Hemet and San Jacinto unified school districts honor January Students of the Month

Students from Hemet Unified and San Jacinto Unified school districts are named January 2020 Students of the Month, including Daniel Rojas Hernandez of Alessandro High School, Diana Sagastume of Hemet High School, Michael Palafox of Tahquitz High School, Julia Janeki of West Valley High School, Elisabel Navarro of Mountain Heights Academy and Lisa Luu of San Jacinto High School. Valley News/Courtesy photo

HEMET – Students from Hemet Unified and San Jacinto Unified school districts were recognized as Students of the Month at an awards breakfast Jan. 16, at the Sizzler Restaurant in Hemet. Students were selected from Hemet High School, West Valley High School, Tahquitz High School, Hamilton High School, Alessandro High School, San Jacinto High School and Mountain View High School/Mountain Heights Academy.

Daniel Rojas Hernandez was nominated as Alessandro High School’s Student of the Month. Corey Borden, his advisory teacher, nominated him for his respectful nature and a newfound dedication to his education. Hernandez was behind in credits and was transferred to Alessandro High. Since his enrollment, he has caught up on his credits and will graduate early. He is currently a police Explorer, and through the guidance of Hemet police Officers Reyes and McDonough, he plans to become a police officer after attending Mt. San Jacinto College.

Diana Sagastume was selected as the Hemet High School Student of the Month. Sagastume was recognized by her teachers for always going above and beyond as a student and treating people with kindness. Diana is currently the senior class president, has logged in over 400 hours in the sports medicine program, is a volunteer at her church, is a member of the superintendent’s Student Advisory Council and works part-time at Jack-in-the-Box. She plans to attend a four-year university and pursue a career as a pediatric nurse.

Miguel Palafox was recognized as the Tahquitz High School Student of the Month. Palafox was nominated by his English teacher, Moly Otis Cantu, for being a humble and phenomenal worker. Palafox always tries to help those around him despite his challenging workload, Cantu said. He plans to attend a four-year university to pursue a career in computer science.

Julia Janeki was chosen as West Valley High School’s Student of the Month by her art teacher, Dan Morales, for being involved and committed to her education and future plans. Janeki is currently a Thespian officer and is in art, theater, choir and drama. She plans to attend Mt. San Jacinto College and transfer to a school in Los Angeles to pursue a career as a cinematic makeup artist.

Mountain Heights Academy’s selection for January Student of the Month was Elisabel Navarro, nominated by teacher Sharon Wilson.

“I love this amazing program,” Wilson said as she described Navarro as a “hard worker,” a “warrior” and a “survivor.”

Navarro shared some personal circumstances that began in seventh grade, filling her with anger and disrespect. Her attendance dropped, and her high school credits were very low by 10th grade.

“In January 2018, I started at Mountain Heights, and in 2019 I told myself ‘no more messing around…I’ve got to graduate,’” Navarro said.

Principal Ken Swanson said it was every administrator’s dream to hear that message from a student.

“With her credits restored, Elisabel will be returning to San Jacinto High for her last semester of high school,” Swanson said.

She plans to attend college to enter the medical field and help children with her same story.

Lisa Luu was selected by ASB Director Antoinette Miles as San Jacinto High School’s Student of the Month for January.

“I work with groups of student leaders, usually through all their high school years,” Miles said. “And Lisa has been one of the hardest workers all four years, really developing her individuality from when she started as a freshman.”

Luu described her journey since sixth grade of finding her way through changing gender identity, a path made smoother by a few seniors she met when a freshman.

“They helped me be myself,” Luu said.

Luu initiated the GSA club at San Jacinto High, revising the initials to Gender Sexual Alliance – versus the Gay Straight Alliance – to ensure a safe haven for LGBTQ students.

Principal Courtney Hall said, “Lisa is one of the greatest individuals I know and speaks very graceful in adult ways.”

Luu’s college plans are to study in the medical field to become a hematologist, a new journey that will take many years of medical school, residency – and Luu said she is ready.

Sponsors of the Student of the Month Program donated backpacks filled with gifts, gift certificates, a plaque and much more. The students thanked their families and teachers who have supported them and helped them plan their future life goals. Student of the Month committee congratulated the students, teachers, principals and family members.

Submitted by the Student of the Month Program.