The “D” words – dedication, determination and drive – were used repeatedly at the Fallbrook Community Center April 6 when educators saluted Joe Bishop, April Paulson, and Sommer Phan of Fallbrook Union High School and Daysee Magana of Oasis High School as the Students of the Month for April.
Emcee Greg Coppock hosted the celebratory breakfast in which community members and sponsors learned of some remarkable young people who call Fallbrook home.
English teacher and AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) staff coordinator Connie Fellios nominated Phan, the first runner-up for Senior Girl of the Year at Fallbrook High and the first student to be recognized at the awards breakfast.
“Sommer is a courageous young lady of high morals, determination and effective leadership qualities,” said Fellios. “She’s our AVID senior standout 2017 student at Fallbrook High School.”
Fellios went on to describe Phan as “an intelligent, diligent student” who has achieved an impressive 4.38 GPA (ranking in the top five percent of the senior class) while taking “a rigorous academic load of advance placement courses.”
“Sommer has always demonstrated significant qualities of scholarship and leadership, a strong sense of tolerance and open-mindedness, responsibility and insightfulness, and cooperation with all,” said Fellios.
Phan, who writes for the school newspaper and participates on academic teams, also volunteers with the link crew (a program that mentors and supports underclassman) and at REINS (the therapeutic horsemanship program for children with disabilities).
Phan – like all of the honorees – graciously thanked the Student of the Month committee, community members and family and friends. She also thanked Fellios and history teacher Kevin Roberts, who was also in attendance.
“As far as my future goes, I am currently choosing between UC Santa Barbara and the University of San Francisco,” said Phan, who then drew laughter from the crowd with her next statements. “I will be majoring in history. I’m not sure exactly what I will do with a history major, but I plan on figuring it out.”
Special education teacher Paula Kuhn nominated Bishop and revealed an amazing stat about the young man.
“Joe’s a rarity,” said Khun. “He’s a gem in that he has had perfect attendance at Fallbrook High School his freshman year, sophomore year, junior year and now senior year.”
The perfect attendance record drew a round of applause for Bishop, who as a kicker on the Fallbrook football team earned recognition during his junior year when he made nearly all of his extra point attempts. Kuhn said Bishop also excels in the classroom.
“Joe’s determination and perseverance these four years have put him on the principal’s Warrior honor role with a 4.0 GPA,” said Khun. “His character and demeanor are an asset to all of our programs. Joe is loyal, considerate, kind and trustworthy.”
Bishop, who served his school by being part of the safe school ambassador and conflict mediation programs, is also a member of the Fallbrook fire explorers.
“I would very much like to be a firefighter/paramedic in this area,” said Bishop. “This would allow me to be part of a close team and to help people, which is something I really enjoy. I can’t think of a better way to give back to this community that has treated me so well.”
Bishop said he plans to attend Palomar College and earn a degree in fire technology.
Paulson, who will attend Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky, on a field hockey scholarship, was nominated for the Student of the Month award by Fallbrook High field hockey coach and physical education teacher Melissa Maultsby. Maultsby was with Paulson when she received the news that Bellarmine was offering a scholarship.
“As a coach and as a teacher, being a part of that dream and seeing one of your student’s dreams come true is just something that I will forever remember and forever be a part of,” said Maultsby, who described Paulson’s reaction of unbridled joy upon learning that Bellarmine – the school she desperately wanted to attend – wanted her.
Maultsby added that there is more to Paulson than sports.
“Besides her athletic ability, she is an outstanding student, an outstanding kid,” said Maultsby. “She works very closely with some of my special education students. I remember one day she attended our class and we just danced. And she danced with every single one of them and it put such a light on their faces knowing that one of the popular kids noticed them and wanted to dance with them and wanted to hang out with them. That’s something that they really cherish and they really enjoy.”
Paulson credited her parents and Fallbrook for helping her gain success.
“I want to thank my parents for keeping me grounded and focused on my goals and for encouraging me to continue my hard work even if I am too tired to do it,” said Paulson. “They always told me to enjoy high school and live it to the fullest, whether it’s academic, athletic, or just by having fun. So I carried those words with me throughout my high school career.
“Another influence in my life has been the community of Fallbrook,” continued Paulson. “It’s held me accountable because of the many people I know who have watched me grow and given me words of encouragement, and I would never want to let them down.”
Paulson, who plans to major in education with an emphasis on learning and behavioral disabilities, also thanked Maultsby.
“Coach Mel has been very instrumental in my life,” said Paulson. “She has helped with field hockey and has coached me through many life situations – lots of them. Coach Mel is the person I can talk to whether I’m having the best day or the worst day and by the end of our conversation, we’re always laughing. Not only is she an amazing coach, but one of my best friends.”
Oasis High teacher Bennielyn Verrett nominated Magana, who has managed her independent studies while simultaneously working for her family’s beekeeping business and earning multiple awards through her participation in Fallbrook High’s FFA program.
“I nominated Daysee because of her drive, her dedication,” said Verrett. “She has a lot on her plate. She has 84 hives that she has to take care of and that’s in addition to FFA, which requires time spent after school hours and after the school year. Yet, she still gets all her work done at Oasis High School.”
Verrett said that no matter how tired Magana may be from travel or work related to her agricultural activities, she always battles through the fatigue to get the job done.
“I noticed her struggle, but did she ever give up?” asked Verrett. “No, because she has the drive and determination to finish everything well. She has that drive to keep learning, and I think it is a fantastic quality in a person.”
Verrett read off a laundry list of awards Magana has earned through FFA, including “the highest honor for a high school student – a State FFA Degree for 2017.” Verrett added that Magana was “a delight to have as a student.”
“She’s always happy,” said Verrett of Magana. “She’s also compassionate. She has the ability to see the good in everything and in everyone. I have not heard her complain. She’ll say, ‘it’s hard, but it’s all good.'”
Magana thanked Verrett and informed the audience of her plans to attend MiraCosta College and to major in plant science and pest management.
“A future goal of mine is to open a business here in Fallbrook, a pest control management business,” said Magana. “I’d like to help the community of Fallbrook with their avocado groves or citrus groves and set out to help their crop production. I’d also like to help my parents’ beekeeping business.”
Very ambitious goals but not surprising for a Student of the Month.