7th, 8th, 9th
7th Grade: Yaddira Morales
Seventh grader Yaddira Morales likes to spend as much time with her family as she can. She also likes to focus mainly on schoolwork. When she has extra time left on her hands, she likes to read and ride her bike outside to enjoy the fresh air.
Although she is dedicated to her studies, she also likes to play basketball and volleyball in and outside of school. This year, sadly, she couldn’t make it to tryouts because she didn’t want to risk getting Covid-19. However, she said, “If I had the chance to go to tryouts on safer terms I would have, but there’s always next year.”
When asked if she would join any of the clubs at school, she said she “would pick art because it helps [her] be more creative and it challenges [her] while still being a fun activity.”
When she gets older, Morales wants to eventually become a teacher because she likes to help others learn and understand school topics.
Morales thinks that she was nominated for Student of the Month because she always participates in class and is determined to have good grades. She also thinks she got nominated because all her teachers say that she is always very patient while trying to learn a new lesson in class.
8th Grade: Anugraha Bhatta*
As an eighth grader, Bhatta looks forward to going to high school and finally getting to see what it’s all about. Considering the ongoing pandemic, he feels that it just won’t be as fulfilling to open his computer in order to join class as it would be to walk through the gates on the first day of school. Bhatta likes to think of himself as a simple teenager who spends his time on the popular known apps such as TikTok and Instagram. On these platforms, he likes to share videos, pictures, and quotes on what he believes in as a person.
One of his favorite subjects in school is history, which has led to his love of politics. Bhatta likes to keep himself occupied by catching up on the daily news, which has recently been about the 2020 elections and the new lockdown rules along with a plethora of other news. He said, “I’m really into politics, it’s always been one of my main passions.” He continued, “My whole life I’ve always been intrigued by the dangerous and complex world of politics and would like to major in Political Science and Economy in an out-of-state college.”
Bhatta believes he was nominated because he always finishes his work in and out of class and gets it done either early or fast. He always participates in class assignments and likes asking questions when he feels he needs a sense of direction. Other than that he says, “I honestly don’t know why I got nominated, but I sure was surprised to find out that I won Student of the Month.”
9th Grade: Amaris Esparza
Amaris Esparza was the Student of the Month from the freshman class; she believes she won because of her grades and constant participation in class. Esparza ideally wants to be a professional athlete but has physical therapy on her mind as a back-up career. She wants to get first hand experience with professional athletes. Esparza has been playing sports all her life, recently with 4 sports at the same time: soccer, basketball, cross country, and volleyball.
Esparza has been playing soccer and basketball since she was six years old. “At first my parents made me, but now it’s something I can’t live without. I love it now.” She is currently still playing on a club soccer team.
As well as soccer and basketball, Esparza is in cross country. This past season was her first. “It was just for conditioning because I get to run a lot, but after my first season with the school, I got to run in different places, it was very refreshing.’’ Regarding scholarships, she states she is leaning more towards track and field or basketball.
Her last sport she plays is volleyball. She joined during middle school but it is a slight struggle for her. “It’s hard because I’m short, but I’m working on my jumping skills and it is worth it to hit the ball. It’s just so fun.” She comments, “Usually I would do a recreational team instead of just school, because multiple sports at school is hard.”
When the pandemic hit, Esparza actually felt some relief. “It was relieving to have this year off from sports, it gave me a lot of time to practice skills and do more conditioning. It turned out to be pretty helpful.” She explains further, “Something positive [that came from the quarantine] was my physical health; I think I have a nice body. Also my stamina: I’ve been running a lot and I don’t get so tired easily.”
She states that sports are mandatory in her life, “[They’ve] always been a part of my life, I need [them].”
*Correction made 12/14 at 7:34 AM. Last name corrected from “Bahatta” to “Bhatta”
10th, 11th, 12th
10th Grade: Ivan Isabeles
Sophomore Ivan Isabeles considers himself to be a shy and introverted person. Isabeles came to UP for the smaller environment in his freshman year and was not as socially active as he would have liked to have been. “[It] was hard to get out there, it’s a small school and everyone already had their foundations.” Isabeles is trying to break out of his shell; he is considering joining track or cross country and clubs like GSA.
Isabeles has a 4.0 GPA and many different interests like law, nursing, and psychology. He is even interested in opening a restaurant and wants to work on his culinary skills.
Right now, Isabeles is fluent in two languages and is learning a third. He speaks Spanish and English as they were taught to him from a very young age, but is on his way to knowing Nahuatl, an old Aztec language. Languages fascinate him because he thinks, “languages are how we communicate, how we live, how we think more about ourselves abstractly.’’
Isabeles believes he was nominated for Student of the Month because, “I do what I’m told and I’m told that I am mature for my age.”
Biology teacher Summer Zimmerman comments, “He was always very polite and positive to other students; he enjoyed being challenged. He was a fun student to have in class.”
11th Grade: Olivia Pearson
Moving to new schools can be very challenging for some teenagers, but not for Olivia Pearson. In fact, her transition from Victor Valley Christian to University Preparatory has been smooth. She states, “Although it has been hard to meet new people with the situation right now, teachers and students have been very welcoming.” Pearson has a strong interest in fine arts, playing many musical instruments to pass her time. She states that she wants to be a music composer when she grows up.
When asked about how University Preparatory has helped her reach her goals she states, “My choir teacher, Mr. Lopez, has [gotten] me in contact with an actual music composer and it was a good opportunity that he has given me.” Talking to a music composer has helped her have insight on what to prepare for in the future.
Along with her love for fine arts, Pearson also manages to balance it with school, with her 4.0 GPA really showing it. She states that her favorite subjects are English and History, and also adds that she likes reading in her free time too [along with fine arts]. When asked about her nomination she answers, “To be honest I don’t know why they nominated me… I try to be engaged in classes by answering questions and un-muting my mic, but other than that I don’t know why.”
12th Grade: Janelle White
Janelle White has learned so much during her high school years. All the personal struggles that she has faced has led to her becoming a successful senior. Transitioning from middle school to high school has made her realize the importance of taking initiative. She spends her time with her extracurriculars: journalism and drama. In journalism, she is in charge of multimedia and is also the Co-Editor in Chief. Tying in with taking journalism in high school, she states that she wants to be a broadcast journalist in the future.
Back in in-person learning, she used to stay up to 12 hours at school for drama, but now she spends that time with her sisters, dancing, and going outside if she can.
Just like all seniors this time of year, White also applied to colleges. She has applied to UC Riverside, UC San Diego, UCLA, CSU Long Beach, and many more. The school that she really wants to go to is UC Irvine, because they offer narrative journalism and film production majors- both of which she is interested in.
When asked what her teachers would describe her as she states, “They would describe me as quiet and self-reserved because I don’t really talk in class.” When it came to her nomination, she states, “I actually don’t know, I never participate and unmute to answer questions, but I’m pretty loud when it comes to the chat box. When I do type in the chat box I get the class engaged.”