The highest-ranking St. Paul graduates stressed that being part of a small Catholic school will take them into the future with all the skills they need to succeed.
All of the top five students are members of National Honor Society and have demonstrated their commitment to helping others through Key Club and various service activities.
Valedictorian Kate Schafer, a standout on the volleyball court as well as in the classroom, will play volleyball at John Carroll University and plans to major in political science or business.
"I've had a great four years at St. Paul and I'm looking forward to what I can take with me to John Carroll and in the future," she said.
Schafer, 18, is the daughter of Pete and Jean Schafer of Bellevue. She was a member of a state championship volleyball team, won numerous volleyball awards and was on the swim team. Other activities include Student Council, class officer, retreat team leader, Mass coordinator, Eucharistic minister, Youth Elect Service, Leadership By Example award, Make A Difference Day, Junior Project Leadership and prom committee.
Kelly Brown, 17, is SPH salutatorian. When the daughter of Jim and Mary Jo Brown, of Milan, attends Akron University next fall, she will be putting what she considers one of the most important lessons she's learned in high school into action service.
"The past four years here at St. Paul have taught me the importance of service," she said. "You come out ahead when you put others first." Brown will be putting that sentiment into practice as she studies for a degree in speech therapy.
In high school, Brown volunteered for the ASK Autistic Spectrum Kids Program, retreat team leader, Mass coordinator, youth group member, Teens Encounter Christ and prom committee. Brown was also in spring musicals and on the flag corps and swim team.
Nicholas Gates, third in the class, will use his background to earn a degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Toledo. Gates, 18, is the son of John and Mary Kay Gates of Norwalk.
"I have been in St. Paul since kindergarten and not only have I gained the knowledge and skills necessary to help me be successful in the future," Gates said, "but I've also made many friendships and memories that I will carry with me for the rest of my life."
He attended the Catholic School Summit and won the Leadership By Example award. Gates volunteers by doing maintenance work and cleaning for the parish. As a special project, he removed and then replaced all kneelers for work on church floors.
Fourth-ranked Jessica Storer, 18, the daughter of Hugh and Therese Storer of Norwalk, will move the farthest for college as she heads to Providence College in Rhode Island. But Storer said she ready for a big change.
"Courage is doing what you're afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you're scared," she said. "I'm definitely scared about the future decisions that I will make and wonder if they are the right ones. All that I know is that I'm glad St. Paul's was there to take some of the fear off of my decisions. I couldn't be better prepared."
Storer volunteered for the Autistic Spectrum program, Make A Difference Day, youth group, Heartland Gatherings and Fire '04 and '05. She also participated in jazz and pep bands, spring musical, swim team and cross country team.
Kelly Schwieterman, fifth in the class and the daughter of Mike and Chriss Swieterman of Norwalk, is also prepared for a big change from small town life as she heads to The Ohio State University to prepare for a career in the medical field.
"The support of my teachers and family has prepared me in many ways for the next step in my life and I've very grateful for that," she said. "St. Paul has built a foundation that gives me strength to go from a small town to a big school like OSU."
Schwieterman also volunteered for the Autistic Spectrum program, Mass coordinator, retreat team leader and prom committee. She was in spring musicals, on swim and track teams, track manager and freshman football cheerleader.
These five and other 2007 graduates from St. Paul High will take their knowledge and skills into the world after graduation, which takes place at 2 p.m. Sunday.