Philomath High's Class of 2023 valedictorians, from left, Dristi Patel, Micah Matthews, Kellen Houchin, Dawson Beckstead, Roman Padar and Jesse Erickson. (Photo provided by Philomath High School)

The Philomath High School’s Class of 2023 will make the diploma walk and 86 students will turn their tassels to officially make the transition from candidate to graduate Saturday morning at Clemens Field.

The ceremony is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m.

Seniors finished classes Thursday and were scheduled to go on their traditional walk to the various campuses Friday morning. School staff also had plans early Friday to serve the Senior Breakfast. The baccalaureate occurred June 4 and the honors convocation took place June 7.

Philomath Academy’s graduation ceremony is scheduled for 7 p.m. June 14 on the school’s west lawn.

Philomath High’s Class of 2023 features six valedictorians: Dawson Beckstead, Jesse Erickson, Kellen Houchin, Micah Matthews, Roman Padar and Dristi Patel.

All six valedictorians achieved a 4.0 grade point average.

Each student was asked to answer questions about themselves and following is a rundown of their responses:

Dawson Beckstead

Dawson Beckstead

Parents: Wes and Kristen Beckstead

In Philomath schools: Since fourth grade.

PHS faculty member with biggest influence: “Dr. Cerny has had a great influence upon my high school experience. His expertise and genuine enthusiasm for the sciences have been an inspiration to me and to many others. After taking his chemistry and physics classes, I knew with certainty that I wanted to pursue these fields further in my career path.”

Favorite extracurricular activities: “Tennis.”

Most challenging part of high school: “The most challenging part of high school has been trying to remain thorough and focused, even in regards to the small things that don’t initially seem like they matter.”

Plans after high school: “I will attend Oregon State University to pursue a degree in chemistry.”

Where you see yourself in 10 years: “I hope to see myself in a successful career as a physical chemist, in addition to keeping up with my tennis game and continuing to build meaningful connections.”

Jesse Erickson

Jesse Erickson

Parents: David and Ines Erickson

In Philomath schools: Since preschool.

PHS faculty member with biggest influence: “Dr. Cerny had a big influence on me because he altered the way I think about the world the most. He really ingrained in me ideas of mass, gravity, light, force, thermodynamics, electricity and magnetism, atomic molecules, and quantum mechanics. His classes were always engaging and fun, and now, whenever I hold a glass of water in my hand, I think about how it is disintegrating at millions of atoms per second.”

Favorite extracurricular activities: “My favorite extracurricular activities at PHS were track, cross-country and soccer.”

Most challenging part of high school: “AP U.S. history and AP calculus were the most challenging parts of high school for me.”

Plans after high school: “I plan to attend Brigham Young University in the fall, and following one semester there, I plan on serving a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

Where you see yourself in 10 years: “I see myself in graduate school somewhere pursuing a career that I do not know of right now, with a happy wife and happy kids.”

Kellen Houchin

Kellen Houchin

Parents: Brian and Gretchen Houchin

In Philomath schools: Since freshman year

PHS faculty member with biggest influence: “Dr. Cerny was such a huge influence on how I approached learning in general. I was always super excited for his classes even though they were probably some of the most difficult conceptually for me.”

Favorite extracurricular activities: “My favorite extracurricular activity is for sure the swim team. I love how positive and uplifting the environment is, and I’m endlessly grateful for the opportunity for me to help lead it as a team captain this year.”

Most challenging part of high school: “For me the most challenging part was learning how to manage my time. Between sports, homework, my social life, hobbies, my job, and other obligations, it can sometimes become a little overwhelming.”

Plans after high school: “After high school I plan on attending Oregon State University where I’ll study engineering.”

Where you see yourself in 10 years: “Hopefully I will have paid off a house and have a stable job because I think those are important prerequisites for my idyllic life. One of my biggest aspirations is to become a DINK and live life uneventfully.”

Micah Matthews

Micah Matthews

Parents: Chad and Shelly Matthews

In Philomath schools: Since sixth grade

PHS faculty member with biggest influence: “The high school faculty member that influenced me the most is Dr. Cerny, as his classes constantly challenged my way of thinking and gave me a different perspective of the simple interactions of life.”

Favorite extracurricular activities: No answer.

Most challenging part of high school: “The most challenging part of high school has been maintaining academic drive through the COVID-19 pandemic, and through the Beyond PHS program.”

Plans after high school: “After high school, I plan to attend Oregon State University where I am pursuing a master’s degree in mechanical engineering. Furthermore, I plan to double major, yet I have not decided upon my second major yet.”

Where you see yourself in 10 years: “In 10 years, I hope to be working as a Disney Imagineer.”

Roman Padar

Roman Padar

Parents: Derrick Padar and Lixin Li

In Philomath schools: Since first grade.

PHS faculty member with biggest influence: “I think that Jodi Moade had the biggest influence on my high school experience. Firstly, her calculus class is one of the more difficult classes that I have taken here, both in terms of concepts and workload. I felt that she does a very good job in breaking down difficult concepts and ensuring that we understand how to use them. I learned that complicated things may not be as difficult to understand as I might think, and I improved my time and task management abilities. Aside from that class specifically, she has also been a tremendous help in dealing with college applications and registration. She made that difficult process a lot less stressful.”

Favorite extracurricular activities: “Unfortunately, I haven’t been too involved with extracurricular activities at the high school, although I did enjoy band when I was a part of it.”

Most challenging part of high school: “The most challenging parts of high school have been learning how to find and ask for help and how to deal with several different tasks that all need to be completed at once.”

Plans after high school: “I’m planning to go to UC Davis and major in computer science and then hopefully find a good job somewhere in that field.”

Where you see yourself in 10 years: “My hope is to have secured a job as a software developer or something like that. I’m still looking at and exploring options at the moment, but my main goal is to have a stable, fulfilling job.”

Dristi Patel

Dristi Patel

Parents: Bharatbhai and Bhavnika Patel

In Philomath schools: Since kindergarten

PHS faculty member with biggest influence: “The faculty member that had the biggest influence on me in high school is Ms. Drennen. She has helped me through many rough patches and personal hardships throughout my past four years. Especially this year, she has just been outstanding with helping me accomplish goals and making it to the finish line. She advocated for me and believed in me throughout these past four years and has helped me through so much for what has probably been the most challenging year of my life so far. She truly is one of the most caring, hardworking, and accepting staff members at PHS and I appreciate everything she has done for me.”

Favorite extracurricular activities: “My favorite extracurricular activity at PHS is Associated Student Body (ASB). I like how we get to plan out fun school events and get the student body involved.”

Most challenging part of high school: “For me, the most challenging part of high school was to accomplish the goal of maintaining a 4.0 GPA. Accomplishing this goal required many hours dedicated to studying while helping out my parents with their business and participating in several extracurricular activities during my four years at PHS. Coming from a different cultural background than most at PHS made this goal difficult to accomplish as well. Overall, juggling everything all at once while maintaining a 4.0 was challenging.”

Plans after high school: “My plans after high school are to go to college and major in computer science.”

Where you see yourself in 10 years: “In 10 years I see myself working as a software engineer or getting a job in cybersecurity. I hope to make a difference in the world of engineering and be a model for young females interested in joining a STEM field.”

Philomath High’s Class of 2023 poses for a photo at Clemens Field. (Photo provided by Scott Card/Philomath High School)

Class of 2023

• Giovanni Joseph Abdelsayed, Ian Willow Alba, Seth David Arthurs, Silas Cooper Barton.

• Hannah Kaitlyn Beck, Dawson William Beckstead, Taylor Elizabeth Beddingfield.

• Deniece Jayde Bedsaul, Theodore Andrew Benbow, Grace Lillian Bennett, Mia Jean Bennett.

• William John Bernards, Caleb Tanner Blackburn, Jackson Thomas Boynton, Abigail Darlene Brown.

• Brody Rhein Bushnell, Mateo Gael Candanoza, Chasiti Gail Chesshire, Brooke Ann Clemens.

• Amelia Grace Cook, Khyra Nicole Cory-Johnson, Hailie Mae Couture, Asa David Cropp.

• Vincent Antonio DeMasi, Adaleah Grace Eck, Jasmin Love Eck, Jesse Lonon Erickson.

• Isabella Anne Fackrell, Macy Sue Freeman, Brandon Dean Fuller, Kori Jean Galvan.

• Makayla Katie Gilmore-Garcia, Logan Andrew Greeley, David Lee Griffith Jr., Morgan Adi Gross.

• Taylor Anne Gross, Ashley Teal Hamblin, McKenzie Pearl Hauck, Ingrid Anne Hellesto.

• Benjamin Abel Hernandez, Carrson Leif Hirte, Emma May Holden, Katherine Rose Holden.

• Emma Louise Hood, Kellen Daniel Houchin, Adrianna Elizabeth Hunter, David Michael Hunter-Godard.

• Cody Earle King, Trevor Earl King, Ashley Lynn Kohler, Rhiannon Irane Lettkeman, Abby Christine Loyd.

• Laylah Marline Malaythong, Israel Reyes Marcelo, Micah Robert Matthews, Jeorgia Hope Mast.

• Ty Michael May, Rigoberto Medina Fontaine, Brooke June Moade, Tyler Michael Moade.

• Nixon Christopher Mooney, Elizabeth Morales-Marquez, PhoebeRoxann Ameleah Morris.

• Izabella Marie Nanoski, Marliese Britani Navarrete-Refugio, Allison Suzanne Nelands.

• Stella Marina Neville, Jayden Charles Noble, Beckett Levi Noel, Briana Olivia O’Hare.

• Konner Dean Oleman, Ty Michael Olson, Roman Ying Padar, Madison Belle Parker.

• Dristi Bharatbhai Patel, Maya Grace Price, Olivia Grace Reams, Chase Linden Ringwald.

• Chad Dylan Russell, Brayden Wesley Shenk, Shayla Juniper Smiley, Olivia Mae Stokes.

• Kadesh Rose Marie Thomson, Alyson Marie Todd, Eben Walter VanHorn, Isaac Charles Workman.

Note: Foreign-exchange student Vanessa Wyroslawski will participate in the ceremony and receive a certificate of completion.

Brad Fuqua has covered the Philomath area since 2014 as the editor of the now-closed Philomath Express and currently as publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He has worked as a professional journalist since 1988 at daily and weekly newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana and Oregon.