Tiaa Bland isn’t one to rest on her laurels.
The 13-year-old maintains good grades at West Fresno Middle School and helps mentor younger students as a member of WEB, which stands for Where Everybody Belongs, said teacher Adelaida Aguirre, who has known Tiaa for the past two years.
“Last year, when I had her for sixth grade, she always took initiative for everything,” Aguirre said. “She always wanted to sign up for everything – she was in so many sports and she still had straight A’s in my class.”
When the principal asked Aguirre for a student to participate in the WEB program, Aguirre immediately thought of Tiaa.
“I thought, ‘I have to nominate Tiaa because she’s such a strong leader,’ ” Aguirre said. “And she was great at that.”
Tiaa has played sports since she was a young girl and is currently in basketball, soccer and volleyball.
But she hasn’t stopped there. Tiaa also is in a group called Women’s Alliance, where young women learn about leadership and community skills.
“Women’s Alliance is a community service group where we go play with the preschoolers, and we help the elementary school kids with their homework and read to them,” Tiaa said. “Once, we went to Poverello House – we made lunches for them.”
When someone was needed to take a leadership role in Women’s Alliance and do a presentation in front of school administrators, Tiaa immediately stepped up, Aguirre said.
“She took on the role. She presented. She made her speech,” Aguirre said. “She did really well. … She’s not afraid to speak in front of people.”
In addition to her academic work and her participation in school athletics, Tiaa was put in charge of coming up with the script for a video about bullying.
“The Bully Awareness video is something the Women’s Alliance came up with and my teacher, Ms. Aguirre, put me in charge with coming up with ideas,” Tiaa said.
The seventh-grader’s favorite subject is math, and she aspires to be a politician when she finishes her education.
School: West Fresno Middle School
Parents: Tony Bland and Joyce Feagin
Achievements: Earned a 4.0 GPA; has a leadership role in Women’s Alliance, a group where young women are selected to learn about community service; is on the basketball, soccer and volleyball teams; is a member of the WEB program, where older students mentor sixth-graders and help them transition from elementary school to middle school; has volunteered at the Poverello House; is in charge of the script for a video on school bullying.
SEVENTH GRADE HONORABLE MENTIONS
Sameera Hussain, 13, Porterville
School: Sequoia Middle School
Parents: Mohammed and Rehana Hussain
Achievements: The only person to win the Tulare County Spelling Bee twice; competed in the Scripps National Spelling Bee two years in a row; has a 4.0 GPA; in the robotics class; also, active in sports, including cross country and track.
Christopher Martens, 13, Visalia
School: Green Acres Middle School
Parents: Irma and Christopher Martens
Achievements: Has a 4.0 GPA; competed in the 2016 Science Olympiad, where he received three first-place wins; qualified to compete in the State Science Olympiad; has had advanced/perfect math scores on state exams; participates in the Student Council; runs yearly in the annual “Race for Hunger” event.
Ethan Pricolo, 13, Fresno
School: Kastner Intermediate School
Parents: Chad and Pam Pricolo
Achievements: Was awarded the “Block L” award for three years at Lincoln Elementary; has achieved High Honor Roll or Principal’s Honor Roll each semester since second grade; achieved a 4.0 GPA his first semester at Kastner Intermediate; accepted into Advanced Science class; earned first place in his event at the county Science Olympiad.
- Age: 13
- School: West Fresno Middle School
- Home: Fresno
- Parents: Tony Bland and Joyce Feagin