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By Tom Ferrall
Staff Writer 

Flores, Hernandez, Lopez and Stotts honored as Students of the Month


Last updated 12/18/2018 at 6:17am

Darcy Kuran photo

The Students of the Month for December are, from left, Joana Lopez, Stacia Stotts, Vanessa Hernandez and Haley Flores.

It was Ladies Morning at the Student of the Month breakfast Dec. 6 as Haley Flores, Vanessa Hernandez and Stacia Stotts of Fallbrook Union High School and Joana Lopez of Oasis High School were honored as the Students of the Month for December.

SonRise Christian Fellowship pastor Greg Coppock emceed the recognition breakfast held at North Coast Church, where the dedicated young ladies were saluted by teachers, family and friends and community leaders.

Flores, the first student to be introduced, was nominated by her school counselor, Chaila Archuleta-Moya.

"Haley is a dedicated, bright and attentive young woman," said Archuleta-Moya. "She has demonstrated she's a student with great potential. Haley has maintained a 3.5 grade point average while actively involved in dance and the CREW (Creating Relationships With Every Warrior) Club. She is also active in the community, is a Sunday school teacher, leads the youth junior high school girls group and works part-time."

Archuleta-Moya added that Flores works with special education students at Fallbrook High.

"I have seen firsthand how much these students she works with love and look up to her," said Archuleta-Moya.

Flores – as did all the honorees – thanked her family, teachers, community members and the Student of the Month committee. She stated she will start her college career at Palomar College and then transfer to Cal State San Marcos. She plans to be a teacher.

"My junior year I decided to be a TA (teaching assistant) for the adapted physical education class and it soon became my favorite class to go to and the one I look forward to every day," said Flores. "I soon became great friends with all the special needs students and they instantly became my favorite people to see every day. I became to realize that I wanted to do this for my career. I can see myself going to work every day excited and just happy to see my students."

Flores said she will continue leading her church youth group while attending college.

"I'll continue my walk in faith and not drift away from my relationship with the Lord," said Flores. "One of my goals when I'm older is to continuing leading and helping those around me."

The next honoree was Hernandez, who was nominated by Fallbrook High assistant principal Dr. Stephanie Osowski.

"Vanessa is the first person to say 'what do you need, how can I help?'" said Osowski.

"She's involved in so many things but her commitment to excellence never waivers. She's a scholar, taking honors and AP courses throughout her time at Fallbrook High School. She's also an athlete."

Osowski relayed that Hernandez was voted Outstanding Senior Girl and is president of

the Fallbrook Youth Advocacy Coalition, which works to keep drugs off the streets and alcohol out of the hands of teens.

"Vanessa is always there, just doing whatever is needed to be done," said Osowski. "With all the things that are on her plate, she's maintained above a 4.0 GPA. She always has a smile on her face, no matter when I see her during the day. I'm a better person for knowing her and her wonderful family. I see just amazing things for Vanessa in the future."

Hernandez, who wants to become a doctor and has hopes of attending either UCSD or San Diego State, revealed to the audience that she nearly died last May.

"On Mother's Day (May 13) I was rushed to the hospital and diagnosed with WPW (Wolff-Parkinson-White) Syndrome, which is a heart disorder that causes irregular heartbeats and gets in the way of the heart's electrical pathway," said Hernandez. "Within three weeks it was decided I had to go through surgery soon as it was progressing so quickly. It was a lot to process in such a little time."

Hernandez revealed the combination of her medical condition and having to take finals caused great apprehension that she had to overcome. Like a true Warrior, she did just that.

"I have always worked very hard and put effort into everything I do, however, sometimes in life you encounter obstacles that test your strengths and challenge your perseverance," said Hernandez. "I developed severe anxiety and found it very difficult to continue with my responsibilities. But I decided I was not going to give up and I was going to put my head down and just get to work. Although I was determined to pick myself up and carry on, I could not have done it without my family."

Fallbrook High dance teacher Anna Gravenkamp nominated Stotts, who caught her eye as a freshman.

"She's an incredible leader and that's been from day one," said Gravenkamp. "She guides her fellow dance team members with love and respect but she holds them to this incredibly-high standard, and her team members are so eager to get there. She's encouraging and helpful and she makes it possible for our students to succeed.

"Not only is she an amazing leader, she's a beautiful dancer and chorographer," continued Gravenkamp. "Her movement is innovative, it's artistic, and her peers are always eager to be a part of those pieces that she creates. She's beautiful to watch, she's an incredible performer, and I feel very lucky to have her in our program."

Stotts, who counts the Fallbrook High School Dance Excellence Award among the many she awards she has collected, is also involved in the community and her church. She has been part of the Girl Scouts program for 11 years.

"I do have a great passion for dance and children, and as of right now I'm glad to be able to be a dance teacher at a dance studio in Fallbrook, CAST Academy of Dance," said Stotts. "I get to work with kids there and it's a great honor. I'm so happy to be that person in their life like the dance teachers that guided me as I was growing up.

"I'm so lucky to have the dance opportunity that Miss G has been able to give me since I've been in high school," continued Stotts, noting her many opportunities to work with professional chorographers.

Stotts said she will be attending Palomar College and study in the ASL (American Sign Language) program.

"I am still deciding about either becoming an ASL teacher or interpreter, or becoming a preschool teacher and work with kids," said Stotts.

Oasis High teacher Kevin Kent introduced Lopez, who has had nothing lower than a 3.77 GPA since her arrival at Oasis in the spring of her sophomore year.

"She is currently averaging 40 credits a semester which is going to let her graduate early – she's going to graduate in a few weeks," said Kent. "She's a very diligent and committed student. When she's assigned something, you can trust that she's going to complete it on time with care and concern."

Kent added that Lopez is "always very attentive and engaged" and constantly looking to help others.

"Her concern for others and providing service to the community is her prime focus," said Kent. "She's is an activist at heart. She cares about injustice, she cares about inequality, and she always puts her needs behind others."

Lopez said the independent study at Oasis is just what she needed.

"Oasis did not just help me get better grades but the school helped me physically and mentally," said Lopez. "I learned to discipline myself and learned to make a schedule for myself. Most importantly, I learned what I'm capable of doing."

Lopez, who has been raised by her single father, said she will be the first in her family to attend a four-year university. She plans to double-major in business and journalism.

"I hope to one day own my own clothing boutique and my very own magazine, a magazine that embraces young Latino boys and girls from different backgrounds and low-income communities," said Lopez. "This has been my biggest passion – to help young generations of boys and girls that come from single-parent families, to help them value themselves and open opportunities that they don't have in their life, and show them everything is possible if you take the right path and work hard to accomplish your goals."

Lopez concluded by thanking her father, calling him "my backbone, the person who has been there through it all."


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