Catholic high schools in diocese graduate 252 students


By Anne Marie Amacher

This spring, 252 students graduated from Catholic high schools across the Diocese of Davenport. Valedictorians and salutatorians from the five Catholic schools share their future education plans and intentions to stay involved in the Catholic Church.


Twelve students graduated from Notre Dame High School May 22.


Valedictorian was Chris Kottenstette, son of Peter and Carol Kottenstette of Burlington. They are members of Ss. Mary & Patrick Parish in West Burlington.

Kottenstette plans to attend Drake University in Des Moines and study to be an actuary.

Rachel Hackenmiller was salutatorian. She is the daughter of John and Susan Hackenmiller of Burlington. They attend Ss. John & Paul Parish in Burlington. This fall Hackenmiller plans to attend Southeastern Community College and study respiratory care.


Twenty-two students graduated from Prince of Peace College Preparatory May 22.

Valedictorian was Ariana Aquilani, daughter of Ricci and Barbara Aquilani of Clinton. They are members of Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace Parish in Clinton.

She plans to attend the University of Northern Iowa and study business and accounting. She then plans to earn a master’s degree in accounting and become a certified public accountant.

While attending college, Aquilani plans to serve as a eucharistic minister and lector at church. She plans to take advantage of service groups and organizations in college and in the Cedar Falls area.

Salutatorian was Eric Sikkema, son of Bill and Annette Sikkema of Clinton. They are members of Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace Parish.

He plans to attend the University of Northern Iowa and major in business finance. Sikkema plans to participate in church ministry in roles such as eucharistic minister, usher and singer. He intends to actively participate in Mass and to get others involved in church. He also intends to raise his future children in the Catholic faith.


On May 22, 117 students graduated from Assumption High School.

Three were valedictorians.

Jamie Blaser is the daughter of Mark and Nancy Blaser of Bettendorf. They attend St. John Vianney Parish in Bettendorf.

After graduation, Blaser plans to attend Iowa State University and major in computer science with a minor in music technology.

“My faith is an integral part of my life and I fully intend to continue giving back to my parish.” Currently she is a member of the brass ensemble at her parish and a trumpet player. She plans to be involved in music ministry at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Ames. Blaser also hopes to participate in retreats and/or continue to travel on mission trips to help others.

Timothy Ford is the son of Kevin and Mary Ford of Bettendorf. They are members of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Bettendorf.

This fall he plans to attend the University of Notre Dame and study engineering and economics. Afterwards, Ford plans to pursue a post-graduate degree in law or business.

He intends to serve the Church by being a eucharistic minister and lector at Notre Dame. He plans to keep Mass a priority throughout his life and hopes to give back to the Church “as much as it has given me.” Living a good, Catholic lifestyle is and will be important to Ford.

Nick Gerwe is the son of Ben and Therese Gerwe of Bettendorf. They are members of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Bettendorf.

This fall he plans to attend the University of Iowa and major in civil engineering.

Gerwe intends to remain an active member of the Church. He has been an altar server and usher. He plans to look for service opportunities. “The Church has always been very important and influential in my life and my hope is to give back as much as I can.”

Fort Madison

Holy Trinity Catholic High School graduated 32 students May 29.

Valedictorian was Katherine Colby Hoyer, daughter of Gary and Lynn Hoyer of Fort Madison. They are members of Holy Family Parish there.

This fall Hoyer plans to attend the University of Notre Dame and major in biology as a pre-med student. After medical school she hopes to specialize in pediatric oncology and work closely with children who struggle to survive.

Hoyer says it is important to share blessings with the Church and community. She intends to help children at homeless shelters in South Bend, Ind., and to serve as a eucharistic minister and lector.

Zach Bartlett was the salutatorian and is the son of Dave and Jane Bartlett of Fort Madison. They are members of Holy Family.

This fall he plans to attend Iowa State University and study engineering. Bartlett says he will encourage people to keep their faith strong while in college.

Iowa City

Sixty-nine students graduated from Regina High School on May 29.

Valedictorian was John Staak, son of Robin and Lee Staak of Iowa City. They belong to St. Mary Parish in Iowa City.

Following graduation, Staak plans to study business at the University of Iowa. In the future he would like to work for the Daily Iowan newspaper and coach football at Regina.

Staak plans to serve the Church by living a Christian lifestyle. “I have been very fortunate throughout my life and wish to give back to the community.”

Salutatorian was Daniel Bonthius, son of Dan and Nancy Bonthius of Iowa City. They are members of St. Patrick Parish in Iowa City.

This fall he plans to attend Wartburg College to study biology/pre-medicine and to run track.  After that he would like to attend medical school and ultimately become a surgeon.

“As a physician I plan to support the Church’s mission by serving needy people in this country and in foreign nations. Specifically, I hope to participate in the Doctors Without Borders organization and to perform surgeries to correct medical conditions on needy individuals around the world.”

Bonthius also would like to volunteer locally at the Free Medical Clinic while attending medical school and after graduation. Additionally, he intends to give his time and treasures to further the mission of the Church in his own community.

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