Johara Ali's love of animals and variety of interests and work outside the classroom fuel her inspiration in class.
Johara learned to ride horses when she was 4 years old. Ever since, she's continued to ride with, and learned to care for, her horse Prince.
"I ride and trot with him," she said of Prince. "I'll also take off the saddle, brush him and give him his bath."
Animals also loom large in her writing and her future career plans. Johara wrote a book for the Fresno County Office of Education's Young Author's Faire about a dog that lost its mother, and she hopes to become a zookeeper.
She also engages in community service. As a Girl Scout, Johara and her troop collected funds and walked for the Muscular Dystrophy Association last April.
She and her mother, Karima, are part of a local chapter of MOMS Club, which helps support stay-at-home mothers while also engaging in service projects for local organizations such as Evangel Home and Fresno Rescue Mission.
Johara's hard work outside of school doesn't distract from her academic responsibilities at River Bluff Elementary in northwest Fresno. Her teacher Deborah Davis noted that she tries to set a good example for her classmates, such as tackling her homework the minute she gets home.
"She stands out as a leader," said Davis, who also nominated Johara. "And helps others to be their best as well."
More about Johara
School: River Bluff Elementary (Central Unified)
Parents: Hussein and Karima Ali
Achievements: 4.0 GPA; collected funds and walked for the Muscular Dystrophy Association; author for Young Author's Faire; collected and donated food to the Fresno Rescue Mission and Evangel Home of Fresno.
Second grade Honorable Mentions
SAVANNAH SEIBEL, 7, Fresno
School: Manchester GATE, Fresno
Parents: Cory and Teresa Seibel
Achievements: Since being diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes during kindergarten, Savannah has worked to be a strong student and educator about the disease while always learning new ways to manage it. She earns A's in class, was a finalist for the Peach Blossom Festival at Fresno State, violinist in the Manchester GATE orchestra, and received the Academic, Citizenship and Exemplary Reader Award during her time at Manchester GATE and Hamilton Elementary schools. "Savannah has inspired us all to live life to the fullest," said her teacher and nominator Jill Nakamura. "She has a gift to make us believe we are all All-Stars."
ELAINE MURRIETTA, 8, Fowler
School: Marshall Elementary, Fowler
Parents: Joaquin and Andrea Murrieta
Achievements: Elaine is focused on working hard not only as a student but also in the community. While holding a 4.0 GPA at Marshall Elementary in Fowler, she also spends her time volunteering for a number of causes. This school year alone, she volunteered 130 hours for the Junior Girl Scouts, working to provide socks for the children of Japan following the tsunami and earthquake, and helped the Fowler Library. She was voted by her teacher and peers to be a pillar of citizenship and received the Gold Medal Readers Award. "She goes above and beyond what is expected of her to do and enjoys the simple task of learning how to do things," said her teacher and nominator, Shannon Fox-Dominguez.
CONOR HUSTEDDE, 8, Fresno
School: Manchester GATE, Fresno
Parents: Nick and Akiko Hustedde
Achievements: Conor embodies a can-do attitude when it comes to hard work. Even as a 4.0 student at Manchester GATE, Conor spends his time working to improve himself in all his ventures, whether it be a school play or a literary submission for the Peach Blossom Festival. After a number of rehearsals to perfect his poem for the festival, Conor was a finalist. He also spends time planting trees with his family for Tree Fresno. When Conor auditioned for a school play and was named runner-up for the main role, he asked politely what he needed to do to improve, said his teacher and nominator Jill Nakamura: "I was surprised to see this kind of responsibility coming from a second-grader."
The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6279, email@example.com or on Twitter @tavlian