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Making it all add up at Kent-Meridian | Class of 2014

Jacob Llavore let his talent with mathematics guide him to high school success and an interest in aerospace engineering. - ross Coyle/Kent Reporter
Jacob Llavore let his talent with mathematics guide him to high school success and an interest in aerospace engineering.
— image credit: ross Coyle/Kent Reporter

For Kate Khazoyen and Jacob Llavore, the valuable time and understanding at Kent-Meridian High School have shaped where they are today.

The graduating seniors, who will receive their diplomas Saturday at the ShoWare Center, are looking into engineering fields that will tap into the math skills that come naturally to them.For Khazoyan, it's biology; Llavore, it's aerospace.

Both credit calculus teacher Beth Shoemaker for their continued interest in math.

"She always shows up so excited," Khazoyan said. "If we're like 'ugh, this seems like so much work, it's a busy week, we have things going on in other classes,' she's like 'you guys, this is the coolest thing!'"Llavore also said Kim McClung, who teaches theory of knowledge and helps instruct judo, was a pivotal mentor for her ability to help him understand other positions in a debate.

"She helped me understand how different people have different values," Llavore said. "Every position has its purpose, no matter what path we choose."

McClung's intellectual and athletic traits made her a role model for Llavore, who started taking judo his freshman year.

His introduction into the martial art gave him an appreciation for trying new things.

"I was kind of peer pressured into doing it, but after that first year I was amazed at how much I was interested in it," he said. He's currently one rank below black belt.

While Llavore enjoyed judo, Khazoyan worked with students in the school's math club.

"Tutoring's always an interesting thing for me because math has always come fairly easy to me," she said. "Helping other people with it can be pretty challenging for me to explain things to them, but I find it really rewarding because you get to understand how other people think and learn. You can learn a lot from teaching."

Khazoyan is looking forward to the freedom and distance of college and exploring a new place. She plans to attend the University of California, San Diego, where she will study biomedical engineering.

"A new town, a new city, a new state," she said. "I like the idea of a different environment."

Llavore plans to study aerospace engineering at the University of Washington.

Khazoyan and Llavore said that they learned a lot in high school indirectly without a teacher, and that some of those lessons were more important than words or numbers.

Khazoyan learned the importance of acting in her own interests against what people wanted her to do.

"In high school you get more freedom than in middle school or elementary, but it's still a pretty structured environment," she said. "But sometimes you have to make the choices that are going to best prepare you for college or the future, and fight for that.

"Only you know what's best for your interests," she said. "Know what's best for you, even if other people aren't telling you that that's what's best."

Llavore, on the other hand, emphasized not stressing out too much over classes. During his four years in the International Baccalaureate program, he tried to always take one easy, relaxing class, such as wood shop.

"School doesn't always have to be serious," he said. "I think that's what differs me from most of the IB students you see.

"I always keep relaxed," he said. "The reason people struggle most is because they're in that stigma that the only way to do well is by stressing out about it."

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