans for the Future
During high school, Zack and John-Luc were standouts both in the classroom and on the field. What’s more, each found time to give back through volunteer work and participate in extracurricular activities.
Zack earned a 4.403 GPA to become valedictorian in his class of 261 students at Lowell High School. He played both varsity football and baseball. He was inducted into the National Honors Society, took nine AP classes and was a member of Interact, a service and leadership group sponsored by the Lowell Rotary Club.
Next year, Zack will attend Alma College where he will play football and study biochemistry. He hopes to use that major as a launching pad to medical school. Once there, he would like to specialize in orthopedics, a field Zack appreciates because of its importance in sports medicine.
At West Catholic High School, John-Luc rose to the top spot among his 142 classmates by earning a GPA of 4.658. He was a member of the varsity football team and varsity track and field team, where he excelled in both shot put and discus. When not on the field, John-Luc was busy participating in peer ministry, the National Honors Society and Students for Life. He has shown beef for 4-H and taken a mission trip to Haiti as well. In between all that, he fit in 12 AP classes.
John-Luc will attend Notre Dame next year, a school that typically accepts fewer than 20% of its applicants. He plans to study chemical engineering and would like to eventually work in global affairs to craft sustainable energy practices or focus on similar endeavors.
Students Give Credit to 8th Grade Teacher
Both Zack and John-Luc are quick to point to their 8th grade teacher, Lynette Gasper, as setting them up for success in high school.
“She taught you how to study,” Zack explains. “All the work we did very much prepared me for [high school] homework.”
John-Luc adds that the level Mrs. Gasper taught at was similar to the standard expected in high school. “Coming out of St. Pat’s, I was able to get on the advanced track right away,” he says. As a result, John-Luc was able to take AP World History immediately as a freshman rather than having to wait to take college-level classes.
Transitioning from a Small School to High School
The St. Patrick Class of 2015 included 14 students which meant everyone had to transition to a bigger environment regardless of where they went to high school.
“Honestly, the hardest part was learning my way around the school,” John-Luc says of his move to West Catholic. Meanwhile, Zack says he found the first week at Lowell High School a bit difficult in terms in getting used to a new schedule and class rotation, but he quickly adjusted.
John-Luc says he missed having the small classes that were the norm at St. Patrick School, and both boys have fond memories of their time in Parnell. “It’s just a great place to grow and learn,” John-Luc says. “I believe it shaped me to be the person I am.”
Even though they have gone their separate ways since grade school, Zack and John-Luc maintain a deep respect for each other. When asked if he was surprised to hear John-Luc was also a valediction, Zack says with a smile, “No, I knew he was smart.” As for John-Luc, he wasn’t surprised about Zack’s success either, noting his former classmate always had a good work ethic.
This year’s parish graduation Mass brought Zack, John-Luc and other members of the St. Patrick Class of 2015 together again. After Mass, they greeted each other with smiles and compared notes about the past four years as well as their future plans, showing that while their roads may go in different directions, they remain Parnell Irish for life.