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Fallbrook Students of the Month bring it

Christine Eastman

Special to the Village News

North Coast Church once again hosted the Fallbrook Union School District's Student of the Month celebration on Thursday, Oct. 5. The proud recipients this month were Fallbrook High students Dacey Bender, Abby Petersen, Cassandra Rivero and Oasis student Gladys Tornero.

Each of these students not only excel academically, but it's their passion for their families and community that make them stand out above and beyond. Not that it's easy to land a 4.0+ GPA, which they all have, but they also are so involved in sports, service and family that one has to wonder how on earth they do it.

One common thread that echoed through remarks from their parents, grandparents, teachers, aunts and uncles was "self-motivation." They are not helicopter-parented, over-scheduled by their parents or forced to do anything they don't want to do.

They are simply very driven kids with one goal in mind – to be their best selves, support our Friendly Village and better the world we live in. Here's a little bit about each of the students who received the award:

Dacey Bender, nominated by FHS teacher Alana Milton, has a 4.19 GPA to date. She is a member of the National Charity League (NCL), and has served at Fallbrook's Angel Society, Fallbrook Food Pantry and the Fallbrook Land Conservancy. She takes Honors and AP classes, is a member of Fallbrook's well-known FFA program raising market lambs, participates in FHS's Dance Team, Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) and Riverview Church's junior high ministry program. "Dacey shows me the type of person I want to be every day," said her boyfriend, Sean Daley.

Abby Petersen, nominated by FHS teacher Marin Pinnell, has a 4.4 GPA to date. She has logged 182 community service hours through NCL, 24 hours through Fallbrook Youth Soccer League, 30 hours through St. Peter's Vacation Bible School, 72 hours through Forest Home, and she takes AP/IB classes, is a CIF State qualifying runner, Captain of both soccer and cross-country teams at FHS, AP Capstone Diploma candidate, FCA leader, serves at the Fallbrook Food Pantry, local thrift stores, Fallbrook Land Conservancy, senior centers and a youth home. "Abby is the ultimate hotel concierge," as Pinnell said, encompassing her immense set of skills catering to every little detail and the people in her life.

Cassandra Rivero, also nominated by Pinnell, has a 4.2 GPA to date. She is dedicated to helping those with special needs, having family members who are disabled/have special needs. She volunteers for REINS, is a committee member for the Angolan Syndrome Foundation, is an AP Capstone Diploma candidate and an ASB leader, participates in cross-country and track & field teams, and is a Questbridge College Prep scholar.

Rivero plans to apply to Yale, Columbia University, Brown University and Princeton to major in neuroscience/pre-med to become a neurological researcher having had the experiences she's had with her own family members.

Gladys Tornero, nominated by Oasis teacher Tracy Markham, has a 3.9 GPA to date. Gladys struggled to cope during the onset of COVID. Reintegrating and connecting with fellow students was especially hard, but through the innovative program at Oasis, she was able to re-engage with a vengeance.

Tornero volunteers at the Angel Shop, is involved in the AVID program and Club Futuro, is a CSF member, has been awarded the California State's Seal of Biliteracy (fluent in two or more languages), and is active in St. Peter's youth group. She also manages to work part-time at Goin' Postal. "I want to be the first person in my family to graduate from college," said Tornero.

These students not only embody absolutely staggering determination, but compassion and heart to take care of their families and community. "It takes a village" indeed, and these girls are truly building our future village.

Members of several local philanthropic organizations were on hand to let students know that each of their groups offer scholarships for kids who show not only academic superiority but community involvement, passion and a drive to succeed that goes above and beyond the scale of normal.

Corey Uhden from Assemblymember Marie Waldron's office presented the students with Certificates of Recognition from the California Legislature Assembly to acknowledge their accomplishments in both academics and community service.


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