The Grapevine

by Martin McConnell

Two Independence High School students were recently named Commended Scholars by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. Seniors Kyle McGovern and Drew Straub both received letters of recommendation from the corporation due to their high PSAT/NMSQT scores.

As commended students, McGovern and Straub both scored in the top 3-4% of scores out of approximately 50,000 students across the country. Independence High School principal Jamie Hogue expressed his pride in the two students and their honors via press release.

“I’m pleased that Kyle and Drew have been recognized by National Merit Scholarship Corp.,” Hogue said. “It is a testament to their diligence, as well as their intelligence. More importantly, Kyle and Drew are great students that will leave with us a legacy of kindness and acceptance, as well as academic achievement and hard work.”

Recent IHS and Cuyahoga Valley Career Center graduate, Jack Valenti, put his newly-earned culinary arts and food services certifications to work in August. Valenti raised $2,500 at his family’s Broadview Heights restaurant, Valenti’s Ristorante, for the Lupus Foundation of America.

Valenti now attends the Culinary Institute of America in upstate New York. He told the CVCC that he wants to become the executive chef at Valenti’s Ristorante, and help educate others who may want to join the culinary field.

The Independence Blue Devils boys and girls golf teams have both seen success this season, with the girls team setting school records en route to a fourth straight CVC conference title. Recently, the two teams swept the OHSAA sectional golf titles.

IHS junior Liam Jenks finished third overall at the boys’ sectional tournament. The girls team had three top-five finishes with Macey McGhee coming in second, Molly McGreal in third, and Hillary Esper in fifth.

“Although we know the competition will be harder, coach [Ryan] MacRaild has prepared us all season with challenging matches and big tournaments,” said IHS junior Mark Pillar on “I feel the team and I are well prepared for districts; all we need to do is focus on the task ahead.”

David Finkenthal of Independence was named to Southern New Hampshire University’s Summer 2022 President’s List.

Maura Collins graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Dayton in spring 2022. She was nominated for NCAA Division 1 “Woman of the Year,” the first-ever nominee from Independence. According to the NCAA website, “Established in 1991, the award recognizes female student-athletes who have exhausted their eligibility and distinguished themselves in their community, in athletics and in academics throughout their college careers.”

Collins, a 2018 Independence High School graduate, was also the first Independence athlete to receive a Division 1 athletic scholarship. She is a three-time All Ohio volleyball player, three-time captain at Dayton and an NCAA all-academic student athlete. Collins earned her degree in Applied Mathematical Economics, with minors in finance and actuary science. 

Aidan Zambito, of Troop 297 in Independence, earned the rank of Eagle Scout this summer. His project was tearing down and rebuilding a nature observation structure in the Independence Local Schools Land Lab, managed by Independence High School biology teacher Scott Maretka. Rebuilding the structure was at the top of Maretka’s wish list. The observation structure is a popular place for class photos when students visit the Land Lab.

The supports holding the structure off the ground were collapsing, making the structure unsafe. The roof also needed to be replaced. Aidan dismantled the structure and was able to salvage many pieces of lumber. With help from local Independence resident Bill Coudriet, and his son Nathan Coudriet, Aidan replaced the support structures and allowed them to settle over the winter of 2021.

This past spring, with help from his troop members, Aidan rebuilt the structure. He relocated the steps into the structure, added wood around the platform to enhance safety and replaced the roof with his uncle’s help.

Aidan is a senior at Independence High School and has been involved in Scouting since first grade. He is currently a junior assistant scoutmaster and was inducted into the Order of the Arrow, the Boy Scout Honor Society.

His mother, Angela Zambito, said, “His father and I are very proud of him, what he has accomplished, and all he has learned being in Scouting.” ∞

Kyle McGovern (l) and Andrew Straub
were named Commended Scholars by the
National Merit Scholarship Corporation.
Photo submitted.

Aidan Zambito rebuilt a nature observation
structure in the Independence Land
Lab as his Eagle Scout project. Photo