First grade: Kyleen Lin, Our Lady of Perpetual Help

The Fresno BeeMay 26, 2012 

Kyleen Lin, 6, enjoys singing and can belt out tunes in three languages. Indonesian songs, she said, are her favorites. But she also sings in English and Chinese.

She sang "Somewhere Out There" from the movie "An American Tail" at Our Lady of Perpetual Help's recent talent show.

Her teacher, Kathy Savino, who nominated Kyleen, said she initially was surprised when Kyleen, who tends to be on the reserved side in class, took the stage.

"She has really taken to going up there, not being the shy one and singing right out," Savino said.

Kyleen also enjoys ice skating, chess, piano lessons and Girl Scouts.

She learned sign language when she was a baby and uses it to communicate with her Indonesian and Chinese grandparents.

She gets straight A's in school, reads fourth-grade books and is already working on multiplication problems, which is advanced for a first-grader.

"I read every day and learn with my dad," she said. "I like math and reading."

Kyleen spends time on the computer looking at websites to make crafts out of boxes and other household items.

She earned a badge in her Daisy Troop -- a younger group of Girl Scouts -- by making a bird's nest from a paper bag and telling younger members how animals live.

"We told them about the animals and ... how the animals take care of themselves," she said.

Kyleen also is eager to help her fellow students.

"She is compassionate and sensitive to how others are doing," Savino said.

Savino said Kyleen is a rare student: "Every few years, you get a student like Kyleen who really has the drive."

Kyleen Lin

Age: 6

School: Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Clovis

Home: Clovis

Parents: Ferry Halim and Silvia Suarly

Achievements: Honor roll; knows sign language; sings in three languages; ballet; ice skating; and piano.


First grade Honorable Mentions

WILLOW BOLTON, 7, Fresno

School: Liddell Elementary School (Central Unified)

Parents: Laura and Jason Bolton

Achievements: Willow reads at a fourth-grade level and understands how to reason on math problem-solving that most children her age don't understand, said her teacher, Jennifer Geiser. "She loves to read and she is far ahead of a lot of kids in the class ... she is really bright, looks out for her classmates and helps where she can." Willow has been in the Girl Scouts as a Daisy for two years; this year, she and her troop decided they would give to the Ronald McDonald House. As a preschooler, she had the female lead in a school musical and memorized her 12 songs and 24 lines before she could read, said her mother, Laura Bolton. She takes ballet/tap lessons and plays T-ball.

KAYLENA STEINER PHAGNASAY, 7, Fresno

School: Dailey Elementary Charter School

Parents: Brandey Steiner and Khet Phet Phagnasay

Achievements: Kaylena is a role model for other students, said her teacher, Tara Buckley. "She is one of my top readers and writers. She is very motivated and helpful to other students," she said. When Kaylena finishes one story, she is always ready to write another, Buckley said. And Kaylena is always among the first students to drive class discussion. "Her strength is to take each concept she is learning (and) connect it to other concepts we have learned," Buckley said. She has received awards for high academic achievement and inquiry. Kaylena is interested in acting and plays flag football and soccer.

CHRISTOPHER MONIS, 8, Fowler

School: Marshall Elementary, Fowler

Parents: Chris and Carla Monis

Achievements: Christopher wants to be a paleontologist. He knows all his dinosaurs and will correct his teacher, Lynn Porter, when she mispronounces their names. "To him, everything is exciting, he loves school and is a voracious reader," Porter said. "He thirsts for knowledge and will go out of his way to make his mom and dad research stuff to help him understand it, but he also has a big heart ... he is a good, well-rounded kid." Because of Christopher's interest in outer space, the class started a unit of work on the universe. Christopher earned the room's citizenship award, is a helper in his room's garden club, and recycles and collects pop tops for the Marjaree Mason Center.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6166 or mbenjamin@fresnobee.com.

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