Malheur County high school seniors ponder past, future

Seniors from across Malheur County answered a three-question survey in the final days of their school year. These are their thoughts as we welcome them to our community as accomplished, independent adults and they learn what responsibilities that entails. Some answers were lightly edited for spelling, space or clarity. This week, we hear from Vale, Nyssa, Jordan Valley, and Harper. Next week, we will have the answers from Adrian and Ontario. From what we see here, the future of our community is bright.

PAST: What one improvement would like to see in the school system you’re about to leave?

PRESENT: What worries you most about the United States today?

FUTURE: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?


We want more arts and music education. Nine graduates said they would like their school to expand creative offerings in the future, making it the most common parting suggestion. Seniors also wished for more real-world learning, better school spirit, and improved shop and agricultural classes at their schools.

Less division and racism. More unity and empathy. The class of 2018 largely worries about the same things: The United States is becoming more divided, less willing to understand people who are different from themselves, and quicker to react with hate. Many saw this as a fundamental threat to our country. Other graduates fear for the future of gun rights or the effects of a generation exposed to so much violence, particularly frequent mass shootings.

Seniors were optimistic about their future lives.

VALE, May 20

Ariel Park

Past: We need to change testing.

Present: We do not accept new things.

Future: Married, having a good job and kids.

Audrey Marchek

Past: More extracurricular activities available for students, such as music, theater, and additional sports. All activities should be held to equal importance.

Present: The urban-rural divide and its influence on younger generations.

Future: Working in an animal research or genetics career, and possibly starting a family.

Bret Lawrence

Past: A music program.

Present: The future between the U.S. and foreign countries.

Future: Working in a custom woodworking shop.

Cody Nieskens

Past: None.

Present: All the stupid stuff.

Future: Good career and maybe a family.

Cody Ross

Past: More rights.

Present: Country ran by uneducated people.

Future: Working on trucks.

Dakota Mitchell

Past: Everything was fine.

Present: War.

Future: Working as either an auto mechanic or a computer tech/builder.

Dallie Johnson

Past: While Vale High School has a strong educational environment, it would benefit from the addition of a music program.

Present: The disintegration of values taught within American homes and families.

Future: I hope to be starting a family and exercising a bachelor’s degree in an effort to benefit society.

Daniel Wenger

Past: I would like to see less expected from students outside of class, and more emphasis on the work done in class.

Present: I am most worried about how much resistance to change there is in the government.

Future: I’d like to see myself with a college degree, married, and starting on a career path that has much room for advancement.

Dawson Sumey

Past: Longer lunch times, simply because 30 minutes is a very short amount of time to drive somewhere and eat if the student is one to do that.

Present: People, largely my generation, speak out about topics that they don’t know about and have done very little research.

Future: Possibly still in the army.

Emma Hicks

Past: The way they handle bullying. They always say they don’t allow it but I have reported my bullying and it continued for about two weeks until it finally stopped.

Present: Communication Skills

Future: Enjoy the college life at TVCC working on getting my associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education [then go to] EOU for my bachelor’s degree in elementary teaching.

Emily Kearney

Past: Better A/C and heaters in the building as well as making classes more interesting so students pay more attention with less busy work.

Present: The people’s firearms being taken away.

Future: Working as a cosmetologist.

Grace Hage

Past: Looks don’t matter as much to the public as you think.

Present: Gun laws.

Future: In an OB ward assisting in births.

Hannah Alexander

Past: An improvement would be more funding toward art/music education because high school and younger kids need to have a way other than sports to express themselves. [Otherwise,] they would never know if they could sing or play an instrument because they never had that opportunity.

Present: This generation of kids and the constant protesting. I think the lack of education on certain topics and the blindly following of social media with no questions about if it’s logical or even factual.

Future: I see myself with a college degree, a steady job, and starting a family.

Hannah Hansen

Past: I would like to see more arts programs, and for the schools with, more funding for them.

Present: The way people are trying to control guns when they don’t see that real problem is the way the gun purchase is processed. There need to be more extensive background checks or a meeting that allows a psychologist to get a feel for the person’s mental state.

Future: I want to be working at Camp Equipment as a fully qualified John Deere Tech.

Heather Dearing

Past: More communication between the student body and the student body officers.

Present: Cell phone usage.

Future: Working my dream job.

Hunter Radloff

Past: In the Vale School system, we always talk about “Viking Pride” but I think we could work a little harder on actually knowing how to show that and what it means. Vale school has amazing kids at it that are always willing to help.

Present: The one thing that has me scared in the United States today is guns and mental health because without stopping it now it will only get worse for the future.

Future: I see myself with a successful job and will have figured out my life by then, with at least one kid if not two. I’d like to have a start to a long, happy life.

Josh Duckworth

Past: Stronger disciplinary procedures.

Present: Society offended too easy and racism rampant.

Future: Working at a dealership, making enough money to support my family comfortably.

Joshua Andersen

Past: There are [students] that could be more involved in activities, clubs, and athletics. High school is the only time in our lives we have to participate in many of these opportunities, and I wish more students took advantage.

Present: I am most worried when I look at how so many people seem to live purely self-centered lives. … I am worried because this great country was founded by men and women that truly cared for one another and for the good of others.

Future: It is my goal to utilize my knowledge gained through College of Idaho studies and my background in agriculture to help alleviate issues developing in the world of agriculture. Also, I can easily see myself married and starting a family of my own.

Karson Brown

Past: Late starts one day of the week.

Present: Attacks within the United States.

Future: Working to become an architect. Possibly married.

Kayla Flint

Past: I’d definitely like to see the Vale school district bring the performing arts back. It is such a vital piece to a well-rounded education, and it brings so much life to the school environment.

Present: The issue of mental health worries me the most. It has become a rising issue that needs more attention.

Future: I see myself either working in the film industry around southern Oregon, or perhaps kicking my own graphic design business into gear in the Treasure Valley. During my free time, I’ll be writing novels and riding horses!

Kelly Fuller

Past: N/A.

Present: The president.

Future: Working as a dental hygienist.

Kobe Melendrez

Past: More tools.

Present: Going to war and shootings.

Future: Being a diesel mechanic

Laine Hicks

Past: Not to be the small conservative school that rejects anyone’s outside influence.

Present: Towns like Vale.

Future: Not in Vale.

Levi Romero

Past: I think that I would like to see more involvement from the student body. It felt like only a couple of kids from each grade were really involved in all the activities.

Present: I think that the most troublesome thing about the U.S. is the lack of empathy we have with each other. We see something on the news and are quick to judge without taking the proper time to see how other groups of people might feel.

Future: I hope to be working in the career that I studied in college, although I don’t know what yet.

Lindsey Tolman

Past: Vale High School does a great job including people but if one doesn’t play a sport then they are left in the dust. … Science club, robotics teams, and art club are all valid and deserve to be recognized more than just on picture day.

Present: Students are growing up in a society where violent video games are cool, violent language and empty threats are everyday occurrences, children joke about hurting one another, school shootings are becoming normal, and mass shootings are seen in the news so often that they are not abnormal. … There needs to be action taken to minimize the violence the children of today are encountering. Shooting animals is one thing. Humans are another.

Future: I hope to be a head preschool teacher in an Oregon Promise classroom, working with the children of our future and helping to mold the future society.

Miguel Ortiz

Past: I would really like to see a new music class. I never got the chance to ever take a music class before and I feel like I really missed out on it.

Present: Well, Trump. Never know when he might get in a bit of trouble with other countries.

[He could] possibly start WWIII and have everyone, including me, go fight.

Future: Possibly working, with a home and a kid. Maybe even [an awesome] rig of my own.

Morgan King

Past: More electives offered.

Present: People believe everything they see and hear.

Future: Married with children and teaching.

Piper Wolfe

Past: Better respect from students to teachers. It has gotten to the point where students don’t feel that a lot of the rules and guidelines from the handbook apply to them and it is causing controversy among staff and students.

Present: We are at a point in history where everyone seems to be over-opinionated, uneducated on controversial topics, and extremely divided. … Instead of embracing each other’s differences, we are using it as a way to start drama.

Future: I see myself having returned home from a mission for the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and [having graduated from] Utah State with at least a bachelor’s degree in secondary education. … [A small community] is a great place to raise a family, so I see my family and me living in this area, with me being a middle school teacher and loving every day of it.

Preslee Jensen

Past: More opportunities for different electives. Keeping the school a clean environment.

Present: The continuous need for cell phones and the addiction.

Future: Working a full time job and married with children.

Roni Rindlisbacher

Past: I would like to see more emphasis on the arts.

Present: Nobody seems to really want to get their hands dirty and actually improve things. They just want to blame other people for what’s wrong.

Future: I hope to be working with the Peace Corps or other organizations that work to create a better world.

Shady Villegas

Past: I would like to see a more friendly environment. 

Present: The U.S. struggles with the situation of taking away public school. I would love to still have public schools for the financial outlook of it. Public schools are the great equalizers of society. 

Future: A nurse in the United States Army and hopefully a family of my own.

TeiLee Hill

Past: I would like to see my school involve more art-related programs instead of focusing most of their attention on sports, and pay attention at least a little towards arts/music. It would benefit many more students at our school.

Present: I see myself as an artistic and creative person, so what mainly worries me is that the arts/music programs in the U.S. are slowly leaving and many people won’t be involved anymore.

Future: I would like to see myself much more extroverted and outgoing. I don’t really picture myself in a specific job, but I mainly want to see myself improve my personality and become more of a people person.

Trey Lowe

Past: No clue.

Present: Uneducated teens.

Future: In Wyoming with my dream job of being a game warden.

Wyatt Currey

Past: New principle.

Present: My generation is eating tide pods and snorting condoms.

Future: Married and money.

HARPER, June 1

Dawson Harrison

Past: Less restrictions on music. More real-world classes.

Present: The looming possibility of a nuclear winter at the hands of a man-child.

Future: Working for Tesla on the weekdays and spending the weekends on the sunny beaches of California.

Garrett Fisher

Past: Bigger auto and welding shop.

Present: Future generations.

Future: Working and a nice house.

Hailey Joslin

Past: We need more homework.

Present: People are too quick to give their opinion, instead of help with a solution.

Future: Working in law enforcement with a couple of children.

Haylee Lunt

Past: Maybe a class on how to do your taxes. More classes preparing for the real world.

Present: Hate everybody has for others. Love one another and be kind.

Future: I hope to be working at a vet clinic. Having my own house and a happy life.

Marie Rictor

Past: More classes to teach about real world situations (government / history).

Present: The future generation.

Future: I see myself living happily somewhere and working my dream job.

Nate Marker

Past: Better methods in some fields of study.

Present: That we focus on the terrible things going on around the world.

Future: Having a job as a marine biologist.

Seth Trotter

Past: More interactive and hands-on learning for kids that could better help them understand and enjoy education.

Present: That many kids in the U.S. are not very good with basic skills such as math and reading.

Future: I see myself as a special education teacher.

Will Bezates

Past: More classes about real world experiences, like personal finance, home ec, welding, auto, construction, FFA, etc. Classes that don’t teach us the same thing for 12 years. Something that we can actually use in the future.

Present: The government.

Future: Working with a full degree in welding.


Garrett Easterday

Past: Better shop class and less research papers.

Present: Immigration and gun control.

Future: Working for a living.

Kirk Eiguren

Past: Better science and agricultural programs.

Present: Pressure on politicians to pass firearm possession and purchasing legislation.

Future: I see myself as a pilot in the Air Force.

Wade Stanford

Past: An actual shop teacher and better shop program.

Present: Politicians’ ability to slither under the radar like they do, even be caught in a lie under oath and still not receive penalty. Individuals being confused about gender, what tide pods are used for, how easily offended everyone is today, the disrespect for this great nation, and the fact assault is a verb not an adjective so it cannot be used to describe a firearm. 

Future: A lineman traveling the country making $70-80,000 yearly. Single with a GMC Duramax, my Great Pyrenees dog Zeus, and a whole lot of guns and freedom.

NYSSA, May 27

Adam Van Meter

Past: More elective options.

Present: Not being ready for the real world toughness.

Future: I see myself doing my career that I went to college for.

Adrian Herrera

Past: My school system is great.

Present: Hate.

Future: Working for a big company.

Alejandro De Santiago Gonzalez

Past: The requirements for seniors, who should focus more on college than still trying to get classes done to graduate high school.

Present: The ignorance of racism that is still happening.

Future: Being rich, living my best life.

Alysander Moncada-Robles

Past: I would like to see the creation of more programs to help students who struggle in class. We have study hall classes to work on homework but these classes often fill up very quickly or the periods they are available do not align with students’ schedules. Tutorial Fridays were great.

Present: What worries me about the United States today is the “My way or the highway” mentality many of us have. We are so sure that we’re right that we block our selves off from anybody who has a different opinion instead of analyzing their argument and taking any points they might have into account.

Future: I hope to see myself with a family, a wife and hopefully a couple kids. I also see myself becoming an accomplished musician, either as a member of a band or as a studio musician.

Anabel Martinez

Past: I would like to see some teachers stop acting like they are the authority.

Present: The President.

Future: Working a good job and having a family.

Andrew Contreras

Past: Better vice principal. He’s mean. 🙁

Present: My Second Amendment right being conflicted with.

Future: In a mansion with my two wives (Anna & Capri).

Braenna Waldron

Past: Teachers actually caring for their students.

Present: Not having affordable housing for everyone.

Future: Graduated from college, having a family, and traveling.

Brandon Franks

Past: Better student support.

Present: Gun control. Freedom of speech.

Future: In my own house with my beautiful wife

Chayce Temple

Past: The punishment system.

Present: Politics and what will happen with the United States in the Middle East.

Future: Hopefully finished with my schooling and start teaching English courses.

Curtis Moses

Past: I would like to see my school improve the various arts in the school. They need to have more recognition and to have more opportunities to do more.

Present: I worry that the United States is going to go into more debt and get financially unstable.

Future: I see my self graduated from college and owning my own used/new car dealership.

Dennet Flores

Past: Personal finance class before high school.

Present: Students having their phones during class and not learning. This will have a big impact on education in the U.S.

Future: Graduated from college and working in my dream job. Starting my own family.

Dominik Madrid

Past: Lunch.

Present: Pollution.

Future: Welding somewhere.

Elizabeth Ponce

Past: An improvement I would like to see in the school system is the way they use their money. Some clubs need more money in order to get things done, and it is really hard for them to raise money because of it.

Present: What worries me most is how much racism there is and there’s nothing going on to fix it.

Future: I see myself graduated from college as a registered nurse.

Ismael Valentin

Past: Principal and vice principal. Getting teachers that care about us.

Present: Nothing, I love America.

Future: Working as an engineer in Boise. Living free, loving my life, and making money.

Jacob Ashby

Past: More college awareness.

Present: You have to get a job to get money, but you need to go to college to get a job, but you need money to go to college and a job to get money.

Future: Working in a successful career.

Jacob Stout

Past: I personally would like to see less “media” that creates boundaries between people.

Present: I am worried that people of different colors will come to bad terms because of the media and/or racists.

Future: I see myself as a graduate from the military and going to college. Maybe with a family, or simply a small home. 

Jeremias Martinez

Past: I’d like to see our school spirit improve with the younger classmen.

Present: The thing that worries me most is how much negativity is spread real quick.

Future: I see myself fulfilling my goal of owning a restaurant and having a wife and amazing kids.

Luz Hernandez

Past: Better staff.

Present: Trump.

Future: Very happy. Living life.

Maya Garner

Past: The music program.Auditorium needs help.

Present: Liberals taking over the schools.

Future: A middle school math teacher in a small town somewhere in Oregon.

Tye Anderson

Past: Less assignments on the computer and more reading. Have the students put up their computer if they aren’t using them. Old school learning is way better than now days because kids just copy and paste and do not learn.

Present: Gun control. It’s way too late to start trying to control the guns. Way too many people have guns to force the law. It will start a civil war. We shouldn’t just let everyone in our country.

Future: With a really good job with good retirement and pay. I’ll hopefully have a great and healthy family.

On May 16, the Malheur Enterprise will publish the answers of graduating seniors from Ontario and Adrian.