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San Juan Hills' Class of 2012 Honored

The Senior Awards ceremony is a chance to catch up with some of the best and brightest in San Juan Capistrano, Ladera Ranch and Capo Beach.

More than just a time to bask in their parents’ glory, the seniors at who received recognition for outstanding achievement Wednesday night, jumped to their feet many times to cheer for each other.

“To see these guys rise up and give standing ovations – you guys enjoy each other, you support each other,” said Principal Tom Ressler, in explaining what makes the Class of 2012 unique.

The first standing ovation went to Dominick Wong, the “scholar of scholars.” There are 43 valedictorians whose grade point average is 4.0 or higher. But at 4.6, Wong’s is the highest, it was announced. And the class jumped to its feet.

Awards were given to those who took the Advanced Placement classes, who excelled In academics, theater, dance, music and sports. Those who received scholarships were also recognized.

Students who went through the school’s Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program were honored as well. The AVID program helps students who don’t have any college graduates in their family.

Eight San Juan Hills students in the AVID program not only completed the requirements to get into a university, they were all accepted into four-year universities.

The only award that wasn’t announced ahead of time was the Stallion of the Year. The candidates were whittled down to five, all of whom interviewed with a panel. Each had a biography in the program, but no one knew who the recipient was.

Ressler said the Stallion of the Year is loosely defined, because it needs to embody more than just academic achievement and involvement in various activities.

It’s about evolvement.

‘If you’re not a better person, what have you got?” Ressler said. All five candidates were great kids when they entered San Juan Hills, but they have grown, matured and discovered talents during their time at the school.

And the honor went to … Michelle Almanza, one of those Avid students who has charted a new path for her family tree.

Almanza was recognized Wednesday many times before the big announcement. She was the AVID “Senior Standout,” has a GPA between 3.5 and 3.99, completed a toal of five or more AP courses, is a member of the National Honor Society and received the Patrick W. Levens AVID scholarship for $500.

And she’s Stallion of the Year, which gets her photo hung in the school office in perpetuity.

“Thirty, 40, 50 years from now, these kids come back and can see their pictures,” Ressler said.

After thanking the parents, Ressler commented that the Class of 2012 gives him hope. For those who think the world is in decline, “it’s not, because we have these great kids ahead of us.”

Capo mom June 08, 2012 at 01:22 AM
Is this a joke? "Eight San Juan Hills students not only completed the requirements to get into a university, they were all accepted into four-year universities."
Capo Parent June 08, 2012 at 03:01 AM
I thought the same thing when I read the article. 8 out of how many?
Penny Arévalo (Editor) June 08, 2012 at 04:13 PM
Sorry guys, if it's not clear. Eight AVID kids. Kids who don't have any example in their family of what it's like to do the work that prepares you to go to college. It's a big deal. As my son noted on the way home, he was most impressed by the AVID kids because they're the ones who just changed the whole coarse of direction for their future generations.
Penny Arévalo (Editor) June 08, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Edited for clarity. Thanks for the catch. It's 8 seniors in the AVID program. There are hundreds of kids going off to a four-year university. I may know one personally. ;-)

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