Editor’s note: The following articles offer some insight into The Ottawa Herald’s 2018 Elite Scholars. Five outstanding seniors were selected — two from Ottawa High School and three from Central Heights High School. West Franklin and Wellsville High Schools did not participate this year.



Madelyne Crowley is an artist. From her performance in dance as a member of the Cyclonettes Dance Teams, her work with Spotlight Dance Academy and even her job at Subway, Crowley lives life through an artist’s eye.

With a stellar grade point average and a long life of involvement, Madelyne was named Ottawa High School 2018 Elite Scholar.

She is the daughter of Jen and Bill Crowley and is planning to attend Kansas State University in the fall to pursue a career in nursing.

While in school, she has been a member of the National Honors Society, O-Club, HOSA, FCA and Wall of Honor Committee. She completed the Health Science Pathway. Outside of school, she volunteers at Ransom Memorial Health, Prairie Paws Animal Shelter, Hope House, Make a Difference Day and as a bell ringer for the Salvation Army.

As a dancer, Madelyn was a member of the Cyclonettes Dance team for four years, serving two years as captain. She has been dancing competitively for eight years with Spotlight Dance Academy and works there as a Hip-Hop teacher.


Krystofer Johnson will not be defined by what people see or think of him. He is much more concerned with the kind of person he is. He sees himself as hardworking, dedicated, meticulous and a follower of Christ. These traits and his outstanding academic work have made Johnson an Ottawa High School 2018 Elite Scholar.

Johnson is the son of Darnell Johnson and Melanie Herken. He plans to attend college in the fall in hopes of continuing his basketball career.

“At the same time I will be working at getting into medical school in hopes of becoming a surgeon, furthermore impacting the life of others,” he wrote.

Johnson has earned high praise in athletics as a member of the varsity basketball team where he earned KBCA All-State honors, Ottawa Herald All-Area Team, Second Team All-Frontier League and First-Team in the Basehor-Linwood tournament.

Johnson wrote that other clubs he chose to participate in all served a purpose.

“Throughout high school I have been involved in HOSA, The Wall of Honor Committee, Senior Advisory Board, Student Council, JOOI Club, and the Renaissance Club,” he wrote. “I chose these clubs for a reason. These are the clubs that I believe have a small name in our school, but create the biggest impact for my peers.”



Coyd Gardner has always tried to push himself. At 6-9, his friends questioned his decision to run cross country his junior year of high school. For Gardner, the decision was easy, “why not.”

He said the lessons learned on the cross country course are the same lessons he will use in life and academics.

“I stood true to my choice and ended up gaining far more through cross country,” he wrote. “Instead of being able to blame others, I was forced to accept that I was the only person accountable for my results. I learned true dedication, the kind that one learns while out of breath running the last leg of a course, which happens to be a half-mile long hill with boulders in the middle of the path. Only my stubborn and persistent spirit drove me onward and upward. As I climbed the seemingly impossible mountain, something exploded inside me. As the runners around me slowly dropped to a walk, I kept running past them, leading the pack to the finish.”

Coyd, an Elite Scholar from Central Heights, is the son of Carl and Marie Gardner. He has many interests and talents participating in football, track and basketball as well as scholar’s bowl, band and swing group.

His true love is computers. As a kid he would work on old computers and is now interested in the cutting edge of computer work. He will continue his education at Wichita State University at the College of Engineering.

“I look forward to the future and all that it holds,” he wrote. “As a computer engineer, I will be working towards a better and more secure future in technology. Going to school to learn about computer engineering not only lets me do what I love, but also lets me give back by making technology better for everyone. When out of college, I want to get into my field and start pushing modern technology further than ever before.”

Outside of school, Coyd works as an information technology technician at Wolfe Automotive Group and as the grounds keeper for the Richmond United Methodist Church.

His passion to excel was forged by the people and school that helped him along the way.

“All of my past activities, offices, and experiences have culminated in the person I am today, and will definitely keep influencing the person I become tomorrow, the next day, and the rest of my life,” he wrote. “Throughout high school, I have created my own path. My decision to combine my passion for computers with a career in computer engineering will allow me to forge ahead.”


Riley Roll has stood out at Central Heights for many reasons, her 4.0 grade point average, her athletic ability and her hair. Early on in her high school career, Riley dyed her hair. She wanted to be an individual and face her fears. Now as a senior, her hair is back to her original color and she feels a sense of empowerment and confidence.

“I felt as though I had become my own person to stand out without having my hair an exotic color,” she wrote. “My hair gave me newfound confidence to dress, talk, and act as I please. I am no longer walked on by my peers and overlooked by members in my community. Most importantly, I am a happier person. So, who am I? I no longer have purple hair, but I am still the girl with purple hair.”

Roll is a 2018 Central Heights Elite Scholar and is the daughter of Stacy and Dan Roll. She plans to attend The University of Kansas next fall and major in Human Biology as part of the honors program. She hopes to continue her education in the radiology field and her dream is to work from home with the latest technology.

While in school she has been a member of the volleyball, softball and basketball teams. She was active in Spanish Club, robotics and Future Business Leaders of America. Outside of school she has volunteered at ECKAN Head Start and was a part of ECKAN Youth Action Council. She also judged math and robotic competitions while also working as a babysitter and softball umpire.

When describing her journey, she emphasizes that decision her freshman year to change her hair color. She wrote that the decision was a turning point in her school and personal life.

“After several months, my skin began to thicken,” she wrote. “I no longer thought twice about the looks, rather just stared back at them. I dared people to make remarks about me. My hair gave me new confidence to be my own person. I only worried about pleasing myself instead of everyone around me, and it quickly led to a much happier lifestyle.”


To truly know who Olivia Stockard is you can see her in the pictures she takes. Stockard, a Central Heights 2018 Elite Scholar, sees photography as a way to reveal her nature from behind the camera.

“Photography to me was simply a way to capture these memories with no instruction, classes, or coursework required,” she wrote. “I didn’t care if I was doing it the right way. All I knew was what I saw brought me joy and I needed to remember it.”

Olivia is the daughter of Jennifer Stockard. She is an avid musician and has been a member of the Kansas Ambassadors of Music, Ottawa University Orchestra and the Central Heights band and pep band. She has earned superior ratings in both the district and state solo/small ensemble contests since her freshman year of high school.

Other activities in school include high school honor flight, scholar’s bowl, robotics, future business leaders of America and Key Club. She has participated in volleyball, basketball and softball. She currently works as a teller at Kansas State Bank.

Outside of school she volunteers at Prairie Paws Animal Shelter and worked at the Horses, Boots and Bibles Camp as a counselor. She is the musical accompanist for the Princeton United Methodist Church.

After high school she plans to attend Amherst College in Massachusetts where she will pursue a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and then apply to medical school.

“My personal aspirations are to provide humanitarian aid with a group such as Doctors Without Borders,” she wrote. “Becoming a doctor is my ultimate aspiration because it combines my love of learning, personal growth, and service to others. A profound lesson I have learned from making a difference in my community is that the community makes a difference in you. I hope to apply this lesson to the larger steps I will take to impact my world.”