Meet The Fresno Bee's 2014 Academic All-Stars

The Fresno BeeMay 30, 2014 

The Fresno Bee's 2014 Academic All-Stars. Top row, from left: first grade, Gianna Manfredo, Quail Lake; second grade, Juliette Ann Vasquez, Fort Washington; third grade, Kyle Derksen, Maple Creek; fourth grade, Lanie Murrieta, Fremont-Fowler. Center row, from left: fifth grade, Nevyn Albert Santillan, Fremont-Fowler; sixth grade, Victoria Sanchez, Eric White-Selma; seventh grade, Trevor Amarante, Sutter-Fowler; eighth grade, Neilabjo Maitra, Edison Computech. Bottom row, from left: ninth grade, Emma Boone, Clovis West; 10th grade, Onkar Sandhu, Clovis North; 11th grade, Madison Meredith, Monache-Porterville; 12th grade, Henry Lee, Clovis West.

DIANA BALDRICA — THE FRESNO BEE

Meet the next generation of doctors, scientists, artists, athletes and, maybe, even a future president.

They're The Bee's 19th class of Academic All-Stars. Looking for a pick-me-up? Read on.

For example, there's Juliette Vasquez, a second-grader at Fort Washington Elementary School in Fresno who posts excellent grades, takes part in music and dance, and volunteers at Fresno Rescue Mission.

"If that's our future, we're in good hands," says Juliette's teacher, Karen Hahesy, who could've been talking about any of the more than 800 central San Joaquin Valley students nominated in this year's competition.

Most captivated our judges: "I found that so many of the nominated youngsters were outstanding," Barbara Van Arnam says. "In fact, all of them were, which is why I took so long to make my decision."

And all are inspiring, judges Neta and David Young say: "It is refreshing and reassuring to see how many outstanding young people there are out there!"

RELATED: Full list of Academic All-Star nominees; download a certificate

Eead a handful of their stories, such as the tale of Nevyn Santillan, the aspiring president who's a fifth-grader at Fremont Elementary in Fowler. "He takes being the president of the United States very seriously," mom Karen Santillan says. "He is always researching laws and different countries and the crises they face daily."

Academic All-Stars combine outstanding schoolwork with extracurricular activity. Clovis West High freshman Emma Marie Boone, a top mathematics student who's also active in drama and band, says the combination is its own reward: "I kind of like having stuff to do. I just keep caught up in everything with school, and I work around it."

Beyond the obvious, there are the intangibles. For instance, here's how Marie Bustinza, a sixth-grade teacher at Eric White Elementary in Selma, describes her newly minted Academic All-Star, Victoria Sanchez: "This young lady is incredibly involved and excels at everything she does. But most importantly, she displays outstanding character all the time."

Monache High principal Richard Smithey on junior Madison Meredith: "Young people like Madison come around once in a blue moon. As an educator, it's very delightful to watch someone like Madison grow."

Tom Culllinan, president and publisher of The Bee, says the Academic All-Stars program is part of an ongoing commitment of recognizing outstanding student achievement in our community. "These students represent the best of an amazing group of young people who excel in the classroom and generously donate their time to important community service projects. We are thrilled to present this year's Academic All-Stars."

And who knows -- maybe our Academic All-Stars will be an inspiration for the next-next generation. Clovis West senior Henry Lee says his mom made it a goal years ago. Henry says, "I just did my best. Thanks to her, I'm here now."

First grade, Gianna Manfredo, Quail Lake Environmental Charter

Second grade, Juliette Ann Vazquez, Fort Washington Elementary

Third grade, Kyle Derksen, Maple Creek Elementary

Fourth grade, Lanie Murrieta, Fremont Elementary-Fowler

Fifth grade, Nevyn Albert Santillan, Fremont Elementary-Fowler

Sixth grade, Victoria Sanchez, Eric White Elementary

Seventh grade, Trevor Amarante, John Sutter Middle

Eighth grade, Neil Maitra, Edison Computech Middle

Ninth grade, Emma Marie Boone, Clovis West High

10th grade, Onkar Sandhu, Clovis North High

11th grade, Madison Meredith, Monache High

12th grade, Henry Lee, Clovis West High

2014 Academic All-Star judges

-- Jim Abrames, chief of the Central Division of the California Highway Patrol

-- Lisa Birrell, communications and public relations officer for the Fresno County Office of Education

-- Lisa Chaney, director of health services for the Fresno County Office of Education

-- Hannah Johnson, marketing and communications manager at the Ronald McDonald House

-- Sudarshan Kapoor, professor emeritus at Fresno State

-- Henry T. Perea, state Assembly member from Fresno

-- Jaime Ramírez, Fresno Pacific University men’s soccer coach

-- John Rich, assistant managing editor/news, The Fresno Bee

-- LisaMarie Slater, Granite Ridge Intermediate School academic block teacher and laptop coordinator

-- Jake A. Soberal, chief executive officer of Bitwise Industries

-- Barbara Van Arnam, artist and president of Gallery 25, one of Fresno’s two major cooperative galleries

-- David Young, retired surgeon, and Neta Young, retired school teacher

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