Photo by Jimmy Hickey —
Daniella Ohnemus
Photo by Jimmy Hickey —
Daniella Ohnemus
She spent the past four years building friendships, serving the community and exploring her passion for science, music and dance, but when Daniella Ohnemus reflects on her journey through St. Mary’s Academy, her favorite memories are of time in the classroom.

Ohnemus and her 152 classmates graduated June 2 in a ceremony at the University of Portland.

Her thirst for learning has served Ohnemus well. This year’s valedictorian, Ohnemus is a 2012 National Merit Scholar and received a $2,500 scholarship from that organization. She was accepted at all 10 colleges and universities to which she applied, including Harvard, Stanford and Northwestern universities and the University of Notre Dame.

“In a school of high achieving students, she still stands out," said Sara Salvi, St. Mary’s English department chairwoman. "Daniella’s breadth of interests speaks to the overall talent and dedication that she possesses, as well as her ability to balance her gifts and passions. She’s an intelligent, mature young woman with enormous potential.”

Ohnemus has been a student ambassador and co-chaired a benefit week for Doernbecher Children's Hospital. She worked on a team that guides campus ministry and community service, participating in Model United Nations and performing with a musical ensemble.

She stays just as busy outside school. Ohnemus is a cellist in the Metropolitan Youth Symphony. She also dances with the Westside Academy Performing Company.

Additionally, Ohnemus, a National Hispanic Scholar, enjoys staying in touch with her Puerto Rican heritage and visiting family there.

Community service is another priority for the gifted teen. She started working with the Providence Center for Medically Fragile Children for a junior-year service project and has been volunteering there ever since.

“I like being able to feel like I’m making a difference,” she said. “I really like how St. Mary’s has instilled in me a sense of social justice and a love of community service. I think that’s probably the biggest thing I’ll take away from my time here.”

Her generosity of time and spirit hasn’t gone unnoticed.

“Daniella has been extremely reliable," said Maria Micozzi, volunteer coordinator at the Providence Center for Medically Fragile Children. "The groups that she has assisted with really do need the volunteers to not be shy and jump right in. Daniella has done that with ease. We are fortunate to have dedicated volunteers like her.”

Ohnemus is interested in studying neuroscience in college and plans to become a physician. She already has had two summer internships at Oregon Health and Science University, one in cardiology research and the other in clinical pediatrics.

“I think St. Mary’s has definitely helped me to understand who I am as a person," she said. "It’s been great academic preparation and also has taught me to think critically about the world and society. St. Mary’s has been a great community, and I’ll miss a lot of my friends, but I’m excited to meet new people and have new experiences.”

St. Mary’s Academy senior and co-salutatorian Nora Helfand is a 2012 National Merit Scholarship Program Finalist. Next year the Southwest Portland resident will attend the University of Chicago. While at St. Mary’s, Helfand participated in varsity track, cross country and cross-country skiing, served as co-president of the SMA Comedy Club and was a member of Math Club. She’s a pianist, parody composer and audio/video production artist.

Ohnemus and Helfand both ranked in the top 1 percent of all U.S. high school seniors taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. Seven St. Mary’s students were named 2012 Commended Scholars, placing among the top 5 percent of the 1.5 million students who took the test.

St. Mary’s Academy senior and co-salutatorian Julia Tawney will attend Santa Clara University next fall. While at St. Mary’s, the Southwest Portland resident participated in cross-country running, Nordic ski team, and track and field. She was a leader of the Campus Ministry and Service Team, a Doernbecher Week co-chair, a Poverty Awareness Day committee member, and served as a Student Ambassador. She has enjoyed volunteering at the Macdonald Center in Northwest Portland and hopes to continue to pursue her passion to serve in the future. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, going to the beach, and baking.

Here are the graduates: Maggie Abeles, Julia Adams, Jessica Adsitt, Kylie Agon, Mercedes Arntson, Maddy Aubertine, Grace Banta, Ava Barlow, Alex Barr, Ellena Basada, Dahlia Bazzaz, Megan Beal, Alicia Bontemps, Maddie Bosch, Chloe Boulot, Sonja Breda, Raina Briare, Mackenzie Brown, Iphi Bugingo, Fiona Byrne, Jane Campbell, Laura Cannon, Olivia Cantwell, Sarah Carey, Kat Carnevale, Aly Clark, Danica Coffin, Anne Cohrs, Taylor Coleman, Rebecca Collins, Haley Coveny, Meghan Daschel, Megan Dennison, Zanna Doak, Allie Donahue, Mali Dong, India Downes-Le Guin, Bethany Dugan, Sophia DuVal, Hollie Dyer, Jaclyn Egan, Zinzi Elliott, Alexxis Fikes, Bianca Finley, Emlyn Foxen, Bridget Fuller, Celina Fuller, Emily Garrison, Bella Gazzola, Andrea D. Gloss, Jessica Gomez, Marissa Gowen, Sophie Graham, Polina Guzenko, Madeline Halewyn, Hannah Hall-Dolezal, Caitlin Harrington-Smith, Kirsten Hee, Nora Helfand, Katy Henkle, Selina Herrera, Marian Hill, Ellen Holt, Cecily Holtz, Devon Huck, Nicole Hurner, Artice Jackson, Emilie Jackson, Carly Januzzi, Audrey Jaramillo, Kate Jesse, Rakiyah Johnson, Hanna Joyce, Summer Kennedy, Molly Kerns, Elizabeth King, Elly Kittler, Anna Klos, Audrey Krajewski, Wave Kronewitter, Nikki Laitran, Taylor Lenzen, Rosie Mallet, Lucy Malloch, Julie Marmion, Kassandra Marquez, Grace Martin, Frances McCaslin, Sophie McDevitt, Katie McFall, Molly McMahon, Abbey Meeks, Karina Mena, Raven Merritt-Shorb, Libby Minniti, Erin Murphy, Stephanie Nelson, Phuong Nguyen, Annabelle Nikolov, Ely Nixon, Anna O'Connor, Daniella Ohnemus, Elyah Oster-Bainnson, Charlotte Owen, Kathleen Pahissa, Jordan Pahl, Larkin Parker, Erin Patridge, Rochelle Perez, Alexis Perry, Anna Perttu, Chelsea Phelps, Camille Phillips, Mickayla Phillis, Sofia Polo, Chloe Rask, Julia Read, Madeleine Reid, Sophia Resk, Mackenzie Roberts, Sarah Robinson, Taelor Ross, Olivia Rowley, Savannah Schmidt, Clara Schneid, Olivia Schneider, Elise Sevy, Zoie Sheng, Kate Shober, Megan Simms, Samara Singer, Laura Smale, Hannah Stewart, Charlotte Stick, Sha'Nice Storey, Rachel Struxness, Julia Tawney, Maureen Teylan, Molly Thornburg, TJ Thorpe, Haley Ure, Cynthia Vandermolen, Molly Vranizan, Lauren Wack, Kristen Warden, Casia Wardzala, Abi Wells, Danielle West, Haley Wilson, Jessica Woodley, Savannah Wozny, Maia A. Yap-Powell