Academic All-Stars

Fourth grade: Marlee Rutowicz, Dailey Elementary Charter School

Marlee Rutowicz shies away from the spotlight, but at just 10 years old her way shines through.
Marlee Rutowicz shies away from the spotlight, but at just 10 years old her way shines through.

Marlee Rutowicz of Dailey Elementary Charter School humbly shies away from the spotlight, but at just 10 years old her way shines through.

Her biggest accomplishment is being elected into the student senate. Her mother, Heather Rutowicz, says Marlee “always wants to be a leader, but doesn’t want the spotlight.” She is used to putting in the work and making others look good. However, her position has pushed Marlee out of the background and allowed her to be the face of her earned achievements.

Marlee consistently does the right thing. “It’s the way that she lives her life,” says her fourth-grade teacher Jill Daigle, that makes Marlee a role model. She has been spotted selling Smencils (scented pencils made of recycled newspapers) during recess to raise funds for her school. Marlee, who has been awarded the Super Dragon Award for showing empathy, wipes down computers as a member of the Technology Clean Up Crew.

When a new girl from France, who spoke only French at the time, arrived at her classroom, Marlee befriended her. Daigle says that by the end of the year the foreign student could speak English, and she recognizes Marlee for helping out.

Marlee has taken no shortcuts to earning her 4.0 GPA, being a pianist and a tennis player. Daigle says the girl “takes her everyday learning and extends that into her life.” She recalls teaching her about the California Gold Rush, and Marlee took her education one step further by asking her parents to take her to Sutter’s Fort in Sacramento.

“She has the desire to be the best,” says her mother.


Age: 10

School: Dailey Elementary Charter, Fresno

Home: Fresno

Parent: John and Heather Rutowicz

Achievements: 4.0 GPA, Student Council Historian (2015-16); Student Senate (2016-17); classroom Peace Day poetry winner; initiator of school-wide service project for Ronald McDonald House; Super Dragon Award for showing empathy; school fundraising, such as selling Smencils during recess; Technology Clean Up Crew.

Honorable mention

ETHAN PHAM, 10, Fresno

School: Quail Lake Environmental Charter (Sanger Unified)

Parents: Yen and Anhthy Pham

Achievements: Ethan maintains a 4.0 grade point average and was his school’s lone representative in Fresno County History Day. He volunteers at the Community Food Bank; plays chess, swims and kayaks; and is activer in Boy Scouts.


School: Fremont Elementary

Parents: Robert and Kim Crow

Achievements: Along with perfect attendance for the last four years, Courtney has a 3.8 grade point average. She fills about 150 bags with foodstuffs for homeless people every month, and is active in the Our Lady of Fatima Church in Laton.