Modesto Mayor Garrad Marsh has named 27 students as Top Teens. The program honors teens who demonstrate a strong commitment to serving others, have overcome adversity or unique obstacles in life, achieved a significant accomplishment, or serve as positive role models for their peers.
They are: Alexis Dye, junior, Modesto High; Amanda Hebert, senior, Central Catholic High; Amanda Reth, junior, Enochs High; Austin Butler, sophomore, Big Valley Christian High; Austin Grant, senior, Enochs; Blaine Bockhahn, junior, Central Catholic; Brianna Plummer, senior, Enochs; Brinn Abbate, senior, Central Catholic; Cap Damrell, graduate, Modesto; Cassie Aiello, senior, Central Catholic; Marie-Christi Candido, senior, Modesto; Daniel White, sophomore, Central Catholic; Derek Spieker, graduate, Johansen; Erik Jimenez, senior, Johansen; Haylee Osgood, freshman, Downey High; Jacob Marsh, junior, Enochs; John Mundt, senior, Central Catholic; Johnathan Dallas, senior, Modesto; Joseph Alvarez, senior, Gregori High; Katherine Dunn, senior, Central Catholic; Kristin Gazallo, junior, Modesto Virtual Academy-Gregori; Lauren Case, senior, Enochs; Leonardo Yalung, senior, Central Catholic; Nick Huber, junior, Central Catholic; Oscar Diaz, senior, Enochs; Sydney Smith, senior, Gregori; and Violet Tylock, senior, Johansen.
The following are excerpts from biographies used in selecting the honorees. Thirteen of the students are featured today; the other 14 were featured in last week's Buzzz:
John Mundt, senior, Central Catholic High School
John is an honor student who has a genuine interest in making a difference by helping those less fortunate. He has volunteered every year for the Christmas Basket and Adopt-a-Family Programs at CCHS. John works with youth at athletic clinics and spiritual retreats, and especially with disabled children. He organized a fund-raiser to buy school shoes for children in need, and was successful in raising more than $6,000. He made arrangements with a local shoe store, which generously extended discounts for the event.
Alexis Dye, junior, Modesto
Lexie has been a violinist since first grade. That's when she received her first prosthetic hand. Lexie was born without a left hand. She is an athlete, an inspired musician and a public servant. Lexie is an Advancement Via Individual Determination student and a partial International Baccalaureate student. She is a member of Link Crew, Project Hope, a soccer player, a surfer and a cheerleader. She mentors children and their families at Shriners Hospital. Lexie is president of Panthers Against Animal Cruelty.
Marie-Christi Candido, senior, Modesto
As a twin, Marie-Christi worked to come into her own as an individual by volunteering. She has served as president of her school's Key Club since her freshman year. Marie-Christi has worked with nonprofits including The Salvation Army, UNICEF and the Tzu-Chi Foundation. Marie-Christi is a certified medical technician, working in a residential care facility for the elderly. Her career goal is to become a registered nurse. In 2012, she became a citizen.
Johnathan Dallas, senior, Modesto
Johnathan leads a volunteer crew at Memorial Medical Center and serves as an officer on The First Tee Junior Leadership Council. When initially denied participation in The First Tee National Leadership Academy, Johnathan improved his skills. He realized his goal the next year when he reapplied and was accepted to attend the Academy in New York. Not only a longtime volunteer, Johnathan is now a participant in the International Baccalaureate Program.
Joseph Alvarez, senior, Gregori
Joseph donates extra hours to the Peer Assisted Learning Strategies program at Gregori High, where he works with students who have disabilities. Joseph is a recipient of two Jag Awards and is a Chapter Officer for FFA. In addition to his academic and community service record, Joseph has earned the position of starter with his school's football team and is a valued member of the Gregori track team. He was awarded the MCS Character Trait Citizenship Award in 2010.
Katherine Dunn, senior, Central Catholic
Katherine is a cantor, a member of the Contemporary Youth Ensemble, an altar server and a counselor for vacation Bible school. She is president of the Key Club and the Interact Club at Central Catholic. She is on the Christian Service Honor Roll, is a member of the national Honor Society and was selected as a summer scholar for the University of Notre Dame. Katherine writes for the school newspaper, serves as the Book Club secretary and acts as commissioner for the Associated Student Body. She is captain of the golf team, is on the swimming and softball teams and participates in CSF. Katherine has been recognized with Central Catholic's WE award for her contributions to the school and community.
Kristin Gazallo, junior, Modesto Virtual Academy, Gregori
Kristin has volunteered hundreds of hours at Doctors Medical Center, helping patients, and at Modesto Youth Court, where she has helped countless other kids find the strength to change their lives. After her mom was diagnosed with severe fibromyalgia, Kristin had to pick up where mom no longer could. Even after assuming all the cooking and cleaning duties for the household and taking care of her mom, Kristin maintained a 4.0 GPA. She went on to win the JAG award, as well as several Academic Pentathlon awards at Gregori High School. Kristin wants to become a doctor, so she has been allowed to study online to get early college credits.
Lauren Case, senior, Enochs
Count songwriting among Lauren Case's many talents. She has written more than 40 songs. She plays five instruments, all self-taught. One of the reasons she loves to write and play music is because she has a message to deliver. It's a message of overcoming the pain inflicted by intolerance. Growing up, Lauren always dreamed of having a sibling. But, when her little brother Drew finally came along, he was diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder. The years growing up with Drew were difficult and offered enormous challenges for Lauren. To make matters worse, Lauren was shunned and bullied in school. But, says Lauren, those challenges were not a burden. Lauren has been a longtime volunteer for the Feed the Hungry program, which collects canned goods for senior citizens, and a member of the Pura Vida Club, a program that assists kids with ASD and other disabilities. Lauren maintains a 3.5 GPA in her classes at Enochs High School, played baseball, soccer and tennis.
Leonardo Yalung, senior, Central Catholic
A tireless and productive volunteer in his church group and the community, Leonardo has beaten the odds. Even a difficult home life and strong gang influence could not stop Leonardo from becoming a role model. He has placed seventh in the state in last year's speech and debate tournament and is a California Scholarship Federation honor student. Leonardo is involved in school government. He is currently captain of the speech and debate team and is a leader in cross country running and student ministries.
Nick Huber, junior, Central Catholic
Nick was bedridden for two years. In 2009, he fell victim to autonomic dysfunction, a virus that attacks the nervous system and left him unable to attend school. Nick went undiagnosed for a year and a half until he was sent to the Mayo Clinic and then to the Ronald McDonald House, where he fully recovered. The illness caused him to miss most of eighth grade and his freshman year of high school, but Nick went on to become an honor student, catching up on all his schoolwork. He's attending AP classes as a junior at Central Catholic. Nick is the student body treasurer and a member of the Key club, the debate team, and the football and track teams. He has served as a counselor at Bible school and is a volunteer for food drives with the Boy Scouts.
Oscar Diaz, senior, Enochs
Recognized by the State Senate, Oscar has worked four years as a library assistant serving in the Stanislaus County Volunteer Program. He has delivered speeches for the groundbreaking and ribbon-cutting ceremonies for his neighborhood park. Oscar is a musician and recently represented Modesto and the state with his high school band in Washington, D.C., by marching in the Fourth of July parade. His passion and commitment to music led him to earn first chair in his instrument in the Stanislaus County Honor Band. Oscar has worked for the city of Modesto's Adaptive Bowling Program. As a sophomore, he was selected by Kaiser Permanente as a clinical technician. He attended Lead America's National Leadership Summit at Stanford University during the summer of 2011, enhancing his college and career preparation. Oscar was presented the AP Scholar Award by the College Board.
Sydney Smith, senior, Gregori
Sydney has served as FFA vice president for two years and this year has been elected as the 2012 Gregori FFA chapter president. She has been elected as Gregori High School ASB president and as senior class president. Sydney has been instrumental in creating the CLAW freshman orientation program, the fall and winter homecoming, the tutoring programs Coco and Cram, and Club Rush, which helps the student body see all the clubs and activities that are available to them. She has proven herself to be an extraordinary athlete, who was recently named to the All-League Cross Country team.
Violet Tylock, senior, Johansen
As a new student at Johansen, Violet excelled in a rigorous academic program and became a vital member of her water polo and swimming teams. Violet is the president of the Future Business Leaders of America at Johansen High School and a tireless volunteer for Harvesting Futures, a residential fruit gleaning program that harvests and donates fruit to the hungry.