Meet the terrific men, women and youth who will lead the 2020 event.
Diann Jeppson is devoted to creating fulfilling learning experiences for students. Diann’s experience includes 19 years as producer of Simulations Week and 24 years as producer of the Liberty Girls program (history-based experiential learning for children) and 5 years experience teaching and directing American Youth Leadership Institute, a youth civics education organization. Diann has fulfilled numerous speaking engagements at home education conferences and seminars in the US and Canada. She has chaired four non-profit educational organizations and has 10+ years experience as a parliamentary procedure consultant and trainer. Diann enjoyed performing for 8 years in a family bluegrass ensemble called “The Wildflowers” (guitar and vocals). She and her husband Adam live on a 2.5 acre homestead in Mount Pleasant, a small Central-Utah town in a secluded high-mountain desert valley. Adam is the town gunsmith. Adam and Diann have four delightful daughters, four handsome sons-in-law and seven terrific little grandchildren.
Mr. Jensen is a beloved mentor for youth and has taught online history, geography, government and economics course for over 6 years. He is a popular speaker and has logged over 3000 public speaking hours, most in classroom settings across the state as a guest lecturer on the Titanic and U.S. history. He was recognized by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library as a noteworthy Reagan historian and invited to address them in September 2018. He is currently working towards publication of his first book, a history book called “The President’s Pages.” He has published articles in peer reviewed history and academic journals on the RMS Titanic and serves as assistant editor and historical consultant on 3 BYU publications in the “Saints at War” program. He enjoyed serving an LDS mission in Korea and Hong Kong, and as a service volunteer in two orphanages in Thailand. He stays politically active and has taken leadership roles in local politics.
Christopher Jones (alias Mr. C) has for several years taught classes on history, civics, and Defense Against the Dark Arts both on- and off-line as part of the growing private/homeschool movement. This will be his third year teaching full time. He graduated from Brigham Young University with a B.A. in Classics (Roman History) and minors in English and History, and has a lifetime in politics—including running a presidential campaign–to go with acting, singing, and writing. A sought-after speaker on education and history, he is also a working writer, with four published books, dozens of articles and essays, and a long-running popular blog. Mr. C resides in Lehi, UT with his wife Mrs. C, their eight children, two cats, and a growing flock of free-range finches.
Dr. Elizabeth Smailes is a mentor for serious readers. She believes that edification and education can, in the right setting, support and build on one another. As a seminary teacher for over 15 years she has a broad gospel base. She believes that when this gospel base is used to judge all other literature, the result is electrifying. Dr. Smailes is a graduate and former mentor from George Wythe University. This educational background enables her understand how students can see themselves and the world through the lens of great leaders and thinkers of the past and present. She studied Logotherapy and received a certificate of completion from the School of Logotherapy, located in Dallas, Texas. Logotherapy was developed by neurologist and psychiatrist Viktor Frank. It is founded upon the belief that it is the striving to find a meaning in one’s life that is the primary, most powerful motivating and driving force in humans. She believes that we are here to inspire one another and receives her most tender inspiration from her grandchildren, as she sees hope and joy in their eyes.
Joseph Ramirez was born in the right century, because this century has access to all of the other centuries. A self-taught historian, driven novelist, and enthusiastic teacher, Joseph is excited to participate in Simulations Week.
Joseph served a two year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Atlanta, Georgia. For a small-town Idaho boy used to potato fields, mountains, and rural roads, metropolitan Atlanta was about as foreign as it gets. He quickly connected with the South and the many cultures from all over the world, and he still gets caught saying ‘yes ma’am’, ‘yes, sir’, and ‘y’all’.
Joseph worked at a charter school for the past three years. When he’s not teaching, you’ll often find him at the local library, researching and writing his next book. In his off time, he enjoys vintage swing dancing, learning historical skills, shooting firearms, playing his guitar, and making things with his hands.
Joseph resides in Provo, UT, in a cozy apartment filled with bookshelves, art, and a workbench with creative projects in various stages of completion. Accompanying him is his faithful guitar, Petunia, and the friendly garden snails that come out on his walk when it rains.
Macey Omer, Brian Stucki, Blake Sharette, and Lizzy and Greyson O’Veary
Note: Jennifer Madsen is not able to attend due to unforeseen circumstances. We have lined up a group of highly accomplished composers to mentor this group.
Macey Erin Omer has been creating things since the beginning of time itself. A true rock star, Macey has been performing her own original music live and online since the age of 11, and has performed as a solo one-woman act, as well as with groups, all around the world. Her voice has been heard from Salt Lake City, Utah to Paris, France and many other places.
At only 22 years old she has already performed in over 500 live shows. Currently attending Snow College as a junior, Macey is working hard to help create a world filled with love, creativity, healing, friendship, family, and self/community development and creation.
Macey’s music is piercing to the mind, and healing to the heart. Her creations have been a healing and comforting influence to people for years, and she is vivaciously determined to keep on going.
Hailed as “superb” by the Boston Globe, tenor Brian Stucki continues to distinguish himself as an interpreter of opera, oratorio, and song. The Salt Lake Tribune recently praised his performance of Nadir in The Pearl Fishers as “an ideal match of singer to role.” Recent debuts include San Francisco Symphony in Handel’s Messiah and Houston Symphony in Schumann’s rarely heard Pilgrimage of the Rose.
Highlights of previous engagements include Roderick Usher in Philip Glass’s Fall of the House of Usher with the Polish National Opera, Ferrando in Cosi fan tutte with New Israeli Opera, Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia with Opera Colorado and the Compañia Nacional de Opera at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City, Nadir in The Pearl Fishers with Seattle Opera, Romeo in Roméo et Juliette with Arizona Opera and Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni with period instrument ensemble Opera Fuoco.
An accomplished oratorio soloist, he has performed in Haydn’s Creation with Boston Baroque and Utah Symphony, Mozart’s Mass in C, Requiem, and Mass in C minor with the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra and Handel’s Messiah with the Handel and Haydn Society in Boston’s Symphony Hall. He sang Orff’s Carmina Burana with Minnesota Symphony and Honolulu Symphony. He also provided the tenor solos for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s historic Easter weekend performances of Handel’s complete Messiah. He made his Avery Fisher Hall debut as Achicham in Hiller’s The Destruction of Jerusalem and his Carnegie Hall debut in Spohr’s Die letzten Dinge with the American Symphony Orchestra.
Mr. Stucki holds a Master of Music from Indiana University and a Bachelor of Music from Brigham Young University. Additionally, he is a former member of the Glimmerglass Opera Young American Artists Program. Also an accomplished cellist, he has released a recording of Rachmaninoff works on the Tantara label.
Latter-day Saint musician Blake Sharette just took singing hymns to a whole new level with his one-man version of “All Creatures of Our God and King.” Singing not one, not two, but eight different parts, Sharette could be his own Latter-day Saint choir, but showing off his musical wasn’t the reason behind the video.
“After almost losing my life, my eyes were opened to how much of a miracle each day is,” Sharette wrote on Facebook. “Every morning I wake up and thank God for the beautiful place that I live in. I decided to arrange this incredible hymn because it perfectly describes that gratitude.”
Through ballet in the living room to a BA at BYU Provo and into a professional ballet company, Charis has danced her way through every open door. This last year she had the fun opportunity to dance with the Tabernacle Choir, in their Christmas Concert on Temple Square.
She has been a teacher for youth and adults 10+ years and looks for every opportunity to connect one-on-one.
Charis sees dance as a unique language as well as a vehicle for connecting with others to communicate light and truth. She values dance for the practice of developing the spirit through the body. For Charis this practice of 20+ years has simultaneously been the practice of many other gifts and allowed her to know herself and strengthen her spirit. Dance has opened up pathways of healing and prepared her to fulfill other missions for Jesus Christ.
Kate and Bret Grow
Kate Grow is pumped to be a mentor at Sim Week this year. When asked what she thinks of the event, she said, “I love the growth that comes out of Sim Week. The challenges and problem solving are second only to the personal development and relationship building.”
Kate has homeschooled for 15 years in 3 states and around the world. She currently serves at Brigham Young University Hawaii as a Mentor in the Business School‘s Social Entrepreneur Program.
Eden Reinwand – Musicians Commission
Eden has been attending Sim Week since she was a tender, bespectacled 12-year-old. This year marks her third year as a member of Sim Team and her eighth and final time at Sim Week. She’s looking forward to moving to L.A. with her family later this summer and then moving back in the fall to study English and International Relations at BYU Provo. When Eden isn’t studying or dancing, you will find her practicing the piano, sleeping, belting Disney songs, burning food in the kitchen, sleeping, being weird with her two younger siblings, or sleeping. She has been involved in choir, musical theater, piano, and music theory her entire life and she comes from a family that often breaks into spontaneous musical numbers. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that Eden is beyond excited to join the Musicians this year!
Camille Erickson – Architects Commission
Hello! I love life and I love to prepare delicious food. I am going to culinary school right now. I love dancing, hiking, skateboarding and sword fighting. I love simulations because you get to make a difference in other people’s lives and learn something new every time. I’m so excited to be on the Sim Team. I am an actor so this is going to be a blast being in a role all week. I also love helping people to figure out complicated problems.
Jonathan Neel – Constitutional Convention
If I could describe myself using only 3 words, they would be sarcastic, realistic and ambitious. I have been raised in Riverton, Utah, and have been homeschooled all my life. This is my 6th time coming to Simulations Week and 4th time serving on the Sim Team.
You can usually find me gaming, reading or doing speech and debate. I love most types of games whether its board games, card games or my favorite, Video Games. I read many different genres of books, but my favorite books are about Batman since I am quite the Batman fanatic. I have done speech and debate for 4 years and have been a TA in 2 classes for 2 years. My current interest is psychology.
If I could recommend any event for you to partake in this summer, I would have you come to Simulations Week. Hands down it is one of the most fun and personally transformative experiences you could possibly have.
Ethan Akester – Athletes Commission
Ethan is a long time veteran of Simulations week, this Sim being his 8th and final Simulation, calling him a ‘Sim week enthusiasts’ would be an understatement. Ethan loves history, and especially loves historic war tactics and campaigns. In between simulations Ethan is involved on his high school football team, wrestling team and the executive officer of his local NJROTC unit. Ethan loves to hike and venture round the country with his friends and family. This will be Ethan’s 3rd year on the Sim Team and he is looking forward to one last hurrah with his Sim team family.
Camille Smith – Artists Commission
This will be my second time attending Simulations Week, and my first time working on the Sim Team.
So that you can get to know me a little better, some of the things I love include painting and sketching, singing and dancing while doing the dishes (I know I’m weird, I like doing the dishes), acting whenever I have the chance, knitting scarves and reading like crazy.
I’m so excited for this opportunity to be on the Simulations Team, and to meet all of you! I am greatly anticipating the opportunity to build a beautiful city with each and every one of you!! See you at Simulations week!
Brighton Grow – Entrepreneurs Commission
Brighton has been a participant and youth volunteer at sim week for multiple years. “I really love to watch shy and nervous kids open up and become excited and motivated group leaders who can utilize their determination and persuasion to make changes around them. The growth is development that many kids don’t get anymore”. Brighton has been homeschooled most of his life and takes a great interest in homeschool events. He has also started his own business at 12 years old and studied entrepreneurship for over a decade. Currently, Brighton works as a delivery driver and is preparing to go to BYU Hawaii to study Business and Information Systems.
Abby Christensen – Dancers Commission
Abby is excited to be serving on the Sim Team for the Dancers Commission. She loves dance, has been dancing since she was 8 and currently dances with the Copa Dance Company. Ballet is her favorite style of dance.
Abby is 17 and the middle child of 7 children. She is very kind, patient and nurturing. She loves to read, is an amazing artist, and is great at graphic design. She also loves to travel! She’s excited to meet new friends and help the Dancers Commission create a beautiful presentation for a beautiful city at Sim Week!