October Students of the Month

November 18, 2020

In an effort to better engage students, every month teachers will be nominating students for “Student of the Month.” Every grade level will nominate and choose one “Student of the Month” for a total of 6 students who will be recognized each month. 

According to junior Anna Komorita, who is head of the academic committee in high school ASB, the idea was created to increase student participation and motivation in classes.

As part of the nomination process, a Google Form is sent to all teachers every month, and they are asked to nominate one student for each grade level they teach. ASB then places all of the nominations on a new form and teachers are asked to vote on the nominees.

A student can only win once per school year, and winners will be featured on the school website, Instagram, and in the yearbook

7th, 8th, 9th

Photo courtesy of Vanessa Okpala

7th Grade: Vanessa Okpala

Vanessa Okpala was born in Abuja, Nigeria. Despite leaving at one and a half years old, she recalls a little bit about life there. “I remember I had a favorite song. Before I would take a shower, I would jump on the bed and sing the song.” She still has a deep passion for music; she has been playing the violin for 4 years now and intermediate strings is one of her favorite classes. She looks up to the a cappella group Pentatonix, specifically member Kevin Olusola. “[He] plays the cello and makes it seem so easy.” Her other favorite class is science. Okpala stated that she enjoys the crafts and lab work and engineering also interests her. Her goal is to become a gynecologist. She does not know why she was chosen to be Student of the Month. She states, “A teacher told me there was news… I was scared. I thought it was bad news.” She put the pieces together when she saw her name in the UP to Date announcements. Okpala believes that good conduct and perseverance are what it takes to become Student of the Month. When asked what makes a student fit for UP, she stated, “Behavior and discipline. If you don’t have good behavior and discipline, you won’t be able to keep up with your grades.” She hopes to graduate with a high GPA and eventually go to CSUSB and then UC Riverside.

Photo courtesy of Anthony Ludegna.

8th Grade: Anthony Ludegna

Anthony’s favorite food is the Original Charburger from The Habit, and he enjoys editing videos for his older sister in his spare time. He also hopes to eventually start his own YouTube channel. Although he doesn’t consider himself to be a role model, Anthony does gain inspiration from one of his family members. “If I have to be honest, my older sister [inspires me] just because she’s always kind of like perfect with what she does; she’s the one I make videos for and she has me there making videos for her all day, making sure it’s perfect.” According to Anthony, a good role model is “a person who appreciates…things like hard work and does hard work themselves, [and one who] is good and is determined and is persistent with their work.”

9th Grade: Alisa Rajha

Photo courtesy of Alisa Rajha.

Alisa Rajha is a very creative person. She has a very big imagination and likes writing fictional stories. Rahja also loves photography and wants to be either a photographer or a photojournalist. On her instagram page she finds pretty; her observant nature helps her take pictures. She is also a well-rounded student. She is currently in Yearbook, GSA, Seek to Inspire, and Key Club. During class, she works hard, always has her camera on, and unmutes a lot to engage in discussions. She advises other students to participate in class and do their work as well. At first, she didn’t know about the award and when she found out she was very proud of herself. Her cousins are one of her biggest motivators because they graduated with good grades and went to a good school, so she wants to follow in their footsteps. On her Instagram account @little_alisa_photograph, she showcases photos of things she finds pretty. She enjoys writing, and writes fictional stories in her free time.

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10th, 11th, 12th

Photo courtesy of Tamira Lanzon.

10th Grade: Tamira Lanzon

Moving to a different country can be challenging for teenagers who must leave their friends and family behind and start their lives again. Tamira Lanzon had a long journey from the U.K to the U.S in August 2019. She stated, “The flight was pretty long, around 11 and a half hours. I packed a massive suitcase, along with a rucksack, and my family also had a few boxes to move.” Adjusting to her new life was tough for her; she states, “It was pretty difficult [making friends] because of the cultural differences [at Silverado].” In January 2020, Lanzon switched schools from Silverado to University Preparatory, where she connected with the teachers and her classmates. When asked about her nomination, she stated, “I do my classwork on time, but other than that, I’m not sure [why I was nominated.]”


11th Grade: Caitlynn Kelly

Photo courtesy of Caitlynn Kelley

Caitlynn Kelley is fascinated by politics and history, which is what sparked her interest in journalism. She first got into politics at 12 years old in the 2016 elections and would like to pursue journalism or become an intern either for the senator or the United Nations. She thinks she may have inherited her love for politics from her dad. She is even starting an all girls political club because she states she wants to spread awareness on laws and regulations made by men that affect women. She states that she is not scared of the controversy that politics hold and that it makes the subject more interesting and fun for her. Kelley is also secretary for Seek to Inspire and a club officer in Jaguar Tales. Her hobbies include reading, writing, learning different languages, drawing, and listening to music like jazz cultural and music from different time periods. She is excited for college and would like to get into Pomona College because she likes the scenery and the many programs there; she also wouldn’t mind if she got into USC Colleges or colleges in the north east. She would tell her fellow classmates to do what the teacher says and to have no missing assignments. Kelley would also tell them to participate in class and to not cheat in their classes.

Scarlett Price

12th Grade: Leslie Tello

Leslie Tello, like many seniors, is going through the journey of applying to colleges and for scholarships. Her parents have only allowed her to go to colleges and/or universities in California. “I’ve applied for this program called Questbridge, and through that program I’ve applied to Pomona, Stanford, Claremont McKenna, Scripps, and USC,” she stated. Leslie was told she was a Questbridge finalist on October 21, and she will find out if she has won a full scholarship on December 1. Her outstanding work and confidence throughout the years have allowed her to apply to these schools. Leslie was very surprised when she got picked for Student of the Month. “I sometimes speak up in class when everyone is quiet. I know teachers are having a hard time getting students to engage during distance learning, so that may be the reason why,” she remarked when asked about her nomination.


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