By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
High School Honors Standout Student Trio
ehs som 4-13
Named as the Students of the Month recently at Escalon High School were these four seniors, from left, Veronica Grajeda, Lilliana Koller, Sarah Leal and Chloe Bates. Marg Jackson/The Times

The Escalon Sunrise Rotary, in cooperation with Escalon High School, has named the latest Students of the Month, honored for their academic, athletic and community activities.

Chosen for recognition this month were seniors Veronica Grajeda, Lilliana Koller, Sarah Leal and Chloe Bates.

Veronica Grajeda was nominated by teacher Anne Dunn.

“I’ve had the pleasure of having Veronica in my AP Literature class,” Dunn noted. “She’s actively involved in discussions, comes to class prepared and with an eager and open mind, and challenges herself to do her best.”

An FFA member all four years of high school, she also is a Travel Club member and will be attending a trip to Europe this summer. Grajeda is in the Photo and Art Club, is a church choir member and part of Give Every Child A Chance as a tutor. She has played basketball, run cross country and played soccer at EHS, coached cub basketball for two years and plays on a travel soccer team.

“I’ve really seen a lot of growth in Veronica academically and I’ve so appreciated her willingness to tackle difficult literature and take risks in her sharing and writing,” added Dunn.

For her part, Grajeda plans to attend a four-year school and major in psychology. She hopes to eventually work with kids to “make a difference in their lives and give them a voice” in the future.

She also thanked her family for encouraging her to do what she loves, teachers, coaches and advisors for “always believing in my potential” and helping her realize how much of a difference once person can make. She offered thanks to friend Skilar Cook, who she said “has always helped me in achieving goals I never thought I could reach.”

Grajeda was a scholar athlete for 11 sports seasons at EHS and won a variety of sports awards, also recognized as a top seven girl runner in cross country.

Earning her nomination from teacher Andrew Beam was Lilliana Koller.

“Lilliana has truly been a standout person from day one of this year,” Beam noted. “Not only is she a great student, with the highest grade in her class, but a great person. She loves participating in discussions, working with other students and assisting them with the curriculum.”

Koller has been accepted to San Jose State University, was recognized as a Cougar Scholar, earned both an Academic and Music Block E and is an AP Scholar with distinction.

“I would like to thank my late father for always inspiring me and motivating me to try my hardest and for encouraging me in my endeavors,” Koller said.

She has been involved in CSF, Academic Decathlon, ASB, FFA, Jazz Ensemble, Visual and Performing Arts Club and Key Club at EHS.

She also was an Academic Decathlon medal winner for honors division in speech and math this year.

“She puts countless hours into her schooling, yet is still involved in multiple clubs and school activities,” Beam added. “She is the type of student that the Rotary Club is looking for in terms of being someone with morals, values, and passion for Escalon High School.”

Sarah Leal was nominated for the honor by teacher Anne Dunn, who classified her as “an absolute delight” to have in her AP Literature class.

“She is an active learner who always has perceptive – and usually witty – contributions to our class discussions. She participates eagerly in all activities and often takes leadership,” Dunn said. “Her writing is insightful and it is obvious she is growing in her abilities to analyze and appreciate the varied nuances of all types of literature.”

A member of the Key Club and a Fellowship of Christian Athletes member, Leal is also ASB and senior class advisor, is yearbook and newspaper editor, a volunteer coach for Escalon youth basketball and a member of Saint Anthony’s of Padua’s parish. She has played volleyball, basketball and soccer all four years at EHS, was captain of the JV soccer team her freshman and sophomore years and this year was captain for basketball, as well as a Scholar Athlete.

“I would like to thank my parents for all their love and dedication, teachers for their support and guidance,” Leal said. “Also coaches for their belief in my and Coach Beam and Dalpogetti for life lessons they have taught me and pushing me to be my best.”

Dunn said she sees a bright future for Leal.

“I love Sarah’s enthusiasm and optimism – she’s happy when she enters the classroom and generously involves herself in activities throughout Escalon High School.”

Nominated by Theresa Langum, Chloe Bates has been involved in a number of activities while a student at EHS.

“She is kind, she is a hard worker, and she has leadership qualities,” Langum said of the senior. “She tries hard to always be positive and looks for the good in others. She pushes herself in her school work and in her extracurricular activities and is a team player.”

Bates has been involved in cheerleading all four years at EHS, is President of the French Club, a Friends Helping Friends club member, received the coaches award for cheer team, and made the honor roll as a junior and senior.

“In her senior year when students tend to relax a little, she has upped her game and is taking French and AP classes and still had time to show her pride for her school as a cheerleader,” noted Langum. “Chloe is a young woman who any young girl can look up to and any parent can be very proud of.”

Bates plans to attend Stanislaus State next year, studying psychology and criminal justice.

“I would like to thank Mrs. Langum for nominating me,” Bates said. “Also my family, and my teachers for pushing me to always do my best.”

The four honorees were recognized at a recent breakfast meeting of the Rotary Club.