Top Denair High Students Sandoval, Villa, Gomes Reflect on Quality of Education, Academic Success

L to R, Reyna Villa, Alondra Sandoval, and Rachel Gomes

Submitted by Denair High School:

Alondra Sandoval and Reyna Villa are the Denair High School Class of 2019 valedictorians thanks to their 4.18 grade-point averages. The salutatorian will be Rachel Gomes, who compiled a 4.08 GPA in her four years.

The graduation ceremony will be Friday, May 24 beginning at 7:30 p.m. at Jack Lytton Stadium. Gates open at 6 p.m. Tickets are not required.

After students receive their diplomas, there will be a Sober Grad Night party in the gym.

Sandoval, Villa and Gomes recently took time to answer 10 questions about their high school experiences.

Question: What are the key things other students should know about your academic success and how you achieved it?

Sandoval: All it takes is motivation. No matter how much work it is, just keep pushing.

Villa: My academic success was not easy to achieve. There were countless nights where I had to stay up late in order to finish my work. School became my priority and there were even times where I wouldn’t get out of my room at all because I would be studying or doing homework. I have succeeded academically because I have put the time and effort into my work. Nothing came easy for me.

Gomes: I achieved academic success through a lot of time and patience and hard work. 

Q: How much time outside of class did you spend studying or doing homework?

Villa: On average, I spend more than five hours studying or doing homework. If I have a lot of homework, I start doing it at 3 and stop around 10 p.m. If I don’t have a lot, I start at 5. However, I take breaks in between and I don’t spend more than two hours glued to my laptop without taking a break.

Gomes: I spend about two hours a night on homework and studying.

Sandoval: I spend the majority of it studying, but I still have time here and there to have fun.

Q: Which classes and/or teachers at Denair High had the most influence on you?

Gomes: The teacher who had the most influence on me was Ms. North because she always pushed me to do my best and excel in everything.

Sandoval: My ninth-grade biology class taught by Ms. Vaughn and my trig teacher Mrs. Hilton had a very big influence.

Villa: Ms. North had the most influence over me as she was the one teacher who truly challenged me and pushed me to try harder. Her class also taught me to manage my time wisely and how to deal with stress under pressure.

Q: How many Advanced Placement classes were you able to take? Were you challenged?

Sandoval: I took six classes and they were a challenge. I took four of them this year.

Villa: I have taken six Advanced placement classes — English literature, English language, Spanish language, biology, government and macroeconomics. I was definitely challenged, especially in Ms. North’s English class.

Gomes: I was able to take at least one each year, but I was able to take three AP classes during my senior year. These classes always had me challenged; however, I was eager to do my best.

Q: What kind of culture of learning exists in your home? What has that meant for your success in high school?

Villa: My home is not very focused on education. I am not pushed at home to do my best in school and I was often times scolded for spending too much time doing homework or studying. However, this only motivated me to continue my education to show my family that my education and all the time and effort I devoted to it was not in vain.

Gomes: The culture of learning that exists in my home is that education is most important and comes first. My parents have always been supportive and willing to help my brothers and me with being successful in high school.

Sandoval: My family really cherishes education so I have been pushed and influenced to follow that same path of enrichment.

Q: What should members of the community know about the quality of education at Denair High?

Gomes:  The community should know that Denair High’s quality of education is beginning to become very advanced and successful. Just recently, Denair has begun to offer many more AP courses.

Sandoval: Denair High offers a unique a special chance to be involved with teachers and confidently and comfortably seek their guidance.

Villa: Our community should know that although Denair may not be as rigorous as other schools or have as many advanced placement classes, students still get an excellent education and can get into the same colleges as other schools. The education offered at Denair does not affect a student’s ability to succeed.

Q: Outside of class, what kinds of teams, organizations or clubs are you involved in? How important are extracurricular activities in preparing you for college and beyond?

Sandoval: I was in soccer, tennis, HYLC (Hispanic Youth Leadership Club), PHAST (Protecting Health and Slamming Tobacco) Club, CSF (California Scholastic Federation) and volunteering. To colleges, it gives you more character.

Villa: I was not very involved in outside activities such as sports as much I would have liked, but I was involved in clubs. I am currently a member of PHAST Club, Key Club, HYLC, Library Club and leadership. Being a member of these clubs has greatly prepared me for college as I have learned how to interact with others and the many ways one can help in her community.

Gomes: Outside of class, I did four years of basketball and two years of softball. Sports were an important part in preparing me for college and life beyond because they taught me time management.

Q: What is the right balance for teens busy with school, teams or clubs, and even part-time jobs?

Villa: The right balance for teens busy with school, clubs or part-time jobs would be to always prioritize school. Personally, I would spend more time on schoolwork than anything else. When I had a part-time job, it was very stressful trying to find a balance between school and my job. However, I knew that school was more important, so I had to ask for less days.

Gomes: I think the right balance for teens busy with school, teams and jobs is to make sure to put what is important first and then integrate the appropriate amount of extracurricular activities. I think it is important to be involved but not overloaded.

Sandoval: It is all about setting up a schedule and sticking to it. DO NOT procrastinate.

Q: What are your college and career plans?

Gomes: My educational goals include attending Merced Junior College, where I plan to study accounting. I then plan to transfer to a four-year university such as San Jose State or Stanislaus State to earn my bachelor’s degree in accounting or business finance. My career plans are to work as an accountant or something in a business-related field.

Sandoval: I want to attend UC Davis, get involved in research projects and become an ecological researcher.

Villa: I plan to attend UC Berkeley. I am not quite sure what I want to major in, but I am thinking either biology or business. I would want to major in biology since I want to become a dentist in the future. I’m also interested in majoring in business because if I do become a dentist, I will have enough knowledge about business to open my own clinic.

Q: What themes are you going to talk about in your speeches on graduation night?

Sandoval: Some themes I will mention are those of high school, gratitude, success and intelligence.       

Villa: I will be talking about friendship and how many times we overlook the simple things that hold great importance. I will also be talking about the importance of setting goals and achieving them.Gomes: The theme that I will be talking about in my speech is the tight bond that my senior class shares.

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