Monica Rubio of Ivy High School and Alejandro Estrada, Aimee Steen, and Amanda Williams of Fallbrook High School were honored as Students of the Month for the Fallbrook Union High School District (FUHSD) at a special recognition breakfast held May 1 at the Fallbrook Community Center.
To be selected as a Student of the Month, the individuals must be respected by their peers, have outstanding behavior, significant academic achievements, and community volunteerism.
“It’s a pleasure to be here this morning and celebrate the accomplishments of these four students,” said Dale Mitchell, Ed.D., superintendent of FUHSD.
Monica Rubio was nominated for the honor by Ivy High principal Melissa Marovich and teacher Amie Macbeth. Marovich and teacher Kelly Walker talked about Rubio’s accomplishments as Macbeth was unable to attend.
“Monica has amazing strength; she smiles every day and has perseverance,” said Marovich, who explained to the audience that although Rubio had been abandoned by her parents, she continued to attend school and make alternate living arrangements. “Her parents did not take care of her and left her, but she has stayed with different friends and continued to go to school. You could say she has chosen a ‘new’ family for herself.” Walker added, “Monica is so resilient; she is “gold,” she’s going on to college.”
When invited to the podium, Rubio thanked her large support team of friends sincerely and said, “I respect all of them and appreciate everything that everyone has done for me. I have come a long way and overcome obstacles with the help of all the people here with me today.” Rubio said she plans on going on to community college for two years and then transfer to a four-year university. “Working with kids is my long-term goal,” she said.
Alejandro Estrada was nominated for the student of the month honor by Fallbrook High teacher Kate Paragone, who works in the school’s Asperger Center.
“Alejandro is a shining star on campus who has taken a special interest in one of my students in the Asperger program,” said Paragone. “Alejandro is very encouraging to him and takes him for walks to talk with him. His heart is bigger than the Grand Canyon.” Paragone went on to explain that Estrada is a well-known athlete who plays football and rugby. “He told me that in the future he wants to obtain his degree in psychology or criminal justice.”
Estrada said, “It’s a great feeling standing up here receiving this award. It’s really great to know that the community cares about its students. I just want to say thank you to everybody, the sponsors, and Ms. Paragone.”
Aimee Steen was recommended for the honor by Fallbrook High English teacher Connie Fellios.
“Aimee is mature and wise beyond her years; a natural leader in all areas,” said Fellios, adding that Steen’s grade point average is between 4.3 and 4.4. “She has successfully balanced a year-round Advanced Placement (AP) schedule, sports, and community service.” Fellios said Steen had been on the school’s academic team for two years and also competed in academic decathlons in addition to participating on the swim team, which she also served as captain of for three years. A member of National Charity League, Steen has volunteered over 200 hours to various community causes over her high school years.
“I am really so honored to be awarded this distinction today,” said Steen. “I want to thank the [student of the month] committee and the sponsors. I really consider myself blessed to have an amazing family. I also appreciate how loving and supportive this community is.” Steen said she will attend University of San Diego and study biology with a pre-med emphasis.
Amanda Williams was also honored as a student of the month at the recommendation of Fellios.
“Amanda is an exuberant young lady with strong moral standards,” said Fellios. “I admire who she is; she is refreshingly wholesome and unassuming. She is very athletic, academic, and genuine as well as articulate and competent.” Fellios told the audience that Williams had overcome being bullied over most of her elementary school years as well as having a learning disability.
“She has learned how to cope very well and has made her experiences work positively for her in the long run,” said Fellios. “She does not allow challenges to defeat her.”
Described as an exceptional three-sport athlete who has achieved most valuable status in water polo, swimming, and volleyball, Williams also volunteers her time to her church and at homeless shelters.
“I know that we are here to honor me and the other three students but I think we should honor all the people that brought us here,” said Williams. “First, God. He has blessed me with so many things. Mrs. Fellios is amazing and has always been there for me. I want to also thank my parents for being so supportive. They are the most loving parents ever.” Williams has committed to attend Cal Baptist University where she will play water polo.
The first award presented to each student was the Lamp of Knowledge medal, sponsored by American Legion Post 365 and presented by Karl Fekete. In addition, the students received many certificates of recognition and gifts from local organizations and businesses for their accomplishments.
The Fallbrook Student of the Month breakfast is funded by generous local businesses and organizations, including Major Market, Pedro’s Tacos, Fallbrook PTSA, Law Offices of Faunce, Singer & Oatman, Fallbrook Vintage Car Club, Fallbrook Republican Women Federated, Friends of Frank Larkin, and Sheri’s Flowers.
To nominate an FUHSD high school student for this honor, email firstname.lastname@example.org.