Sections    Monday November 12th, 2018
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Top 5% of Rio Rico graduating class honored


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  • Santa Crus Valley Unified School District

Victor Miranda, Mayra Calvillo, Janelle Campos, Brianna Brown, Marco Aldaz, Yamilex Ramirez, Hope Noriega, Benjamin Bauer, Ally Alvarez, Arianna Cruz, Jose Montañez, Alexandra Estrella, Carla Mendoza, Ana Mercado

The top 5% of the Rio Rico High School 2016 graduating seniors and their invited special educators were honored at the 5th Annual Excellence in Education Banquet sponsored by the Friends of the SCVUSD No. 35 Foundation. The event was held at the Tubac Golf Resort.

The fourteen students were honored for their educational achievements and given the opportunity to thank and, in turn, honor the educator making the biggest impact on their academic success.

Top 5% of Rio Rico graduating class honored 2_3580_Educators-300x214

Chief Warrant Officer 5 David Koch, First Sergeant Larry Brown, David Verdugo, Loree Johnson, Richard McPherson, Nagesh Kumar, Rene Ramirez. (Front L-R): Hallie Birkett, Kelly Hansen Nielson, Toni Ann Schadler, Zayuri Orozco, Teresa Potter, Ana Romero-Davis, Elizabeth Vartola

The evening began with a patio reception with the Rio Rico Jazz Band playing background music.  Band members included Richie Brennan (Trombone), Alex Camarillo (Saxophone), Damian Chavira (Piano), Jorge Parker (Drums), Fabian Rios (Bass), Alec Ruvalcaba (Guitar) and Victor Sinohui (Trumpet).

The evening’s program was hosted by Dean Davis, Foundation President, and Rod Rich, President-Elect.  Following a buffet dinner, the night began with honorary speaker, Joy Noriega.  Noriega is a 2011 Rio Rico High School graduate who was recognized at the 1st Annual Excellence in Education Banquet.  Students were then presented with a gold medal, certificate of achievement, and $500 scholarship.

Juan Pablo Guzman, Clerk of the Superior Court for Santa Cruz County was the evening’s keynote speaker.  Guzman spoke about “finding the right attitude to overcoming challenges” – maintaining a positive attitude, and staying close to your “team.”

“This long journey called ‘life’ has brought you to this event.  But you have not been the sole driver to your destiny,” said Guzman. “Along the way you have been surrounded by people who have been members of a strong team, and as team players they have helped you arrive at this current stage of your life.  But this is just the beginning of a long and successful trip.”

“Along the way, and in every step of your life, you will need the force of a team to lead you in accomplishing your dreams.  The principle force of this team is the love and care of your family and those who love you,” said Guzman.

Top 5% of Rio Rico graduating class honored 6_3596_Educators-Students-300x214

Students with their special educators (standing behind the respective student). (Back L-R): Chief Warrant Officer 5 David Koch, First Sergeant Larry Brown, Toni Ann Schadler, David Verdugo, Elizabeth Vartola, Ana Romero-Davis, Teresa Potter. (Front L-R): Brianna Brown, Marco Aldaz, Arianna Cruz, Ana Mercado, Ally Alvarez, Mayra Calvillo, Jose Montañez, Jr..

The evening concluded with a video recording of each student explaining why they chose their guest teacher as the educator that made the biggest impact in their educational lives.

“This banquet is the highlight of the year for our Foundation board members,” said President-Elect Rich.  “To see our students with their families; to see the smiles on the faces of the teachers as they are acknowledged by their students; and to watch the pride displayed by the parents as they watch their children move forward to a new stage in life. The banquet is an inspiration.”

Students and honored teachers were:

Student Teacher
Marco Aldaz First Sergeant Larry Brown
Ally Alvarez Elizabeth Vartola
Benjamin Bauer Kelly Hansen Nielson
Brianna Brown Chief Warrant Officer 5 David Koch
Mayra Calvillo Ana Romero-Davis
Janelle Campos Zayuri Orozco
Arianna Cruz Toni Ann Schadler
Alexandra Estrella Richard McPherson
Carla Mendoza Hallie Birkett
Ana Mercado David Verdugo
Victor Miranda Rene Ramirez
Jose Montañez, Jr. Teresa Potter
Hope Noriega Loree Johnson
Yamilex Ramirez Nagesh Kumar