Jeannie Montalvo of Oasis High School and Natalie Gasca, Ellyn Grantham and Christine Russell of Fallbrook High School were named Fallbrook Community Students of the Month and honored for their achievements at a special breakfast held on November 5 at Fallbrook Golf Club’s Hukilau restaurant.
District Superintendent Dale Mitchell told the students, “We are elated to have this opportunity to celebrate with you your outstanding success and the promise of future success. You’re an outstanding group of young ladies.”
As the students were introduced at the breakfast, they were each presented with a special medal depicting the Lamp of Knowledge by the American Legion.
Montalvo was nominated for the Student of the Month honor by Oasis teacher Dave Major.
While most students choose Oasis for its independent study program, she transferred there to make up for lost time after missing four months of school recovering from a bad motorcycle accident.
With hard work, dedication and perseverance, she not only caught up but is now scheduled to graduate in December, a whole semester early.
“Long after daylight has come, sunshine comes to Oasis when Jeannie gets there,” Major said. A joy to work with, “she is well on her way to a bright future.”
Acknowledging the support of the community in her recovery, Montalvo said, “it was a hard struggle, but I always had the support of people I didn’t know and people I do know.
“It was my personal victory; I came this close to death–” she held her fingers about an inch apart– “and I am here today.”
Montalvo plans to enroll at a community college in Texas next semester, then go on to Texas University to become a child psychologist.
Gasca was selected as a Student of the Month on the recommendation of Fallbrook High teacher Trace Deneke.
“Natalie has an incredibly calm demeanor and confidence that makes everyone smart without realizing it. She has a way of communicating in a non-threatening way that comes from the fact that she has tremendous family values...service, stewardship and shepherding,” said Deneke.
Described as a self-starter and courteous, Gasca has a 4.55 GPA, is third in her class, is part of the FHS Link Crew and volunteers at St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Shop. She has also played soccer since she was 5 years old.
“I love helping people, encouraging them, and I’m glad to be in his class,” Gasca said of being a teacher’s assistant in Deneke’s freshman advisory class.
She plans to major in math at Cal Poly Pomona. Bilingual in English and Spanish, she wants to learn a new language besides earning an MA degree in actuarial science.
Grantham was named Student of the Month based on the recommendation of Fallbrook High English teachers Pam Munro and Connie Fellios.
Munro described Grantham, who scored a perfect score in English on the SAT, as “one of the best [students] of my career” and “my most brilliant writer.”
For Fellios, Grantham is “one of the strongest reasons we love our profession, mature and wise beyond her years. Ellyn makes a difference in every classroom every day...truly a dream student.”
Grantham is not only a leader in academics but also in sports, having captained teams in both volleyball and track.
She is also a member of the FHS Link Crew, tutors AVID students in English, teaches Sunday school at her church and helps support a Malawi orphan.
Grantham said she plans to attend Vanderbilt University in Tennessee but has not yet decided on a major, adding, “Thank you, everyone, for coming to support us all.”
Russell was selected as a Student of the Month after being nominated by Fallbrook High field hockey coach Kathy Waite.
Waite, who started coaching Russell in middle school, listed her qualifications for the award as including enrollment in three AP classes, serving as president of FFA and participation in the Conservation Corps at the Wild Animal Park.
“I nominated her also because of her Ag involvement,” Waite added. “Ag students are also excellent field hockey players. She disciplines [herself] to do what is right although difficult, is well-rounded in excellence in all she does, a team player who always says, ‘We do this.’ She is an excellent role model for all the girls.”
Russell was also described as a hard worker who always strives for success and plays with her heart in both softball and field hockey. She also loves to ride horses and volunteers at REINS.
She thanked everyone for naming her a Student of the Month, something she has wanted since seeing previous honorees in her high school yearbook.
“My favorite thing is being involved in FFA,” she added. “Getting elected
was huge, one of the biggest parts of my life.”
Russell wants to attend either UC Davis or Colorado State, become a large exotic animal vet and work at the San Diego Zoo.
Friends and family as well as representatives of the business and service communities and elected officials attended the event and provided certificates of achievement and gifts to the students honored.
Now celebrating its 13th year, the Fallbrook Community Student of the Month program has honored 409 outstanding students to date.
The program is organized by a committee of the same name and is funded by generous local businesses and organizations, including the Angel Society, Bonsall Woman’s Club, Dr. Randy Carlson, Coldwell Banker Landmark Group, Fallbrook AAUW, Fallbrook High PTSA, Fallbrook Republican Women Federated, Fallbrook Village Rotary, Fallbrook Woman’s Club, Dr. Daniel Flores, Dr. Richard Goble, Kiwanis Club of Fallbrook, Major Market, North County Orthodontics-Dr. Michael Allen, Rally for Children, Soroptimist International of Fallbrook, American Legion Post 365, Fallbrook Golf Club & Hukilau, Fallbrook Printing, North County Times, Pacific Western Bank and the Village News.