ACSA honors local Standout Students in art, fellowship, courage

The Association of California School Administrators (ACSA)’s Region 18 greater San Dieguito chapter recently held its Student Standout Awards. All 50 schools in the region celebrate one student that has excelled in the areas of arts, community service, humanities, courage, fellowship and science.

Students were celebrated in a virtual presentation led by ASCA Region 18 President Ben Churchill, superintendent of Carlsbad Unified School District, on May 13.

Nathan Gordon, a fifth grader at Ashley Falls, posthumously won the Student Standout Award for courage. Nathan passed away in December 2020 after a long and courageous battle with a rare form of cancer.

“Nathan inspired us daily with his charm, wit, laughter, kind heart and gentle spirit, enthusiasm for life and the way he approached each day with sheer joy,” the nomination read. “Nathan was an inspiration to us all and touched our lives in ways that will live on indefinitely.”

Del Mar Little League also honored Nathan this year with an “NG” logo on the sleeve of each uniform in every division.

Meet the honorees from the Del Mar Union, San Dieguito Union and Solana Beach School Districts:

Ryan Smith, DMUSD Launch: Courage
After being diagnosed with a serious autoimmune illness, several relapses have caused the second grader to miss months of school as a time. Despite his challenges, Ryan demonstrates immense joy in the face of adversity. He consistently shows up with an infectious smile and enthusiasm—"Ryan is THE example of perseverance and grit.”

Aaron Wang, Carmel Del Mar: Courage
During the pandemic, the 11 year old competed in a reality athletic competition in which he had to travel to Canada away from his family for two months. The track cyclist showed courage competing in sports he had never tried before as well as showed perseverance throughout his time on the show.

Naomi Nguyen, Del Mar Heights: Humanities
Naomi made outstanding efforts in creative writing—the sixth grader is working on her second novel. She was also selected for the Heights No Place for Hate committee where she helped lead the first school-wide activity that addressed anti-bullying. Outside of school she participated in events that deepened her understanding of current events with a focus on anti-racism and equality.

Adeline Parnes, Ocean Air: Arts and Humanities
Adeline has a gift for writing and illustrating and is a skilled debater, using her voice to stand up for what’s right. “She is very aware of social issues and creative enough to express her ideas through her wise-beyond-her years writings.”

Chase Mafong, Sage Canyon: Fellowship
Chase helps his friends problem solve and finds peaceful solutions to conflicts, showing empathy and integrity. In the classroom can be seen working with groups, prompting others to share ideas and work cooperatively. He works hard to make sure every student feels included and valued.

Kayla-Marie Booker, Sycamore Ridge: Humanities
Kayla Marie has a great love of reading and always a thick book in her hands. The sixth grader brings insight and wisdom to class discussions on literature, social studies and current events. She is a role model for others with her commitment to hard work, perseverance and strong study habits.

Gavin Cieslukowski, Torrey Hills: Fellowship
Gavin goes above and beyond to make everyone feel welcomed and encouraged. Even though he is new to the school this year he has great school spirit and his positive attitude has an impact on all those around him.

Jacques Godard, Pacific Trails: Fellowship
Jacques is an excellent student and strong leader at PTMS. He is hardworking, enjoys learning and his best fun nature and positive attitude is infectious. Teachers describe him as a mentor to others, a talented athlete and a student with a great ability to bring people together.

Carrie Su, Canyon Crest Academy: Community service
Carrie served as a leader in a number of capacities during a time when the school needed it most. Serving as ASB president and student representative on the SDUHSD school board, she is humble and empathetic, models integrity and represents the student voice with dignity and decorum.

Gabby Camargo, Carmel Valley Middle: Fellowship
Gabby has been a leader in her ASB class and Wellness Committee for past two years, a strong and steady voice advocating for her peers. As students returned to campus, Gabby played an instrumental role in ensuring that students felt welcomed and safe.

Adina “Addy” Olsen, Earl Warren: Community service
Addy has been a leader since her first day on campus and changed Earl Warren for the better over the last two years serving on ASB and the school site council. She came up with countless ways to keep students feeling a part of school community through the challenges of distance learning and COVID.

Zander Samarasinghe, Torrey Pines: Community service
Zander’s trademark positivity brought a fresh voice to SDUHSD board meetings as the student board representative. He showed limitless school spirit as he worked hard to represent all Falcons in a meaningful way, a true leader when TPHS needed him most.

Emma Cancel, Skyline: Humanities
Teachers enjoy Emma’s kindness and gentle soul. She is an academic powerhouse with anything to do with reaching or writing—she is rarely found without a book or five.

Reid Foster, Solana Vista: Arts
This third grader is an accomplished pianist and exceptional artist with an amazing eye for details. He enjoys and excels at drawing and watercolor.

Brooklyn Leis, Solana Santa Fe: Fellowship
Over the years everyone who has worked with Brooklyn has praised her caring nature and contribution to the school. She is a remarkable child with a kind heart and is a friend to everyone.

Minjae Kang, Solana Highlands: Courage
Minjae joined Solana Highlands from Korea last year and used to be very shy but this year, he has blossomed. As a student in the English language development program he is determined to do all his work in English with minimal support. Not shy anymore, he is confident, caring and well-liked by many.

Sophie Wang, Carmel Creek: Arts
This third grader is a gifted artist who utilizes her artistic skills to make her learning truly shine. Her sketches and artwork are embedded within writing assignments—the colors and attention to detail are an inspiration to classmates and a joy for her teacher.

Lia Aboolian, Solana Pacific: Fellowship
Lia, a sixth grader, consistently demonstrates kindness and easily makes friends with everyone and anyone she meets: her smile is contagious. She is an extremely hard worker, always eager to learn and dedicated to the success of not only herself but others.

Chloe Cameron, Solana Ranch: Fellowship
Chloe embodies the definition of fellowship, she leads by example and has amazing rapport with every student. She is honest, inclusive friendly, kind and an organized class secretary.

Ben Pai, SBSD Online Scholars: Science
Ben is an outstanding student with the most wonderful imagination. The epitome of a curious and creative child, he loves learning and exploring and always goes above and beyond the task before him, creating books, games and projects and explores his interests without anyone pushing him to do it. He finds so much joy in learning and sparks that joy in those around him.

The 2021 Student Standout Awards were sponsored by Mission Federal Credit Union, who provided winners with a gift card.