Standout Students is a celebration of successful students from around Orange County. Do you know a standout student? Contact us.
Mission Viejo’s Halstrom Academy – Class of 2013
Kiana Smith, a senior at Mission Viejo’s Halstrom Academy, will graduate in January, a semester early, with an anticipated grade point average of 4.1. Just three short years ago Kiana was struggling to focus in class due to distractions from her peers. Her parents wanted to see Kiana’s spark for learning return and so began a search for an alternative approach to a traditional school. They found Halstrom Academy’s 1:1 classes and flexible scheduling options to be the answer. She started to soar to new heights, rediscovered the joy of learning and developed a passion for writing and journalism.
When Kiana isn’t taking advanced courses at Halstrom that will help her get accepted into a California University (where she plans to major in psychology and minor in communications with a focus in journalism), she volunteers, acts as student body president, and writes a blog on health and beauty (beautywithkiki.blogspot.com).
Kiana also teaches yoga at Sunrise Mission Viejo Assisted Senior Living, which specializes in helping people with dementia and Alzheimer’s – conditions from which her grandfather suffered before he passed away.
One of Kiana’s most memorable experiences while in high school was the opportunity to attend the National Student Leadership Conference at UC Berkeley. With a PSAT score within the top tenth percentile in the country she was able to attend the conference and pursue her interest in journalism, attending two major league baseball games and interviewing players, Berkeley coaches and Berkeley basketball players.
Kiana is not only an outstanding student but also an exceptional person, inside and out. To learn more about Kiana and her journey at Halstrom visit www.halstromacademy.org/videos.
Santa Margarita Catholic High School – Class of 2016
Jake Lawicki has CHI. That’s character, honesty and integrity – qualities inspired, he says, by his teacher. A sophomore, Jake is a natural leader and an embodiment of the Santa Margarita Catholic High School (SMCHS) “Caritas Christi” spirit. He is a talented artist, a member of the Associated Student Body (ASB) and has been an excellent Model United Nations (MUN) delegate. Jake was chosen to represent SMCHS as a ambassador for the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership, dedicated to helping young people make a difference and become positive catalysts for change – in the home, school, workplace and the community.
Q&A with Jake
Marmalade: How do you balance work/school/home/social life?
Jake: I balance life’s expectations by managing my time. Effective time management in my academics leaves me time to enjoy social events and time with my family.
M: What’s the #1 lesson you’ve learned in high school?
Jake: Never compare yourself to others.
M: What do your parents say about your accomplishments?
Jake: “Set your sights high, do your best, and let God do the rest.”
M: Who do you look up to as a mentor and why?
Jake: My former biology teacher, Mr. Ted Ehrheart. He has instilled in me the value of character, honor, integrity and resilience against adversity – all while spiking my interest in biological science.