Valley News -

Hemet, San Jacinto name January Students of the Month


Last updated 3/7/2019 at 10:20pm

Courtesy photo

In the front from left to right, Danielle Gamez of West Valley High School; Victoria Arevalo of San Jacinto High School; Alexia Delgadillo of Hamilton High School and Elliott Tate of Hemet High School; in the back, Jacob Torres of Mnt. View High School; Jaelen Cooper of Alessandro High School and Nancy Perez Yanez of Tahquitz High School are named student of the month, Jan. 17, for Hemet Unified and San Jacinto Unified school districts.

HEMET – Students from Hemet Unified and San Jacinto Unified school districts were recognized as Students of the Month, Jan. 17, at an awards breakfast held at the 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.

Jaelen Cooper was nominated by teacher Lee Clark for Alessandro High School's January student of the month.

"Jaelen positively influences others, and he's comfortable leading," Clark said, who also noted that Cooper's cousin was selected as a Student of the Month a few years ago, making a legacy for his family.

Cooper is 18 years old and currently lives with his aunt as his family lives in Belize in Central America. He works two jobs, has a passion for acting and enjoys encouraging other students to get back on track and complete their requirements for graduation, he said.

"I believe the quote 'You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take' is right," Cooper said.

He said he plans to attend college to study theater and drama. Principal Tara O'Malley said she enjoys the positive energy Cooper brings to school. His aunt shared a phone recording from his parents in Belize, telling Cooper and the audience how proud they are of his accomplishments and their belief he will continue to do well in all that he works towards.

Hamilton High School's January student of the month, Alexia Delgadillo, was nominated by teacher Julie Cope.

"Alexia works hard to make things happen," Cope said.

Principal Dr. Natalie Ruddell shared a quote by Gail Devers, a retired track and field athlete, in her introduction of Delgadillo which depicts the need to work hard and have determination and was appropriate since Delgadillo is a cross-country athlete for her school. Delgadillo shared her 'why' of working hard – to lead by example, especially since she said her younger brothers' look up to her.

"My mother has struggled taking care of us, but she's always been there for me," Delgadillo said, who intends to study law enforcement and is trying for scholarships as she completes her senior year.

Elliott Tate was nominated by English teacher Laura Brown for Hemet High School's January student of the month. Principal Dr. Emily Shaw talked about the first time Tate's mother called, the summer before his freshman year. His mother explained a transition was beginning, and it was more than just the entering of high school; it was a gender transition. Brown said Tate has done a great job with the transition, has had his writing published, held significant roles in drama and enjoys working with other students. Tate said that his first two years of high school were filled with fear, and he still feels unsure about all there is to being a young man.

"But I do know that love overpowers hate, and I respect others as human beings, even if I don't understand them," Tate said. He said that he gained more acceptance by others when he used kindness. Tate plans to attend San Francisco State to study psychology and creative writing.

Jacob Torres was nominated by teacher Trisha Ochoa for Mtn. View High's January student of the month. Principal Ken Swanson said he's never heard a bad thing from Torres, and Ochoa said in her two years of having him in class, Torres has been nothing but a role model. She also said that Torres is great in sports and an unselfish team player, always helping get less-skilled teammates on the basketball court to play. Torres was able to graduate high school early and is now attending winter quarter at Mt. San Jacinto College. He plans to attend University of California Riverside to become an architectural engineer. It was health and attendance issues as a sophomore that led Torres to Mnt. View High School, and he found energy and happiness to not only get back on track but complete high school early. Torres has seven younger brothers and sisters at home, and his brother Angel said he motivates them all.

AVID teacher and golf coach Niki Gray nominated Victoria Arevalo for San Jacinto High School's January student of the month. Attendees at the San Jacinto High 9-11 Remembrance Ceremony will recognize Arevalo, Interim Principal Courtney Hall said, as Arevalo was the Air Force JROTC student leader for the event. Gray nominated Arevalo because of her great example of being a light that is meant to shine, always first to arrive and last to leave in her role as cadet commander. Arevalo was sworn in to the armed forces, Jan. 18, and her military career goal is to become a navy seal and study marine biology. Arevalo said her greatest accomplishment to date is being a role model for her siblings and overcoming a fear of public speaking.

"ROTC events and teaching juniors about leadership helped me learn to talk in front of others," Arevalo said.

Nancy Perez Yanez was nominated by teacher Art Zambrano for Tahquitz High School's January student of the month.

"She has grit and resilience," Zambrano said. "She now encourages others to make good choices, I'm so proud of her!"

Yanez said that she had been in a lot of fights in middle school and early years in high school but decided to turn her life around. She has given back to the community by helping feed homeless and being helpful to her own family, helping run the house. Yanez plans to attend Chico State University in the fall.

West Valley High School's January student of the month, Danielle Gamez, was nominated by teacher TJ Hepburn. Principal Shannyn Cahoon said she loves the Student of the Month program because the students exude optimism and hope, with Gamez it was no exception. Hepburn said that Gamez was a continuous leader and active in drama and color guard, always at school ready to help. Gamez is the Thespian Club president and enjoys performing. She said that being picked on for being nice, overweight or a bad singer actually motivated her to improve. Gamez realized that a bully was jealous, and it pushed her forward – plus, her teachers believed in her and helped her to not give up on her dreams. Gamez plans to attend California State University Fullerton for performing arts and teaching. Gamez's father said they don't see her that much at home, but he is proud of her for working hard at her passion.

Sponsors of the Student of the Month Program donated backpacks filled with gifts, gift certificates, a plaque and much more. The students had an opportunity to thank their families and teachers who have supported them and helped them plan their future life goals.

Submitted by the Student of the Month Program.


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