Sunday, September 21, 2014

Rotarians honor outstanding students

From page A5 | April 24, 2013 |

Connor Campbell

The Sunrise Rotary Club of Davis honored nine Davis and Da Vinci high school students as Students of the Month for March. They are:

Connor Campbell, nominated by Da Vinci English teacher Elizabeth Blake, who wrote, “Three words: insightful, witty, original. Connor Campbell has a voice, in person and on paper, which both informs and entertains the listener. He is always thinking, and during the most recent mock election project, as a member of the press, he showed his mature perspective through his written blog commentary — demonstrating his ability not only to slice through the mock-political antics of his peers, but to shed light on the shortcomings of the political process itself. He’s that meta-guy who can look through a critical lens and see what’s right — and what’s way out in left field. (He’ll even appreciate what I’ve attempted in this metaphor.)

“Every conversation with Connor has a point and, given our current study of Mark Twain’s ‘Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’ and satire, that point may be in the form of a punch line — but he’ll be able to explain the kind of humor used and why it was appropriate for its context — my kind of guy.

“Connor does not follow the crowd; he has forged a unique path, but it is one that is inherently inclusive and welcoming of others. With his sense of wisdom, sense of humor and sensibility, he has so much to contribute to all of the opportunities that lie just ahead.”

Aliesha Contini, nominated by English teacher Robyn Hernandez, who wrote, “I chose Aliesha Contini because I have rarely found a student who took the idea that personal determination can make huge change so much to heart. When she realized that she needed to work on a particular area, she went all out to make herself stronger in that area. She started asking questions and with every small victory, when a lot of students would say, OK, that’s good enough, she kept pushing herself. And, I believe firmly that determination comes from inside her, not from someone outside pushing her. I am impressed by her maturity and her sense of humor and focus.”

Connal Hart, nominated by agriculture teacher Alex Hess, who wrote, “I have Connal in advanced agricultural mechanics. Connal is a bright young man, but I am nominating him for more than his academic ability. In addition to excelling in the content of the course, Connal shines as a student. He is constantly assisting fellow students just to be helpful and kind. He volunteers readily or smiles and says “Oh yeah! I can do that” when asked to do something. This positive young man is never boisterous or self-serving. Connal works hard and does his best, is positive in his outlook and demeanor, and contributes to the success of those around him.”

* Johanna Lomas, nominated by science teacher David van Muyden, who wrote, “Johanna is one of my top students in college prep chemistry and what makes Johanna stand out is that she achieves her success with a smile on her face while she puts in her hard work. She always brightens up the day of people around her even facing the challenges of seventh-period chemistry. On days when I know she has stress from other classes, as well as ours, Johanna maintains a positive healthy perspective which influences others. Johanna is one of few students who actually get my jokes and even has her own come back jokes. The ease with which she masters chemistry shows that, if she chooses, Johanna will have many options studying science.”

* Louis Pak, nominated by math teacher Trisha Butler, who wrote, “Louis works extremely hard in school. He takes charge of his learning by asking questions and seeking help when necessary. He helps others who are looking for explanations, and he is always extremely polite. He stands out as an excellent student in all aspects.”

* Angel Maharaj, nominated by special education teacher Debbie Covert, who wrote, “Angel is a peer tutor who works with students with moderate disabilities. She provides academic support to students during study skills class. In addition to helping with class work, Angel interacts with students that help facilitate social interactions and communication skills. Angel has demonstrated patience and compassion while working with students. The students look forward to seeing Angel in M1 and greatly benefit from their interactions with her. I know that the experience as a peer tutor will have a lasting impression on Angel.”

Natalie Orr, nominated by social science teacher Mike Kanna, who wrote, “Natalie is a very responsible, hard-working student, but I particularly admire the way she helps other students who are less able than she is on a daily basis. I have been particularly touched by her work with students that have special needs.”

Mauricio Rocha, nominated by social studies teacher Peter Reilly, who wrote, “I am pleased to recommend Mauricio for Student of the Month. Along with being a gentleman and a conscientious student, Mauricio will go out of his way to support classmates and peers who need support. Mauricio works very hard in his world civilization class. He has developed strong work habits. Mauricio is attentive and always attempting to make connections between our historical past and present-day movements. He is cheerful, thoughtful and extremely polite. I always look forward to Mauricio in class because I can expect an interesting discussion and perspective on what we are studying.

“Finally, Mauricio is generous with his information and wisdom. He is always prepared and comes to class with an excellent attitude and interest in learning. His peers recognize his drive and respect his views and efforts.”

* Emily Talbot, nominated by Da Vinci teacher English Elizabeth Blake, who wrote, “Emily Talbot eats books for breakfast. With her iPad device in hand, she reads, takes notes and adds wonderful insights to our class discussion on a daily basis, which is no mean feat in her high-achieving, over-crowded English class. Emily will be heard.

“She also is the epitome of organization, with every assignment submitted on time. But this does not mean she simply gets her own work done; at Da Vinci, with our project-based learning ethos, she often ‘herds cats,’ inspiring, directing and sometimes simply strong-arming her group mates to reach her high standards — and on time.

“I thoroughly enjoy my role as active observer during project work time when it comes to witnessing the group dynamic at a work station that Emily is part of; she talks, listens, engages, comments, assesses and — ultimately — gracefully leads by example. She has actively directed her own personal and academic growth, joining DV in her junior year when she recognized how she might take positive control of her education, and our school has reaped the benefits of her decision. She has demonstrated that nothing will slow her down, and she knows how to adjust to all the challenges she will face. Keep eating up those books, Emily.”

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



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