The Strong Legacy of the Class of 2015

Over 1,000 high school students from the Flathead Valley will celebrate graduation in the coming weeks

By Dillon Tabish
Glacier High School seniors Hunter, left, and Harrison Kauffman, pictured on May 21, 2015. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

When a young student needed advice or direction at Glacier High School, he or she was usually directed to a pair of sturdy seniors for guidance.

Hunter and Harrison Kauffman, fraternal twins towering over 6-feet-1 and combining for nearly 500 pounds of brawn, are a pair of scholarly sentinels, versatile leaders who set goals and tackled them one by one, balancing duties as co-captains of the state champion football team with excelling near the top of their class.

In other words, the Kauffman brothers represent the best of this valley’s graduating class, a group of over 1,000 young men and women who started as wide-eyed underclassmen with hopes and goals and have now grown into the leaders of tomorrow. In the next two weeks, the class of 2015 will toss its caps in the air, celebrating a milestone.

Glacier High School will hold its graduation ceremony June 6 while Flathead and Stillwater Christian will hold their events the night before. Whitefish, Columbia Falls and Bigfork will celebrate graduation on June 6. Linderman Education Center will graduate its largest class ever, with 122 students receiving diplomas June 4.

At each ceremony, students will earn recognition for accomplishing greatness over the past four years. Of course, greatness is defined differently for each student. For some, greatness is achieving a 4.0 grade-point average while others overcame untold odds to simply receive a diploma, which is no less noteworthy.

Each and every student has a story worth telling. Like the Kauffman brothers.

Their family moved to Kalispell from Pennsylvania when the boys were in sixth grade. This rather remote corner of the state seemed far gone from the urban landscape on the other side of the country. The brothers had each other.

As freshmen at Glacier High School, the boys were fortunate enough to meet upperclassmen who became significant mentors. Students like Luke Halliburton and Mack Sutherland helped the boys understand the importance of integrity and hard work.

“The role models in my life have pushed me to do more. When you decide you want to give everything you’ve got to your activities and your academics, it just goes into all facets of your life,” Harrison said.

The brothers set ambitious goals, academically and athletically. They also established a moral compass that would guide them past the pitfalls of high school.

“A lot of those guys didn’t focus on being just a great athlete. They wanted to be good people too,” Hunter said. “They took care of us, not just for the program but coming to a new high school from all these different schools. They looked out for us. It’s really nice to have somebody who can look out for you.”

The Kauffmans excelled. By their senior year, they were co-captains on the Glacier football team, which went undefeated and won the Class AA state championship, the first in the school’s history and first for a Kalispell team in over 40 years. The two bulky linemen were both named all-state.

In the classroom, their drive and achievement was no less impressive. Hunter is graduating with a 4.0 GPA and will attend Johns Hopkins University. Harrison will attend Lehigh on a football scholarship and study business and pre-law.

“They’re just a couple of great kids. They’re amazing,” said Jan Twamley, administrative assistant at Glacier.

Walk the halls at each school and similar stories of leaders emerge. The class of 2015 is well represented and is leaving quite the legacy.

“The nice thing about being a senior is people will look up to you and they’ll come to you with their problems or if they need guidance and it gives you a great platform to take people under your wing and help them,” Hunter said.

“I think one thing that is really important about senior year is legacy,” Harrison said. “You want to teach the things you’ve learned to the younger kids. The role of a senior is to help them become the leaders they’ll become next year.”


Graduation Schedule

Glacier High School

June 6, 11 a.m.

Glacier High School gym

Class of 2015: 270

Summa Cum Laude

4.0 GPA cumulative all four years

Kaitlyn Anderson

Megan Bridwell

Alicia Frye

Noah Hill

Tacey Howe

Hunter Kauffman

Gabriel Leopold

Kali Ann Mathison

Kelsi McGinnis

Katelyn Parmelee

McKenzie Smith

Samuel Stern

Chazz Upton

Katelyn Wiley

Maxima Cum Laude

4.0 GPA cumulative through seven semesters

Charmayne Glasman

Makenzie Mertz

Keele Nouque

Flathead High School

June 5, 7 p.m.

Flathead High School gym

Class of 2015: 340

International Baccalaureate Diploma

At least 3 higher level courses and 3 standard level courses during junior and senior years

Mackenzie Artnzen

Marshall Bessette

Heather Bodenhamer

Mackenzie Bouma

Camas Carlson

Chloe Clevidence

Siri Danielson

Jackson Davey

Devina Gillis

Steele Jochim

Tia Kohs

Jade LeGassey

Mallorie Mason

Wyatt McGillen

Alaina Mothershead

Gavin Pirrie

Katie Poston

Connor Roettig

Emma Sauve

Ellen Schuster

Kelsey Weed

Meredith Wilson

Zoe Zander

Whitefish High School

June 6, 1 p.m.

Whitefish High School gym

Class of 2015: 113


4.0 GPA cumulative all four years

Georgia Donaldson

Keaton Grove

Sarah Latchum

Micah McFeely

Malia Morris

Columbia Falls High School

June 6, 11 a.m.

Columbia Falls School gym

Class of 2015: 180

Honors Diploma

Minimum GPA of 3.95 with minimum number of AP classes and four years of math and science

Colter Norick

Ciera Finberg

Meredith Stolte

Winter Kemppainen

Dalton Halden

Connor Bowman

Ike Schweikert

Carla Nicosia

Breanna Friar

Ty Morgan

Bigfork High School

June 6, 11 a.m.

Bigfork High School gym

Class of 2015: 65


4.0 GPA cumulative all four years

Veronica Farrier

Marissa Mazziotti

Megan Pancoast


Ranking second highest in the graduating class with a 3.978 GPA

Makena Morley

Stillwater Christian School

June 5, 6:30 p.m.

Stillwater Christian School gym

Class of 2015: 21


4.0 GPAs all four years

Sarah Paolini


Ranking second highest in the graduating class

Sophie George

Linderman Education Center

June 4, 7 p.m.

Linderman Education Center gym

Class of 2015: 122

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