Davenport Central High School

Davenport Central High School

From the Salute to Academics and Achievements series
Hannah Mandell

Hannah Mandell

DAVENPORT CENTRAL High School has selected these outstanding seniors from its class of 291 students:


BENJAMIN FLORENCE, son of Alexa and Scott Florence of Bettendorf, plans to major in music business at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, or New York University.

Top achievements:

• ACT score of 35

• AP Scholar with Distinction

• National Merit commended scholar

Describe a classroom learning experience you’ll remember forever: A classroom learning experience I’ll remember forever is taking Mr. Taylor’s math class. The way he taught math made sense, and I understood it the first time. However, the truly memorable part of his class wasn’t that I did well in it, but the way he ran it. He didn’t boss us around just because he was a teacher; he exercised discretion when administering rules. For example, he knew that I understood the material, as shown by my perfect test scores; therefore, he didn’t mind when I didn’t pay attention after I had learned it. He respected his students and never looked down on us. He understood that everyone learned differently and at their own pace, and he accommodated that, so long as you didn’t disrupt anyone else’s learning. All these things added up to make it my favorite class, one that I felt great about every day.

HANNAH MANDELL, daughter of Michelle and Tim Mandell of Davenport, plans to major in environmental science and legal studies at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois.

Top achievements:

• National Merit Scholar

• AP Scholar with Distinction

• 2-year Mock Trial state qualifier

Describe a classroom learning experience you’ll remember forever: I’ve always been someone who avoided speaking up in class. However, my AP U.S. Government class was almost completely discussion based. At first I just stayed quiet, keeping my opinion to myself instead of jumping in. Then one day during a discussion about climate change, I finally spoke up. Since I plan to go into environmental law, I have strong feelings about this issue. It was empowering to share my opinion and from that day I found myself jumping into discussions more often. By the end of the class, I was one of the more outspoken students. As I walked out of class on the last day, my teacher told to keep arguing vehemently about the issues in which I am passionate. This simple statement is some of the best encouragement I have received, as it reminded me to stop choosing to stand by and go make a difference.

The Arts

EMILY BECK, daughter of Un Yong Beck and Anthony Beck of Davenport, plans to attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Top achievements:

• Gold, Silver, and Honorable Mention in Scholastic Art and Writing Competition

• Figge Brand Boeshaar Scholarship Recipient

• Second Place State Thespian Festival Award for Scenic Design

Describe a classroom learning experience you’ll remember forever: There's not one school that could have given me the opportunities that Davenport Central had. The extracurricular fine arts programs pushed me to not only find my talent but support it, and help me grow into the person I am proud to be today. The teachers were always willing to help me and give me words of encouragement. I know I will take the knowledge I gained at Central and apply it to my everyday life as I continue my life as an artist.

ADAM BORDERS, son of Dean and Susan Borders of Blue Grass, plans to major in industrial engineering at Iowa State University, Ames.

Top achievements:

• All-State Choir

• National Honor Society

• Thespian

Describe a classroom learning experience you’ll remember forever: Throughout my involvement in the Arts at Central I have auditioned for several honor choirs, including both Opus and All-State. I will never forget the rewarding and challenging experience of auditioning for both choirs, especially All-State. My first year auditioning for All-State was in 2014, when I was just a sophomore. I can still recall how hard my quartet and I prepared for audition day, and we were very anxious for the results. The list of those accepted first round was posted and my name was on it along with many others from Central. When we finally sang at the concert it was such a powerful moment, surrounded by hundreds of others from across the state. The opportunity I had to be a part of the Arts at Central is something I will remember forever.


JASMINE KARGBO, daughter of Tammy Kargbo and Sheku Kargbo of Davenport, plans to major in business at the University of Iowa, Iowa City.

Top achievements:

• National Honor Society

• Senior Class officer

• Academic Honor Roll, 4 years

Describe a classroom learning experience you’ll remember forever: Starting each term, many teachers approach the "getting to know you" phase roughly the same. Everyone fills out a sheet with details about themselves such as their likes, dislikes, strengths, and weaknesses. After four years and many worksheets, I finally learned a lesson I will never forget. Cleaning out an old binder, I found an "All About Me" worksheet from freshman year. Reading through my answers, I realized how much I have changed over my time in high school. After some searching, I was able to find some of my other "All About Me" worksheets from other classes. I realized that no matter if the answers were weeks old or several years old, they were always changing and so was I. I'm very thankful for all the amazing staff and my peers for pushing me to continue to change and evolve into a person that is always growing and improving.

MICKEY SLOAT, daughter of Gary and Bonnie Sloat of Davenport, plans to major in biology at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, or Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.

Top achievements:

• 5-time National History Day National Competition qualifier, finalist and award winner

• Herbert Hoover Uncommon Student honoree for "Don't Upstage Yourself," an original theater-based volunteer organization

• Selected for University of Iowa Secondary Student Training Program and performed cutting-edge research with leading experts

Describe a classroom learning experience you’ll remember forever: My favorite high school memories involve Star Trek costumes, cantankerous old ladies, and hours of dusty old research, and I wouldn’t trade them for the world. Participating in National History Day for a third of my life has left me with some melancholy memories of scrambling for sources, scouring for costumes, and suffering what I like to call “research brain.” However, National History Day has also brought me to our nation’s capital five years in a row as a national qualifier and has placed me on the national stage as a national finalist. More than the topic I researched, I learned about time management (don’t try to memorize ten minutes of material in two hours), research skills (changing two words in someone else’s work does not make it your own), and the value of hard work (spending endless hours researching can reward you with invaluable memories for years to come).


JOSEPH SHIE, son of Tom and Dianna Shie of Davenport, plans to major in biochemistry at Augustana College, Rock Island.

Top achievements:

• Davenport School Board student member

• Academic All-State, swimming

• All-Conference and State qualifier, swimming, tennis

Describe a classroom learning experience you’ll remember forever: AP Biology. That class was my most challenging in my high school career. From time management to methods of study, I had to change my prior habits to succeed. The class provided many obstacles that pushed me to my limits. Upon the conclusion of this class, I have learned to take my education into my own hands, teaching myself the extra information not taught in class, but necessary to fully grasp the material. Not all information on the exams are covered during class time which caused me to read additional units in our textbook, search online for reviews and extra guidance, and consult my teacher during and outside of class. This class taught me the tools and methods necessary to actively educate myself in class and independently, preparing me for the schooling still ahead of me.

AJ SMITH, son of Keith Smith and Karen Smith of Davenport, plans to major in business/economics at the University of Iowa, Iowa City.

Top achievements:

• Academic Excellence (4.0/4.0), 4 years

• Governor's Scholar

• MAC All Academic Team, track and field

Describe a classroom learning experience you’ll remember forever: I will forever remember my time in Mrs. Heninger’s Talented and Gifted class during my junior year of high school. From the very first day, I could tell that this class would be a different and exciting experience for me. Here was a class where - instead of being lectured at by a teacher for ninety minutes - I could begin to form and share my own ideas and opinions about life and the world around me. This class exposed me to a variety of TED talks and learning philosophies, prepared me for the ACT, helped me measure my best college options, and even assisted in the creation of my resume for use in my college applications and scholarship requests. From the very first day, Mrs. Heninger’s TAG class presented the exciting opportunity to meet the school’s most intelligent minds, and I will forever be grateful for her class’s influence.

Math/The Sciences

EVAN BALK, son of Steve Balk and Angie Balk of Davenport, plans to major in biomedical engineering at the University of Iowa, Iowa City.

Top achievements:

• Academic Excellence

• MAC All- Academic Team, tennis, cross country

• Jim Fox Award

Describe a classroom learning experience you’ll remember forever: A classroom experience I will never forget is doing the milk lab in AP Biology. Any student who has taken AP Biology will recount the horrors of this lab. The purpose was to identify bacterial succession in milk and how different bacteria affect milk’s characteristics. After a week of incubation with different milks and varying temperatures, we removed the samples for testing. One of our testing methods was to describe the smell of the week old milks, which were revolting. Different groups described the smells as “rotten eggs,” “manure,” or surprisingly, “ranch dressing.” It took all that I had to avoid leaving the room from the stench, it was that bad. That day I truly learned that behind all great discoveries are loads of hard and unpleasant work. It has pushed me to always do what is necessary to accomplish my goals, even if I am adverse to it.

TOMMY HATHAWAY, son of Tony and Jo Hathaway of Davenport, plans to major in physics at Iowa State University, Ames.

Top achievements:

• 4.0 GPA

• Iowa All State Band

• Academic Excellence since sixth grade

Describe a classroom learning experience you’ll remember forever: The classroom learning experience that will stick with me the most is definitely Mr. Richter’s physics class. I took regular physics with him when I was a junior and then AP Physics this year as a senior. Richter’s class is so much different from any other class I have ever been in. He is funny and charismatic and teaches in a way that keeps everyone interested. His crazy labs, demonstrations, catchphrases, and teaching style is something that truly has to be experienced to understand. In Mr. Richter’s class you learn physics without even realizing it and unlike many other classes it, the basics definitely stick with you. Mr. Richter’s class helped me realize I love physics and I have decided to major in it at Iowa State. I think that everyone deserves a learning experience like Mr. Richter’s class.

Vocational Education

RYAN LANCILOTI, son of Jennifer Lanciloti and John Lanciloti of Davenport, plans to major in computer engineering at Iowa State University, Ames.

Top achievements:

• Academic Excellence

• National Society of High School Scholars

• One of the top programmers at my high school

Describe a classroom learning experience you’ll remember forever: During sophomore year, I took my first AP course. So often in my educational experience, teachers figuratively hold students' hands during most of the learning process. I quickly learned that AP courses are much different. The teacher provides information but the students are required to take much more responsibility and initiative in the learning process. If something was difficult, it was left to me to figure it out and to actually study to achieve the grade I wanted. I enjoyed the challenge and appreciated that excellent learning experience.

HUNTER MENKE, son of Mike Menke and Shawn Menke of Davenport, plans to major in business at Augustana College, Rock Island.

Top achievements:

• All-District All Academic Team, football

• Football team captain

• Earned 15 dual credits during high school

Describe a classroom learning experience you’ll remember forever: Rather than having one single experience that I will always remember during my time at Davenport Central, the time that I have spent in the business department with teachers Mrs. Lafrenz and Mrs. Talbot will always be the most memorable to me. They helped me discover that business is something I want to pursue in my future by making their classes fun. I spent my entire senior year taking classes with them and really enjoyed my time and appreciate everything they taught me. They opened the door to business for me by teaching in ways that always kept me interested when classes got boring and made it so I would want to learn more. They are the reason why business classes became my favorite courses to take during high school and why I will always remember having a great time in their classes.

Young Journalist

MARIANA CHAVEZ, daughter of Manuel Chavez and Marta Chavez of Davenport, plans to major in psychology at the University of Iowa, Iowa City.

Top achievements:

• National Honor Society

• First Honor Roll

• Full tuition scholarship to University of Iowa

Describe a classroom learning experience you’ll remember forever: Joining the yearbook team has been a life changing experience. Before joining I never realized how much time and effort it took to make the yearbook. I vividly remember finishing my very first page in the yearbook, and I was extremely proud of myself. To see an empty page transform into a page full of memories and fun experiences is an incredible feeling. I have learned many skills being in yearbook. I was thought how to properly talk and interview someone for the yearbook. At first it was really nerve wracking but by the end I got the hang of it. I also learned how to properly write a yearbook story, and it was nice to apply knowledge I had already learned before taking this class. I'm super glad I decided to join; it was filled with adventure, creativity, and memories.

YASMINE LOPEZ, daughter of Margarita Lopez of Davenport, plans to major in photography/film at Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design.

Top achievements:

• Scholastic Award

• MIAD Scholarship

• Quad-City Arts Festival of Trees exhibition

Describe a classroom learning experience you’ll remember forever: A memorable classroom experience for me would be my Photography and Advanced Photography classes. That's where everything started and later on I joined the school’s newspaper and started going to school events and taking photographs of important events. That would be one of my experiences, those photography classes.


Get local news delivered to your inbox!

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


News Alerts

Breaking News