Class of 2022: Valedictorian, Salutatorian and Seniors’ College Choices

Mount Madonna School (MMS) is pleased to announce Grace Timan as the 2022 valedictorian and Ben Pearson as salutatorian. Timan, who started attending MMS as a preschool student, and Pearson in kindergarten,  earned this distinction through hard work and focused effort, edging out their peers at the Central Coast school known for strong academics, environmental education, learning journeys, performing arts and scholar athletes. The 2022 high school graduation ceremony will be held in-person at the school’s upper campus, and attended by graduates, their families and guests on Thursday, June 16 at 10:30am.

“I am very proud of Grace and Ben for their hard work over the last four years,” commented Mount Madonna Director of Upper School Shannon Kelly. “They have taken challenging courses and excelled in the classroom. They were selected from a very strong academic cohort.”

Timan will attend the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

“UCLA has been my dream school for quite some time,” said Timan. “I love the classic college feeling of the campus, while also being located in one of the largest cities in the world. I will be studying public affairs, and hope to go into journalism or media of sorts.

“Two people at MMS who inspire me are Shannon Kelly and Sara Sobkoviak,” she continued. “They are both so smart and I really respect them in regards to their passion for their careers, as well as their personal connection with their students. I turn to both of them often for personal and academic advice. Furthermore, the connection that Haley Campbell has developed with the senior class is so touching, I think her teaching would inspire so many to love English, just as we do.

“One aspect of MMS that I will take with me into the next stage of my life is the importance of community,” added Timan. “Throughout my time at Mount Madonna the most important thing in all aspects has been community, it’s what inspires me to work, to help others and to enjoy my time.”

Pearson will attend the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) this fall.

“I will be majoring in mathematics, said Pearson. “I chose UCSB because the campus is gorgeous and right on the beach, the academics are very strong, and the volleyball culture there is very good as well.

“I think all of the faculty at MMS are admirable, as everyone here is doing what they do because this school helps to develop good people,” Pearson continued. “Despite the small numbers, there’s still an amazing amount of work that goes into keeping this school running, so everyone that contributes to that is inspiring in my eyes. I’ve never been a particularly outward person, but MMS and the performing arts department really helped me with moments in which I have to talk to a large group.”

In addition to Timan and Pearson, Mount Madonna School’s Class of 2022 includes eight other students. The students are listed below with their college choices.

Addison Catterall-Pendleton, California State University, Channel Islands; Alyssa Manzur, University of California, Los Angeles; Benn Glorfield, Seattle University; Blythe Wilson, California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo; Jimmy Bregman, California State University, Long Beach; Kayla Goldstein, University of California, Santa Barbara; Liana Kitchel, University of California, San Diego; and Summer Howley, American University.

“Mount Madonna School’s graduating class of 2022 has heart and unbreakable spirits,” commented Head of School Ann Goewert. “These young passionate leaders value and honor the human experience and create meaningful personal connections and bonds. Their MMS education helped to develop their capacity to think independently and advocate for change. The MMS class of 2022 is poised to be changemakers.”

Recently, the soon-to-be graduates took time to reflect on their college choice, planned studies, and MMS teachers who inspire them.

Addison Catterall-Pendleton: “I chose California State University, Channel Islands, because it has a good nursing program. As a Mount Madonna School student, I am inspired by teacher Haley Campbell, be she is cool, kind and caring. Our recent class trip to Washington, D.C. was very meaningful because it was only our only Values class learning journey due to COVID and it was fun.”

Alyssa Manzur: “I chose to attend the University of California, Los Angeles, because of the major I will be studying: microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics. When I took biology my freshman year, I knew it was going to be the subject I wanted to immerse myself in. In class we researched how different drugs affect the function of the teenage brain and conducted hands-on experiments by genetically modifying a panda’s hormones using CRISPR technology. I love that science is not set in stone, and there is always room to explore new possibilities. I love solving puzzles, so I think this major will give me the opportunity to figure out solutions to real-world problems while also being able to conduct research, and work in a hands-on environment.

“I am inspired by teacher Haley Campbell.” Manzur continued. “I attribute finding my voice to her English class, which I have taken since my sophomore year. I used to be very shy and had a difficult time expressing myself. She taught me how to reflect through writing, which allowed me to become more confident in both my abilities with writing and within myself. I am grateful for the space that Mount Madonna School has given to students in order to navigate who they are, and who they are becoming throughout their time at the school. I have grown so much, in positive ways, due to the accepting, loving and open environment that MMS cultivates. Because I have been giving the opportunity to figure out who I am as a person, while also being supported completely throughout my entire journey, I will always be grateful for my school.”

Benn Glorfield: “I like Seattle University’s location and size, and plan to study economics. Shannon Kelly is a Mount Madonna School teacher who inspires me, because she made me go to school. I enjoy the MMS community; it feels very special.” 

Blythe Wilson: “I chose Cal Poly because students seem to really love it there, the school has strong academic and career resources, and their ‘learning by doing’ philosophy is super appealing! San Luis Obispo is also a great town and a perfect distance from home. My major, city and regional planning, is quite small, so I’ll be able to develop connections with professors, while also getting a small community experience even within a large school.

“Every teacher at Mount Madonna has inspired me in their own unique ways,” continued Wilson. “They’re all at the school because they’re passionate about what they do, and they inspire me with their intelligence, compassion and dedication. In particular, Sara Sobkoviak really embodies these values – she is so hardworking and uses her many talents to help the community. Sara’s leadership and organization skills, as well as her sense of humor, never fail to amaze me. The tradition of the “Ramayana!” means a lot to me, and since preschool it’s always been my favorite part of the year. The lessons of community, hard work, and the importance of celebration are all things I will take with me into the next stage of my life.”

Jimmy Bregman: “I chose California State University, Long Beach because of its unimpacted but well-funded engineering program and its great on-campus facilities. At Mount Madonna, PK McDonald is a teacher that has had a very big influence on me, because he constantly pushes me to do my absolute best, no matter how much I let myself fall behind. During my time as an MMS student, I’ve learned to always respect those with different viewpoints than myself, because those are the people you really need to listen to.”

Kayla Goldstein: “I will be attending the University of California, Santa Barbara in the fall for pre-psychology and brain sciences. When I visited the campus during junior year, I knew that it would be my number one choice; the campus is gorgeous, and it’s the only college that I visited, where I could actually imagine myself as a student there. For my major, I’ve always had a passion for intricate things, and it can’t get much more complicated than psychology and brain sciences.

“The Mount Madonna teacher who inspires me is Haley Campbell. “She has a love for learning that I admire and share, and we both geek out about the same things in books, such as the language and wording. The most meaningful thing about MMS are the people here. The community is so understanding and so loving, and the relationships that I’ve cultivated here are relationships that I hope I can sustain for years to come, if not the rest of my life.”

Liana Kitchel: “I will be majoring in speculative design, and chose the University of California, San Diego, because I enjoyed my campus visit, the major was of interest to me, and it was considerably less expensive than my other two top options.

“Mount Madonna, teacher Dr. Nicole Tervalon and her math classes were inspirational to me. She made it easy and fun to learn, even such subjects as Algebra and statistics. I felt like I gained a good understanding of the subjects with her at the helm. My close friendships with classmates also mean a lot to me and I will definitely keep in touch with them throughout my life.’

Summer Howley: “I chose American university because I liked how specialized my major – data  sciences for justice, law and criminology – is. I noticed at other schools most of the majors were very broad and that wasn’t as appealing to me. I like that it’s a pretty small school, and that it’s in D.C., where there will be many good internship opportunities.

At Mount Madonna, I think it’s cool how teacher Sara Sobkoviak took her personal interests, like cooking and gardening, and turned them into full-fledged programs, even though she originally was hired as a Spanish teacher. Also, taking computer science and statistics have been inspiring because they give me more confidence going into a major where I will have to take lots of similar courses.

“One important thing I’ve learned at Mount Madonna School is how to be friendly with teachers. I’ve heard a lot about how good it is in college for job and internship opportunities if you are closer to your teachers, so having that experience will make it less scary in college.”


Contact: Leigh Ann Clifton, director of marketing & communications,

Nestled among the redwoods on 375 acres, Mount Madonna School (MMS) is a diverse learning community dedicated to creative, intellectual, and ethical growth. MMS supports its students in becoming caring, self-aware, discerning and articulate individuals; and believe a fulfilling life includes personal accomplishments, meaningful relationships and service to society. The CAIS and WASC accredited program emphasizes academic excellence, creative self-expression and positive character development. Located on Summit Road between Gilroy and Watsonville. Founded in 1979.

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