Board of Education recognizes Community Honorees and standout student groups at May meeting

Melrose Elementary School's 2019 Community Honoree, Gabriela Leon, with loved ones and Principal Cynthia Alvarez.Melrose Elementary School's 2019 Community Honoree, Gabriela Leon, with loved ones and Principal Cynthia Alvarez on May 14, 2019.

At the May 14, 2019, Board of Education meeting, the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District (PYLUSD) held the annual Community Honoree Recognition Ceremony to show appreciation for its devoted volunteers. The District also set aside time to recognize three outstanding student groups — AVID 8th Grade Standouts, Kraemer Middle School’s Science Olympiad Team, and Chapman University Holocaust Art & Writing Contest Finalists.

Every year, PYLUSD asks each of its school sites to identify a special individual or dynamic duo who has dedicated their time and energy to benefit students while exemplifying the District’s core values — Excellence, Integrity, Collaboration, and Innovation.

That night, loved ones, coworkers, District employees, and fellow community members packed the Board Room in order to cheer on each honoree as they received acknowledgement for their efforts by Trustees, District administrators, and principals.

Executive Director of Instructional Support, Richard McAlindin, and Executive Director of Special Education, Renee Gray, took a moment to speak about each honorees’ contributions and presented them with a PYLUSD “You Are the Advantage” certificate of achievement. See a full list of this year’s honorees below.

After the Community Honoree Recognition Ceremony, the Board also took time to recognize the accomplishments of AVID 8th Grade Standout Students. AVID, which stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination, is a nationwide non-profit organization devoted to closing the achievement gap by preparing all students for college readiness and success in a global society.

Director of English Language Development and AVID, Minerva Gandara, shared, “The AVID Standout Award is given to students, who demonstrate Excellence, Collaboration, Integrity, and Service in their academic achievements and in their individual determination. This recognition represents the determination, the perseverance, and the commitment each student has demonstrated toward their education.”

AVID 8th Grade Standouts.

AVID 8th Grade Standouts.

The six students recognized were Ireland Mercado from Bernardo Yorba Middle School, Kendy Calixto Fernandez from Kraemer Middle School, Avree Khan from Travis Ranch School, Rebecca Tampubolon from Tuffree Middle School, Daniel Gonzalez from Valadez Middle School Academy, and Kimberley Mae-Jeves from Yorba Linda Middle School. Bernardo Yorba Middle School’s AVID 8th Grade Teacher and Site Coordinator, Leigh Ann Swarm, was also recognized for her leadership and vision in planning the District’s 7th and 8th grade AVID Leadership Academy this school year.

Next, Kraemer Middle School’s Science Olympiad Team was honored for earning the top score in Division B at the Southern California Championship Tournament. The competition, which involves 23 events pertaining to various scientific disciplines, took place on April 6 at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

Kraemer Middle School's 2019 Science Olympiad Team.

Kraemer Middle School’s 2019 Science Olympiad Team.

“Under the direction of head coach, Shaun Evola, Kraemer’s Science Olympiad Team will advance to the National Competition at Cornell University in New York from May 31 to June 1, 2019,” shared Cary Johnson, K-12 Director of Innovation and Technology for PYLUSD. “Good luck, students!”

The team includes students Josh Hockman, Tim Elnitiarta, Susanna Cao, Eric Lim, Nina Kini, Sean Kim, Kaylynn Yune, Phoenix Pitaknarongphorn, Emmy Lopez, Tanya Vidhun, Chris John, Jessica Chao, Kaleb Lee, Alex Lee, Ethan Chap, Asher Mccathern, Gayathri Mungi, Nitya Iyer, Joseph Ho, Lauren Han, Ethan Noh, and Rini Dagli.

Lastly, the District took time to acknowledge those students who distinguished themselves as finalists following this year’s Chapman University Holocaust Art and Writing Contest.

“Focusing on themes central to the Holocaust and ethical decision making in our world today, the contest gives students the opportunity to share their creative works in response to survivors’ oral testimonies. This year marked the 20th year of the competition, in which the theme was “Purposeful Telling Through Memory to Action,” Deputy Superintendent, Candy Plahy mentioned.

Individuals honored as a part of the Chapman University Holocaust Art & Writing Contest recognition.

Individuals honored as a part of the Chapman University Holocaust Art & Writing Contest recognition.

Yasmine Cohen, an 8th grader at Travis Ranch School, and was selected as a finalist for her poem titled, “Just Like You.” Ethan Lee, a junior at El Dorado High School, was also selected as a finalist for his film titled, “Ismétlés,” which is Hungarian for “Repetition.” Gabriela Schrader, a senior at Esperanza High School, was distinguished for her original work of art titled, “Love’s Power.”

During this portion of the evening, community member Lenore Bruckner was also recognized for her efforts in encouraging the District’s consistent participation in this competition.

Deputy Superintendent, Candy Plahy, mentioned, “As a member of the Superintendent’s Community Advisory Council, Lenore has been a champion for ensuring PYLUSD students have the opportunity to hear the stories of Holocaust survivors and their families for the past 15 years.”

Congratulations to all recognized that evening!


Elementary Schools Honoree
Brookhaven Elementary School Paul Charlton
Bryant Ranch School Stephanie Brannon
Fairmont Elementary School Tammy Kent
George Key School Del Norte Garden Club
Glenknoll Elementary School Krista Dorado
Glenview Elementary School Sue Balas
Golden Elementary School Kristina Kawase
Lakeview Elementary School Tina McKean
Linda Vista Elementary School Tonjia Bier
Mabel Paine Elementary School Traci Leuck
Melrose Elementary School Gabriela Leon
Morse Elementary School Placentia Rotary
Parkview School Summer Frey
Rio Vista Elementary School Deanna Hill
Rose Drive Elementary School Jennifer Hostetler
Ruby Drive Elementary School Irma Sanchez
Sierra Vista Elementary School Coree Del Giorgio
Topaz Elementary School Maria Lumby
Travis Ranch School Amy Knowles
Tynes Elementary School Archelle Tovar
Van Buren Elementary School Lori Nakashima
Wagner Elementary School Carrie Lawrence
Woodsboro Elementary School Holly Preciado
Middle Schools
Bernardo Yorba Middle School Veronica & Charles Smock
Kraemer Middle School Alfredo Delgado
Tuffree Middle School Mike Gualtieri
Valadez Middle School Academy Tender Care Community Outreach Program (TCCOP)
Yorba Linda Middle School Erin Thomas
High Schools
El Dorado High School Kevin & Sue Carlson
Esperanza High School Carrie Johnson
Valencia High School Eva Harman
Yorba Linda High School Jennifer Johnson
La Entrada High School Yolanda Vasquez
Venture Academy Wally Vanayed

To see more pictures from the Community Honoree Recognition, visit the District’s Facebook page at

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