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Schools honor their cream of the crop

Pierce juniors and seniors with the highest grade point averages were recognized for their scholastic efforts, despite social distancing regulations. A long standing tradition for Colusa County high schools, in the past, school officials host a formal dinner with the top performing students, their families, and the students’ guests of honor.

“This group of scholars from the Pierce High School Class of 2020 is incredible,” said David Vujovich, principal at Pierce High School. “These Super Six Seniors have been through it all and have shown grit, resilience, and grace.”

Emily Ehrke, is the daughter of David and Jody. Ehrke was Jr. Fair Board vice president, FFA State Degree holder, Executive ASB treasurer, and was on the volleyball, basketball and softball teams all four years. She will be attending Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in the fall majoring in agriculture science. Ehrke chose Lori Foster as her guest of honor.

“The long, hard process of getting to where we are now did not just start in high school, it goes all the way back to our younger years where a little brain can be influenced the most,” said Ehrke. “Having positive ideas, aspirations, and goals constantly thrown around by Mrs. Foster set the foundation for why and how I push myself today.”

Saffa Yafai, is the daughter of Yassmin Alushmali and Mohamed Ahmed. Yafai will be attending UC Davis as an undergraduate and is considering studying biological science with the goal of continuing on to med school. Yafai’s guest of honor was Nicole Arias.

“I’d like to appreciate Ms. Arias for her hard work as my AP Stats teacher,” said Yafai. “I would like to honor her for this amazing effort that’s helped me grow more confident as an AP student.”

Crystal Medina is the daughter of Antonio and Angelina. Medina is UC Berkeley bound to study Environmental Engineering with an emphasis on renewable energy and sustainable development. Medina’s guest of honor was Luke Vanlaningham.

“Mr. Van introduced me to the FFA program,” said Medina. A program that changed my life. It is because of him that I was able to acquire an appreciation for the agriculture industry that surrounds us and develop meaningful relationships and lasting friendships. He soon became a pillar in my life and his belief in me inspired me to forge my own path within the organization and grow as an individual. Words cannot describe how much Mr. Van has impacted my life nor express how grateful I am for all that he has done for me.”

Abigail Mendoza is the daughter of Horacio and Nicole. Mendoza is going on to study aquatic biology at University of California, Santa Barbara, and hopes to become a marine researcher. “I hope to study abroad and become involved in many research projects, with my one main goal of protecting our planet’s oceans.” Mendoza’s guest of honor was Mary Grimmer.

“I invited Mary Grimmer to be my virtual guest because she has been my closest and dearest mentor throughout the years,” said Mendoza. “Being one of Mary’s employees has put me through challenges and taught me many lessons that I will continue to reflect upon in my future. I can’t thank her enough for sticking with me, being the best boss I’ll ever have, and one of the most influential adults in my life.”

Grace Alonso is the daughter of Matt and Ariel. Alonso will be attending Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in the fall and majoring in agriculture communications. Alonso’s guest of honor was Scott Burnum.

“Throughout my years of high school I have been heavily involved in student government. Through it all Mr. Burnum has been by my side helping me with everything that is ASB related,” said Alonso. “Due to my duties as president I have become comfortable speaking amongst a large group of people. I can’t wait for my next adventure but will miss all the people that supported me through high school.”

Alejandro Antonio Centeno Olmedo is the son of Blanca Olmedo.

“The intricacy of the brain is just something that really piqued my interest,” said Centeno Olmedo, who intends to major in neuroscience and behavior at Columbia University. “I am also a person who believes in the importance of understanding other cultures so I plan to study abroad as much as my major will allow.”

Centeno Olmedo’s guest of honor was Merry Hofhenke.

“I chose Mrs. Hofhenke as my guest of honor because she has always been there to help me with whatever I may need. Whenever I needed a place to stay to work on a project, print papers, or even a place to hang out after school, Mrs. Hofhenke was always there,” said Centeno. “I am really grateful for everything that Mrs. Hofhenke has done for me and I owe a lot of my success to her support.”

Social distancing restrictions were overcome when Pierce’s staff delivered dinners to the homes of their students and held a special Google-Meet online ceremony in lieu of the traditional dinner.

“They are truly people who look for the good of others, and that embodies our graduating class,” said Vujovich. “I am extremely proud of them as they are the agents of change that this world needs.”

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