■ Chronicle News Service
Every month seems like Thanksgiving at the Student of the Month program. The program is thankful to the students for what they do and what they have accomplished and also thankful to the teachers, principals, parents, and sponsors.
On Nov. 16, one student from each high school in the Hemet Unified and San Jacinto Unified school districts was recognized at an awards breakfast held at Sizzler Restaurant in Hemet. Students were selected from Hemet High School, West Valley High School, Tahquitz High School, Hamilton High School, Helen Hunt Jackson College Prep High School, Western Center Academy, San Jacinto High School, and Mountain View High School/Mountain Heights Academy.
Alexis Jamisola was nominated by Jamie Killebrew, her leadership teacher at Hemet High School, for being a role model to her peers and a leader on campus. Aside from being one of the top students at Hemet High, Alexis is a co-founder of the school’s Breakfast Club, participates in Mock Trial, sports, and volunteers at Hemet Valley Medical Center. Alexis hopes to attend San Diego State University to pursue her dreams of becoming a pediatric nurse practitioner.
Zanaizia Hisoler was chosen as West Valley High School’s outstanding student by her math teacher, Kevin Smith. Zanaizia was commended for taking the initiative to help others. She is co-founder of the Filipinos Club on campus, a member of California Scholarship Federation, and she volunteers at Harmony Elementary School. During her time at Harmony, she mentioned that many of the students touched her heart and she began to think about a career in teaching. After high school she plans to attend college and continue to find things that motivate her.
Elica Joy Labaco was nominated by her dual enrollment biology teacher, Anne Rizzacasa, as Tahquitz High School’s November recipient for this award. Elica was nominated for being a fighter and fighting for what she believes in. Elica currently has straight A’s and is taking multiple Advanced Placement classes. She plans on attending college in the fall to pursue her dream of becoming a lawyer where she can continue to “fight for what is right.”
Samantha Binger was selected by Julie Cope, her math teacher at Hamilton High School. Samantha was nominated for her energetic and positive attitude. She is currently class president, conducts the morning announcements, plays sports, and plans the school’s pep rallies. She plans to attend college after she graduates and would like to become a teacher for younger students. She transferred to Hamilton her sophomore year and found it challenging to adapt to a smaller school. Now that she is comfortable with the smaller atmosphere, she thanks Hamilton for encouraging her to be a leader and a standout student.
Maria Moreno was nominated by teacher Deborah Marcuson as Helen Hunt Jackson College Prep High School’s student of the month for her positive attitude and being a responsible independent study student. Maria is currently ASB president and a talented artist, she volunteers at homeless shelters and plays for West Valley High School’s track and field and soccer teams. Maria recently faced a medical challenge, but came through it with a smile.
Matthew Walker was selected as Western Center Academy’s student of the month by his teacher Samantha Opperman. Matthew was recognized because of his character and determination to persevere. Matthew lost a family member during his high school career and found himself struggling to continue working towards his goals. Matt decided to put his energy back into bettering himself and his future. He is currently enrolled in several Advanced Placement classes and will have seven college courses completed by the time he attends college.
Guadalupe Botello Urincho was named San Jacinto High School’s student of the month by Advanced Placement history teacher Jessica MacDonald, who said Guadalupe always has a smile and loves to serve others, a sentiment shared by Principal Luke Smith. Guadalupe worked with third grade students who visited the high school last year, and currently works with various school clubs, including Patriot Tigers, which supports local veterans.
“Everyone comes with obstacles they have had to overcome,” declared Guadalupe, as she shared that she grew up with an immigration status that needed attention, and low finances that prevented her from getting home computer until she was a freshman. She got her first cell phone this summer. “I made it this far, in spite of the technology obstacles,” said Guadalupe (with a smile). She intends to become a registered nurse and work at Hemet Valley Medical Center.
Linda Rodriguez was nominated by school counselor Justin Ryan as Mountain View High School’s student of the month. Ryan shared many of Linda’s character traits, including being a natural leader, bringing out the best in others, and having a great sense of humor. “I can trust you, because you are so dependable,” said Ryan to her.
Linda shared the journey that led her to Mountain View as a junior: the incarceration of her brother, the death of two close school friends, and the attempt to end her own life all led to hopelessness and failing in school.
“After getting started at Mountain View and giving more effort, I realized I had been underestimating myself,” said Linda. With her regained self-confidence, Linda changed her GPA from 1.33 to 4.0 as a senior, graduated last month (early) and will attend Mt. San Jacinto College in January. She volunteers regularly at the animal shelter and wants to study veterinary science. She also hopes to start a nonprofit organization to help individuals assimilate from prison life. “Thank you, Mom,” said Linda, as she shared the importance of her mother’s support for her recent accomplishments.
Sponsors of the Student of the Month Program donated backpacks filled with gifts, gift certificates, a plaque, and more. The students had an opportunity to thank their families and teachers who have supported them and helped them plan their future life goals. SOM committee congratulates these students, teachers, principals, and family members. It was once again an inspiring morning celebrating these students and their bright futures.