Celebrating Zoo Academy Seniors, Class of 2022

Posted May 16, 2022 by Angela Hatke

Did you know that there is a High School within the Cincinnati Zoo walls? The Cincinnati Zoo Academy has been a part of the public school system in Cincinnati since 1975. Students spend their ninth and tenth grade years at the Hughes High School. During their eleventh and twelfth grade years, they will spend part of each day at the Zoo Academy on zoo grounds!

We welcome students interested in an academically challenging program with an emphasis on science, plants, and animals. Will you (or someone you know) be a junior or senior in high school next year? Do you like learning about, and working with, plants, and animals? Have you thought about pursuing a career in wildlife conservation, or animal care? If so, you’re in luck! The Zoo Academy is now accepting applications! 

We’re so proud of our graduating 2022 Seniors. Check out what their plans are after graduation!

Taja Walton

My favorite moment at the Zoo Academy was when I was able to see the bonobos and the orangutans do training behind the scenes.

My future plan is to attend the University of Louisville to major in Biology and then take the knowledge that I’ve learned and take it to a veterinarian school so I can become a veterinarian.

I would just like to thank my family, but most importantly my mother for not allowing me to go through high school by doing the bare minimum.

“No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, and show up, missing one day is like missing 100 days”.

Jeremiah Watkins

My favorite moment at the Zoo Academy is when we walked around the Zoo at the beginning of the year and we saw Fiona and the other hippos.

My future plan is to go to college at UC Blue Ash and study Biology. After that, I will then try to transfer to a school that has marine biology because that is what I see as my career job.

I would like to thank all of the teachers at the Zoo Academy for working with me to graduate and accepting me into the Zoo Academy. I would like to give a special thanks to my family especially my aunts, my mom and my granny, for pushing me and helping me get to this point.

NO stands for New Opportunity. ”

Justice Ferrell

My favorite memory at the Zoo Academy is hosting a memorial for one of my late mentors Robert Shuman.

I am fully committed to UC, majoring in Psychology, with a minor in social work.

MISS KEMME, you were one of the most underappreciated teachers at the Zoo Academy, but I want to say I appreciate you for everything that you do, did, and continue to do.

The most comforting words I ever heard in high school were, “I didn’t do it either.”

Steve Richard

My favorite memory is taking the first few walks around the Zoo for assignments.

I plan to go to Xavier University and become an Ecologist/Biologist.

Thank you Mrs. Greeley for your patience, it couldn’t have been easy.

“Ravioli Ravioli Give Me the Diplomioli”

Taya Richard

My favorite moment at Zoo Academy has to be any moment at any lab. They were always so fun and I enjoyed every moment.

My plan is to go to the University of Cincinnati to study Biomedical Sciences on a pre-veterinary track. Then go to Ohio State for grad school in Veterinary Sciences.

Thank you to my mom for supporting me and my dreams.

“I tried, I failed, I screamed, I cried, I succeeded……..and I have no idea how I got here.”

Adja Gning

Favorite memory- going canoeing with the Zoo Academy.

Future plan- go to college and study pre-criminal justice to become an international human rights lawyer!

I want to thank my dad for always being there for me and picking me up every day.

“You can’t just sit there and wait for life to come to you, you have to get it” – Damon Salvatore

Jerrod Mason

My favorite memory from the zoo is when I was sparring  Mr.E. We were practicing on our reaction timing. It was a pretty fun experience with Mr. E.

I will be going to Great Oaks for welding and HVAC. I’ve realized I’m actually good at welding thanks to the zoo so I would love to learn more about welding and get better at it.

I want to thank my mother and my teachers for keeping me focused on graduating even though I gave my teachers a hard time. They were still helping me and pushing through even when I wanted to quit. My mother kept me going to school… She didn’t play about my education at all. Sometimes I thought she would yell in my ear to wake me up so most times I would be up before she even came into my room.

“School is like your job if you quit you messing up your bag”

DreYana Bush

My favorite memory at the Zoo is when we took our first tour around the zoo and being shown where the labs were.

After high school I plan on working at Thermo Fisher Scientific and possibly go to school for my business degree.

I would like to give a special thanks to my intermediate family, friends, and Ms.Greeley-Howard for always pushing me and helping me succeed even when I wanted to give up.

Advice I would give to the new upcoming seniors is, “Never give up even when you don’t feel like it, KEEP GOING YOU GOT IT!!!!”

Dontrell Williams-Eubanks

My future plan is to step into Cincinnati State for video productions, and after that, I will be working at Children’s Hospital.

I like to thank Ms. Frisa for helping me from going through struggles in Math and English. I’m thankful for Ms. Greeley for taking a position not only as a teacher but as a mom as well and the same for Mr. Edelen for taking the role model as a father. Thank god for my mom seeing me being a successful son to her.  

“I’m not normal, I’m EXTRAORDINARY”

Briana Ancalmo

My favorite memory/moment at the Zoo Academy was going to Burnet Woods and learning about connecting with nature or getting to see John, the male lion, get a root canal!

My future plan is to go to Earlham College where I am majoring in Biology on the pre veterinarian path.

I’d like to give a special recognition to my parents who have helped support me through all my school years, as well as my teachers who have prepared me for my future college and life. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.

“Welcome to the real world, it sucks” – Monica from Friends

Olivia Sweeney

My favorite memory from Zoo Academy is holding down a snake in the lab with Reptile House as he received eye surgery.

My long-term goal is to attend Ohio University and work with marine creatures in some capacity after graduation.

Thank you to all of my teachers and other staff members (current and past). My path through high school would have been much more difficult if it hadn’t been for all of you, and I might not have made it. High school was really long and seemed to go on forever, but I’m glad it’s over now.

Lorenzo Ridley

My favorite memory was making a birdhouse.

I’m going to go to Cincinnati State for maintenance and manufacturing to learn how to work on dump trucks and I’m going to go for business.

I want to thank my Mom and Mrs. Frisa. They were the ones there telling me to keep going – Mrs. Frisa the most. She was on me the most telling make sure you do your work.

I’m just glad it’s done and it’s time to work that’s all I know everything is a learning experience so I just need to make sure I’m ready for the real world.

Riky Mejia-Yoc

My favorite memory at the Zoo Academy is enjoying working with all my labs, although I don’t feel like working on lab day but I do enjoy having great conversations with the staff and have fun working with the animals. (Reptile House, Insect House, Bird House, and Horticulture).

I plan on attending a trade school for Real Estate Photography. Keep going from there but I will take a gap year.

Thankful for my dad giving rides to school in the mornings, instead of taking the bus. I’m also thankful for the staff members and teachers for helping.

“Do today what others won’t so tomorrow you can do what others can’t. – Jerry Rice. Press forward. Do not stop, do not linger in your journey, but strive for the mark set before you.” – George Whitefield

Elizabeth Ingram

My favorite memory at the Zoo Academy was getting to hold and form a bond with Rose the armadillo

My future plans are to take a break and then go to school for zoology.  I would like to thank the incredible keepers who helped me have amazing opportunities and the teachers for pushing me to finish

“My work might not be done but I sure am.”

Jaylen Kyle

My favorite memory is when we were in horticulture and Jeremiah broke the pipe for the hose and water was flying everywhere.

For the future I plan to continue working then maybe finish school at Mt. St. Joseph.

Amari Walker

My favorite memory is all of the big events we do including the field trips.

My future plans are to go into welding and a veterinarian later in life.

Special thank you to:Mama, Mimi, Mom, Mata, Ma

Let’s be friends XD.  Just accomplish whatever you aspire to do.

Te’Mya Epps

My favorite memory at the Zoo Academy is the Halloween party when we had pizza in lab class and moments I like are anything that is crazy, hilarious and chaotic sometimes playing our favorite songs as long as we’re doing our work, it is relaxing and fun to me ‘til the day is over.

I would like to thank Mrs. Frisa a bunch for helping me with my work to approve my grades to graduate and for being patient with me even back in 7th grade in Hughes. She would always make sure I stayed after school to finish my work and don’t get distracted or else my phone gets taken and I HATE it but it’s worth it for me also if it wasn’t for her, my grades wouldn’t be good.

“As much as I’ll miss y’all and the school, I’m outta here, peace!”

Talia White

My favorite memory at the Zoo Academy was the boat trip and Roberts Memorial.

My future plan might be college, or the military. I haven’t decided yet.

A person I would like to thank the most is Mrs.Brunsman because without her I definitely wouldn’t be a senior now. I owe everything to her because if she hadn’t come up with a plan for me I would still be a junior during all this. Seriously thank you so much.

My final thought is honestly don’t worry about what people think about you, don’t focus on the things that don’t matter and just do you. Focus on the things that do matter like mental health and school, what someone thinks about you is their own problem.

“I’ll be standing outside, if anyone asks I’m outstanding.”