Stanford, UC Berkeley are destinations for Mount Shasta High School's valedictorians

Skye Kinkade
Mount Shasta Herald
From left to right: Mount Shasta High School's Class of 2021 salutatorian Anna Bleazard and valedictorians Joshua Bonivert and Madison Brown.

One of Mount Shasta High School's two valedictorians was accepted to Stanford University – a feat that hasn't been accomplished by a Bear in 25 years.

Madison Brown, daughter of Amy Lanier and Chris Brown, credited her Upward Bound college advisor Jeanine Masciola, who “helped me with anything no matter what it was.”

MSHS's second valedictorian, Joshua Bonivert, will head to UC Berkeley next year, where he’ll major in astrophysics.

Salutatorian Anna Bleazard plans to go on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints before attending Brigham Young University in Utah in 2023.

The students – who each finished their high school careers with Grade Point Averages well above a perfect 4.0 – will speak at MSHS’s graduation ceremony on Friday, June 11, held outdoors at Joe Blevins Memorial Stadium beginning at 6 p.m.

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Madison, who was born and raised in Mount Shasta, said she’d like to work in the medical field, likely in pediatrics. Joshua, who was born in Evanston, Wyoming and has lived in Mount Shasta for 10 years, plans to earn a PhD in astrophysics so he can one day get a job at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory or NASA. Anna is planning to study psychology and would like to one day work as a child psychologist or a mediator.

Being accepted to Stanford straight out of MSHS is rare, said Dean of Students Barbara Porteous. According to Stanford’s website, the regular decision admissions acceptance rate is just 3.67%.

Ray Huston, who was MSHS's counselor for 22 years before Porteous took over in 2006, said he can recollect only a handful of students who went to Stanford directly out of high school. That includes Shoji and Tami Kameda, whose mother, Laura Masunaga, is a Stanford alum. Jennifer Derwingson and Brianna Schallich are two others, Huston noted, and Nathan Johnston went to Stanford after transferring from College of the Siskiyous.

A sidenote: MSHS's class of 1999 valedictorian Narin Dickerson went to Princeton University after graduation – the only MSHS student to have been accepted there, to his knowledge, Huston said.

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"(Madison) should be very proud," said Huston. "It really is an accomplishment to be accepted at Stanford, especially from a small school like Mount Shasta, because the competition is incredibly steep." It's made even more impressive, Huston said, because Madison has no family connection to the university.

Madison said her parents, Amy Lanier and Chris Brown, have always supported her, but neither of them went to Stanford.

“Education is important to me because I love learning new things and learning about the world around me,” said Madison, who was also accepted to UC Santa Cruz, UC Santa Barbara, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, and Simpson University in Redding.

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Joshua, whose parents are Dustin and Amanda Bonivert, said education is important to him because “I want to be knowledgeable about the world, and I want to be the kind of person that someone can go to with any type of question.” 

During his time in high school, Joshua ran cross country and track and field. He also snowboarded for the Bears.

A longtime Boy Scout, Joshua recently became an Eagle Scout.

He said the supportive community of Mount Shasta helped him in his academic and social endeavors. “Because of our smaller school, I feel I was able to connect more with my teachers and get more help when I needed it,” Joshua said.

John Spaulding, who teaches Joshua’s favorite subjects – chemistry and physics – “inspired and  helped me along the way,” he said.

“I chose UC Berkeley because of its great academic environment, and its diverse and open community,” Joshua said. “UC Berkeley has one of the best astrophysics programs, and it has a beautiful campus that seems to always be very active.”

Anna, the daughter of Angela and Scott Bleazard, was born in Los Angeles and moved to Mount Shasta seven years ago. Her favorite subjects are art, literature and history. 

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“My favorite thing about high school is the opportunity to expand my interests,” said Anna, adding that education is important to her because it helps her understand the world around her, and she can use that knowledge to help others.

“The community here is vey close and supportive,” said Anna. “Many people here have watched me grow up and have mentored me in various ways. This town is a place of connection and personal growth.”

“Mount Shasta High School offers so many opportunities for the students preparing them for college and life after high school,” said Porteous. “From Career Technical Education,  fine arts, world languages, sports to Advanced Placement classes, dual enrollment classes/concurrent enrollment classes within the California Community College system. These students have taken advantage of these offerings and working very hard all four years.”

Skye Kinkade is the editor of the Mt. Shasta Area Newspapers and the Siskiyou Daily News. She is a fourth generation Siskiyou County resident and has lived in Mount Shasta and Weed her entire life.