Lucine Ekizian, Salutatorian, Blair High School
Lucine Ekizian is a writer and award-winning poet who attended the Armenian Academy at Blair High School. She is a candidate for the Diploma from the International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme. Lucine will attend UCLA in the fall and plans to major in philosophy and take courses to prepare for law school. Her goal is to become an entertainment attorney.
She received the 2021 Young Armenian Poets Award from the International Armenian Literary Alliance for her poem “Go Light on the Sweetness” and participated in WriteGirl, the writing and mentoring organization that promotes creativity and self-expression to empower girls.
Her activities include ASB representative for the Armenian Academy, Ed100 Outreach Ambassador, 12 years in Girl Scouts, and the PUSD Student Think Tank.
Lucine says that her experience at Blair after attending private schools was a journey of self-discovery and actualization. “I learned to be self-reliant and to question what we know and how we know it, living the Theory of Knowledge course that is required in the IB Diploma Programme,” she said.
Roman Sailes, Valedictorian, Center for Independent Studies Academy (CIS)
Roman Sailes will head to Cal Poly Pomona to study Computer Science after graduating from CIS Academy next month. Roman made the Principal's Honor Roll in his freshman and sophomore years, won the National Black Scholar Award in junior year, and earned the Academic Excellence Award in senior year. This outstanding student has also been a part of the Bright Future Scholars program since 7th grade.
Roman is the Valedictorian for CIS Academy's Class of 2023.
“I've worked hard to keep up my grades and even though school hasn't been easy, I'm proud of myself for making it this far and I'm very grateful to everyone who's had my back and supported me throughout it,” Roman said.
Roman had a tough decision to make and was also accepted at Cal State Los Angeles, Cal State Northridge, and Cal State Dominguez Hills.
William Simpson, Salutatorian, Center for Independent Study
Three years ago, William Simpson founded his own non-profit organization. He is an exemplary student and has already earned several college credits through dual enrollment at Pasadena City College (PCC).
After attending school in another district, William enrolled in PUSD’s Center for Independent Study (CIS) Academy. He has always thrived as an online student.
“CIS has given me the flexibility to take college courses as well as work on my non-profit, Resolve Los Angeles. The teachers and counselors were extremely supportive. I was also able to continue taking concurrent enrollment classes in person at Pasadena City College,” William explained.
CIS Principal Larry Torres said, “CIS turned out to be an excellent fit for William and he was able to maintain high academic marks as well as take an entire year of math in one semester.”
At CIS, William’s accolades continued to add up. He was elected as a representative of the CIS School Site Council, the school’s governing body. He was honored with the Every Student Succeeds Award which highlights students who overcome obstacles.
In addition, William has made it his mission to empower others through an organization he created. ResolveLA.org sells streetwear to spread positive messages and fund relief efforts aimed at homelessness, the environment, and social injustice issues. Recently the 501(c)3 company donated over $1500 to an area drug recovery center.
William plans to major in economics at UC San Diego. He wants to expand his non-profit to more cities, and hopes to someday “make a difference in the world.”
Duncan Addicott, Salutatorian, John Muir High School Early College Magnet
As salutatorian and a member of Muir’s marching band, percussionist Duncan Addicott is upbeat about his future. Duncan will head to Sonoma State University (SSU) as the recipient of the SSU President’s Scholarship. He plans to major in Communications and Media Studies because he says he likes to stay informed and “loves creating videos and taking photos.”
An experienced musician, Duncan plays several percussion instruments including vibraphone, marimba, snare drum, bass drum, and cymbals. Duncan played in the Mighty Mustang Marching Band in Pasadena’s Black History Parade, Latino Heritage Parade, several community events and various sporting events.
Duncan is looking forward to attending a public university with the feel of a “small, private school.” He’s well-prepared academically, having already completed several college credits at Pasadena City College (PCC) through Muir’s dual-enrollment program.
In addition to Sonoma State, Duncan was accepted to San Diego State University, California State University Northridge, California State University Channel Islands, California State University Chico, and Cal Poly Humboldt.
Congratulations to Duncan and all the graduates in the Class of 2023!
Celeste Sharp, Valedictorian, John Muir High School Early College Magnet
Celeste Sharp loves the water and the earth, and plans to take an in-depth look at both as an agroecology major at the University of California at Santa Cruz, this fall. Celeste gained experience working at the Muir farm and, in college, hopes to learn more about small-scale sustainable farming, an interest that may have grown out of her mother’s love of gardening.
An outstanding student-athlete who has “always loved science,” Celeste has already completed 49 college credits at Pasadena City College (PCC) through Muir’s dual-enrollment program which allows students to simply walk across the quad to a self-contained PCC building and take college-level courses. Celeste has coached middle school water polo, played for Muir’s water polo team, and was captain of the swim team. In a way, the Muir community helped her stay afloat even during the “weird” pandemic years.
“One thing that stands out to me about Muir is that it really feels like a family,” she explained. “Even if I don’t know someone personally, I could still reach out to them and ask for help. Whether they’re a student or a teacher, I know that my Muir family is here for me.”
Celeste was also the Associated Student Body Treasurer and a member of the Gender & Sexuality Alliance founded by her older brother. In her spare time, she enjoys competing in triathlons, biking, and baking. She will attend UCSC but was also accepted at UC Berkeley, UC Davis, University of Hawaii at Hilo, and Goshen College.
Christina Leyva, John Muir High School Early College Magnet
A senior in the Arts, Entertainment, and Media Pathway Academy at John Muir High School Early College Magnet, Christina Leyva spoke eloquently at the annual State of Schools event on May 18. Christina is a 2023 Posse Scholar, selected to receive a four-year, full-tuition scholarship from the Posse Los Angeles Foundation. She was also one of eight students in the State of California to earn the Linked Learning Alliance Student of the Year Scholarship. Christina is in the Puente program and has taken several Advanced Placement (AP) courses. She has also earned nearly 30 college credits through the Early College Program at John Muir.
As a high school athlete and leader, she is involved in water polo, swimming, and marching band and is the student body secretary. Christina interned at Pasadena’s Light Bringer Project, created a podcast with local senior citizens, and participated in the College Access Plan, a nonprofit that helps students succeed in college.
Christina will attend Dickinson College in Pennsylvania, where she plans to major in English and possibly double major in Humanities. She plans to pursue a career helping children as a speech-language pathologist.
Maia Rosenbaum, Valedictorian, Marshall Fundamental
Marshall Fundamental Valedictorian Maia Rosenbaum has covered a lot of territory during her years at PUSD, first at Norma Coombs Elementary and then as a Marshall Eagle. She traversed countless miles in the Marching Band for four years and was the flute section leader in 11th and 12th grades. She shined as a member of PUSD All-Star Band from 2020 to 2023. She also played the flute in Marshall's productions of Matilda and Newsies in the selective pit orchestra.
In Marshall’s Academy for Creative Industries (ACI) Music Track, she received her arts requirement medallion after completing over 200 volunteer and work-based learning hours. She also ventured into space, so to speak, doing internships with the Keck Institute for Space Studies at Caltech and with the Light Bringer Project. She volunteered at the Pasadena Educational Foundation in the Summer Enrichment Program for two years and worked as a teaching assistant at Louis B. Silver Religious School for four years.
At her graduation ceremony, Maia thanked her family, friends and “wonderful” teachers and Marshall staff. She discussed the transition into adulthood which is transformative.
“To live means to change, to grow, and to shift continuously,” Maia stated.
During her PUSD journey, Maia wore several hats and participated in various extra-curricular activities including: the financial literacy club called Rock the Street Wall Street, Key Club, National Honor Society (NHS), Social Justice Club, and Associated Student Body (ASB) where she became Senior Class Secretary. She also worked as Music Club Treasurer, NHS Cabinet Service Project Coordinator, and Prom Committee Secretary.
She is recognized by the College Board as an AP Scholar with Distinction and is an AP Capstone Candidate for Diploma for her research, An Evaluation of Holocaust Education in Circa Valley Unified School District High Schools.
On the Principal’s Honor Roll every single semester at Marshall, Maia took advantage of the Dual Enrollment program through Pasadena City College (PCC) taking American Sign Language (ASL) 1 and 2, Personal Finance, and Mass Communications. She later took ASL 3 and Introductory Sociology through concurrent enrollment with PCC, all while attending College Access Plan (CAP) sessions.
Maia will join the UCLA Bruin family in the fall with plans to major in Economics. She was also accepted at Pasadena City College, San Diego State, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UCLA, UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara, Kenyon College, and the University of Washington.
Natalia Vargas, Marshall Fundamental Secondary School
Natalia Vargas has a vibrant future to look forward to as an art major at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). A first-generation college student, Natalia is one of 1,000 students to earn the Bruin Success Scholarship, a $10,000 award distributed at $2,500 per year. She joined the Marshall Eagle family in 6th grade following her promotion from Norma Coombs Elementary.
As an Eagle, Natalia soared both in school and outside the classroom. She was a member of the Black Student Union, the Financial Literacy Club, the Rock the Street Wall Street Club, president of the LatinX Club, and founder of the Screen Printing Club. As a student-athlete, she served as Team Captain of the Girls' Wrestling Team.
Natalia is enrolled in the Academy for Creative Industries (ACI) in the Art Track. Her recent piece, “Remembering Them” using colored pencil and paper medium, was displayed at the PUSD No Boundaries Art Exhibit and was the Bridging Boundaries 2023 Awardee. Through ACI, Natalia’s Summer Internship was with Altadena Children’s Center. She is also a ballet folklórico dancer transitioning into becoming an instructor with the City of Pasadena. Natalia has received additional academic and college preparatory support through the Upward Bound Program and College Access Plan (CAP).
She selected UCLA but had offers of admission from Pasadena City College, Cal State Los Angeles, Cal State University Northridge (CSUN), San Francisco State, UC Riverside, UC Santa Cruz, the University of LaVerne, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Justin Hong, Salutatorian, Pasadena High School
PHS Salutatorian Justin Hong has already learned a significant amount of college-level math, speaks Mandarin at home, has a sky-high GPA, and has been on the varsity swim team since freshman year. Yet, the extremely bright, well-rounded student-athlete modestly admits that did not think he would be accepted at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). He was, in fact, admitted to Caltech and he plans to study computation and neural systems.
A member of the Math Academy, Justin also joined Eurisko, a group of high schoolers working on advanced projects in computer science. It was formed during the summer of 2020 as a collaboration between App Academy and Math Academy. It is one of the most advanced high school math/computer science sequences in the country. Students write all their code from scratch before they are allowed to import from external libraries.
Justin has already conducted research at Caltech over the summer and is interested in how computer science and neuroscience interface -- in other words, the brain-computer connection.
Justin says the human connections that he made throughout his PUSD education (at Field Elementary, Sierra Madre Middle School, and PHS) will stay with him for years to come. He also says the water polo and swim programs were the “highlights” of his PHS memories. He’s swimming in sports accolades as well – he made it to the CIF Southern Section finals for both the 100-yard backstroke and 4x100 freestyle relay events after qualifying in the top 16 during the preliminaries. He also placed first in the Pacific League for the 100-yard backstroke.
He says he is grateful for his coaches and for his family, especially his parents who “constantly pushed” him and “worked extremely hard, likely harder than me, to provide me with the opportunities I needed to succeed.”
He’s also thankful for his teachers and said, “They care about whether or not we’re actually learning and they go to great lengths to make sure the learning process is enjoyable.”
Justin is a California Scholastic Federation (CSF) Sealbearer, a National Honor Society (NHS) member, and a Seal of Biliteracy recipient. Justin is also a National Merit Commended Scholar. In addition to Caltech, Justin was also accepted at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Noah Kronsburg, Pasadena High School
Noah Kronsburg is headed to an Ivy League university and says Pasadena High School helped him get there. Noah received a merit scholarship to study sociology at Columbia University and he is hoping to earn two bachelor’s degrees simultaneously through Columbia’s Joint Program with List College of the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS).
“Being one of the few Jewish students at Pasadena High School, I am proud to represent my heritage, and will continue doing so throughout my education,” Noah said. “Pasadena High School gave me the resources to succeed not only academically but socially. The teachers, counselors, and administrators really care about the students and do whatever they can in aiding them to succeed.”
Noah found success both inside and outside of the classroom. He played varsity tennis for four years, was team captain for two years, and was Commissioner of Publicity for the school’s Associated Student Body. A member of the Principal’s Honor Roll with Distinction, Noah is also a National AP Scholar with Distinction, a member of the National Honor Society, and has achieved Life Membership in the California Scholarship Federation.
Anton Perez, Valedictorian, Pasadena High School
PHS Valedictorian Anton Perez would someday like to join the world of academia (our favorite profession) by teaching, conducting research, and eventually obtaining his Ph.D. Although he does not have to declare a major until sophomore year at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), he plans to study mathematics and potentially double major in math and philosophy.
In addition to being Valedictorian, Anton is a California Scholastic Federation (CSF) Sealbearer, a member of the National Honor Society and a National Merit Commended Scholar. An exceptional student, Anton worked closely with his teachers to conduct research in the Math Academy at PHS and says he can find “satisfaction” and even “joy” in “writing a really concise proof or finding a solution.” He also served as President of the Astronomy Club.
At PHS, he seems to have stumbled upon his love of running during freshman year and was “unexpectedly good” enough to make the varsity track and cross country teams by junior year. Anton went to CIF Southern Section finals with the varsity cross country team during his junior year, and became team captain during his senior year. He says his teammates, fellow students, teachers, faculty and essentially “the people” made his high school experience at PHS so enjoyable.
“There are many talented and dedicated teachers here at PHS who truly care about our education and cultivating an environment where we can really learn,” Anton said.
In addition to MIT, Anton was also accepted at University of California (UC) Berkeley, UCLA, UC Santa Barbara (College of Creative Studies), UC San Diego, UC Santa Cruz, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Rensselaer Polytechnic.
Jorhozz “Aster” Silverio, Valedictorian, Rose City High School
Rose City High School’s mascot is a phoenix rising out of ashes, and Valedictorian Aster Silverio says it’s especially apt “because the school was the setting of the arc of my redemption.” After struggling during the pandemic, Aster felt supported at Rose City High School because it had options that fit the way she learns. She made up course credits quickly, was active in the school’s Student Leadership Board, and graduated early. She also interned at Pasadena’s Armory Center for the Arts.
Aster is still exploring careers and plans to attend Pasadena City College for two years before transferring to a four-year college. She would like to major in psychology with a minor in Philosophy and is also interested in photography, art, and animation. “My school experience made me realize that all knowledge is good knowledge. My goal is to be happy in whatever career I choose,” she says.
Katlyn Ong, Valedictorian, Blair High School
Katlyn Ong is headed to the University of the Pacific in Stockton, where she will enter the accelerated pre-dental program in which students complete undergraduate and dentistry school in six years instead of the normal eight. Her goal is to become a pediatric dentist and open a practice for all ages so that children can stay with the dental professionals they have come to know and trust.
“I had a good experience with my dentist as a child and want to make kids comfortable when they get dental care,” she said.
Katlyn has grown up in PUSD’s International Baccalaureate programs; she attended Willard Elementary, and Blair Middle and High School. She is a candidate for the Diploma from the International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme. She received the Seal of Biliteracy, speaks Mandarin and some Spanish. Katlyn is also in the National Honor Society and was Associated Student Body (ASB) President.
She is a swimmer and captain of Blair’s girls swim and water polo teams, has played the clarinet since fourth grade and is part of the school’s jazz band. She has been a long-time volunteer with the youth association of Tzu Chi, the global humanitarian organization. Through Tzu Chi, Katlyn has organized food banks, donation drives for victims of the war in Ukraine, and visited patients at convalescent homes.
“Through research, projects, and an immersive experience in learning, my experience at Blair and in IB made me a global citizen,” she said.