Catholic school seniors share hopes, dreams


By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger

The rite of passage for this year’s Class of 2020 has been anything but traditional, said Lee Morrison, diocesan superintendent of schools. In a message to high graduates of the diocese’s Catholic schools, Morrison praised them for their resilience in this year of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Your senior year ended with the sudden switch to remote learning. Many of you are understandably frustrated due to cancelled ceremonies, celebrations and annual traditions. You have met all the academic requirements of your program and were forced to immediately learn the larger life lessons of ‘nothing is promised’ and the ‘uncertainty of tomorrow.’” 

However, the students have gained grit, resilience and determination. “You also have faith. Always approach your uncertain future with faith in the God who created you and loves you,” he said. “We are proud to call all graduates of our diocesan Catholic schools alumni.”


The five diocesan high schools shared the following plans of their student leaders.

Notre Dame, Burlington

Valedictorian Taylor Ackerman is the daughter of Todd and Kerri Ackerman of Burlington and a member of Divine Mercy Parish-Burlington/West Burlington. Taylor plans to attend Southeastern Community College to play soccer. Although her major is undecided, she plans to pursue a career in business or the medical field.

She plans to attend Mass at Divine Mercy where she serves as a lector. “It has allowed me to connect with the people of the church and with God. The Catholic faith and Notre Dame Catholic School have helped me strengthen my relationship with God. I want to serve the church in the future in any way that I can so I can keep developing a relationship with him.”

Valedictorian Matthew Briggs is the son of Michael and Marianne Briggs of Burlington and a member of First Presbyterian Church in Burlington. He will attend Central College in Pella and major in political science and minor in philosophy. “I would like to become a lawyer, and also pursue a career in government.”

In the church, he plans to continue “my leadership role as a deacon, and perhaps a trustee or elder. All three positions, including many more, are filled with individuals who care deeply about their faith, and also strengthen the faith of their fellow congregation members. Since volunteering is a large part of our church’s mission, I strive to resume my charitable acts through the church.”

Valedictorian Rachel Johs is the daughter of Rich and Kim Johs of Burlington and a member of Divine Mercy parish. She plans to attend Creighton University’s business school in Omaha and major in accounting with possibly a minor in English. She hopes to pursue a career as an accountant. She is committed to remaining “active in my faith and looking at how I can get involved in campus ministry. In high school I’ve been very involved in community service and mission trips, so I plan to get involved in service in Omaha.”

Salutatorian Allison Etka is the daughter of Steve and Colleen Etka of Burlington and a member of Divine Mercy Parish. She plans to attend Southeastern Community College where she will earn her associate’s degree and then transfer to the University of Iowa. “The church community has always been important to me and will continue to be important to me in my future. I enjoy attending weekly Mass and volunteering for organizations both in the church and in the Burlington community.” She plans to serve her community and church in any way she can.

Prince of Peace, Clinton

Valedictorian Katie Gorden is the daughter of William and Anne Gorden of Clinton and a member of Prince of Peace Parish in Clinton. She plans to attend the University of California-Davis and major in ecological management and restoration, minor in Spanish and music, and adopt dogs. While at school, she plans to join the Newman Center, attend Mass and be active in prayer shawl and music ministries.

Salutatorian Nathan Moeller is the son of David and Karen Moeller of Fulton, Illinois, and a member of Prince of Peace Parish. He plans to attend St. Ambrose University in Davenport. His major is undecided. Nathan plans to help the church through active membership in the Knights of Columbus and to serve as an extraordinary minister of the holy Eucharist at Mass. “I will take what I have learned from the church and use it to better help my new community in Davenport.”

Assumption, Davenport

Student Council President Jack McGuire is the son of Sean and Amy McGuire of Davenport and a member of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Davenport. He plans to attend the University of Iowa to study film and English (on a pre-law track). He plans to serve the church by “bringing the morals and ideals that I have learned from my Catholic education into everything that I do. I hope to encourage people to seek out the church not by preaching to them, but instead by demonstrating the character that the Catholic Church represents.”

National Honor Society President Abbey Klostermann is the daughter of Dana and Bryon Klostermann of Davenport and member of Holy Family Parish in Davenport. Abbey plans to attend the University of Iowa and major in biology and pre-optometry. “After that I will attend optometry school and hopefully become an eye doctor.” She plans to attend Mass and Bible studies while at school. “I hope to find a place that feels like home to me, and that I feel comfortable in. I would also like to get involved by bringing friends to church because I feel like going to church with someone else is much more meaningful.”

Holy Trinity, Fort Madison

Valedictorian Samantha Pothitakis is the daughter of Carrie and Niko Pothitakis of Fort Madison and a member of Holy Family Parish in Fort Madison. She plans to attend the University of California-Berkley and major in electrical engineering, computer science and business administration. “I would like to eventually own my own startup tech company.” Samantha plans to attend Mass and to join a Christian Fellowship group and “continue to love others.”

Salutatorian Nicole Pothitakis is the daughter of Carrie & Nicholas Pothitakis of Fort Madison and a member of Harmony Bible Church in Fort Madison. She plans to attend a Christian gap-year program at Impact 360 Institute. In the fall of 2021, she plans to attend the University of Iowa to study Spanish and business. Although undecided on a career, she is considering becoming an immigration lawyer. She plans to continue to “serve Christ through loving those around me. Although it is often difficult, I will lean on Christ and the Holy Spirit to help me to love those around me. I will also serve Christ through spreading The Gospel.”

Regina, Iowa City

Valedictorian Abigail Burger is the daughter of Sue Burger and Doug Burger of Iowa City and attends St. Thomas More Parish in Coralville. She plans to attend St. Ambrose University to play soccer and study biomedical laboratory science. In the future she hopes to pursue a medical degree. “By going to a Catholic university, I hope to further my own faith by continuing to participate in Mass. I hope to not only go to Mass, but also get involved in the Catholic community while on campus. Whether this be continuing to be a lector during Mass, volunteering through the church, or joining a church-affiliated club, I want to expand my faith.”

Salutatorian Mark Schomer is the son of Dr. Stephan and Tammy Schomer of Iowa City and attends St. Wenceslaus Parish in Iowa City. He plans to attend St. Ambrose University to study mechanical and industrial engineering and will be on the men’s golf team. He plans to participate in weekly Mass and donate to the church.

Support The Catholic Messenger’s mission to inform, educate and inspire the faithful of the Diocese of Davenport – and beyond! Subscribe to the print and/or e-edition, or make a one-time donation, today!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Posted on