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Bermudez, Casey, Kessel and Meeks honored as outstanding students

Ed Casey, Tori Kessel and Erin Meeks of Fallbrook High School and Julie Bermudez of Oasis High School were named Fallbrook Community Students of the Month and honored for their achievements at a special breakfast held March 4 at Fallbrook Golf Club’s Hukilau restaurant.

“We appreciate the work, accomplishments and achievements these students have had so far,” said Fallbrook Union High School District (FUHSD) superintendent Dale Mitchell. “This is not the ending of their achievements; it is a part of their growth and maturity and just some of the many opportunities of success that are to come.”

As the students were introduced at the breakfast, they were each presented a special medal depicting the Lamp of Knowledge by the American Legion.

Casey was selected as a Student of the Month following the recommendation of Fallbrook High School English teacher Betz Critchley.

“[Casey] is a great kid, and is one of the students who flies under the radar,” said Critchley. “He is always willing to give the credit to someone else.”

Casey is the only National Merit Finalist in the Fallbrook High School student population, is the Fallbrook High School Academic Team captain, an Eagle Scout, runs cross country and track and is in the school’s jazz band.

Before he was done in his sophomore year, Casey was finished with calculus. During his time as a Fallbrook student, Casey has taken nearly every science course available on campus, and is called the “kid who swallowed the Internet” by Critchley.

Casey’s first choice for furthering his education is The Cooper Union, but is also considering Harvard.

“Thank you for the opportunity of this award,” said Casey. “I would like to take a moment to commend the high school’s science program. It is a very important part of my life, and I have enjoyed every moment of my time there.”

Kessel was honored as a Student of the Month after being nominated by Associated Student Body (ASB) director Josh Way and Fallbrook High School math teacher Debbie Berg.

“To me, [Kessel] has been a Student of the Month all four years of high school,” said Way. “She goes the extra mile, and has made me a better ASB director and teacher.”

Kessel is involved with ASB leadership and is the Fallbrook High School student representative to the FUHSD Board of Trustees.

Kessel has made a name for herself by being “consistent and responsible,” and is known for “her heart of gold, and always being surrounded by kind, brilliant people.”

A dedicated believer in Christ, Kessel hopes to go to Biola University, but is also considering Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

“The bar has been set really high , so you have all made me feel special by picking me,” said Kessel. “I am thankful for my parents and all their love and support.”

Meeks was recommended for the Student of the Month honor by Fallbrook High English teacher Betz Critchley.

“[Meeks] is probably one of the most humble young ladies alive, considering the amount of gifts she has,” said Critchley. “She is kind, giving and makes you want to be a better person.”

Meeks is known to have integrity and humility, and is called “diligent and awesome” by teachers.

A lover of the arts, Meeks teaches piano, is taking voice lessons, and has even designed several prom dresses, including her own.

Meeks is taking AP classes, is part of the high school’s jazz ensemble, is one of the marching band’s drum majors, and is part of the editorial staff of the school’s KOPA literary magazine.

Meeks – who wakes up at 4:30 a.m. every morning to be at church events before school – is planning on pursuing her love of music at Brigham Young University.

“Thank you for this award,” said Meeks. “I want to thank my parents, who have taught me dedication and the need to care about people.”

Bermudez was named Student of the Month based on a nomination from Oasis High School teacher Linda Poznanter.

“ is my little Emily Dickinson, and the hero of the everyday moment,” said Poznanter. “She changes, illuminates and illustrates everything she does, making it come to life. She is just plain amazing.”

Bermudez is said to have “a passion for life and language.” In her free time, she enjoys sewing, cooking, crocheting and volunteering at her local church.

An active member of her church, Bermudez plans on taking educational courses offered by her church and staying active within her denomination.

“I have striven hard in everything I do,” said Bermudez. “Every person really does make a difference.”

Friends, family and members of the business and service communities, as well as representatives of elected officials, attended the prestigious event and provided certificates of achievement and gifts to the students honored.

The Fallbrook Community Student of the Month program is organized by a committee of the same name and is funded by generous local businesses and organizations including the Angel Society, Coldwell Banker and Landmark Group, Fallbrook AAUW, Fallbrook High PTSA, Fallbrook Republican Women Federated, Fallbrook Village Rotary, Fallbrook Vintage Car Club, Fallbrook Woman’s Club, Kiwanis Club of Fallbrook, Major Market, North County Orthodontics – Dr. Michael Allen, Rally for Children, Village Kitchen and the Village News.

“While you may not always have the spotlight on you, you shine in other ways,” said program emcee Sue Johnson. “This rounded group of students has their own light to shine.”

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