Danielle PachecoSchool: Kerman Middle School (Kerman Unified)
Parents: Brian and Alena Pacheco
Achievements: 4.8 GPA; President's Volunteer Service Award, president of Kerman 4-H, president of Kerman's California Junior Scholarship Federation, Student Council vice president, altar server for St. Patrick's Church.
Don't tell Danielle Pacheco that an eight-grader can't break school records. She'll prove you wrong.
The 13-year-old girl was determined to break barriers and became Kerman Middle School's first student to receive a medal for the President's Volunteer Service Award. This year, Danielle set herself a goal to provide 150 hours of community service. As president of Kerman 4-H, she combines her love of animals and volunteers with ASPCA to help nurture abandoned animals.
"Whenever I see an abused animal it really makes me feel good to help ... just by providing them with a warm place to stay, you could see how grateful the animals are," Danielle said.
Along with community service and maintaining her 4.8 GPA, she serves as president of Kerman's California Junior Scholarship Federation, Student Council vice president and also is an altar server for St. Patrick's Church. She has a long list of achievements, including Principal's Award, Student of the Month, and serves as the safe school ambassador.
"She has such a positive attitude and motivates other kids to do better," science teacher Pangkau Vang said.
Danielle has only been playing tennis for two years and she's already a promising athlete winning second place in girl's singles league tennis.
But she dreams to one day play another sport in college, one that she has been playing since the first grade -- basketball.
"I like how basketball teaches me how to focus, to stay motivated, to work hard and never give up," Danielle said.
Danielle spends her free time playing piano, guitar, drums and is learning to play the violin.
"The guitar is my favorite, I like how pretty and graceful it sounds," she said.
Honorable mentionEmma Marie Boone, 14, Fresno
School: Kastner Intermediate School (Clovis Unified)
Parents: Karen M. and Stanley Boone
Achievements: Perhaps more impressive than Emma's 4.0 GPA while taking the most rigorous course load possible in both seventh and eighth grade is the fact that she was awarded Outstanding Brass Performance in Jazz by the Fresno-Madera Counties Music Educators Association. Emma has taken her middle school experience to the next level by forming with numerous organizations including the symphonic band, the jazz band, the Thunderbird Chorale, FMCMEA honor choir and honor jazz band. Emma serves as the student director for the school choir and was cast in the lead for Kastner's production of "Guys and Dolls." She also excels outside of the music arena. Her accolades include the Thunderbird Award and the principal's medallion for academics. She's also a science Olympiad team member and volunteers her time as an academic tutor. Emma "goes above and beyond inside and outside the classroom, consistently looking for ways to challenge herself," learning director Tachua Vue said.
Sarahi Nunez, 13, Kerman
School: Kerman Middle School (Kerman Unified)
Parents: Mario and Zuleyka Nunez
Achievements: Sarahi is thirsty for knowledge and has a 4.57 GPA to prove it. She is ranked No. 1 in her class, mastering the most rigorous curriculum by taking four honors classes offered at her school. She serves as treasurer and secretary of the Student Council and is also treasurer of the school's California Junior Scholarship Federation club. On top of her busy academic schedule, she plays tennis and softball and has perfect attendance. Her quest for knowledge carries beyond the classroom. She serves as the eighth grade representative on the school site council and helps lead many community service committees including Valentines for Veterans, Valentine Grams, Pennies for Patients, Halloween Grams, Red Ribbon Week Activities, and Kids Day for Children's Hospital. Her motto: "I really enjoy helping others." DeEtta Gallagher, her teacher, said that Sarahi has "a positive attitude and a strong desire to help others."
Jade Contreras, 13, Kingsburg
School: Clay Joint Elementary School, Kingsburg
Parent: Eve Prinz
Achievements: Academics and citizenship are important to Jade, who carries a 3.8 GPA while playing volleyball, basketball, soccer and softball at school. She was selected by the kindergarten teacher to tutor and help kindergarten and first-graders with their class work. Jade, a Spelling Bee finalist, plays infield in the city softball league. But sports aren't her only passion. This year she is performing in "Charlotte's Web," which will be her fifth consecutive drama performance for the Clay School Drama Club. Despite her busy schedule, she always finds time to attend two Bible study groups and attends church camp. Jade participates in a long list of events, including the annual Kingsburg Covenant Church Volunteer Day and helping kids at the Awana Club, a weekly church youth group.