Sunday, April 20, 2014

Rotarians honor 16 student role models

Owen Bratton

The Sunrise Rotary Club of Davis recently recognized 16 students at Davis and Da Vinci high schools as September’s Students of the Month. They are:

Owen Bratton, nominated by Da Vinci teacher Seana Burke, who wrote, “Owen Bratton is a new student to the Da Vinci community this year and how grateful we are that he chose to come to our school. He is a delightful, thoughtful student who is well-liked by his peers and very well-liked by his teachers. I have the pleasure of working with Owen during Drawing and Painting. He is present, curious and always impeccably mannered. He takes time almost daily to thank me for a great class and for my hard work.”

* Sam Chastain, nominated by music teacher Karen Gardias, who wrote, “Sam is a very talented musician. What distinguishes Sam from many other students is his enthusiasm and drive to help his classmates. He is a role model and a leader in the Concert Choir. Sam is dependable, tenacious and a joy to have in class.”

John Conant, nominated by Da Vinci teacher Scott Stephen Bell, who wrote, “Very few students are brave enough to speak in front of the class on their first day of school, let alone jump up on to a table and act out a 90-second reinterpretation of a team member’s summer break; yet this is exactly what John Conant did when he blew in to Da Vinci High School for his sophomore year. Throughout the rest of the year, John led his teams through trials, presentations, gave amazing musical performances and provided thoughtful insights that most adults would be hard-pressed to match.

“This year, John has continued to play a strong role in the Da Vinci community both in and out of his classes. We are proud of John and look forward to what he will accomplish.”

* Robyn Fields, nominated by math teacher Karl Ronning, who wrote, “Robyn is in my sixth-period geometry class and every day she comes ready to learn and always gives her best effort. Robyn takes great pride in her work and works diligently to make sure she completely understands concepts covered in class. She readily asks questions and she is always willing to help her classmates. Robyn is well liked and respected by her classmates.”

Richard Guevara, nominated by social studies teacher Tracy Stapleton, who wrote, “Richard is an excellent economics student. He arrives ready to learn, always asks great questions and is always ready to participate. Furthermore, Richard’s insightful questions and comments help stimulate discussion, which further contributions to the class.”

Gabraelle Hanus, nominated by career technical education teacher Ellie Michel, who wrote, “She is positive, patient and thoughtful. Rael takes her time when putting a floral arrangement together; she makes sure every flower or foliage is placed exactly where she wants it. She is helpful in class; works well with her classmates and always does her assigned tasks with a smile. I look forward to the beautiful arrangements I know Rael will make this year.”

Branden Hooker, nominated by Learning Center staff members, who wrote, “Branden is a shining star at Davis High. His commitment to classes and assignments has blossomed since his 10th-grade year. He is now organized and on top of things. Besides academics, Branden is a forceful lineman on the varsity football team, amazing member of the Hip-Hop Dance Team, and excellent artist and illustrator. It continues to be a pleasure to work with Branden.”

Vivian Kuperberg, nominated by foreign language teacher Lili Floyd, who wrote, “This is the second year that I enjoy having Vivian in my classes. She is taking both German 4 and French 6 this year. Her dedication to learning is just incredible. I am going to speak about her only as a German student. During her one-year stay in France, she took German 2 without any previous knowledge of the language. Although she felt a bit shaky, when she took German 3 at Davis High last year, she performed beyond and above everyone else in the class. This holds true in German 4 this year.

“Vivian enjoys challenging herself and she does it with easy and accomplishment. During my long teaching career, I have encountered few students like Vivian.”

Wenhui Lu, nominated by English teacher Debbie Grivas, who wrote, “Wenhui is in my 10th-grade honors class. She is always considerate of others, is an optimist regardless of the stress she has with regard to school. She happily agreed to give up her lunch to help tutor a student who recently came to the United States and doesn’t speak English. She is a fantastic artist, and consistently turns in high-quality work and places high expectations on herself, her art and her work for her other classes.  She brightens my day and wants to be the best student she can be. Wenhui, or Sophia as she likes to be called, is an extraordinary young lady and is an excellent example to others who know her.”

Larry Meyers, nominated by librarian Bruce Cummings, who wrote, “Larry Meyers quickly demonstrated the elusive trait of personal initiative at the start of the school year. Not surprisingly, he also demonstrates self-control and can stay focused on a task or assignment. Larry is pleasant and cheerful, and his attitude helps set the tone for the other students in the class.”

Anne Njoku, nominated by foreign language teacher Lili Floyd, who wrote, “I have known Anne just a few months and I am greatly impressed by her. She always participates, does her homework and asks questions. French 4 would not be the same without Anne. Students look up to her because she is so enthusiastic, knowledgeable and engaged.

“I recently asked her if she had outside experience in French, but not, she just learned it in class. She then expressed her love for languages and the desire to learn many more — French is just the beginning. Anne embodies what we all should aspire to be: lifelong learners.”

* Tessa Peters, nominated by science teacher Linda Husmann, who wrote, “This is the third year that Tessa Peters has been a student of mine — first in biology, then in anatomy and physiology and now she is my TA. When she offered to be my TA for this year, I actually had to fight to get her! She worked hard and did well in both bio and anatomy, and she is continuing in that tradition now, helping me with grading and organization. She is friendly, polite and efficient — a very positive force in my world.”

Juan Portillo, nominated by counselor Courtenay Tessler, who wrote, “Juan Portillo was identified as a struggling student at the beginning of high school. Through self-determination and the support of the ACES class and Academic Center, Juan was given the tools he needed to be successful academically. Once Juan figured out strategies that he could use, he made the decision to turn in all his homework and follow the guidance of his teachers.

“Juan steadily improved going from low grades to a B average last semester. Juan now has the goal of attending community college and transferring to a UC or CSU. Juan is a first-generation student who did not think college was an option for him. He now realizes he has the potential to earn a college degree. We are proud of Juan’s accomplishments. We are also proud of our teachers and staff who encouraged and guided Juan, embracing the opportunity to assist Juan in understanding and reaching his potential.”

Clarisa Sandoval, nominated by physical education teacher Julie Crawford, who wrote, “Clarisa is such a hard worker in P.E. every day. She appears to be dedicated in doing the best job she can this year in all of her classes. She has not missed one class, and has dressed out every day. She goes above and beyond what is asked of her in class each day. She is always respectful and takes pride in her performance in class, her effort is amazing.”

Rose Stephens, nominated by math teacher Dan Gonzalez, who wrote, “Rose entered my class at the beginning of the year with a smile and was clearly eager and ready to learn. During lectures and demonstrations she takes in as much as she can and the quality of her work has shown a tremendous desire to be the best she can be. Early in the year, she came in to see me for help and I knew it was important for her to perform to the best of her ability. I am very excited to have a motivated and dedicated student like Rose. Her effort and desire to learn make the classroom a productive place for everyone.”

Han-ah Sumner, nominated by science teacher Scott Richardson, who wrote, “I have seen a great number of able and motivated students come through my classroom over the years. It is hard to think of anyone more dedicated than Han-ah Sumner. In my honors physics class last year and my Advanced Placement class this year, she continues to give her all.

“Every day I find her taking copious notes, asking thoughtful questions and engaging in the subject matter with passion — more than any other student I have this year. I don’t know where she gets so much energy, but it is amazing and inspiring to watch her work. And though she is taking some of the most challenging courses on our campus, she keeps a smile on her face. She has a gentle way on encouraging others with her positive attitude and caring nature. She is one of a kind.”

There are three Rotary clubs in Davis, which meet at noon Mondays, 5:30 p.m. Wednesdays and 7 a.m. Fridays. Members provide service to their community and internationally. For more information about Rotary, contact Dennis Lindsay of the Sunrise Club at, Samer Alassaad of the Noon Club at or Steve Boschken of the Sunset Club at

Special to The Enterprise


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