Meet the graduate

Name: Ashlyn Johnson

Age: 18

School: La Pine High School

Hometown: La Pine (born in Tualatin)

Post-high school plans: Attending Oregon State University-Corvallis to study animal science

Favorite food: Combo pizza from Costco

Favorite TV show: “Grey’s Anatomy”

If you could hang out with a famous person for a day, living or dead, who would it be?: Patrick Dempsey

Where would you most like to travel?: Italy or Jamaica

If Hollywood makes a movie about your life, which actor would play you?: Jennifer Lawrence

Editor’s Note: This is the third article in a five-part series about exceptional high school graduates in the class of 2019 across Central Oregon. This student is the outstanding grad from La Pine.

LA PINE — Since she was 10, La Pine High School senior Ashlyn Johnson has loved horses. Today, she’s so in tune with her main horse, Sister, that she can quickly notice when she’s not feeling well, even before a veterinarian arrives.

“I can tell when my horse is not normal, and when there’s something wrong with her,” Johnson, 18, said.

“We have a chiropractor come out for the horse, and I can tell when the chiropractor needs to come out, just because of how she acts.”

Johnson’s goal is to use her equestrian intuition in a career as a large-animal veterinarian. After graduating June 7 from La Pine High School, where she is the class of 2019 salutatorian, Johnson plans on attending Oregon State University in Corvallis to pursue a degree in animal science.

“I don’t think if I wasn’t involved with horses, I would still be going along this route,” said Johnson, who has a 3.88 unweighted grade point average.

Johnson owns three horses — Sister, Rosie and Spunky — and said her equestrian interests began when she and her stepfather attended the La Pine Rodeo’s Play Day Series, where kids and adults can participate in certain rodeo events. A couple years later, she got involved with the 4-H Club, a group she’s still a part of.

As a member of La Pine High’s equestrian team, Johnson has qualified for the state tournament in all four years of high school. There’s hardly any empty space on her Oregon High School Equestrian Team jacket, as it’s covered with patches that note her achievements in the sport, as well as two large patches for Sister and Rosie.

Johnson said she specializes in the showmanship side of equestrian, which she described as making the horse look the best. Or in her words, “the pretty stuff, not the speed.”

She practices with her horses, mostly Sister, at least six hours a week, and spends an extra four hours weekly feeding and taking care of her steeds.

Last year, with some encouragement from her mother, Johnson put her hat in the ring to be named the 2018 La Pine Rodeo Queen.

And after a process involving horsemanship, a practice speech and one-on-one interviews, she was chosen as the Rodeo Queen over three other contestants. The position’s duties entailed representing the city of La Pine at local events and rodeos throughout the summer.

“It was such an amazing experience, meeting so many new people and being able to interact with all of them,” Johnson said.

Despite her major time commitment to her horses, Johnson is also the president of La Pine High’s National Honor Society and is deeply involved in community service activities, with that academic organization and with the 4-H Club. For the past six years, through 4-H Club, Johnson has “adopted” a local family at Christmas and purchased items for them — clothes, toys, gift cards — from a list provided by the high school’s Family Access Network advocate.

“I’ve always had a strive to make my community a better place,” she said.

Between juggling homework, volunteering and equestrian activities, she said her schedule is “jam-packed.”

“I have my day planned out practically by the hour,” she said. “Sometimes, it’s hard because I also want to throw a social life in there, and you just have to learn how to balance it all.”

La Pine High Principal Matt Montgomery said Johnson’s tireless work ethic and achievements have contributed to the school’s positive environment.

“A lot of times, when people get spread that thin, they’re not able to accomplish and be successful,” he said. “But she has the knack to do that, and we’re very proud of her.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7854,