Meet the 21st class of Fresno Bee Academic All-Stars, a group of students whose schedules would exhaust any hard-working adult.
They ace their studies, play volleyball or baseball, or excel in the band or on the stage. They give a voice to student government or set a positive example on their campuses. They help feed the poor or steward the planet. All aspire to something bigger – like Tranquillity High graduate Adrian Figueroa, who is headed to UCLA with goals of becoming an immigration lawyer.
Each year since 1996, The Bee has run a springtime program highlighting outstanding achievement by central San Joaquin Valley schoolchildren. Students in grades 1 through 12 are nominated by school leaders and family members and then judged on academic achievement, community involvement and leadership within and outside of school.
The Academic All-Stars Class of 2016 isn't much different than the 20 that precede it: bright students who make a commitment to do well in the classroom, participate in school activities and do good in their community.
Hannah Johnson, development officer for the Valley Children’s Healthcare Foundation and one of this year’s All-Star judges, sums up what reading those nominations is like: “They all have incredible stories.”
Says Jim Boren, The Bee’s executive editor: “Presenting the Academic All-Stars is one of the highlights of the year. We love telling the stories of these outstanding young people. They are role models for all of us, as they go about their days making this a better place to live.
“For more than two decades, we have presented the Academic All-Stars, and their stories today are just as compelling as when we started. Congratulations to this year’s class of All-Stars.”
Correction: The first version of the Academic All-Stars presentation reversed the photographs of the first- and second-grade All-Stars.
- First grade: Holly Weber, Quail Lake Environmental Charter School
- Second grade: Kayla Rose Kandarian, Marshall Elementary
- Third grade: Emily Epperly, Dailey Elementary
- Fourth grade: Amber Chavero, Fremont Elementary
- Fifth grade: Kali Nishimine, Valley Oak Elementary
- Sixth grade: Carter Williams, Fort Washington Elementary
- Seventh grade: Tiaa Bland, West Fresno Middle
- Eighth grade: Rafael Bryant, Computech Middle
- Ninth grade: Ecy King, Clovis West High School
- 10th grade: Andee Poole, Hallmark Charter School
- 11th grade: Chiazo Agina, Sanger High
- 12th grade: Adrian Figueroa, Tranquillity High
- Zara Arboleda, Valley Children’s Healthcare
- Kris Eldred, assistant managing editor, The Bee
- Derek Franks, general manager, Fresno Grizzlies
- Hannah Johnson, development officer, Valley Children’s Hospital Foundation
- Margaret Mims, Fresno County sheriff
- Nancy Price, assistant metro editor, The Bee
- John Rich, managing editor, The Bee
- Tad Weber, metro editor, The Bee
Again this year, grade winners received a family four-pack for a visit to the Fresno Chaffee Zoo, courtesy of the zoo.