Sarina Rodriguez of Oasis High School and Savanah Dawkins, Laura Perez Calderon, and Michael Zatlin of Fallbrook High School were honored as the Fallbrook Students of the Month for February at a celebratory breakfast event held Feb. 7 at the Fallbrook Community Center. Students are selected for the honor based on their achievements in academics, community service, peer respect, and leadership.
Dale Mitchell, superintendent of the Fallbrook Union High School District, said at the beginning of the event, “It’s wonderful to celebrate the achievements of our kids.”
The first element of recognition bestowed on each student was an individual medal depicting the Lamp of Knowledge, sponsored by American Legion Post 365, represented by Frank Larkin and Karl Fekete.
Sarina Rodriguez was nominated for the student of the month honor by Oasis High School teacher Heidi Fouret.
“It’s been an honor working with Sarina,” said Fouret. “She is a wonderful young lady who has overcome some struggles and difficulties and been very successful.” Fouret said Rodriguez is a volunteer at both Tri City Hospital and the Operation Hope Shelter.
“I was scared when I started eight months ago [at Oasis High]; I did not think I would be here at an event like this,” said Rodriguez. “I am thankful to be here and want to thank the committee for giving me this opportunity.” She said her intention is to continue her education at a four-year university and ultimately be a counselor for teenagers struggling with chemical dependency.
Savanah Dawkins was selected for the student of the month honor based on the recommendation of Fallbrook High counselor/coach Ken Brower.
“Savanah is gracious, kind, and patient; she exuberates the qualities we want young people to have,” said Brower. “Over the years I’ve gotten to know this remarkable young woman; she opens her mind and is willing to listen,”
“I want to thank the committee and sponsors for this wonderful event, and Mr. Brower,” said Dawkins. “As a water polo and swim coach, he has mentored me.” Dawkins said she plans on attending a four-year university and her first choice is Columbia.
“I’m not exactly sure what I will be major in but it will be in the area of business management and healthcare,” she said.
Laura Perez Calderon was nominated for the student of the month honor by Leslie Trujillo.
“Laura came to Fallbrook High in 2009 from Mexico and didn’t know any English,” explained Trujillo. “She is an inspiration to every student and a well-rounded young lady. She will graduate in four years, whereas other first-time English learners take six years.” Trujillo said Calderon is in the school’s AVID program and wants to attend Cal State University San Marcos and become an elementary school teacher. She also volunteers her time to St. Peter’s Catholic Church.
“I love my family and am proud of my parents for wanting to give us a better life,” said Calderon. “When I arrived here, I met with many differences and had to start a new life. The language was so difficult, but since my first day my goal was to learn English and speak it perfectly.”
Michael Zatlin was named a student of the month based on a nomination from Fallbrook High band instructor Victor Torres.
“I knew when I first met Michael that he was unique and that has been amplified day in and day out,” said Torres. “He will succeed in any situation and he has very strong leadership skills.” Torres said Zatlin has achieved Eagle Scout status and served as Brass Captain in the Warrior Marching Band.
“This is truly an honor; I am very thankful to be recognized,” said Zatlin. “Mr. Torres has been an inspiration to me. I also want to say that my family has taught me to achieve.” Zatlin said his future plans are to attend San Diego State University where he wishes to study computer science.
The Fallbrook Student of the Month breakfast is funded by generous local businesses and organizations, including Major Market, Pedro’s Tacos, Robert P. Mohr D.D.S./M.S., Fallbrook High PTSA, and Sheri’s Flowers. A special gift bag, filled with certificates of recognition from elected officials and gifts from numerous local businesses and organizations, was presented to each honoree.