Class of 2021 Juanita Haugen -
High School Community of Character Awards
Recipients from the Class of 2021 are:
From Amador Valley High School: Luana Yeung, daughter of Peggy and Kenny Yeung. Ellie Sara Huangdaughter of Dennis Huang and Connie Chen.
From Foothill High School: Anastasiya Markova, daughter of Olha and Maksym Markova. Ella Grijalva is the daughter of John and Julie Grijalva.
From Village High School: Isaiah Valderrama and Keyri Fernandez
Luana Yeung is a senior at Amador Valley High School, daughter of Peggy and Kenny Yeung. Luana grew up in a household with immigrant parents, and was fortunate to embrace many cultures. Her mother taught that "being frugal is a virtue”. It was challenging to live in a developed nation that depletes resources excessively; however, she grew to appreciate the opportunity to reuse and repurpose existing resources. She empathizes with those who come from underrepresented backgrounds and struggle to hold their identity.
Regarding the Community of Character values she wrote:
“Self-discipline and respect have been my core values through my advocacy on social justice issues. I empathize with those that come from underrepresented backgrounds and all that are struggling to hold their identity in the ever-changing community around them. I face different challenges every day, and each interaction brings experiences of having to prove myself while staying grounded in humility and justice.”
She started on her path to working on social justice movements, and the Tri-Valley Youth Court gave endless opportunities for volunteers like herself to help offenders take the path of instilling restorative justice principles. She would reassure them that “we, as volunteers, were there to help them, not judge them.” She would continue fighting and advocating from local court nights to statewide initiatives -- including issues such as racial injustice or socioeconomic inequality through Students for Social Change, a nonprofit inspiring more youth civic participation.
At Amador Valley, she was Co-Founder of Students for Social Change, ASB Vice President and Treasurer, an Intern with the Go-Green Initiative, Volunteer Student Coordinator for TEDx events and Student Representative of the AV Green Team, also found time to play tennis and was Team Captain. At the Tri-Valley Youth Court, she was a Volunteer Advocate and Juror. She was a Teacher Assistant at the Yang Fan Academy, helping supervise students, conduct lesson and activity plans and keeping students engaged. She is currently an Assistant Tennis Coach at Lifetime Activities, where she teaches groups of children tennis fundamentals within the community.
Her future plans are to attend a university that holds enhanced global justice and policy research institutes, home to passionate students who share values similar to her interests. She hopes to pursue an education that encompasses both the STEM and humanities learning driven by human connectedness and empathy.
Ellie Sara Huang is a senior at Amador Valley High School. Her parents are Dennis Huang and Connie Chen. Her mom was raised in Taiwan and came to study in the U.S., bringing with her a heritage of kindness. Her dad grew up in New Jersey and loved to run.
Regarding the values, she wrote about Responsibility and Compassion: “It is my responsibility to fulfill my duties with my best effort. When I recall my days volunteering at the senior center, I see that my experience has been more about learning than giving. From assisting seniors, I learned more about who I am and how I can contribute to the community”.
The summer after graduating from Harvest Park Middle School, she began volunteering at the Pleasanton Senior Center. She loved seeing wide smiles and hearing little gasps of delight when seniors heard her call them by their names. For three summers, she volunteered as a technical tutor for the seniors, teaching them how to interact with electronics. She loved working with the seniors, and over time, learned to view the world from different perspectives. When summer ended, she began visiting an 80-year-old Japanese lady who lived alone, teaching her to transform her paintings into digital collages every other Sunday. Ellie hopes that the senior center will be able to extend working hours after the pandemic ends so high school students can assist their elders during the school year.
Ellie also served meals at local shelters—a tradition her family hopes to continue every Christmas Eve. She always felt grateful to contribute to those in need. When shelters stayed closed this past holiday season, she helped her parents deliver much needed food to the local Tri-Valley shelter.
At Amador Valley High School, she was Co-President of the AVHS Science Olympiad Team and President of the AVHS Neuroscience Club. She was also Principal (1st) Flutist for the All-State Symphonic Band, the All-Northern Honor Band, and was a section leader for the Amador Valley Marching Band.
Inspired by her experience working with seniors, she wishes to develop user-friendly devices to help those with disabilities.
Anastasiya Markova is a senior at Foothill High School. Her parents are Olha and Maksym Markova. Anastasiya was born and lived in Ukraine until her family moved to the United States at age eleven. Her parents were always driven and ambitious and wanted to move to provide better opportunities for their children, especially when the invasion of Russian troops became a real threat for the family. It was a challenge to learn English, make friends and adapt to new environments and cultures. This made her a more introspective and adaptable person. She worked hard to move from the ESL program, improving her English to qualify for AP English. She looks up to her driven and kind parents and tries to be as compassionate as they are.
When commenting about the values she made the following statements:
“Responsibility for my actions and thoughts always drives me to be a better person because I know that I am in charge of becoming a better version of myself everyday”.
“Compassion is the quality I try to work on the most, because it is the quality that I see others often forget about. Moving from place to place, I saw different types of lifestyles and perspectives on the world which opened my eyes to different struggles people go through. I try my best to be grateful for my life, kind to others and remember that everyone has a unique story.”
Through Peer Advocates, she was able to support students on campus and respect the struggles her peers encounter.
She was president of “Technovation Girls” club at FHS where she coded a stress and anxiety relief app, on the PTownLife staff, Peer Advocates leader, councilmember of the Student Interdistrict Action Council, an intern for Student Conservation Association, supervised kids at the Dublin and Pleasanton Rec Department Summer Camps as a volunteer leader, cabin counselor at New Horizons Outdoor School and networked with females in STEM through the Built by Girls Mentorship program.
As someone interested in technology and entrepreneurship, she hopes to join organizations, take classes, and intern at businesses related to groundbreaking technology in mental health and cognition.
Ella Grijalva is a senior at Foothill High School. Her parents are John and Julie Grijalva.
She comes from a very close family with a huge extended family. So much of who she is today
has come from how she was raised and the incredible role models that she looks up to in her
family. She has her family to thank for inspiring her to make a difference in the community.
Regarding the values, she wrote about Respect and Compassion:
“I am inspired by the Special Olympics athletes’ hard work and dedication. The athletes have
taught me to be respectful of all differences and to have compassion for all people. My favorite
volunteer position with the Special Olympics is being a team escort. Connecting and building
friendships with the athletes has been the most valuable part of the experience for me. These
friendships always remind me of the importance of respect, compassion and acceptance,
regardless of ability or disability. “
Through National Charity League for the past six years, she has volunteered with many
philanthropies. She has been volunteering for Special Olympics since 6 th grade and has helped
host Zoom dance parties for the Special Olympics athletes. She has volunteered with
Recreation for Adults with Developmental Disabilities (RADD) and formed many friendships
with the RADD members and was asked to help coach their volleyball Special Olympics team.
As a volunteer for Sunflower Hill, she helped with their fundraisers and was in their summer
internship program. She has also volunteered for Foster a Dream, Juvenile Diabetes,
Pleasanton Senior Center, Meals on Wheels, March of Dimes, Valley Humane Society, American
Cancer Society, Open Heart Kitchen, Valley Children’s Museum and many others.
At Foothill, she is a three-time team captain on the Tennis Team and received several awards,
including Scholar Athlete, Rookie of the Year and the Foothill Falcon Award. She has also
been on the Foothill School Site Council for three years.
Her leadership and volunteer experiences greatly influenced her to apply to the Leadership
and Community Engagement major in CU Boulder’s School of Education where she will study
Isaiah had a difficult childhood and a rough start at Village. He entered Village as a junior with many challenges in front of him and a tough road ahead. In a short amount of time, he has proven that he is hard working, friendly, responsible, respectful, smart and an amazing young man. In every class he attended he has always been cordial and respectful. He has been upfront in everything he has done this year. He has surely demonstrated his character quality of Integrity. His teachers are impressed with his ability to communicate his ideas in a way that is instantly relatable to his peers, proud of how he rises to every challenge put in front of him. Isaiah is extremely respectful and kind, he gives constant encouragement to fellow students and staff, he is hard working and he overcomes every obstacle put in front of him.
Keyri has overcome so many obstacles since she started with us her freshman year. She has combated poor attendance, a negative attitude toward school and issues with her peers. Since her junior year at Village, Keyri has made an incredible turn around and has been an inspiration to so many. She is determined to prove that she can do it all, mom, student, career woman, sister, daughter, partner. She is hard working, respectful, gracious and resilient. Keyri is a great participant in class, goes above and beyond to have her voice heard, adds an important and mature perspective to every conversation and is relatable for her peers. She changed completely over the years here to be very mature, hard working, and dedicated to the school and her peers. By the time she graduated she was turning in very high quality work and showed she will be very successful after village.