LH Rotary recognizes outstanding students

By Jane Williams
La Habra Journal

La Habra Rotary members were able to meet the top student of the senior class at each high school, not the one with the highest grade point but the one who distinguished herself in contributing to activities and who took on tasks that made possible the accomplishments of other students. And yes, you read it correctly, herself. It just so happens all of them this year are female.

Karl Zener/La Habra Journal
Leaders’ recognition: The La Habra Rotary Club awarded student leaders, Whittier Christian High School’s Ashlynn Hernandez (left) La Habra High School’s Justine Sombilon and Sonora High School’s Hanna Suh show their certificates at the club’s awards luncheon that took place last month.

Justine Sombilon was born in the Philippines. When she was two her parents decided to emigrate to the United States, settling first in Washington, D.C., then to Texas, and by the time she was eight they were living in Fullerton.
She attended Rolling Hills Elementary where she decided to audition for the lead female role in “Tom Sawyer.”
Her parents only heard about it when she had won the role. It was there she met Vickie Schindele who later became the musical director at Fullerton Children’s Repertory Theater which her principal encouraged her to join after seeing her performance as Becky Thatcher.
She went onto to appear in two musicals a year throughout junior high. After deciding to attend La Habra High, she entered the AP Heritage program, participated in three Main Stage productions, and joined the Cappies team, writing reviews of productions put on by Orange County high schools. As a freshman, three of her reviews were published and she was named Top Freshman Critic by the Cappies, and still compiled a straight-A record for that year. By Junior year she was a lead critic and guided her team through 13 published reviews, three of them hers.
That was the year she was named editor of The Scotch Tape, the school newspaper. She and the staff decided to redesign the paper as a magazine.
The same year her theater director, Brian Johnson, asked her to try out for “Blamed: An Established Fiction,” a dance and music-infused play about women throughout history wrongly accused for the ills of the world, at the Hollywood Fringe Festival.
Her audition was a success and she performed this summer with very talented women. When the show closed in Hollywood, Justine received news it was going to off-Broadway at the Soho Playhouse. This past September she flew to New York to recreate her part for a week.
Through high school, Justine has discovered her real joy comes from telling stories, whether in the Scotch Tape, or in bringing a character to life on the stage. It comes as no surprise that she is applying to schools in New York City known for their drama programs as well as UCLA.
Whittier Christian selected Ashlynn Hernandez, an outstanding student who has been in the top 10 of her class every year, passed two AP tests, completed the Cal State Fullerton US History course, and is carrying a 4.42 GPA. Ashlynn is also a great athlete having first been captain of the Girls’ JV soccer team for two years and then captain of the varsity team her junior and senior years.
She is an accomplished vocalist, singing with the choir for three years and appearing as Glinda The Good Witch in the “Wizard of Oz” as a freshman and Queen Constantina in “Cinderella” in 10th grade. This year she will perform as Jo March in the “Little Women” musical.
She also found time to be head of the link crew in this, its first year, serve on ASB as its representative, the Chapel team for three years, and this year as a member of the worship team, as well as three years on the Theatre Council. She would like to become an elementary school teacher and has applied to Liberty University and Wheaton College.
Sonora had no trouble selecting Hanna Suh as their outstanding senior. How could they resist an IB student with a 4.67 GPA, a National Merit Semifinalist and the captain of the Academic Decathlon.
Who also teaches violin to elementary students and is a member of the South Coast Symphony. And to top it all off this year at Sonora she makes time to be Commander of the Sonora JROTC unit.
She has spent 400 hours on community service and is a reliable participant in Sonora’s annual Christmas food drive.
She plans on attending Johns Hopkins University in the fall.

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