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LH Rotary awards local top graduates

By Jane Williams
For the La Habra Journal

Suffice it to say, all three of the high school’s valedictorians possess stratospheric grade point averages. starting at 4.5 and soaring to 4.8. The more amazing fact about each of them is how many other accomplishments each has packed into her, yes, this year all three are female, high school career.JuneStudents of Mon
Take Sydney Chou for example. While taking Sonora’s rigorous International Baccalaureate and A.P. courses and competing on the academic decathlon team, Sydney has been the principal oboist for the Orange County Youth Symphony Orchestra for the past three years. She performs with the orchestra along with the Anaheim Ballet company in the Concerts for Fifth Graders at Segerstrom Performing Arts Center.
Sydney has also performed at inner city schools as part of the Music Encounter Outreach program run by the Colburn School of Performing Arts. That school has seen fit to award her summer music and merit scholarships.
She was named principal oboe for the California All-State High School Orchestra in 2012 and 2013, attended Interlochen’s Advanced Oboe Institute and the Idyllwild High School Chamberfest Festival.
In the fall she will be off to UCLA and plans to major in Oboe Performance and Statistics. She plans to become an accountant. She already is a private oboe teacher and freelance musician.
Hana Park is the daughter of Minkyu and Inja Park who met in America after immigrating to Los Angeles from Korea. Hana credits Steve of Blues Clues with being her first English instructor. The Magic School Bus also eased her transition from her Korean speaking home to kindergarten.
Hana attended elementary school in Buena Park and went to Heights Christian Junior High.
She chose to come to La Habra High and enrolled in the Heritage of Americas program. In 10th grade she switched to the AP track, taking AP World History and all honors classes except for her 0 period theater course and 6th period swimming.
In 8th grade Hana joined the La Mirada Armada swim club, having participated on summer swimming teams from a young age. She swam varsity and made it to CIF Swim Finals in both her freshman and sophomore years for all of her events 100 meter butterfly and 200 meter IM.  She frequently volunteers for Armada as a timer at swim meets and as a member of the hospitality group for visiting teams.
Hana also became the president of the Asian Club and is a member of the La Habra Leos Club.
As a junior she decided to focus more intensely on her academics. She signed up for four AP classes. She received 5s on all her AP exams and was named an AP Scholar with Distinction.  This year she has taken six AP classes and seven AP exams. It was an arduous experience and she was grateful for her mother’s encouragement.
Hana was granted an academic achievement scholarship by UCLA and admitted to UCI’s Honors Program, but had decided to attend UC Berkeley and possibly major in Psychology. She hopes to choose a career that will make an impact helping others in the ways in which she is most able.
Finally there is Kelly Patapoff, captain of Whittier Christian’s volleyball team. For Kelly, volleyball starts in July and runs through the end of November. At least it does for the Heralds who have consistently gone deep into the CIF Championship series and this year won it all. She has also owned the scholar athlete award all four years for volleyball.
Kelly plays regularly with a club team the rest of the year, not to mention acting as referee for junior high players and as a coach for the Whittier Christian Elementary summer volleyball camp.
One of her teachers said, “Kelly reminds me of why I love teaching.” Several teachers commented on her academic maturity, sophistication, and delight in an academic challenge.
Volleyball coach Shawn Hunter probably summed it up best, “She is smart as a whip, ready to compete and a true friend and blessing.” Principal Martinez added, “Kelly has been a moral and spiritual leader on our campus.”
Kelly is also going to UCLA, then to medical school and plans to become a cardiologist. And everyone at Whittier Christian expects her to do just that.

Started in 1995, the La Habra Journal is an independent community news source serving the cities of La Habra and La Habra Heights.