January Students of the Month
February 26, 2021
7th, 8th, 9th
7th Grade: 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.
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.
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.”
10th, 11th, 12th
10th Grade: Angelica Baclig
Holding an accumulative unweighted 3.8 GPA is not typically easy for sophomore Angelica Baclig. Grades are very important to Baclig, as her goal is to do her best academically due to her competitive attitude and wanting to attend college at USC. Though, an unexpected pandemic can make keeping your grades up a bit difficult.
“Well, I’d rather be at school,” Baclig responds when asked about her opinion on distance learning this year. “I don’t like staring at a screen all day. Sometimes my head hurts because the screen itself is so annoying. I cannot!” she exclaims. “Sometimes it’s hard for me to stay on task because I’m at home. It’s better at school.”
Baclig is entangled with lots of school related activities, so when asked about her personal hobbies outside of school, she jokes, “That’s funny, because I really don’t have a life! … I bake sometimes during the weekends… though sometimes it gets taken over by homework. I sew occasionally and I like doing calligraphy.” Baclig smiles, stating, “I want to get into more stuff, but meh.”
She is the activity coordinator for the Seek to Inspire club and a member of ADI and FSA. Beyond school activities, Baclig aspires to ready up an organization of her own entitled ‘Chat For Ages’ where the elderly and young can converse with each other through Zoom. “My mom’s friends own nursing homes… where there are people just laying around and watching TV. Some of them have no one to talk to, so I just thought of the idea.”
Amongst her very passionate dreams, Baclig wishes to get into the dentistry career. “Growing up, I’ve been talked about a lot for my teeth, so going through that makes me want to help people who have experienced that too.” She opened up about her personal reasoning, “I think it’s a fun job! I always talk to my dentist who is actually our family friend. She teaches me a lot.”
“I was surprised to getting picked, actually,” Baclig responds when asked why she thinks she was chosen for January’s Student of the Month. “I think the main reason why is because I give it my all when I do these assignments. I always tell myself, or even people who need advice, to either go in or all out; no inbetween… If I’m highly confused, straight to tutoring I go! I think that’s also one of the reasons… I volunteer to answer a question or present because I think it’s fair to participate…”
11th Grade: Nathan Huynh
Junior Nathan Huynh is always on top of the game when it comes to his assignments and work ethic. Huynh is president of the Asian Diversity Initiative, or ADI, club. When planning fundraisers for his club or getting students involved, Huynh always tries to make things fun for everyone else around him. Friends from middle school like junior Jennifer Tran describe Huynh as silly and sharp and always willing to give everyone else help with whatever they need.
Nathan Huynh has an alumna sister, Briana Huynh, who currently goes to UC Berkeley; he mentions how he has a rivalry with her when it comes to academics. “I kind of look up to my sister, but I also just want to be better than her,” Huynh remarks.
Around February 12th, Huynh looks forward to Chinese New Years with his family, “Yeah, we usually have huge parties but because of the pandemic and Covid, we are just celebrating as a family. We usually eat duck, Cha Lua, and Thit Kho, and celebrate with red envelopes for luck for the New Year.”
Huynh’s plans for college are to major in engineering and his dream school is UC Berkeley or UC San Diego because of the engineering program there. When asked why he was chosen to be Student of the Month, Huynh said, “I honestly really don’t know, maybe because I do my homework early and just get it over with so I can do whatever for the rest of the day. My schedule during quarantine usually looks like this: I wake up, go to my online classes, do my work after school, and after take naps and watch anime. My favorite anime right now is Love is War. My life changed and school life changed a lot with COVID; I used to tutor after school with middle schoolers and I would dedicate my time to playing the cello.”
“I used to be a huge procrastinator though on campus, not doing my homework until late, but online learning has taught me to just get it done,” Huynh says. Huynh makes a comment about some of the teachers and their way of teaching, “Mr. Salazar is an amazing teacher and his teaching skills just work for me. I also love math so it feels logical. Another teacher I enjoy is Mrs. Zimmerman because I tend to pay more attention in her class.”
12th Grade: Zachary Martin
Senior Student of the Month Zachary Martin is a kind-hearted movie fanatic who always brings smiles to all teachers and peers alike. As the eldest of all siblings, Martin finds himself being held accountable a lot. When asked why he thinks he got chosen for Student of the Month, Martin exclaims, “I really can’t figure out why, I just am here.”
During quarantine and online school, some pretty amazing opportunities have opened up for Martin. Martin has made an early decision to University of Redlands to pursue a major in music. His decision was made because of how strong their music program is; he wants to write composition. “I used to want to write film compositions but after quarantine, I picked up a new hobby with playing the guitar and writing a song. I found out how much I like to write music compositions.”
Martin got an amazing opportunity to go to Carnegie Hall in New York in early January of 2020. “I miss that most about school: music and playing. In New York while I was there I just stayed in a room for 7 hours a day with people from all over the world to play a piece and practice. My biggest accomplishment aside from going to Carnegie Hall was being awarded in a music festival in 2019 and playing two solo pieces,” Martin recalls.
When asked about what teacher made the most impact on Martin, he says Mr. O’Rane has been the most influential and helped him with the decision of going to University of Redlands since O’Rane is an alumnus from there. “I’ve been in his class for four years, and the first trumpet section leader for 2 years; he inspires me to pursue music and due to COVID our time was cut short‒but we have been working on some James Bond soundtrack songs together.”
When asked what kind of animal Martin would be, Martin says, “I’d be a jaguar! Just kidding, I suppose maybe a bear, nice but can be tough.” Martin believes in kindness above everything else, “There’s no need to hate anything or anyone else in this world, when kindness unites all people.”