Marco Island’s high school students are zoned for Lely High School, and this year’s graduating class produced some outstanding Lely High scholars with Marco connections. We caught up with these four distinguished graduates just as they were preparing to go onstage and walk for their school’s commencement exercise.

Michaela Pinter

When Michaela Pinter arrives at the University of Central Florida in the fall, she said, she will be “excited to be somewhere that’s not here.” Speaking just before she graduated from Lely High School on Friday, she said that the new chapter in life she will be entering hadn’t really sunk in yet.

“It’s weird – it feels surreal. It doesn’t feel like I’m not going to be here,” said Michaela, surrounded by the familiar school that had become her daytime home. If Lely has left its mark on her, she has left her mark on the school as well, taking on a wide variety of academic and extracurricular pursuits.

Michaela graduated with a 5.8 weighted grade point average (GPA), ranked sixth of approximately 350 in her class. She earned Top 25 recognition honors every year of her high school career, and an Advanced Cambridge International Examinations (AICE) diploma with merit. She already has 36 college credits from her double enrollment at Florida Southwestern College.

She was a varsity swimmer for three years, and swim team captain one year, as well as manager of the varsity lacrosse team. Michaela played alto saxophone in the school’s jazz band, and worked concession stands at school functions. Additional volunteer efforts included tutoring, Relay for Life, toy and book drives, caroling at retirement homes, and participating in the Hodges University Diversity Festival.

Michaela’s family name is well-known on Marco Island, where her father Tim has served for years as Public Works Director. Her mother Debbie, a medical technician, said Michaela has always been a high achiever “who never likes to settle for less than perfection with anything she takes on.”

Ellen Angersbach

Ellen Angersbach earned a rave review from the City of Marco Island’s recreation supervisor, Lola Dial, for whom she worked summers. Dial even developed a special position as director of a Parks & Rec summer program to take advantage of Ellen’s talents.

“She has always shown outstanding leadership,” said Dial. “Ellen stood out from every kid we’ve ever had here. She will probably be our first female President.”

Academically, Ellen graduated third in her class, with a 5.32 weighted GPA, and earned an AICE diploma. She took numerous AICE, Advanced Placement, and dual enrollment courses, was in the Top 25 for academics for four years, and selected by the faculty for Top 10 honors as a senior.

Ellen won the Smith College Book Award, and Outstanding Department Awards in chemistry and college algebra. She was STEM Club vice president, and shone in athletics as well as academics. She was captain of both JV and varsity basketball teams, where she played point guard and won the Coaches’ award, and a four-year varsity swimmer including two years as captain.

In addition to working as a camp counselor and camp director for the city, Ellen found time to work at Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt, the family business, where she was a team leader. She was awarded a number of scholarships, which she will use when she matriculates at Florida Southern University in Lakeland. She is considering a double major, in psychology and education, with a possible future as a school guidance counselor.

Rosie Poling

Maura “Rosie” Poling is well known on Marco Island as a runner, as part of the running Poling family, but she is going to focus on another passion that “runs” in the family when she attends Harvard University in the fall. With two medical doctors as parents, Rosie wants to follow a career in public health, and chose Harvard with the aim of studying under Dr. Paul Farmer.

“He’s established clinics all around the world. This is an amazing opportunity,” she said. Georgetown was her second choice for college.

Rosie was valedictorian of her class at Lely, with a 5.74 weighted GPA, scored 34 on the ACT, and 1540 out of 1600 on the SAT. Her list of accomplishments, honors and awards is too long to enumerate fully, but she has notched wins from first place in the Regional Science Fair, and a Google Science Fair local award winner, the state winner for the Wendy’s High School Heisman Award, and earned a perfect score on the dual enrollment U.S. History Award.

Rosie was the first in her school to pass the AP physics exam, and the first to earn a 5 on the new AP biology exam. She worked on her passion as a Duke TIP Student in the tropical medicine and ethnobotany program in Costa Rica, and for her AP Laureate diploma, created a project titled “Fear Factor: Should Fear Appeals be used in Anti-Tobacco Campaigns?”

Rosie was president of her freshman class, and vice president of her sophomore and senior class, as well as president of the Road Runners Club and the Mu Alpha Theta math club.

“Lely High School classes have prepared me for Harvard,” she said. “The school is so diverse, it prepares you for the real world, too. You learn from your fellow students.”

On the track and cross country pitch, Rosie set three school records, in the 5k, 1600 meters, and 4x800 meter relay. She was Most Valuable Runner on the cross country team all four years, and FACA State Senior All-Star Race Girls Team Champion. She won awards for her Irish dancing, and volunteered for running events when she was not racing.

“Running is such a big part of my identity,” she said, explaining she wants to focus on academics at college. “I think I will run club, and maybe I can work up to varsity.” She worked at Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt during high school, and will work in Immokalee this summer.

Sophia Torres

Sophia Torres has her sights set on a career as a lawyer, and while still in high school, she has racked up some impressive courtroom experience. For three years running, she has held the title of best prosecutor or defense attorney, based on her performance in the Collier County Bar Foundation’s Mock Trial program.

Ryan Marie Roberts, Lely’s mock trial coach, said what stands out most about Sophie is her passion and dedication when it comes to learning, along with her ability to communicate.

“She has just done a great job of leading by example for her teammates, as well as for other students,” Roberts said.

Sophie was the winner of a district-wide Laws of Life Essay/Speech Contest, and had her words printed on Chipotle’s cups nationwide after being a grand prize finalist in the company’s essay contest.

Sophie will attend Williams College in Massachusetts this fall, one of the nation’s most competitive liberal arts schools. The private school tuition would be over $50,000 per year, but she earned a merit-based four-year scholarship through the Byran Cameron Education Foundation.

At Lely, she earned AICE certification, and enrolled in honors, Advanced Placement, and dual enrollment classes. She traveled to Korea in the summer of 2016 for Peace Studies, part of the Experiment in International Living, a cultural immersion program focused on international conflict resolution, which seems more timely by the day, thanks to a scholarship from the Naples Council of World Affairs. She was team captain for Academic WorldQuest and the Lely High debate team, as well as assistant coach for the Manatee Middle School debate team.

During high school, Sophie performed over 300 hours of volunteer work, and also worked at Fin Bistro and Kendra’s Collections.

Marco Island Academy graduates were featured in the Tuesday edition of the Marco Eagle. See it at

Read or Share this story: