Austin Haller's reading test scores are at a level of a student about to leave junior high.
Austin, a third-grader at Fremont Elementary School in Fowler, is no mere bookworm. He plays baseball, football, is a peer counselor and has interests in science and writing.
"I just go to school, do my homework, go to baseball practice, eat dinner and then I go straight to bed," he said. "I am pretty busy."
Austin fell in love with writing after submitting a story he wrote about his dad, "The Hero," for the Fresno Saroyan Writing Contest. Austin, who has earned a 4.0 grade-point average since kindergarten, is hard at work on a new story, potentially about dragons, that he plans to enter into the Young Author's Faire for the Fresno County Office of Education.
Besides being part of Science Olympiad at his school, Austin is a nominee for Fremont's Gifted and Talented Education Program. Austin helped his class raise more than $2,300 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society this year for a service-learning project. He also was named Fowler Citizen of the Month for both Fairness and Kindness.
Michelle Kandarian, his third-grade teacher, said Austin wants to become an author and an illustrator. She also said that his love for writing and reading encourages his classmates "to become better writers."
Kandarian said that Austin will be missed as he moves on to fourth grade.
More about Austin
School: Fremont Elementary School
Parents: Sean and Shauna Haller
Achievements: 4.0 GPA; Principal's Honor Roll; Citizen of the Month for Fairness; Citizen of the Month for Kindness; Student of the Month.
Third grade Honorable Mentions
ABHEET SINGH SACHDEVA, 9, Fresno
School: Valley Oak Elementary, Clovis Unified
Parents: Harpreet Singh and Kanwar Sachdeva
Achievements: Abheet is a musician as well as a top-performing student. He plays the tabla, an Indian percussion instrument, and the harmonium, an Indian accordion. He earned Valley Oak's Math Cat for reading three sets of 100 addition through division math facts in four minutes and the Super Math Cat for a similar set of questions, but at a fourth-grade level. He is also a Sparthenian Reader, reading more than 40 books at 80% comprehension or better in the first semester of the academic year. Abheet earned silver and bronze medals in two taekwondo tournaments. He also loves drawing animals and nature. Jacey Domoto, his teacher, said that Abheet "loves being challenged" and "that he works hard regardless of the reward."
CADEE JADE CHRISTIANSEN, 9, Fresno
School: Steinbeck Elementary, Central Unified
Parents: Erilynne and Gerald Christiansen
Achievements: Cadee is a pianist as well as a budding cross country and track star. She participated in the Central Unified cross country meet and came in third against fifth- and sixth-grade boys on the team. Cadee was nominated for the Central Unified Runner of the Year. She also received the Most Valuable Player medal from her girls track team. Central Unified Superintendent Mike Berg recognized Cadee for her perfect scores on her most recent math and language CST-Star tests. She also serves her church by taking meals to families in need, such as the elderly. Christina Gammel, her teacher, said that Cadee is "gracious" and "kind" in the classroom and "is clearly on the path to success."
MATTHEW PACHECO, 10, Fresno
School: Sun Empire Elementary School, Kerman
Parents: Brian and Alena Pacheco
Achievements: Matthew is a student in and out of the classroom. His accolades include the Principal's Award for academics and student of the month. When Matthew isn't at school, he may be found tending to a cow for a dairy project with 4-H. He has shown his cows at the California and Fresno fairs. For fun, Matthew plays basketball for a Kerman youth team. He plays the piano and is learning how to play the violin. Matthew has also volunteered for fundraisers such as Kids Day for Children's Hospital Central California and Future Farmers of America. His teacher, Laurie Sutherland, said that Matthew "excels in everything he does" and "is a remarkable young man."