These are the heroes.
Remember the old adage, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going?” These kids did, overcoming adversity that would crush many others and succeeding in school despite mental or physical challenges, hardship, illness, or other obstacles.
Winners of “Every Student Succeeding” honors were celebrated by NUSD today (Feb. 22), one student per school who was singled out for perseverance, determination, or for inspiring students and staff.
Board President Sue Heredia attended today’s ceremony, along with Trustees Jag Bains, Scott Dosick and Lisa Kaplan. Superintendent Chris Evans, many top administrators, school principals, and family members of the honorees were there as well.
Evans called “Every Student Succeeding” one of his favorite events of the year, when the district gets to applaud not only 15 exceptional students for their excellence, but families and NUSD staff, too, who supported them along the way.
Honorees were Jaime Barragan, Armani Patterson, Brandon Darby, Marshawn Goodman, Kevin Walker, Jesus Villegas-Fajardo, Jamariana Frazier, Angelo Flores, Leah Moreno, Jason Lukov, Michelle Rodriguez Rivera, Tyrone Jones, Bruce McKinnie, Luke South, and Lejon Taburado.
Each of the “Every Student Succeeding” recipients is a winner in life already, a role model for peers, an example of dedication and achievement, with powerful success stories that don’t always fit on report cards, for example:
· A 7th-grader whose mother died when she was 5 and her father four years later. She struggled with every aspect of school – socially, academically, and she was prone to emotional outbursts and unpredictable fits of anger. But those dark days are over. She’s excelling in Math and Science now, a school leader, and a volunteer Safe School Ambassador who is popular with teachers and classmates.
· A 6th-grader who already has attended seven schools in three districts, arriving at his current elementary school campus this year with social-emotional walls that initially blocked relationships with peers and family. He developed a special relationship with a caring teacher, however, and has reached out with such compassion to a classmate that he has helped change the school’s climate. His principal said it brought tears to her eyes to write the nomination.
· A 4th-grader who had open heart surgery last year, forcing him to miss a large part of the school year. Even when he returned to classes, he was so medically fragile that his parents came to school during every recess and lunch break to assist and support him. Despite all his challenges, however, he exceeded academic standards in both Math and English Language Arts.
· An 8th-grader who had multiple suspensions in his two prior years, with a 1.3 grade point average during that span. This year, he’s much more engaged, better behaved, his grades have improved, he comes to school with a positive attitude, and he’s on the basketball team and taking on leadership roles.
· An 11th-grader who entered high school with dreams of becoming a doctor but was set back as a sophomore, when he was diagnosed with cancer in his right leg and underwent surgery. Unable to attend classes, he studied through Home Hospital Services but his grades dropped dramatically. Buoyed by support from friends, he returned to school in a wheelchair last fall, he’s raised his grade point average above 3.0, and he sees himself attending a UC campus in the future.
Each of today’s honorees received a certificate of recognition and a small gift bag. One of NUSD’s recipients, Jesus Villegas-Fajardo, has been selected by the Association of California School Administrators to compete for regional “Every Student Succeeding” honors.