Local students shine in February

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From left, Cesar Coleman from Tahquitz High School, Amy Ramirez Velasco from San Jacinto High School, Johnathan Espana from West Valley High School, Ashley Lopez from Mountain View High School, Olivia Hernandez from Hamilton High School, Aleesa Showalter from Western Center Academy and Brandon Chennault from Hemet High School are named February Students of the Month, Feb. 13 in Hemet. Valley News/San Jacinto Unified School District photo

HEMET – The Hemet/San Jacinto Student of the Month Program honored seven seniors at a breakfast celebration, Feb. 13, at the Sizzler restaurant in Hemet. The program’s mission is to bring the community together to honor and praise local high school seniors for demonstrating character, integrity, love of learning, involvement in school activities, athletics and community service. College or trade school bound students are chosen because of their ability to overcome challenging life circumstances without compromising their education.

San Jacinto Unified School District selected Ashley Lopez from Mountain View High School and Amy Ramirez Velasco from San Jacinto High School. Both were singled out for their willingness to help others.

Hemet Unified School District recognized Olivia Hernandez from Hamilton High, Brandon Chennault from Hemet High, Cesar Coleman from Tahquitz High, Aleesa Showalter from Western Center Academy and Johnathan Espana from West Valley High School.

Showalter and Chennault excel in school, despite having to deal with serious health issues. Hernandez and Coleman haven’t let their hectic sports schedules keep them from succeeding academically, and Espana has shown great leadership qualities as part of his school’s JROTC program.

“The heartbeat of Student of the Month is the student who makes a difference in their home, school and community with sincerity and passion,” Karena Zermeno, program coordinator who heads a committee of about 10 dedicated community leaders, said.

All seven students received backpacks filled with fun items, certificates of recognition, gift cards and much more from community businesses who are program sponsors. Each senior had an opportunity to tell their story and thank their families, teachers and sponsors for the support they have received.

“If we can stand and share our stories, we can help others,” Showalter told the audience at breakfast. “As a freshman, I suffered silently with my symptoms, and when I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, I thought my life was over.”

Teachers who nominated her described Showalter as the epitome of perseverance. She said she decided to push life to the limits and study to become a diabetic pediatrician psychologist.

For more information, visit www.studentofthemonth.net.

Submitted by Karena Zermeno, Hemet/San Jacinto Student of the Month Program.