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February brings best of Fallbrook to the Students of the Month once more

North Coast Church hosted Fallbrook Union High School District's Students of the Month celebration Thursday, Feb. 1, keeping the momentum of the new year going strong. This month's killer representatives are Fallbrook High students Maya Bellazetin, Sam Bruton and Jasmine Hernandez. Oasis High School was represented by Anay Garcia.

Here are a few character highlights from this month's super stellar kids:

Bellazetin, nominated by FUHS teacher Shavonne Donoghue, leads the pack with a stellar 4.3 GPA. She and her family are fairly recent transplants from out of state, but she certainly didn't lose any ground getting situated in our "Friendly Village." She was homeschooled until her junior year, partially to pursue an amazing dance program.

Her Dad said, "When Maya was 12 she said she wanted to take ballet lessons. That turned pretty quickly into dancing 20 hours a week and being accepted into the academy's professional dance program. That's just who she is – we don't tell her what to do, she tells us what she's going to do and she always goes big."

After checking that off her list, she decided she wanted to transfer into a traditional high school to really boost her academics to prepare for what will no doubt be a solid performance as well. Donoghue, who met Bellazetin sitting outside her classroom one morning and has made somewhat of a routine of chatting with her before school, said, "All the teachers love her. And yes, we all talk about you in the teacher's lounge!"

Maybe it's her humble nature that endears her so much. She wanted to part with a pro tip for her fellow high school and community friends, "Don't think about what you can get out of whatever you're doing, but what you can bring to the table." A wise old soul, indeed.

Bruton was nominated by FUHS teacher Alana Milton. With a 3.6 GPA and ruler of all things sports and ROTC related, Bruton was somewhat of a diamond in the rough. Milton said, "We had a pretty rough start when I met Sam, but by the end of the year I would put him next to my most challenging kids – the ones who were really struggling either academically or emotionally – and he really just emerged as a natural born leader."

Milton wasn't alone in her initial doubts. Chief Warrant Officer (CWO3) Tom Smith noted about Bruton, "His first year in the FHS/ROTC program, boy, I was wondering how long he'd stick around." He continued, "But the next year he came back and was large and in charge and blew us away with what an incredible leader for the younger kids he's become."

Gotta give props to Bruton's mom who said, "Sam had the misfortune I guess you'd call it of being born to an OCD mom who made him try everything – clubs, sports, ROTC – you name it. And I insisted that every night he plug his phone in downstairs and make his bed every morning."

Apparently the discipline has served him well thus far and Bruton noted, "I've had so many strong role models in my life between my mom, grandparents and everyone who pushes me – even when I really just want to sit on my phone and not do the dishes." But the drive to follow through with commitment has powered on and served him well.

Hernandez was also nominated by Milton. With a 4.0 GPA and – get this – close to 700 hours of community service to date, Hernandez comes from a long line of overachievers and community leaders, with mom Veronica Hernandez being a Fallbrook High School PTSA officer and her older sister having also been recognized as a student of the month in past years. As Milton said, "Jasmine never sits still. She's committed to making the world a better place and helping develop programs to help youth deal with the problems of society, starting right here in Fallbrook."

On that note, Heather Mitchell, Crime Prevention Specialist at Fallbrook's Sheriff substation, said "I'm not kidding when I say that Jasmine and her family have inspired me and my own daughters to raise the bar and be better community members, from that day we got a call from her, wanting to develop a program at FHS to help her fellow students."

She did all this despite a diagnosis of a very rare heart disease called Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) that revealed four holes in her heart that required two major heart surgeries in her sophomore and junior years. Did that stop her from playing five varsity sports, being named "One of the 25 Most Remarkable Teens in San Diego," being crowned Miss Teen Fallbrook First Princess or helping create (Mika) Camarena's Fallbrook Youth Crime Prevention Club? Big sister Vanessa said, "Frankly, I'm a little scared of her. She's got a lot of fire in that heart."

Garcia was nominated by Oasis Teacher Matt Parker and Principal Lauren Gardiner. Wrapping up the amazing-ness of FUHSD's interesting scholars is soccer star Anay Garcia. She embraced high school at the height of COVID by jumping in and leading FUHS's ASB program as a freshman – remotely. She decided on her own that in order to pursue her athletic dreams of being a pro soccer player, she would transfer to Oasis to have the flexibility to do what she needed to do. Well, she did, and still has managed to retain honor roll status throughout while charging the field every day.

Needless to say, the leadership principle and go-getter attitude is strong with this one. Even very early on, her focus, spirit and determination were palpable.

Her mom said, "When she was three, I remember her sitting on the floor playing with a soccer ball with a pro game on in the background and she was singing the champion song. She looked right at me and told me she was going to be a professional soccer player one day – at three years old!"

She's been bending the ball ever since, which has gotten her early acceptance to Belmont College in Tennessee, a prestigious Division 1 university where she will pursue her soccer career and sports medicine.

Parker wrapped it up saying, "Anay is one of our best students of all time, period." Her contagious determination has touched all who know and love her, not the least of which being her father who said "Anay inspired my company's slogan: Making Goals Happen." Anay is a class act, indeed.

Cheers to all our FUHSD students and community members who do the hard work and rally to support these kids so they can thrive and positively impact our hearts and community.

Let it not be forgotten that as such, there are ways our community rallies back to bring success full-circle. Next time you're in town, make sure to thank and patronize some of the program's sponsors – Dr. Eric Ramos (Optometrist), Fallbrook Printing, Fallbrook Propane, Major Market, Starbucks and Youngren Construction.

For scholarship information feel free to contact Lynne Grantham at 760-214-1755 or [email protected].

 

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