The last Student of the Month breakfast for the school year happened May 4 at North Coast Church. All four students honored this month – Kaleb Collings, Juan Martin Lopez, Sandra Ordonez Tovar and Krysta Rhoads – are from Fallbrook Union High School and all had inspirational stories told about them.
FUHSD Superintendent Ilsa Garza-Gonzalez started out by talking about all of the celebrations that occur in May, including Military Appreciation Week, National Principals Day, Day of the Teacher and Mother's Day. However, celebrating students is the best way to start the month with a positive tone, she said, thanks to the dedication of a group, the Student of the Month Committee.
Garza-Gonzalez called up those committee members who were present: Lynne Grantham, Therese Gilchrist, Kathy Beal, Connie Fellios, Adrienne Petersen and Meiko Winton and presented them with flowers. Not present were Crystal Gates and Veronica Hernandez.
FUHS Principal Lauren Jones introduced teacher Adriana Lopez who nominated three of the four students. Lopez said Collings is an "all-star exemplary student athlete" in golf, track, rugby, football as well as a school news reporter and JROTC member with a 3.63 GPA. She said he is very busy but kind to his peers with a positive attitude and infectious smile.
While his father said his son's hard work has paid off, his mother explained that her son stopped breathing when he was born which led to health problems and delayed speech, so his sister spoke for him. He struggled early on, she said, but so many people have helped him that he earned a 4.0 this year. She added that he was running when he was 1 year old.
Collings thanked everyone and said he has received a scholarship to play football at the University of Redlands.
Teacher Lopez said she nominated Martin Lopez because he stands out among many outstanding students with a high academic performance. He reached high level English as a Second Language in two years and is now fluent in three languages. She added that he helps his classmates in the "Warrior Way," works with his father, plays basketball and guitar.
Garza-Gonzalez translated for Martin Lopez's father who thanked God and the opportunities "we've been given in life." His son thanked everyone saying he was "not expecting this at all." They came to the U.S. five years ago and did not know much English. His father wanted him to see how he could have a better future, so he won't give up until he achieves his goals.
Martin Lopez said he is going to attend Cal State San Marcos and major in business administration.
Lopez, who teaches government and economics, said Ordonez Tovar stands out as an IB course student with a 4.10 GPA, AP classes and volunteer work with the Angel Shop and the San Diego Food Bank. Her older sister, Rosa, said that they and their older brother are first generation students and the "Fallbrook community has really helped my little sister." She advised all students going to college to ask for help and know their prerequisites.
The older daughter translated for her mother who said she is proud of all the students of the month, their hard work and dedication. Ordonez Tovar said she feels honored to be a student of the month and she has been admitted to Cal State San Marcos' nursing program. She wants to be either a labor/delivery or postpartum nurse. As a Latina student, she said she appreciates the opportunities she has been given.
Teacher Alana Milton, who nominated Rhoads, said to her, "I can count on you to show up." Rhoads, who is in a military family, stood out to her as "a shining light" in her fifth period class after lunch as she brings energy to class, and is patient with her peers. She is in ASB and the Robotics Club with an excellent GPA.
Her father said that as the youngest of four, his daughter sees herself as "the forgotten child," but she is not forgotten anymore; she is a "fearless spirit," he said. Her best friends said she is a giver, a math whiz, kind, there for her friends, always crocheting and a Disney fanatic.
Rhoads said she is going to George Fox University in Oregon in the fall, to major in engineering or aviation. She concluded by saying, "May the 4th be with you." (May 4 is also known as Star Wars Day.)
All four students have faced adversity of some kind and have overcome it through hard work and dedication. All are going on to college with goals in mind and will, no doubt, be just as successful there as they have been in high school, which makes them an inspiration to their classmates.
The next Student of the Month breakfast will be in October. For information on sponsoring the program, contact Lynn Grantham, 760-214-1755 or [email protected].