Six LEUSD High School Seniors Honored

The September LEUSD student honorees are Jason Gomez (Elsinore High School); Kathleen Aquino (Elsinore High School); Kurtis Clements (Temescal Canyon High School); Ashtynn Nelson (Temescal Canyon High School); Brandon Gonzalez (Lakeside High School); and

Six high school seniors from the have been honored as Student of the Month award winners.

With honors handed out by the and the Lake Elsinore Sizzler Restaurant, students were 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 Mark Dennis, LEUSD coordinator of community and media relations.

The September LEUSD student honorees are Jason Gomez (Elsinore High School); Kathleen Aquino (Elsinore High School); Kurtis Clements (Temescal Canyon High School); Ashtynn Nelson (Temescal Canyon High School); Brandon Gonzalez (Lakeside High School); and Sonia Acuna (Lakeside High School).

The following are short bios on each of the students as provided by Mark Dennis:


Jason Gomez has learned the value of education from his parents, neither of whom graduated from school, though they own a successful family business in Fallbrook, where Jason works part-time. Jason is tied as the number one ranked student of 500 seniors at Elsinore High School. He wants to pursue a career in Neurology at Brown University, Rhode Island. We recognized Jason’s endurance and ability to overcome obstacles, said his mentor, Rita Beacher. Academic Decathlon advisor Ryan Klopp would agree, saying Jason has taken every AP course he can get, in addition to juggling work in Fallbrook, numerous club leadership activities, and volunteering as a Relay for Life committee member. His thoughtful essays and top performance on exams have consistently impressed Klopp. Beacher describes Jason as having an exceptional work ethic, keen intellectual ability, and shyness that is offset by his selflessness.

Kathleen Aquino is tied with Jason Gomez for first in class at EHS. She has narrowed her choice of colleges to UCLA, Berkeley and UCSD because of her interest in studying Immunology and Microbiology. Ultimately, she would like to become a pediatrician. Kathleen’s Aunt Edith is proud of Kathleen for being a great role model to her daughter (Kathleen’s younger cousin). Kathleen says that taking advantage of every opportunity in school is the key to having Lake Elsinore a successful school experience. Activities include NHS, CSF, Interact and participating on the Relay for Life committee. Kathleen is described by teachers as having a positive “I can” attitude.



Kurtis Clements would have won Student of the Month recognition back in 9th grade, according to Principal Errol Garnett, based on how much Kurtis stood out upon arrival at TCHS. True to form, Kurtis invited his 7th grade teacher, Mrs. Kelley, to share in his Student of the Month honors, because of her influence on his academic curiosity. Who else but Kurtis would do that, quipped Garnett. Kurtis aspires to become an Engineer, so he can pursue his love of mathematics. Whether it’s playing baseball or setting big goals, Kurtis’s parents, Joe and Michelle, say their son has always had a strong inner drive and an aspiration for big accomplishments. That’s the stuff that might take him straight to Stanford. Ever confident in trying new things, Kurtis wants other students to know that by putting oneself out there trying everything that school has to offer, pays off when you suddenly find out what you really love.

Ashtynn Nelson recently led TCHS to a CIF championship in girl’s water polo. Though she excels in athletics and aspires to the Olympics, she has also been active on ASB as treasurer for four years, and sees herself attending a four year university to become a physical therapist. Participating in USA Youth National Team Water Polo has been very rewarding for Ashtynn. Mentor and ASB advisor Cari Strange praises Ashtynn as deserving Student of the Month recognition because of her exceptional character, integrity, accountability and drive. According to her parents, slowing down for awhile is one thing she still finds hard to do; however, not much else is too much of a challenge for Ashtynn.



Brandon Gonzalez leads by example and stands out by example, according to Dr. Peter Hopping, the new principal at LHS. Being an only child has sharpened Brandon’s sense of caring for children into a goal of attending UCLA to start a future career in pediatrics. Currently, Brandon is active in mock trial, AVID, and Calculus. Before AVID, he felt he wasn’t reaching his true potential; that is, until he approached Mrs. Henricks, who heads the AVID program, and asked her to take him under her wing. According to Henricks, she took notice of him right away in the 9th grade, noting Brandon’s warmth, patience and integrity as genuine and rare. At that time, not being on the honor role represented a personal disappointment, as Brandon wondered if he really had what it takes to achieve academic success. Today, there is no doubt of his success: with encouragement and the support of AVID, Brandon is now ranked 25th in his class.

Sonia Acuna has a 4.6 GPA and is a leader in every aspect of school life. She has submitted an early decision application to Stanford, where she plans to earn an MBA, majoring in Industrial & Organizational Psychology. NHS, Calculus, volunteering for Keystone, a program sponsored by the Boys and Girls Clubs, serving as Interact treasurer, and involvement in campus clubs keeps her on the go. Sonia’s community involvement is a living creed of giving back. Sonia says after graduation she will actively support her community in any way she can. She sets an example in disciplined study, hard work, and always going the extra mile for others. According to Mrs. Henricks, Sonia’s AVID advisor, Sonia is strongly goal oriented, yet humble.


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