7th, 8th, 9th

7th Grade: Kyla McFarlin *

Seventh grader Kyla McFarlin enjoys listening to hip-hop and R&B music. She also enjoys taking videos, reading, and baking. (Provided by Kyla McFarlin)

Kyla McFarlin is a seventh grader at University Preparatory with a 4.0 GPA who enjoys school and learning. She thinks that the reason she was able to keep a 4.0 GPA was because of her family. She says, “I enjoy family time a lot. On Fridays, we do ‘the box;’ we go in the box and grab things based off how academically good we did and pass out chips [tokens] by every A we get.”

She elaborates, “The box is basically a store my parents created with different chips, candy and donuts, etc…” The chips/tokens are used like money to go into the store, McFarlin states.

When McFarlin had received the news of being Student of the Month, she “was really surprised and just happy for [herself].” 

As a part of ASB, she tries her best to give to her community as a very generous person, trying to help everyone she can. Her desire to change the world drives her to want to become a politician; she was also inspired by trying out for the student council in fifth grade. 

She enjoys the movie Escape Room and a book series called The Series of Unfortunate Events. One of her hobbies includes baking; her most favorite baked-goods to make is cupcakes, cakepops, and cookies.

With four siblings, she believes that she is a very loving and caring person. She enjoys singing and listening to hip-hop and R&B music, such as Alicia Keys. “I like video taking, and making stuff with cameras.”

Kyla McFarlin is a very self-motivated and athletic person who loves track. She wishes to participate in the Jags for Christ club once quarantine is over and school is back in-person. She is inspired by her mother who once said, “Reach for the stars and if you land on the moon, that’s okay, because if you reached for the moon, you might not land anywhere.” She believes that this quote inspires her to reach for the best she could be, because even if she does not make it, at least she makes it farther in the end.

When eight grader Valentina Pacheco found out she was Student of the Month, she was thrilled. She states that she asked to use the restroom during class to tell her mom once she heard the news. (Provided by Valentina Pacheco)

8th Grade: Valentina Pacheco

As an eighth grader at University Preparatory, Valentina Pacheco focuses lots of her time on school, allowing her to have a GPA of 4.0. Adjusting to online school has been proven to be a challenge, but she quickly adapted to the style of waking up and working. She enjoys watching movies and reading books on finance, wanting to one day have a career in business or the medical field.

She is very creative and enjoys art and dance. She lives with her mother and father, her two brothers, and her sister. “I try to spend as much time [with them] everyday, but sometimes I have a busy schedule.” She shares a funny story about her family, “We went to Orlando for our cousin’s [birthday] . . . My dad, who’s a big fan of Donald Duck, got to shake his tail feathers with them.” 

Receiving Student of the Month was amazing for her. “When the teacher told me I was Student of the Month, I was like, ‘Student of the Month? Yay!’ and I asked if I could use the restroom and I went to tell my mom.” She believes that she might have gotten Student of the Month because of her grades, and turning in her assignments on time.

She enjoys listening to Spanish music and eating different types of Hispanic and Italian foods. She is able to fluently speak both English and Spanish. She travels around once every summer, although with quarantine they have not been able to go any place. Her family likes to often go on road trips for their birthdays. 

Freshman Declan Tess loves participating in escape rooms. As he explains, there are wire connections that correspond to certain shapes, along with boxes that can be opened with a pattern code. He states that he enjoys being able to solve the puzzles thrown at him. (Provided by Declan Tess)

9th Grade: Declan Tess

Unlike the majority of students, freshman Declan Tess finds online distance learning to be an absolute breeze! “School has been kind of easy! Not seeing your friends really sucks, but other than that it’s been pretty nice for me,” he states. “I’d rather finish this school year out online, and then switch to in-person classes next school year.”

When asked as to why he thinks he was chosen for Student of the Month, Tess replies with, “I think I was chosen because I’ve had perfect attendance and good grades. Maybe because I’m pretty interactive in my classes.” As Tess stated, school was quite easy online; it would make sense for his grades to be extremely good. “I feel happy that I was chosen because it makes one feel special. I’m also surprised since I didn’t really know this was a thing.”

Tess loves volleyball, but as there is no boy’s volleyball team at UP, he goes to the Victor Community centre. “It’s a UV thing, but it’s been cancelled for the past two months due to lockdown.” Tess says his interest in volleyball sparked “… in fifth grade when [his] mom randomly signed [him] up for it.” He wishes there was a team he could be on at school. “We tried to find one in other schools but there weren’t any I could join.” 

Outside of school and academics, Tess enjoys participating in escape rooms a lot. “The most recent time I played there were different positions. There are usually themes and built around the themes, you have to solve wire connections and how they connect to shapes….” he explains passionately, showing how much knowledge he has on escape rooms. “There can be boxes you have to open with keys, but you have to figure out the pattern code.” Tess says he enjoys being able to solve the puzzles thrown at him during the rooms. 

Another interest of Tess’ is science, stating it is his favorite subject in school. “I’m looking into being a nurse, specifically an anesthesiologist. I like the medical field, and anesthetists have hard jobs. I think it would be cool to do because you have to measure people and be there in the moment, making sure they don’t wake up. My aunt is in the medical field and she’s a regular nurse working in trauma.” 

“I want to go to South Utah University in Cedar City. I’d like to major in either biology or genetics and minor in drama or acting,” Tess states. He is in the drama class at University Prep and enjoys acting a lot. “It’s good; it feels really easy once you get to learn how to do it.” Tess admits to wanting to hopefully be able to act on stage one day. 

*Correction made 2/27 at 5:53 PM. Clarification about the box was added: “She elaborates, ‘The box is basically a store my parents created with different chips, candy and donuts, etc…’ The chips/tokens are used like money to go into the store, McFarlin states.”

Quote was also changed from, “Reach for the moon and if you land on the stars, that’s okay, because if you reached for the stars, you might not land anywhere.” to “Reach for the stars and if you land on the moon, that’s okay, because if you reached for the moon, you might not land anywhere.”