Coupeville High School senior Danny Savalza is known for his upbeat school spirit, whether he’s playing on the Wolves football team or wearing his “Shaman Savalza” regalia to lead cheers at other school sports events.
“I invented this character, ‘Shaman Savalza,’ as a goofy way to get people involved in cheering for our teams,” Savalza said. “I bought a red turtleneck nightgown at a thrift store and made myself a lampshade hat.”
“It’s kind of a personality statement for me,” he said. “I want people to know it’s cool to show spirit and be out there supporting the school. I like to make an impact, supporting our teams and being part of a team effort.”
Savalza sees his strength in being a “people person” who likes to have a wide variety of friends.
He is especially against bullying, and says he will step in if he sees it happening.
“Everybody deserves to be treated with respect,” Savalza said.
He said he felt honored to be elected Homecoming King in October.
Savalza, 17, is a Coupeville native, the only child of Deb and Hank Savalza, who he said have been very supportive of him.
“My parents are always there for me,” he said with a smile. “They’re awesome.”
Savalza enjoys Coupeville’s small-town lifestyle and knowing most of his classmates in the Class of 2013.
“Our class is pretty close,” he said.
Though he’ll miss his hometown, he’s looking forward to making new friends next year in college.
His first-choice school is Western Washington University in Bellingham, where he hopes to study environmental geology and minor in teaching.
Savalza also likes Western’s proximity to his favorite snowboarding venue, Mount Baker.
“Snowboarding is one of my top passions,” he said. “I love being in the mountains, out there in nature.”
During his time in the Coupeville School District, Savalza said he’s had several inspiring teachers who challenged him to aim high and do his best.
He recalled his second-grade teacher, Mark Nost, who he said, “made me try harder and put me on a better path.”
In ninth grade, science teacher Colleen Fox taught Savalza the value of good teaching and inspired his interest in pursuing a future career in science education.
“Miss Fox had a good teaching style and was always there to give you extra time if you needed it. With her, I started to learn about geology and that sparked my interest in geology and the environment,” Savalza said.
Fox also advises the school’s National Honor Society students, including Savalza.
Savalza said he enjoys working with his fellow National Honor Society students on community projects such as the Coupeville Arts and Crafts Festival and Penn Cove Water Festival.
Savalza said another influential teacher and coach is Ron Bagby.
“Mr. Bagby was my football coach freshman year, has been my weight-training teacher for three years and is now my senior project advisor,” he said. “Coach Bagby has provided guidance and encouragement over the past four years and pushed me not only to be a better athlete but also a better person.”
Two English teachers, Janie Rosenkrance and Barbara Ballard, were instrumental in helping Savalza polish his writing and test-taking skills.
“Mrs. Rosenkrance made me a stronger writer,” he said. “And Mrs. Ballard has been a lot of help with SAT practice.”
Savalza also participates in the CHS Jazz Band, under the direction of Jamar Jenkins.
“Mr. Jenkins loves music and is passionate about it,” he said. “I wasn’t that into jazz until I had him for a teacher.”
Even though he’s looking forward to college life next year, Savalza is determined to enjoy his final year with his classmates in Coupeville.
“Being a senior is a time of thinking back at where you’ve been, but also looking forward,” he said.
“I want to make some good memories and spend time with my family and friends this year,” he added. “I know I couldn’t have grown up in a better place.”