The student news site of La Salle Catholic College Preparatory.

Lukas Werner

“I’m excited for what’s to come, but I feel like it went by fast in retrospect,” salutatorian Dom Burkhart said. “As it was happening, it’s so slow… but when I look back at the last four years it’s like, ‘oh wow that went by really fast.’”

Salutatorian Dom Burkhart

June 1, 2022

For salutatorian Dom Burkhart, his journey through La Salle has had a “huge” impact on the person he has become. 

Previously attending the Portland Waldorf School, Burkhart had the choice between Cleveland and La Salle for high school. He ultimately chose La Salle, one reason being his friend was also attending, and “I remember when I had my Falcon shadow day, I just really liked the classrooms,” Burkhart said. “And [I] remember for the remainder of my eighth-grade year, I just couldn’t wait to get out of my middle school.” 

Burkhart remembers his first day of freshman year to be exciting and fun as he ran around with his friends for the freshman link day.

“Coming from my middle school, I had been going to school with the same 14 kids for eight years,” Burkhart said. “And La Salle [had] a lot of new people with different stories and that was eye-opening.”

Burkhart also remembers fighting for a spot to sit at lunch, because before COVID-19, most students would sit in the cafeteria. “[It] was like everybody ate in there and we’d be shoulder to shoulder on most benches,” he said. 

While he did not know many people coming into La Salle, Burkhart made many friends through soccer, which he played during his freshman and junior years. 

“I really liked freshman year because it was me just goofing around on JV2,” he said. “And no one’s under any pressure. I’m pretty sure we lost almost every game too, but it was still fun.”

Burkhart took most of the standard freshman classes, but was also in Honors Algebra 2 and took a computer science class as an elective. Overall he most enjoyed Physics his freshman year, as he felt its curriculum would be applicable to the real world. 

“[La Salle] has had a huge impact,” Burkhart said. “I was a completely different person coming in freshman year. I met a lot of different people with different experiences.” 

During his sophomore year, Burkhart found a love for STEM. He most enjoyed his AP Physics and Chemistry classes even though they had a larger workload. 

“It was really fun because there was a lot of little lab-based stuff,” he said. “So we’d be trying to figure out problems together.”

Due to a broken collar bone his sophomore year, Burkhart was not able to play soccer, but he was able to continue his other hobby of skiing after he recovered.

For service hours, Burkhart would go up the mountain to volunteer with the ski patrol. He went every other weekend during the ski season to help ski patrollers “[make] sure people didn’t do dumb stuff,” he said. 

During this time, Burkhart was able to learn about first aid, while also learning about general safety on the slopes. For Burkhart, the best part of volunteering was being able to skip a lot of lines. 

Then, during his sophomore year, the COVID-19 pandemic began. 

“So junior year started online,” Burkhart said. “I really hated the whole Zoom thing. I wouldn’t really pay attention, to be honest.” 

His biggest struggle with his online classes was staying motivated to do work. There was no one there to push him, which made it really easy for him to fall behind. 

Burkhart’s biggest accomplishment throughout online school was being able to get his grades up by the end of the semester even when they began to slip in the beginning. 

Burkhart recalls that at the beginning of the pandemic it was hard not to see his friends, as he was strict about not seeing anyone. 

“And then I started hanging out with some people outside, at a park or something,” Burkhart said. “I also got my driver’s license right around then, so there was at least some freedom to go do stuff.” 

For Burkhart this made his junior year “a little weird,” but the pandemic also allowed him to create new friendships. 

“I started hanging out with more people — different people — and sort of branched out a little bit more,” he said. “Which seems counterintuitive, but I guess it just forced me to explore other friendships.” 

A key part of Burkhart’s junior year academic experience was his research paper, which he wrote on nuclear power.

He chose this topic because he sees nuclear power as a feasible solution to climate change as it is “relatively clean,” he said. Burkhart also liked doing the research aspect of the paper, especially seeking out different articles to reference. 

Overall, Burkhart’s favorite memory from his junior year was making the varsity soccer team. “I sat the whole year on the bench, but that was really fun because we were a really hype bench, just screaming and cheering people on,” he said. 

Burkhart describes his senior year as “pretty normal.” 

However, with all of the college applications he had to get in, Burkhart said his first semester was a “little weird.” “I feel like I was sort of thinking ‘oh that’s in the future,’” he said. But then as the Nov. 1 deadlines approached, Burkhart felt that they “really snuck up on me fast.”

Another part of the college application process that was challenging for Burkhart was that most of them asked what he wanted to major in. Burkhart had always seen that question as something that would be answered later on and at the time he had no idea what he wanted to do. 

After not having the chance during his junior year because of the pandemic, this year Burkhart had the opportunity to go on the annual Journey retreat. 

“I was trying to think, ‘what could it possibly be?’” he said. “It can’t possibly be that fun or whatever, but for me it was. I really liked it.” 

Something that Burkhart will be taking away from his senior year experience is that it is still important to stay on top of school work, even when colleges already have transcripts. 

As for advice for his fellow seniors, Burkhart says, “Follow your dreams, stick with it. And if it doesn’t work the first time and you really want it, go for it a second, third, fourth time.” 

Burkhart thinks the best aspect of La Salle as a whole was the small classroom sizes. He felt it was easy to get the teachers’ attention and that they actually cared for students. 

A teacher that stood out to Burkhart was math teacher Mr. Larry Swanson, whom he had sophomore and junior year. 

“He was one of the best teachers just teaching-wise, like materials, but also he was just super awesome to be around,” he said. 

Burkhart was not planning on being the salutatorian, but “it just happened,” he said, as his only goal was trying to get good grades for college. 

All of that hard work led Burkhart to get into his dream school, The Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. 

“I had been working for that for quite a while, so that was fun to finally see it pay off,” Burkhart said. 

Burkhart had been dreaming of going to this school since he was a kid. At that time, he wanted to become an astronaut or fighter jet pilot and those dreams never went away, as he still wants to become a pilot. 

“I can’t really see myself sitting at a desk all day, doing that sort of stuff,” Burkhart said. 

Burkhart was also inspired by family members who followed similar career paths, especially his older cousin who also attended the Air Force Academy. 

Looking towards the future, Burkhart is hoping to experience new things, like possibly traveling abroad. In five years he sees himself graduating from college and becoming a pilot. 

Reflecting on his experience at La Salle, Burkhart feels that he learned the importance of consistency and hard work. 

“You don’t have to be the best at everything, but if you just do everything and do it well, you will get there,” Burkhart said. 

Leave a Comment
About the Writer
Photo of Josephine Robinson
Josephine Robinson, Editor in Chief

Junior Josephine Robinson is the third generation of her family to attend La Salle. 

She loves all of her classes and teachers but especially loves...

Comments (0)

We'd love to hear your thoughts! Let us know what you think about this story by submitting a comment below. We welcome respectful comments that engage in conversations.

Comments are moderated, and won't appear until they are approved. An email address is required, but won't be publicly displayed. The Falconer's complete comment policy can be viewed on our policies page.
All The La Salle Falconer Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *