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St. Helena High School Class of 2017

A group of nine seniors gathered in the St. Helena High School library on Thursday to discuss their past and their future. They are, from left, Alondra Rincon, Ana Sanchez, Maeve Leininger, Austin Cia, Dylan Martin, Reeves Basile, Max Rabin, Kyle McCaffrey and Maddie Wagner.

Part 1 of 2

As editor, I asked high school counselor Terri Linder if I could interview a group of high school seniors last Thursday, the day before their graduation. I wanted to get a sense of the St. Helena High School Class of 2017, find out memories of their school careers in St. Helena and what their future plans are.

Linder came up with a group of nine seniors and we met in the high school library. All were done with their final exams and were relaxed, polite and forthcoming. It was not a scientific survey, since I only spoke to nine and they were handpicked. Profiled this week are Reeves Basile, Austin Cia, Maeve Leininger and Dylan Martin. Next week, I will profile Kyle McCaffrey, Max Rabin, Alondra Rincon, Ana Sanchez and Maddie Wagner.

A few generalities about the group:

-All nine are heading to college. Two are going to Napa Valley College and one to Santa Rosa Junior College, with hopes to transfer to a UC school in two years;

-Seven of the nine had been in school in St. Helena for many years, several since kindergarten;

-Two had played football for the St. Helena Saints and one was planning to play football in college;

-One senior had parents who also attended SHHS and he’s the only one who plans to return to St. Helena after his school career is over;

-The group’s favorites in the SHUSD include Chris O’Connor, Michelle Parriott, Madeline Breazeale, Diana Carr and Judy Aschwanden.

In alphabetical order then, the following small group of the Class of 2017 is presented. (The others will be presented in next week’s Star.)

Reeves Basile

“I’ve been at St. Helena High School for four years, it’s my 10th school in my career,” Basile said. He has attended some pretty big schools, including an elementary school in Florida with 3,000 kids when he was in the second grade.

What did he like best about SHHS? “Compared to other schools, it’s the small-town feel. I like that when you walk downtown, you’ll always see someone you know, no matter where you are or what time of day, because everybody gets to know each other the longer you’ve been here.”

Basile’s favorite memory was helping to coach the Powder Puff football game during Homecoming week. “We have girls play flag football and we got all the football players to help coach them,” he said. During his high school career, he played four years of football, has a school record for most receptions during a game (11, thrown by QB Dylan Martin), and plans to play football at Santa Rosa Junior College. He said he will study to become an EMT and after two years he hopes to transfer to a UC school in Southern California to study nursing.

Austin Cia

Cia has been in the school district for 13 years, since kindergarten. He said his family has been in the Napa Valley for quite a while, in fact, his parents also attended schools in St. Helena. “It’s kind of cool to hear their stories about their experiences here and I’m going through the same thing 20 years later, 30 years later,” he said.

Both Cia and Max Rubin enjoyed their zero period Applied Science class with teacher Chris O’Connor. It was held before school started and Cia said it was “definitely one of my highlights of my high school career.” He spoke about a two-year project to learn as much as possible about steelhead salmon in the local creeks.

The group determined the steelhead are spawning in local creeks, but “in a lot smaller numbers,” Cia said, than before. Both sediment and drought levels in the creeks limit the number of days steelhead can actually come up the creeks to spawn. “It’s a challenge for them,” Cia said, although the group did spot three or four smolts that had survived a year in Sulphur Creek. “Hopefully the water levels are high enough so they can make their journey back to saltwater eventually,” he added.

Cia’s plans include studying bio resource and agriculture engineering at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. “It is close to vineyard management and hopefully I come back here and apply that to any job I can,” he said.

Maeve Leininger

In her three years at SHHS, Leininger said she really enjoyed being involved with the Future Farmers of America. “At my old school, we didn’t have that and I got the opportunity to raise hogs, prune vines and raise turkeys and it was just an experience that I don’t think I would have had if we didn’t move here,” she said.

One of her hogs weighed in at 215 pounds, and the other was 250 pounds. After raising them, she showed them at the Napa Town & Country Fair and then sold them through the auction. Last year, her hogs sold for $10 and $11 a pound. How much work is it raising hogs? “I’d say it’s a decent amount of work raising a hog,” she said.

Leininger’s favorite teacher was Madeline Breazeale, because they were both new to the school at the same time. “I had a connection with her and built a relationship with her and really enjoyed” her world history and leadership classes, Leininger said.

She is headed to the University of San Diego to study mechanical engineering. Why? “I really enjoyed math and science and I originally thought biology, but I decided engineering might be better. We’ll see where it takes me.”

The senior said she is extremely excited and starts college on Sept. 1. This summer she will be working and taking a couple of trips.

Dylan Martin

SHHS quarterback Dylan Martin said he will not play football at the University of Oregon in Eugene but instead play a little basketball while going into pre-business. He started his St. Helena school career in kindergarten and his favorite teacher is also Madeline Breazeale. He took world history and leadership classes from her and added, “She’s really personable and actually cares about you outside of school stuff. It’s been really nice to build a close relationship with her and it’s kind of sad moving on, because I know in college it’s going to be different and you’re not going to be able to make those close relationships with teachers,” Martin said.

After graduation ceremonies on Friday, the entire senior class rented Scandia in Fairfield, where there were laser tag, mini golf, an arcade and go-carts. On Thursday, Martin said he was looking forward to “one last hooray with the senior class.” On Saturday, he attended a graduation party with his family and friends “to celebrate moving on to the next chapter in our lives.”


St. Helena Star Editor

David Stoneberg is the editor of the St. Helena Star, an award-winning weekly newspaper. Prior to joining the Star in 2006, he worked for the Lake County Record-Bee, the Clear Lake Observer American, the Middletown Times Star, The Weekly Calistogan and st