Academic All-Stars

May 30, 2014

Third grade, Kyle Derksen, Maple Creek Elementary

Kyle Derksen wants to be a pianist or a writer when he grows up, and he is well on his way.

Kyle Derksen wants to be a pianist or a writer when he grows up, and he is well on his way.

In addition to getting outstanding marks in Gary Kliewer's third-grade class at Maple Creek Elementary School, Kyle can be found at after-school piano lessons with Kliewer or writing book reviews and short stories for

"My parents started the website when I was little," Kyle said. "I like to write adventure stories and whatever comes to my mind."

Kliewer described Kyle as a top student. "He is one of those students who stands above the rest — not only in his character and the way he treats others, but he is just as smart as a whip. It is a challenge for us to keep him challenged."

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

Kyle participated last summer in the Kids Invent summer camp at California State University, Fresno. He learned about math and science while building rockets and battery-operated cars.

Kyle is also an accomplished athlete. He participates in soccer, karate, T-ball and tennis. He is also an active member in the Awana children's ministry at Riverpark Bible Church in Fresno.

The multitalented 9-year-old also films Maple Creek Elementary's morning announcements and creates short films for his website.

Kliewer says Kyle "is humble in spirit, yet soars both creatively and academically."


Age: 9

School: Maple Creek Elementary

Home: Fresno

Parents: Phil and Cori Derksen


Hannah Gill, 8, Fresno

School: John C. Fremont Elementary, Fowler Unified

Parents: Deeds and Deepi Gill

Achievements: Hannah's quest for knowledge extends beyond Curt Moore's third grade class, where she earned a 4.0 GPA. In her free time, she studies subjects beyond the scope of her class and is taking classes at a local Sikh temple to learn to read and write Punjabi.

" Hannah also collects coats for homeless and foster children every winter, raises funds for Fresno's Community Food Bank each Thanksgiving and has donated food the Evangel Home women's shelter. Hannah's goodwill also extends back to her family's native India, where her grandfather distributes the clothing and money she raises each year.

Colin Manfredo, 9, Clovis

School: Quail Lake Environmental Charter, Sanger Unified

Parents: Jeff and Jill Manfredo

Achievements: Colin's third-grade teacher, Marcia Graham, said, "Colin is one of the coolest kids you'll ever know and is well-liked by his peers." Among his activities are various sports, the Chess Club, Science Olympiad and sending gifts at Christmas to children of impoverished countries. According to Graham, Colin has received every academic award possible for his grade level and earned a 4.0 GPA.

Kali Nishimine, 9, Fresno

School: Valley Oak Elementary, Clovis Unified

Parents: Sophia and Dee Nishimine

Achievements: Kali Nishimine lets her actions speak for her. Teacher Jacey Domoto described her straight-A student as "quiet and respectful," but not even Kali can keep her list of achievements quiet. Kali spent time after school researching advanced subjects in Valley Oak's Exceptional Capable Learner's club. She has been named a student of character each year, and she is active with Girl Scouts. The most impressive of her achievements revolve around her passion for dance and cheer. She won numerous local awards and took first place at the Kids Artistic Review National Dance Competition in 2013. Despite her busy schedule, Kali always finds time to help her classmates. "You can always count on Kali to help a student read, write, compute or edit their Power Point projects," Domoto said.

2014 Academic All-Stars

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

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