May 25, 2018

Mariah Voyles, 2018 salutatorian, Arlington Community High School

Mariah Voyles, 2018 salutatorian, Arlington Community High School.

When the 2017-18 school year began, senior Mariah Voyles found herself in unfamiliar territory.

It’s the same year her longtime school, John Marshall Community High School, became a junior high school.

The move forced hundreds of freshmen, sophomores and juniors at John Marshall to transfer to the next nearest IPS high school within their boundary: Arlington Community High School — a longtime rival school.

The move, according to Mariah, was one of the biggest hardships she’s had to overcome.

“It was very hard on me when John Marshall shut down (as a high school), because I had been there since seventh grade all the way through my junior year — especially since it shut down before my last year of high school,” said the 17-year-old. “It took a while to get used to Arlington, but (eventually) I made more friends.”

The new environment didn’t stop Mariah, one of two salutatorians for the Class of 2018 at Arlington, from making a name for herself.

“I did not plan to become salutatorian, but I did plan to do my best to be the best me that I can be. (Being salutatorian) is important to me because it proves that all my hard work paid off,” said Mariah. “I always tried my best on all of my assignments and made sure that my attendance was on track. Even when I was not at school, I made sure I did not miss anything important.”

While at Arlington, Mariah has been involved in student government, is a member of the school choir, and is secretary of Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG).

But she also knows the importance of downtime, which she uses to fulfill her passion for baking. A self-proclaimed “very good baker,” Mariah said she makes delicious brownies, cookies, cakes and other baked goods.

It’s a skill she’s planning to carry with her to college.

Although set to study elementary education at either Ivy Tech Community College or Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis this fall, Mariah (who wants to become a second- or third-grade teacher) is considering a minor in culinary arts.

Mariah’s independence and ambition can be credited, to some degree, to her time at IPS. She said the media specialist at John Marshall (Christina Shepard) is still her favorite teacher because “she always encouraged me to do my best no matter the circumstances. … If I had any work I needed help with, she would help me with it.”

She said the biggest lesson she learned from IPS is independence. “IPS is teaching us that everything is not just handed to you, that you have to work for what you want.”