Jr. Achievement: Rotary salutes students
with their eye on the prize

May 09, 2014
Santa Paula News

Students already with their eye on the prize of future success were celebrated by the Santa Paula Rotary at the club’s Jr. Achievement awards.

Rotarians Carlos Juarez and Jan Marholin presented the annual Jr. Achievement awards, “A passion of Carl Barringer,” the late club president and former city mayor who established the program in 1959.

Nine Santa Paula High School junior level students, all nominated by a teacher or school administrator, were honored at the Rotary luncheon meeting held weekly at historic Glen Tavern Inn.

Students from each field of study were recognized not only for academic excellence but also for grade improvement, strength of character, influence on peers and personal achievement among other benchmarks.

Brian Alcaraz was honored for his efforts in the SPHS Agriculture Science Academy and Future Farmers of America, as noted teacher Mr. Flores, “His grades, work experience, personal growth, leadership and hard work exemplify the ideals of Rotary... “

Brian maintains a 3.5-plus GPA and has been active with the academy and the FFA on a statewide basis and participated in a special Cal Poly summer agriculture program.

Teacher Mrs. Page nominated Brianna Seward for her efforts in the AVID program.

Page, with a 3.6-weighted GPA, wrote Seward, “Has the highest grades in the class... her intelligence and hard working attitude stands out among her peers,” to whom she is a role model. 

Skilled in debate and writing, Brianna “has an extensive vocabulary,” due to her love of reading and time spent volunteering in the library.

Claudia Magana, unable to attend Rotary, was lauded for math excellence.

Teacher Mrs. Ajiri wrote, “Claudia is very responsive and intelligent,” a critical thinker that contributes to “conceptual discussions in a mature and constructive manner.” 

Although Claudia’s “test results are among the highest scores in every assessment,” and she is a goal-orientated high achiever she has a happy and helpful disposition.

“Way to go Claudia,” wrote Ajiri, “you are the epitome of a perfect student!”

Elizabeth Barajas, wrote Mrs. Gregory, “has been an integral part of the Health and Human Services Academy for three years... “  

Her strong efforts, enthusiasm, adaptability and creativity contribute to her overachieving. 

With an already impressive record of internship Elizabeth now is working five days a week with Kent Hollenback DDS, and orthodontist Dr. Jared Lee. 

Elizabeth, wrote Gregory, “Is one of the most self-driven vocational students that I have had,” in her 37-year teaching career.

Eric Magana, also unable to attend the meeting, was nominated by Mrs. Dobson.

She has watched Eric grow over a three-year period “from an incredibly shy, uncertain student to a confident young man,” in the Special Education program. 

“A true pleasure to have in class,” Dobson wrote Eric is hardworking, takes pride in his work, gets along well with his peers and adults and is “extremely polite... “

Migrant Education student Fabiola Gomez was nominated by Mr. Elizarraraz who wrote, “Despite her migratory lifestyle and economic hardships, she has always demonstrated interest in furthering her education.”

A second language learner, she works doubly hard to maintain a 3.4+ GPA and “Her maturity, tenacity, determination and focus have given her the strength to excel in her studies.”

Fabiola, noted her teacher, is “not afraid of challenges” taking courses in trigonometry, calculus and chemistry among others.

Isaac Veloz is an outstanding artist according to teacher Mr. Torres who wrote the student is “eager to learn and explore his creative side,” receptive to trying new things and taking risks with his innate artist abilities.

A third year art student already Isaac has “put together a body of work that shows growth, experimentation, creativity and a high level of skill,” that has garnered him AP placement. His future is in conceptual design for animation or video gaming.

English is Michael Ragatz’s strength, according to teacher Mrs. Val Gomez who wrote, “This young man is an exemplanary student... “ 

Michael maintains an A in English and is a student who “does a great job with all class assignments,” as well as follows direction and participates without complaint. 

Gomez wrote that Michael is also active in sports and is “a very nice young man... “

Sara Martinez excels in science and history according to teachers Mrs. Wilkinson and Mrs. McPherson who wrote that Sara’s own history includes academic excellence. She has earned all A’s in her science courses including AP classes.

Sara would like to become a physician and has interned with a local doctor and medical clinic as well as helped out the Family Wellness Fair.

This winter Sara attended the National Academy, which she said was “both amazing and inspiring.”

Rotary President Rick Araiza said it is not uncommon for those recognized for Junior Achievement to visit the club again.

“We see a lot come back as graduating seniors going to the university,” with help, noted Araiza, of a Santa Paula Rotary Scholarship.

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