Four earn top honors at SMHS


Expect twice the number of speeches at the St. Maries graduation this year.

The graduating class of 2014 boasts co-valedictorians and co-salutatorians.

Ryan McNulty and Nathaniel Benham share valedictorian honors with GPAs of 4.0, and Katelynn Quinn-Hollis and Andrew Spooner are co-salutatorians with 3.99 GPAs.

“They are all very goal-oriented and academically very strong,” counselor Angela Schultz said. “They are pretty involved and well-rounded. They have great leadership skills and I am sure they will be very successful adults.”

Ryan McNulty, Nathaniel Benham, Andrew Spooner and Katelynn Quinn-Hollis are top students of this year's graduating class at St. Maries High School.

Ryan McNulty, Nathaniel Benham, Andrew Spooner and Katelynn Quinn-Hollis are top students of this year’s graduating class at St. Maries High School.

Ryan has coveted the honor since his grade-school days.

“It’s something that I have looked forward to since middle school,” he said. “I’ve been at the top of my class since then.”

Nathaniel, who moved to St. Maries from Japan in middle school, said the co-honor didn’t really come as a surprise.

“Ryan and I have been at the top for forever,” he said. “I didn’t know it was possible to share the honor until last year.”

“After hearing about it we talked and agreed that sharing the honor would be the best scenario,” Ryan said.

Kaitlynn said finishing at the top was something she’d wanted since her sister finished at the top.

“I was thinking that Ryan and Nathan would battle it out for the top spots, but as it turns out there was a couple ties,” she said.

All four students boast involvement in school and community activities.

Ryan was involved in athletics, playing soccer and golf for four years. He also played both sports during the summers and skied often in the winter. In addition to sports, Ryan participated in various leadership activities, including serving as class president for three years and ASB president his senior year. He also participated in BPA for two years, was an Idaho Top Scholar, member of the National Honor Society and attended various leadership conferences.

Nathaniel is the current senior class president, participated in video production his freshman year and drama club for four years. He was also an Idaho Top Scholar, member of the National Honor Society, played in band for a year and earned his Eagle ranking in Boy Scouts last summer.

Kaitlynn was active in Key Club, a student community service organization, and also served as class president for a portion of her senior year.

Andrew played soccer for four years, golf for three, participated in track for a season, band for a year and played golf on his own in the summer. In addition he was also an Idaho Top Scholar and attended leadership conferences. He spent his free time reading, working on computers and volunteering at the local animal shelter.

The four top students may be alike in that they have high GPAs, but that is where the similarities end.

“It is very interesting to see how different each of us is,” Ryan said. “When you think of people at the top of the class you think of the stereotypical nerd with glasses, but we are four very different people.”

Ryan plans to attend the University of Idaho and major in business economics.

“I am looking to go into corporate management, hopefully in a sports-related company,” he said. “I really enjoyed BPA and the work that I’ve been doing through the different leadership positions I’ve held throughout high school.”

He will finish high school with about a year’s worth of college credits.

After a two-year mission, Nathaniel hopes to go to school to become a game writer.

“I want to work on the book part of a game,” he said. “Since the gaming industry is fairly new, there is no exact degree, but I may attend the Art Institute of Seattle or BYU Provo, which is a common school for students of my religion to attend.”

He hopes to do his mission in Japan, like his brother, who recently returned.

“The church leaders ultimately decide where to send me, but my hope is to go to Japan because that is where I grew up,” Nathaniel said. “It might also improve my chances of getting into the gaming industry since Japan owns two-thirds of it.”

Despite an accident that left Kaitlynn recovering from brain trauma, she was able to maintain her academic status.

“I was riding to school with a friend and the back tire blew out and my seatbelt didn’t lock,” she said. “I hit my head on the window pretty hard, but I don’t remember any of that day or the day before.”

The accident left her unable to participate in school or any outside activities for at least two months.

“I missed 56 days of school total, which is an insane amount, but I was able to slowly work through my studies on my own throughout the semester and came back more or less on track,” she said.

She plans to attend Washington State University in the fall to earn her prerequisites for the school’s pharmacy program. Kaitlynn hopes to be a pharmacist.

“We had to do a paper our junior year in economics and everybody else knew what they wanted to do for a career and I didn’t,” she said. “So I read up on different options and pharmacy just seem to fit. I knew right away that I’d picked the right career when I took the class and interned at the local pharmacy my senior year.”

Andrew will earn a degree in computer science and possibly computer engineering from Idaho State University.

“When I was young we didn’t have television, so my brother and I played a lot of games,” he said. “We got computers at home when I was in middle school and we started playing games on those. Since then, I’ve found I have a strong interest in computers and programming.”

Ryan is the son of John and Sharri McNulty. Nathaniel is the son of Curtis and Yvette Benham. Katelynn is the daughter of Anna Hollis and Mark Lewis. Andrew is the son of Tim and Jamie Spooner.

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