Khloe Sytsma and Claire Powell, two Hood River Valley High School seniors, have been selected as the Hood River Elks Lodge October Students of the Month.
Sytsma is the daughter of Kristi and Burt Sytsma and is described as “a spark plug with the heart of a lion.” She has taken challenging courses, such as Writing 121, AP Human Geography and English 253/254, earning college credit while in high school. Despite a full roster of advanced courses, Sytsma carries a 3.9 GPA.
Sytsma’s community service ranges widely. She has volunteered at HRVHS, helping with freshman orientation as a Link leader and student ambassador. She worked in the student store during lunch and has helped at the Evening of Excellence. She helped clean up after the national Honor society induction. At her church, the Alliance Church, she works in the nursery. Also outside of HRV, she’s volunteered at the Hood River Adult Center thrift shop, the Parkdale Carnival and the FISH Food Bank.
She is a member of the Leos club as well and helps with their monthly can and bottle collection, which funds various local charities. Last year, Sytsma traveled to Thailand with the Remember Nu project to work with young girls who were threatened by the sex trafficking industry. She really cannot identify a favorite service experience, because she loves how it makes her feel, no matter who she is helping.
Sytsma is well-known at HRVHS, thanks to her school spirit and involvement. She is in numerous clubs and is a member of the National Honor society. She is on a robotics team called Duct Tape. She also works at Three Rivers Grill during the summer, for Columbia Gorge Black Garlic at markets and as a babysitter for various families. Sytsma was also chosen Friendliest Girl in the senior class by her peers.
Sytsma is in the midst of applying to college, either a four-year, or a two-year and transfer. She wants to major in nursing and specialize in pediatrics. She has a brother, Cole, who attends Wy’east Middle school.
Powell is the daughter of Chelsea and Mark Powell. She has a brother, Oscar, who is also a student at Hood River Valley High. Powell’s resume of activities and accomplishments is impressive. She has taken many AP classes and college level courses and holds a 4.00 GPA. Powell is ranked number one in her class.
Powell is a member of the National Honor Society and, besides participating in monthly meetings, she has volunteered at the NHS Halloween and Christmas charity events. Powell has been a member of the HRVHS varsity swim team, JV soccer team and JV ski team. She is a member of the HRVHS Speech and Debate team, where she competes in Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Radio, Public Forum and Impromptu.
She is a member of the HRVHS robotics club and was a member of the Steelhead team that competed at the First Tech Challenge (FTC) World Championship in Houston, twice. On the team, she has served as a builder, CAD designer, programmer, treasurer, and participated in community service. She knows how to use a laser cutter, 3D printer, manual mill and sticker cutter. She has shared her expertise in robotics at STEM fairs and STEM nights in the community, letting kids drive the Steelhead robot and sharing information with the kids and their parents about robotics. This volunteer work is especially meaningful to Powell because it exposes parents and kids to STEM and gives kids the opportunity to try something new. Powell also volunteered at a robotics camp for kids, where she taught and assisted children in building and programming NXT robots.
As a member of the Robots Wizards at HRVHS, she visited Mid Valley Elementary School and exposed children to block programming, FIRST Lego League and NXT robots. She encouraged the children to take STEM oriented classes and to join STEM clubs. Powell felt that her work as a Robot Wizard helped girls and lower income children gain a lot of confidence in those learning sessions.
In addition to sharing her tech knowledge, Powell has volunteered her time at the local FISH Food Bank and FISH food garden, the Gorge Kids Triathlon, prepared and loaded Christmas food boxes, set up and served as a timer at adult swim meets, help set up a refreshment stand at the Wasco County Fair, engraved Hydroflasks as a fundraiser for the Robotics team and dug holes and shoveled dirt and concrete at the rebuilding of the Children’s Park.
Outside of school, sports and volunteer work, Powell has worked as a babysitter, a restaurant dishwasher, a tutor for middle school students, and for the Hein company, where she created models, drawings, assemblies, and manufacturing models for parts for cargo vans. As a hobby, Powell put her engineering skills to work to disassemble and rebuild a Ford V8 engine. She also completely disassembled, customized, painted, reassembled and finally road a Honda Rebel motorcycle.
Powell hopes to attend Boston University or the University of Pennsylvania and major in engineering, with minors in business and math.