Patricia Albor grew up in a tumultuous and sometimes violent home. She wasn't always sure where she would sleep or what she would eat.
Now a senior at Riverbank High School, Patricia has a 3.83 GPA and works as a math tutor in after-school programs. She's juggling several college acceptances for fall.
Patricia will represent Stanislaus County in the regional "Every Student Succeeding" competition, which honors students who have overcome challenges and won the hearts of their teachers and other school staff. The winner at the regional level will go on to the state competition in November at the Association of California School Administrators conference.
"She has had to overcome some really difficult situations in her life, but there's no self-pity in her at all," said Susan Taylor, an assistant superintendent for Riverbank schools. "She's looked toward education to have the life that she chooses."
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Thirteen other county students were honored at a breakfast last week. Here are the nominees:
Cody Ball, a football player at Modesto's Downey High School, bounced among homes from California to Minnesota as a child. At Downey, Cody is enrolled in college-prep courses and rushed for 1,304 yards last season. He will attend college in the fall.
Katie Butrica, a seventh-grader at Mae Hensley Junior High in Ceres, was born with cerebral palsy and weathered seven surgeries in her first months. She has set her sights on attending UC Davis to study veterinary medicine.
Jagger Cole, an eighth-grader at Savage Middle School in Modesto, was diagnosed with a form of bone cancer. Despite his illness, Jagger helps his teacher cut wood and process walnut trees to collect wood supplies for his class.
Nancy Deniz, a senior at Ceres High, has a 3.7 GPA and hopes to attend California State University, Stanislaus, in the fall. Nancy began learning English in 2003 and passed the California High School Exit Exam on the first try. Nancy's father died in a work-related accident this year.
Matthew Hurts, a senior at Orestimba High in Newman, began to struggle in school while his father battled an illness. His father died during his sophomore year, but Matthew got back on track and wants to attend college. Matthew also helped lead his varsity basketball team to its first league championship since 1948.
James LittleJohn, a student at Eisenhut Elementary School in Modesto, had attended school for only one week in his life when he was enrolled in second grade last fall. He stays for an hour after school with his teacher to catch up to his classmates.
Marianne Lugue, an eighth-grader at Hart-Ransom School in Modesto, has lost nearly all of her hearing. She attends regular language-arts, social-studies, science, computer and physical-education classes. Marianne learned sign language in addition to English and her native language, Tagalog, and is on the honor roll.
Trevor Machado-Ching, an Oakdale High senior, plays football, runs track and wrestles while also battling lymphoma. He has a 3.7 GPA and finished in the top 12 in the state in his wrestling weight class last season.
Ben May, a sixth-grader at Hidahl Elementary in Ceres, has made big gains in reading and writing despite worrying about his mother's illness. Ben enjoys writing and sharing his stories with his principal.
Diana Palacios, a fourth-grader at Shackelford Elementary in Modesto, did not know the alphabet or its sounds at the beginning of the school year after coming from Mexico. Halfway through the school year, Diana already has begun to read English.
Carly Pfaff, an eighth-grader at La Loma Junior High in Modesto, weighed 2 pounds at birth and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Carly served as ambassador for the March of Dimes last year and is a regular contributor to her school's monthly newspaper. Her journalism teacher says Carly's articles include "courageous information and calls to action in the fight for tolerance."
Trevor Stevenson, a seventh-grader at Mountain View Middle School in Turlock, was struck by a hit-and-run driver at 2 years old. His brother was killed during the accident. Trevor suffered life-threatening injuries that required a year of rehabilitation. He had a stroke in third grade after again being involved in a car accident and didn't return to school for two more years. He finished the past school year as an honor-roll student with a 3.34 GPA.
September White, a fifth-grader at Hughes Elementary in Modesto, attended a number of schools in California and Texas before moving into a group foster home in Modesto. She's climbed to the top of her class academically this year.
Bee staff writer Merrill Balassone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2337.