Meet W.F. West High School’s Top 10 Graduates


W.F. West High School and Centralia High School joined together early last month to honor and recognize the top 10 academic seniors from each school for the class of 2022.

W.F. West High School ranks its top 10 graduating seniors by grade point average (GPA), and students must graduate with honors or be a Running Start college student.

W.F. West High School’s graduation ceremony is scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday at Bearcat Stadium in Chehalis.

Here are the stories of the Top 10 graduates so far, and where they plan to go from here.


Joseph N.H. Chung (4.0 GPA)

Joseph Nathan Hyunsup Chung, son of Paul and Iris Chung, is tied for first in his class with classmate Carissa Smith. He started the Running Start program at Centralia College his junior year, where he tutored math and chemistry alongside taking STEM-focused courses. He recently returned from Australia where he attended a Bible discipleship training program. Chung played on the W.F. West varsity tennis team for four years and qualified for the state tournament his junior and senior seasons. He also swam on the Poseidon Aquatics Club all four years of high school. He was chosen to play a cello solo in the PNCO Soaring Soloist Concert in 2019. With his high scores on the SAT and ACT, Chung earned a full academic scholarship to Southern Adventist University (SAU) in Tennessee.

Instead of starting university this upcoming school year, Chung plans to take a gap year to work as a Bible worker in New South Wales, Australia. When he finally decides to face school again, he plans to work toward a degree in business at SAU, with an interest in the medical field.


Carissa I. Smith (4.0)

Carissa Smith, daughter of Emily and Jason Smith, is tied for first in her class with classmate Joseph Chung. She has completed honors pathways in STEM, humanities, English and performing arts. She is a member of the National Honors Society and plays the oboe in wind ensemble and the flute in the pep band. Smith has acted in many W.F. West theater productions including Seussical the Musical, Disney’s Frozen Jr., a Broadway Musical Review and Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. As a four-year member of the W.F. West Bearcat Robotics team, she has participated in robot design and construction, fabricating parts and has performed the role of team scout at First Robotics Challenge competitions.

Next year she plans to attend Washington State University majoring in architectural studies with the goal of receiving a master of architecture degree.


Ian M. Schow (3.998)

Ian Schow, son of Shane and Jennica Schow, will be receiving honors for performing arts.

He is also a full-time Running Start student at Centralia College, which will allow him to also graduate with his associate’s in arts degree. During high school, Schow participated in the pep band, jazz band — which he has thoroughly enjoyed — as well as wind ensemble and symphonic band. He was also on Team 4060 Bearcat Robotics, where he helped to design and assemble robots they built from scratch.

Coming up, Schow plans to take two years off to serve a mission for his church before attending Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. His plan is to major in mechanical engineering and to get a job in that field.


Claire L. Kuykendall (3.994)

Claire Kuykendall is receiving full honors in STEM, humanities, English and performing arts. While maintaining a rigorous academic schedule, she participated in four years of wind ensemble and maintained the role of drum major for the pep band her junior and senior years. She also played four years on the varsity tennis team, qualifying for state in singles her junior year. She has enjoyed being the president of both the STEM club and varsity math club during her senior year. Her favorite high school memories have been traveling to Disneyland with the band and filming a movie for Biotech Day.

Following her graduation from W.F. West, Kuykendall will attend Gonzaga University, majoring in human physiology. After receiving her bachelor’s degree, she plans to enroll in a graduate school and receive her doctorate of physical therapy. She has thoroughly enjoyed her time at W.F. West, having taken full advantage of the school’s outstanding STEM program. She cannot wait to continue on her learning journey.

Kuykendall is the daughter of Rick and Kristen Kuykendall.


Elaina T. Koenig (3.991)

Elaina Teresa Koenig, daughter of Franziska and Will Koenig, is ranked fourth in W.F. West’s senior class of 2022. She will be graduating with an associate’s degree from Centralia College through Running Start. While taking advanced and college classes, she also participated in orchestra and varsity cross country, track and field, wrestling, knowledge bowl and forensics.

After graduating from W.F. West, Koenig will be attending the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, and plans on graduating with a bachelor’s in science, majoring in electrical engineering. After college, she plans on serving in the Coast Guard and using her degree to become a ship engineer and work on efficient energy systems. Her goal is to be stationed on the Polar Star, a heavy icebreaker based out of Seattle, and to work in search and rescue.


Emma J. Greene (3.973)

Emma Greene, daughter of Brian and Dandi Greene, is graduating fifth in her class with honors in humanities, as well as CTE certificates of proficiency in child and family science and commercial art. During high school, she has been involved in varsity cheerleading, ASB, National Honor Society, Spirit Club and ASB Club. Greene had the privilege of serving as ASB public relations officer and National Honor Society secretary for the 2021-22 school year. She also had the opportunity to perform at WIAA cheerleading state competition twice, as well as USA Cheerleading Nationals in Anaheim, California, in February 2020.

Next year, she will attend Centralia College to get her associate’s degree. After Centralia College, she plans to attend a dental hygiene school in order to become a registered dental hygienist. Her future plans are to work as a dental hygienist in Washington or Arizona.


Elsa M. Wearner (3.967)

Elsa Wearner, daughter of Eric and Lisa Wearner, is graduating sixth in her class. During her time at W. F. West, Wearner has been involved with the National Honor Society and global history and culture club. Her other interests are many: She is very musical and enjoys playing piano and ukulele. Wearner is incredibly artistic, finding satisfaction in baking, garment sewing, painting and sketching. She is generous with her time volunteering at many church events and in the community. She has learned much about the world through travel and mission work in foreign countries. Her greatest joy in life is her cat. Next year will find Wearner continuing her studies at a four-year university. Her plan is to pursue a career in a field that will allow her to spread her contagious joy of life with the world around her.


Wesley E. Bowers (3.958)

Graduating seventh in his class with honors in STEM is Wesley Bowers. He participated in the coding club his freshman year and the Math Help Club and LARPing club his senior year. He wasn’t able to participate in many other extracurriculars due to personal circumstances. After Bowers graduates, he plans on moving to Arizona with his mother and taking a gap year so he can study career paths more in depth. He would like to experience careers firsthand and have a set career path before starting college. His current career goal is to be involved in e-sports or online entertainment, but he realizes this is an extremely unstable and unlikely career path despite his interest in the field and he will be looking for other options that better suit his preferences and goals. Once he is more confident in a career path, Bowers plans on attending Arizona State University. His father’s name is Jason Bowers and his mother’s name is Pauleen Kluey.


Abigail Finley (3.957)

Abigail Finley has loved history since she was a child. She read her first book about Cleopatra at age 8 and was instantly hooked. From the Egyptians' tombs to the Greeks' rather dark underworld with Sisyphus eternally pushing his boulder up that hill, she wanted to learn about it all. That thirst for knowledge encouraged her to participate in Knowledge Bowl for two years, where she received a varsity letter. Before joining Running Start at Centralia College, she also enjoyed being an active member in National Honor Society and Key Club, which helped propel her to become eighth in her graduating class. Outside of her academic career, Finley was involved in multiple local small businesses and organizations through community service.

Finley, who is the daughter of Ellery and Sharra Finley, plans to attend Corban University in Salem in the fall. She will be studying secondary education with an emphasis in history and hopes to obtain her master’s degree in order to become a high school history teacher.


Amelia M. Etue (3.944)

Amelia M. Etue, daughter of Sarah and Andrew Etue, is ranked ninth in W.F. West’s senior class of 2022 and is receiving honors in STEM, English and humanities. Throughout high school, Etue has focused on various projects in her STEM classes, highlighted by an advanced molecular genetics project using Zebrafish as an animal model for an Alzheimer’s gene. Additionally, she participated in varsity volleyball and varsity track, and is the historical arts club president. One of Etue's favorite activities throughout high school was getting to teach elementary school students about the scanning electron microscope.

After graduating from W.F. West, Etue will be attending Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, and plans on pursuing a degree in biochemistry. Post-college, she would like to work toward a career in a non-research field of science that involves working with people and improving society. Etue has had many amazing opportunities at W.F. West and feels ready to take on college-level academics.