March Students of the Month
April 20, 2021
7th, 8th, 9th
7th Grade: Isabella Kuo
If seventh grader Isabella Kuo were famous, she would want to be famous for painting. “It’s a special skill I have,” says Kuo.
She likes to read and write as well. She is in love with the fantasy genre. “It opens a new world,” she states. One of her favorite books is The Summer of Moonlight Secrets by Danette Haworth. Winning a writing competition in sixth grade meant a lot to her. This was especially meaningful because she did not know English and spoke more Spanish when she was younger, even though she picked it up quickly. Spanish and math are her favorite classes.
In addition to painting and writing, Kuo plays the piano with her mom, who plays the cello. She started playing the piano at around 4 or 5 and she also plays the violin. Her and her mom also watch TV shows together like Hotel Del Luna. She dances in her free time too.
Kuo believes socializing and being with people who make you happy is important. She misses that about regular school: hanging out with her friends. She is still in contact with friends from her old school and has regular Zoom meetings with them and texts them often. She has also gotten to make new friends at UP this year. She would want to come back to campus if things got better.
She wants to get into a good school, like Yale, because her older brother got into a good school as well.
To future seventh graders and prospective Student of the Month winners, she says to focus in school, do well, prepare for tests, and to have healthy social lives.
8th Grade: Nika Lyons
If eighth grader Nika Lyons could be any animal, she would be a cat. “They have a nice life, I’d like to be a cat in a rich family.” When asked what things are most valuable to her, she jokes, “Money. Because Money.” She has two dogs, who her parents brought home randomly one day.
If Lyons could be famous for anything, she would want to be known for inventing something and saving the world. “I’d be a hero for sure,” she says. If she were a talk show host, the first person she would have on would be one of her sisters, “so they could get famous.”
She has three sisters and she is the youngest. They like to all hang out in their front yard after school. She also likes to watch TV with them. Recently, they watched a movie from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise. They also discovered a Death Note musical that they have been enjoying. Lyons likes musicals such as Heathers, Hamilton, and 21 Chump Street.
If she had all the free time in the world, she would like to travel. She is interested in seeing places like France, Rome, Japan, and Iceland.
She was surprised to have found out she won Student of the Month. When asked why she thinks she was selected, she states that she tends to do her work independently and is not disruptive. She advises others to always listen, do their work, and be a good person.
9th Grade: Bindiya Bhangu
Freshman Bindiya Bhangu says if she did not have to work or go to school, she would listen to music all day. Her go-to karaoke song is Dua Lipa’s “Levitating,” or “If It Ain’t Me.” She also recently got into Harry Styles.
However, she still does have to go to school. She is currently in ASB, which has become much harder this year with COVID restricting the fundraisers they would like to do. Her favorite classes are her most challenging ones, like math and biology. She eventually wants to be a doctor and go to Stanford. One of her favorite TV shows is Grey’s Anatomy. If she were famous, she would want to be known for making a huge medical discovery, like maybe the cure for cancer.
Her oldest sibling just applied to medical school. Bhangu is the second youngest out of five. Her siblings have inspired her to work harder, take harder classes, and just be a better person. Family is one of the things most important to her. “I just love being around my family,” she said. After school, she usually hangs out with her siblings in the living room.
One of the most memorable moments of the year for her was Christmas time, when she got to be with her family. “I can’t remember what presents I got,” she says, “I was appreciative for all of them…It wasn’t really about the presents.”
In addition to family, she also really cares about grades. “[One of my proudest moments was in seventh grade when] I got all A pluses, I worked hard to achieve that.”
One of the best pieces of advice given to Bhangu comes from her cousin, who told her to work hard and achieve what you want to achieve before you start enjoying yourself.
Bhangu thinks she was selected for Student of the Month because she is helpful. When her friends need help for science or math homework, she is always available; she also likes to help with eight grade tutoring. She advises others to keep pushing when stuff gets hard.
10th, 11th, 12th
10th Grade: Crystal Hernandez Salazar
Sophomore Crystal Hernandez Salazar grinds to her hardest when it comes to her game. A driven, self-motivated student with a passion for helping people and being successful always knows what to do when it comes to helping others around her and motivating peers and family. “Honestly, I didn’t really think I would be selected for Student of the Month, but I think I was awarded because I keep up on my work and grades and also have been class president of ASB for two years,” says Hernandez Salazar when asked about why she thinks she was selected.
Hernandez Salazar says she is more of a person that gets things done quickly and does not consider herself a procrastinator. “There have been times I even motivated and made my own older sister in her freshman year of college do her work with me,” she says.
Her biggest passions are ASB and Yearbook. “I love being a leader and helping others, I feel like I can accomplish so much successfully. . .” Her hobbies and interests also include photography, “I love photography outside of doing Yearbook and I found a love for it and went with it; I do photos for weddings or baby showers,” she says, “This year was a lot for me being both involved in yearbook and ASB all in itself.” She believes the pandemic and online school has definitely changed her for the better: her work ethic improved after having so much time to herself. Hernandez Salazar says, “I learned how to really manage my time well, so the pandemic helped me categorize my time and continue to have time; this actually also helped me mentally grow as well along with the pandemic.”
Her favorite show is a drama telenovela on Netflix, Who Killed Sara. In her spare time, she also enjoys playing with her doberman/husky dog and taking her dogs on walks to the beach or park. Her dream college is UCLA and she plans on studying in business or real estate. Crystal Hernandez Salazar describes herself as hardworking, determined, and resilient. Her motivation and her kindness pushes other people around her to have the same attitude as her and push themselves to success.
11th Grade: Randy Salazar Divas
Randy Salazar Divas is a junior who is determined to succeed and always has a witty, energetic attitude that is infectious. When asked why he thinks he was chosen for Student of the Month for his junior year, he says, “I think I was chosen because of the hard work I put into doing my work in order to keep my grades up. It makes me feel happy and relieved to see that my effort is acknowledged.”
His secret to maintaining grades? He touches on having to study repeatedly by reviewing concepts that he does not understand and always focus on that material. “I do think I am on top of everything, though there are some things that I may lag behind on,” he says.
His favorite subject is math, “. . .It interests me the most with how complicated it can get. There is a sense of satisfaction, or excitement, when I begin to understand the more complicated things.”
Salazar Divas’ extracurricular clubs include Interact. Due to the pandemic, it has made it a little harder to discover or participate in new clubs, but he looks forward to joining more next year.
After high school, he plans on attending college and has been building his list for his upcoming anticipated senior year. His dream college is MIT or Caltech, because they provide the best education with the career in his best interest of the field.
Every so often, everyone needs a friend in order to see things from a different perspective, “Every now and then I may ask a friend for help in understanding something, but I do most things on my own.”
In 3 adjectives, Randy Salazar Divas describes himself as nice, curious, and dedicated. His interests include video games, sports like MMA or soccer, and technology. “I grew up in Fontana; I lived there until I was 12. I had to repeat first grade because of a certain situation; but from there I ended up doing way better in school, though I always had a small problem with talking during class. School before the pandemic was fun. I was starting to participate more in events and such before the pandemic started. I felt it was easier to learn too,” Salazar Divas says, explaining his school experience and childhood. The pandemic has made him learn to manage his time more efficiently, “Though the pandemic has made me busier with school work after school, I’ve learned how to manage my time better than I did before. I feel a bit more responsible with my work now.” His favorite song is Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin and his favorite anime is One Piece. When asked about who inspires him the most in a teacher, he states Mrs. Faison inspires him to be successful. He looks forward to his senior year and feels prepared to take on the next chapter of his life!
12th Grade: Lauryn Tess
Senior Lauryn Tess can be described by her classmates and teachers as someone who is kind-hearted all the way. She guesses the reason she was picked for Student of the Month would be because she is quite the goody-two-shoes and keeps good standings with all her teachers. “I am quite the procrastinator when it comes to getting work done, though I do get it done in time. So, I am ‘on top of everything’ in that my work will get done and turned in on time; it just may be the hour before its due. . .” Tess comments about her work ethic, she reveals, “I study by reviewing the material step by step ensuring I understand the process. I’m not one for flashcards or other memorization tools as in most cases I can remember the material easily without much additional practice.”
Tess’ favorite subject would either be history or psychology, but her favorite class this year would be government in Mr. Lee’s classroom because it’s less difficult and more interesting. She plans on attending VVC for two years and transferring either to a UC or CSU. Tess participates in MHA, ASL, and is the captain of the color guard team at University Preparatory.
When it comes to describing herself, Tess states she is creative! She started gardening 3 years ago and it is one of her biggest interests that she invests and dedicates a lot of her time to, tending to her own personal garden and plants. When it comes to animals, Tess is adores them, having two dogs and uniquely, two hermit crabs named HurlyBurly and Suspicious. Her creativity flows through finding pet names! Her favorite series to binge on Netflix is Call the Midwife and loves The Hobbit trilogy. One thing Lauren Tess cannot live without is pasta, adding, “I love pasta so much.”
Lauren’s teammates on the colorguard team describe her as someone who always brightens up the room and always helps others, when it comes to work or teaching new flag tricks to her peers. Senior Ethan Bunn and teammate on the colorguard team says, “Lauren is one of the kindest people at University Prep, I will most definitely miss her at school and seeing her.”