Seven LEUSD Seniors Honored

Nolan Peralta, Jillian Calkins, Michael Sheperd II, Christie Leung, Tyler Jones, Katherine Pallares, and Esteban Arenas were all honored.

Seven high school seniors from the have been honored as Student of the Month award winners for October.

“Students are individually selected by teachers and school staff for their character, love of learning, leadership, community service, and their ability to persevere through challenging circumstances,” according to a Lake Elsinore Unified School District news release.

The Lake Elsinore Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Lake Elsinore Sizzler Restaurant hand out the monthly honors.

The following is the list of October Student of the Month honorees and their accomplishments:

Nolan Peralta grew up in Murrieta and always knew he wanted to play football for his dad, coach Tony Peralta. When Nolan learned his father had accepted the Athletic Director position for Elsinore High School, he didn’t begrudge the move to EHS, which would take him all the way to a

According to Nolan, football pushed him to be more dedicated to studies. He enjoys taking AP classes as much as he enjoys competing in triathlons. Other teachers remark on his maturity and skillful balance of academics with athletics, calling him the recruitment poster child for EHS.

Though Nolan is not sure which college he wants to attend, he is sure he will focus on academics first and playing college football, perhaps one day teaching and coaching high school football, like his father.

Jillian Calkins once wrote a song for EHS and found 20 drama department members to sing it so she could garner votes for EHS on the Glee website.

Thinking out of the box is one way to categorize this honoree, who has set her sights on Berkeley and Fullerton.

Her pursuit of music and drama has enabled her to reach out to help other people, which is what she loves best. Teachers describe her glorious voice, but her musical talents include writing and producing songs.

By following her inner music, Jillian has had no difficulty getting others involved in her favorite cause: protecting women from abuse. An instructor has compared her to Shel Silverstein’s story of The Giving Tree, saying, “That’s who Jillian really is.”

Michael Sheperd II admits while he isn’t the smartest, few can rival his drive to be the best he can be, which he attributes to his highest role model: his mom.

Michael plans to major in criminal justice, so he can become a police officer. He has been strong in both ASB and Athletics Council, where he practices putting legacy above self. One faculty member describes how Michael’s feet never stop moving once he sets his goals. Even an injured knee hasn’t kept him sidelined for very long.

He is thought of highly because of his personal character and integrity as a man. While not always making the best choices during his middle school years, he has matured to accept responsibility for all choices, and is never one to blame. His proud mom says he had learned to seize the moment, making the best of any opportunity that comes his way.

Christie Leung is defined by her self-motivation and strong will to succeed at all levels, despite her shy personality. Her quiet friendliness has opened the door to active involvement with Leadership, precalculus, CSF, CASTLE, yearbook and anatomy. She has applied to USCD and UCLA, and wants to pursue medicine, following a goal of becoming a pediatrician.

Her biggest life lesson is to “never settle for less than what I set out to achieve.” Her advice to other students: follow what you want and you’ll push harder to realize your dreams.

Christie has the ability to persevere, using piano and community service as outlets for creativity and working with children. She has learned that hard work can take one very far, in addition to having strong faith.

Tyler Jones is ranked among the top 10 of his senior class. Basketball, track, calculus, AVID, Keystone, National honors, peer tutoring, represent a sampling of the multifaceted talents he possesses.

Tyler plans to attend UCSB, majoring in psychology or sports therapy. Describing his philosophy of life, Tyler says that self-determination learned from basketball is what has guided him every step of the way.

His favorite teacher describes Tyler as a team captain who is equally concerned about inclusion, not just getting points on the board: Tyler conscientiously makes everyone around him feel like they belong. Tyler surrounds himself with like-minded people who can articulate their struggles as well as their ideals. His parents have taught him the value of humility and empathy. He stands with his student friends when they are hurting. When it comes to caring about others, Tyler is always willing to go the extra mile.

Katherine Pallares is not just successful in academics, she is versatile in all aspects of campus life, from serving as the school site council secretary to chairing the Lancer Lifesavers, and being active in ASB, PTSA, the Interact Club. She has served as varsity captain for two years because of leadership ability. Her coach says the Lancers school motto of “Rise and Lead” aptly describes Katherine’s inner drive.

Katherine founded the Lancer Lifesavers, a school wide blood drive. Katherine plans to attend Loyola to become a teacher. She goes above and beyond to help others and has put in over 400 volunteer hours, a good sign of a dedicated future educator.

Esteban Arenas didn’t want to come to OHS at first. But Esteban has flourished and has learned to overcome many social challenges. Making A’s is proof that hard work does pay off. Esteban is planning to go to community college, to major in political science at a four-year university, and ultimately to run for office to become a lawmaker. He keeps fit through basketball and weight training.

Take it from Esteban: though he is successful today, it was not so long ago that he couldn’t have cared less about getting a high school diploma. “Be diligent” is his rule for success.

Esteban credits his hard working mom as the role model he values the most; she never gives up. And neither has Esteban. Because he is known to be a serious student, classmates cheered when they heard the announcement that Esteban was chosen to be Student of the Month. His teacher said he beamed like the “sun in the room” that day.


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