For a second-grader, Juliette Vazquez has experienced more than most.
Having spent six months in Argentina last year, Juliette proved her maturity in adapting to the hustle and bustle of Buenos Aires, learning a new language and attending an unfamiliar school. Juliette said that while the experience in Argentina was hard, it was one she learned a lot from.
Returning to the United States in December, Juliette quickly resettled herself into life at Fort Washington Elementary. With a passion for reading — Roald Dahl books are a particular favorite — Juliette quickly earned Accelerated Reader points and earned the school's Patriot Reader award.
"She loves to read," her mother Connie said. "You don't have to even ask her, she just grabs the books."
Along with reading, Juliette also enjoys math and language, relishing the tests that happen every Friday as one of her "favorite" things about school.
With a 4.0 GPA, her teacher, Karen Hahesy, described Juliette as a hard working, dedicated student with high expectations.
"She is even aware of what an Ivy League school is and that she wants to go," Hahesy said. "And she'll probably be the type of kid who'd achieve it."
"I really want to go to Harvard," Juliette said. "It has a nice campus, I like the library and it's a great school."
School: Fort Washington Elementary
Parents: Cesar and Connie Vazquez
Mateo Laserna, 7, Visalia
School: Jefferson Elementary (Hanford)
Parents: Jennifer and Gian Marco LaSerna
Achievements: Involved in academics, theatre and sports, Mateo is a well-rounded student in everything he does. Described by his teacher, Eva Gonzalez, as outgoing and charismatic, Mateo often goes "out of his way to make sure he does his best." While excelling across the board, Gonzalez said, Mateo's Spanish has especially flourished throughout the year. Mateo sets a good example for other students and has earned two citizenship awards in the second grade.
Haochen (Felix) Chen, 8, Fresno
School: James Marshall Elementary (Fowler)
Parents: Father Quin Cao Chen and mother Wu Hua Ying
Achievements: Since moving from China at age 5, Haochen, also known as Felix, has made leaps and bounds in his schooling. Unable to speak English on his arrival to the United States, the 8-year-old is now leading the second grade in the Book Adventure online reading program — going beyond the 6,000 points required and instead earning over 20,000 points. Proven by his 4.0 GPA and perfect attendance, Haochen is described by his teacher, Deborah Hearne, as an exceptional and inquisitive student. A dedicated tutor to other students in math and technology, Haochen has used his learning from China and shared it with his classmates. "He's the all-over role model," Hearne said. With his mother not speaking English and his father still living in China, Hearse said Haochen has excelled despite the challenges he has faced in moving to a new country.
Maya Roberts, 7, Fresno
School: Manchester GATE (Fresno)
Parents: David and Jennifer Roberts
Achievements: Described as an outgoing "go-getter" by her teacher, Jill Nakamura, Maya showed initiative and presented the idea of planting trees to the student council. With the council's approval, her classmates helped Maya and her father plant four Valley Oak trees on campus. Maya has a 4.0 GPA, was a finalist in the Peach Blossom Festival, plays violin and takes part in choir, karate and soccer. Her soccer coach, Sean O'Rourke, described Maya as a positive, intelligent young girl who demonstrates care and concern for her teammates.