(Local Students Shine)
The Hemet/San Jacinto Student of the Month Program honored seven seniors at a breakfast celebration on 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. 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.
Aleesa and Brandon excel in school despite having to deal with serious health issues. Olivia and Cesar haven’t let their hectic sports schedules keep them from succeeding academically and Johnathan 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,” said program coordinator Karena Zermeno, who heads a committee of about 10 dedicated community leaders.
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,” Aleesa Showalter told the audience. “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 Aleesa as the epitome of perseverance. She has decided to push life to the limits and study to become a Diabetic Pediatrician Psychologist.
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