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  • March Student of the Month

    Pictured are March’s Students of the Month; Front Row: Skye Garces, Paloma Valley High School; Omar Garcia, Perris High School; Carlos Santana-Ayala, California Military Institute, and Ocean Hernandez, Heritage High School. Back Row: Sally Myers, Founder; Grant Bennett, Superintendent, Perris Union High School District; Councilmember Lesa Sobek, City of Menifee; Angelica Austin, Senator Kelly Seyarto; Noel Cajudo, Menifee Valley Chamber of Commerce; Jerry Sepulveda, Perris Valley Chamber of Commerce; Alejandra Herrera, Riverside County Office of Education; and Casey Deaver, Assemblyman Bill Essayli

    The Perris Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Menifee Valley Chamber of Commerce kicked off the 2022-2023 Student of the Month program in September. The students are nominated by their teachers and staff at their respective school sites and are chosen for their character, integrity, love of learning, ability to persevere and overcome challenging circumstances, community service, and how they make a difference on their high school campus.

    March’s students and their families attended a breakfast sponsored by the Perris and Menifee Chambers of Commerce along with local businesses and organizations. Principals and teachers from each high school shared stories about the students and they each received certificates of recognition, numerous gifts, congratulations and encouragement from local, county, state and federal dignitaries.

    Paloma Valley High School’s Student of the Month is Skye Garces. Skye currently holds a 4.3 GPA and is involved in many different activities at Paloma including varsity song, dance choreography and production, AVID, Key Club, NHS, and varsity lacrosse. Even though Skye is involved in a wide variety of activities, she doesn’t do it just to check off boxes. For Skye it’s about getting the experience of being in the moment and being passionate in that moment. Being so busy, Skye has learned that it is okay not being the best at all times. She always sees room for improvement in all she does. “To me, improving each time is better than expecting to be perfect. This mindset has helped me a lot with many aspects of my life, especially being a part of many things and in academically challenging classes,” she said. Skye plans to further her education at a four year university majoring in business or math.

    Perris High School’s Omar Garcia is March’s Student of the Month. Omar currently has a 4.1 GPA and is taking a number of AP and Honors courses. His parents came to the United States 35 years ago, leaving Mexico for a better life. Omar has worked very hard to honor his parents and the sacrifices they have made for their children. Omar shared that he did face some challenges. In his junior year he took a college level class and struggled with it. However, he did not give up and kept pushing through the course. “I told myself that as long as I never gave up and gave it my all, I would do fine,” he said. And, he did pass the class with just under an A. Omar learned that through hard work and perseverance, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. He demonstrated Perris High School’s motto of “Never Give Up” with humbleness and gratitude. Omar plans to further his education at Mt. San Jacinto College then onto San Diego State to study engineering.

    Carlos Santana-Ayala is California Military Institute’s Student of the Month. Carlos is the Executive Officer of over 1000 cadets. He has had to face some challenges in his life, but he has overcome quite a bit and has come a long way to where he is today. Carlos shared that at the age of seven, his father was deported back to Mexico. The family chose to stay with their father in Tijuana, but later realized that it was not a healthy environment. Carlos and his siblings came back to the US to live with another family member. Through all of this, the children pushed through with perseverance and hard work to be able to bring their mother back and that she can be proud of them. Starting out as a shy eighth grader to where Carlos is now shows the determination he has to help make a difference in his family, school, and community. Carlos plans to further his education majoring in computer science to enter the field of cyber security.

    Heritage High School’s Student of the Month is Ocean Hernandez. According to Principal Lindsay Chavez, Ocean embodies all of the core values of Heritage’s LEGACY. So much so that five of her teachers nominated her. One of her teachers, Ms. Rowan Moser stated that Ocean is a passionate and kind person. “She is positive, and not the fake positive where you always have to be smiling. No, the true genuine positivity that she shares with all of her classmates and staff members,” she said. Ocean shared that one of the life lessons she’s learned, and will take with her through college and life, is to soak in everyday and all of its moments. “We are not guaranteed any time, so make the most of it while you can,” she said. Ocean takes this to heart, especially, after sharing about her childhood best friend’s dealing with cancer. Ocean plans to take a gap year to travel with her dad and then return to continue her education towards being a teacher.

    All of these students demonstrated a desire to work hard and have a drive to exceed others and their own expectations. The Perris Valley Chamber and the Menifee Valley Chamber wish them the best in their endeavors. If you wish to learn more about the Student of the Month Program, please contact founder, Sally Myers at (951) 506-8024.