Andrew Burnell and Ryan McGinnis are CHS

  • Written by submitted by Michael Ward

vv val and salRyan McGinnis, 2013 salutatorian, and Andrew Burnell, 2013 valedictorian. Courtesy photoCedarcrest High School seniors Andrew Burnell and Ryan McGinnis will lead their 2013 graduating class as valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively.

Andrew Burnell earned his honor and title as valedictorian maintaining a consistent 4.0 GPA throughout his entire high school run. He has achieved this level of success while taking 16 Honors/AP classes at Cedarcrest, including AP language and composition, AP calculus 1 and 2, AP statistics, AP U.S. Government, AP literature, AP computer science, and honors physics, chemistry and biology.

This year’s valedictorian cited the recent emergence of the Cedarcrest Stealth Robotics team as an influence on where his future endeavors may take him. Andrew was one of the founders of the CHS Robotics team and served as the Head of Hardware and Head of Robot in each of the last two years. Andrew also served as the founder and president of Cedarcrest Science Club in 2011-12 and has been a member of National Honor Society since 2010.

For Ryan McGinnis, he has balanced academics and burgeoning success with Cedarcrest’s Track and Field team on his road to earning his salutatorian honor, finishing at Cedarcrest with a cumulative 3.97 GPA.

After what he describes as a rough start to his track and field career his sophomore year, McGinnis became a consistent qualifier in the triple jump in the Cascade Conference Championships and has earned several varsity letters, even earning a spot in the district championships his junior year.

Complementing his athletic success, McGinnis has also developed strong knowledge in the areas of math and science and he hopes to draw on those strengths as he pursues engineering as a college major.

Weighing his options, Andrew Burnell is presently wait-listed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is considering both the computer engineering program at the California Institue of Technology and the computer science program at University of Washington.

Ryan McGinnis is hoping to find a balance between engineering and athletics, narrowing his college considerations to Washington State, Gonzaga and Oregon State in the fall.

Both Burnell and McGinnis are unassuming and humble about their achievements but each acknowledged that earning this achievement serves as recognition for years of hard work and dedication.

The senior class graduation and commencement ceremonies will be held on Friday, June 14 at 7 p.m. at Overlake Christian Church in Redmond.

The Riverview School District proudly congratulates Andrew Burnell and Ryan McGinnis for earning the distinction of being Cedarcrest’s 2013 valedictorian and salutatorian and celebrates the hard work, dedication, and achievements of everyone comprising the Class of 2013.

Mike Vowels ... SKIER once again

  • Written by Connie Berg and Mike Vowels

vvmikeskiing.jpgMike Vowels on a mono ski in Sun Valley. Photo by Dennis McCormickWhen I first met Mike Vowels, several months ago, he was admittedly broken and incomplete. 

It wasn’t because of his 28-year-old skiing injury (high speed collision with a tree) which left the champion skier paralyzed and in a wheelchair. It was because of the loss of the sport he so loved, and the snow that surrounded it and made it magical.

Most people wouldn’t have noticed but if you took some time to talk to him and were able to get past his giant personality, you would notice that something was missing.

I am glad that I met Mike when I did; I’m not sure how compatible we would have been, "back in the day," as Mike refers to it, when he was at the top of his game in the world of acrobatic skiing. I think I would have maybe been put off by his hot dog skier ego, don’t get me wrong, he still has an ego but his recent return to skiing humbled him to the core and because of it, he found a strength I don’t even think he knew he had. 

In the process, Mike became complete again by reconnecting with skiing, the snow and  skiers in his past and present who have been  forever changed by his return to the slopes. 

Mike recently returned from Sun Valley where a group of 40-plus friends and supporters rallied around him as he took to the slopes after 28 years of absence. When I asked him about this tremendous journey, he said,  "Before I returned to skiing, I wasn’t complete because my Skier Self who was my center, was missing."

Mike has now come full circle and is eager and ready for the next challenge as a novice mono skier, to upgrade his skiing skills to highly proficient by spring of 2014. 

Conditioned and prepared, Mike is scheduled for an unprecedented high profile skiing challenge that is being planned now, as part of a documentary ski film in the making.

Mike and I recently met to discuss his trip to Sun Valley.  I asked Mike what the most difficult part of his journey back to skiing was.  He said, "The most difficult part was opening the door to, and exploring, the true depth of my pain and loss.  Because I was fearful of the unknown cost of my probing; I could not forecast if the pain would outweigh the gain?"

I also asked Mike what he wanted to accomplish by returning to skiing. He explained, "The Sun Valley trip was intended to re-open the door to skiing and serve as a healing therapy for  the great many skiers who attended, and so it did."

Mike is always upbeat and positive. I asked him to let his defenses down a bit and to share his emotional highs and lows from Sun Valley. 

"The emotional high would be my leading 35-plus skiing friends down from the top of the mountain on day six. I was pushing the speed envelope of what my new-found skiing skills could support; flirting with disaster at every turn, while being fueled by the skiing group-energy that was truly palpable.

"The stress factor that wore on my emotional steadiness (an emotional low) would be the experience of not being physically in control (as a skier), while being in a place so absolutely familiar to me (a ski hill), which in my past I would have dominated. I came into it, knowing full well that I would become the poster boy for humbleness and humility; my disability leveled the playing field and did just that. I was no longer a champion, but a dutiful beginner, with the heart of a champion."

After Mike’s return from Sun Valley, he decided to revise his previously published "Snow Poem" to represent his successful recovery and healing.

"Returning to my earlier published poem," he said, "I am making some edits and I am replacing Back-in-the-Day with Today, and I am replacing the word was with the word is."



Today, the beautiful white snow is like the air beneath the wings of an acrobatic bird, allowing for flight and unbridled freedom.

Today, the beautiful white snow is a place for me to glide and accelerate; transporting me through time and space, elevating my breathing, heart rate, and life experience.

Today, the beautiful white snow is my equalizer, shielding me from other life experiences deemed difficult or regretful.

Today, the beautiful white snow is my great liberator.

Today, the beautiful white snow is my friend.

"The Sun Valley trip opened the door to a budding romance," he added, "and my flirtation with the mountain began once again; rekindling my love for the snow and skiing."

I asked Mike what he would like to say to those who have surrounded him with so much support.

"The overwhelming support moved me and I was empowered by it. The daunting physical and emotional challenge that I undertook was softened and minimized by the steadfast friendship circle that surrounded me on this Everest-sized adventure."

You can’t help but be inspired not only by Mike’s story but by how he so eloquently writes about his life. In his writings, he is so genuine you can feel his pain and elation. That is a gift in itself.

Sun Valley isn’t the end of Mike’s story but rather the beginning. The next step for Mike Vowels the Skier…

"A fundraising event that includes the debut of the film trailer for the documentary ski film I am working on is scheduled for Saturday, August 10 from 5 to 8 p.m. at Seattle University," Mike said. "Admission cost is $100 per person. Anyone who wishes to RSVP their interest in attending or contributing can contact me via email (Subject: Fundraiser) at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and I will then provide details about the catered evening activities and entertainment.  The goal is to share my journey and my vision with 300 attendees.

"The funds raised will pay for the continued investment in the documentary ski film. When the film is completed, it will be used to create a revenue source that serves to fund a non-profit Adaptive Skiing Program. Money generated by my showing of the ski film will be specifically earmarked to pay for teaching injured soldiers (wounded warriors) how to ski with adaptive equipment that is specific to their individual needs.

"The film trailer debut will provide a sneak peek at a Northwest Landmark high profile skiing challenge that my support team and I are planning for spring of 2014."

I wish Mike nothing but success on his next endeavors.  I am grateful for his inspiration, his candidness and his willingness to be an open book for all of us to learn from.

Art in Bloom 2013

  • Written by Valley View Staff


Join the Duvall Foundation for the Arts for their 8th annual Art in Bloom Garden Art & Sculpture event at Kokopelli Gardens in Duvall.

Guests will stroll through the music filled gardens viewing the many mediums of outdoor art displayed throughout while enjoying wine and appetizers. The theme for 2013 is "Viva La Bloom."

The opening gala night will be held Friday, June 28th from 6:30 - 9:30 p.m. New this year, VIP ticket holders have early garden entry, special Centennial wine, and garden art preview. Limited number of VIP tickets sold. All tickets are on sale now at Get yours today. For more info, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Farewell party for Conrad Robertson

  • Written by Valley View Staff

The public is invited to join the Riverview School District in the celebration of Superintendent Conrad Robertson’s retirement. Conrad has been with Riverview for 12 years, and the district wants to thank him for his service and contributions.

Everyone is invited to an open house with cake and punch from 3:00-5:00 p.m. at the Educational Service Center in Duvall on Thursday, June 20th.

Also, there will be a reservation only buffet dinner and roast that same evening, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Educational Service Center.  For information, visit

Free planting event at True Value

  • Written by Valley View Staff

Karen Chapman will be  hosting a free event at Duvall True Value June 15th. She is doing Container Creations which is a local, free seminar from 10 -11 a.m. Refreshments will be served.