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The Dana Hills Class of 2013 challenged to embrace uncertainty

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By Andrea Papagianis

Clad in their blue and white gowns with the tassels dangling from their caps flying in the wind, the 2013 graduates of Dana Hills High School held with tradition and rode to their commencement on scooters, skateboards and bikes.

And as “Pomp and Circumstance” echoed throughout the football field, the bustling stands filled with families and friends jubilantly cheered for their soon-to-be graduates.

With the uncertainty they felt in 2009 as they stepped into high school now shed, the newest Dolphin alumni stood tall and proud as they filtered onto the green lawn, closing one door and opening another.

Their speeches rang parallel in theme, but as Alexandrea McDermott, XiaRui Zhang, Ethan Rinchik and Nabil Farooqi took to the podium to deliver their parting words the individuality of Dana Hills shone through.

McDermott went first, and pulling from Eleanor Roosevelt, implored her classmates to conquer one fear every day. Zhang, the Scholar of Scholars who is studying electrical engineering and computer science at UC Berkeley in the fall, followed by asking his peers to take their creativeness to new heights to cure cancer and find cleaner energy forms.

Next, Rinchik defined their commencement as the beginning and told classmates to hold onto their inner Peter Pan while facing the journey ahead. Then spoke Farooqi, whose speech balanced those of his peers and encouraged the Class of 2013 to embrace their uncertainty and bravely move forward.

With a smile on his face and a glimmer in his eye, Narooqi asked, “Dana Hills how do you feel?”

The 733 graduating seniors stood in synchronization and, as one voice, proclaimed, “We feel good. Oh, we feel so good.”

With that the Dolphins changed their tassels from right to left, tossed their caps and said “Goodbye” to their school, their second home, affectionately called Dana.

Snapshot of Dana Hills Graduates

733 Graduates

148 Academic Distinction Awards (students with GPAs ranging from 3.5 to 3.9)

107 Valedictorians (students with a GPA of 4.0 or higher)

34 percent (approximately) of the graduating class earning Valedictorian or Academic Distinction status

16 National Merit Scholarship Commended Students

5 National Merit Scholarship Program Finalists

1 National Merit Scholarship Recipient

2 Athletes on Wall of Fame

Award Winners

On Wednesday, May 29, outstanding soon-to-be graduates were honored at a Senior Awards ceremony at Dana Hills High School.

Below is a list of awards handed out that evening.

South Coast Water District Director Rick Erkeneff (right) presents scholarships to graduating seniors (L to R) Emma Suffridge, Liana Sequeira, Sarah Martino, Brooke Dorsey and Briana Gibbs at the Dana Hills High School senior awards presentation on May 30. Photo courtesy of Heather Johnston
South Coast Water District Director Rick Erkeneff (right) presents scholarships to graduating seniors (L to R) Emma Suffridge, Liana Sequeira, Sarah Martino, Brooke Dorsey and Briana Gibbs at the Dana Hills High School senior awards presentation on May 29. Photo courtesy of Heather Johnston

Scholar of Scholars: XiaRui Zhang

Dolphin of the Year: Emily Jaimerena

Dolphin of the Year Finalists: Kelsey Borovinsky, Taylor Carol, Emily Copp, Patricia Flynn, Kelley Gomez, Emily Jaimerena, Sarah Jaques, Sarah Martino, Katherine McGauley, Ehtan Rinchik, Matthew Slade, Sara Vandegrift and Katie Whetter

ASU Leadership Awards: Jimmy Fallon (ASU President), Christopher James Angle (Commissioner of Records), Brenna Barker (Commissioner of Student Relations), Emily Copp (Activities Committee), Patricia Flynn (Senior Class President), Ross Greer (Commissioner of Intramurals), Emma Gullickson (Activities Committee), Zoe Le Bon de Lapointe (Communications Committee), Sarah Martino (Senior Class Secretary/Treasurer), Shaye McClory (Activities Committee), Mason Palmer (Activities Committee), Estelle Plouff (Senior Commissioner of Activities) and Devin Trabant (Graphic Artist)

California State PTA Scholarship: Nikkolai Bellinghausen, David Cornella, Kelley Gomez, James Koci, Thomas Robertson      and Liana Waterbury

Capistrano Unified Council of PTSA Scholarship: Thomas Robertson

Capistrano Unified Seal of Biliteracy: Holly Erwin, Katherine Flowers, Dana Gieselman, Chandler Grade, Agueda Hernandez, Sabine Ludwig, Amy Medina, Matilde Pedraza, Kimberli Portillo, Analise Richtsmeier, Yossymar Rojas, Paloma Rothschild and Elena Sittler

Dana Hills Scholarship of Achievement: Edgardo Puente

Dana Point Chamber of Commerce Scholarship: Briana Gibbs, Sarah Grimes, Nicci Julian, Sarah Martino and Cade Montgomery

Dana Point Historical Society Scholarship: Sarah Martino

Dana Point Women’s Club Scholarship: Sarah Grimes and Katherine McGauley

DHHS Scholar-Athlete: Avery French and Cade Montgomery

DHHS Wall of Fame: Samuel Pfeil and Danielle Repper

Monarch Beach Sunrise Rotary Club Scholarship: Yessica Aldama

National Charity League, Capistrano Coast: David Cornella and Mason Palmer

National Hispanic Recognition Program: Kelley Jude Gomez

National Merit Scholarship Program Commended Students: Nikkolai Maximillain Bellinghausen, Amanda Belle Buckingham, Brett Austin Cleary, Kelley Jude Gomez, Cynthia Guo Hou, Rohit Rao Jayanthi Kolar, Katherine Nicole McGauley, Cade Deming Montgomery, Miranda Nicole Morgan, Andrew Xuan-Viet Pham, Ethan John Rinchik, Jonathan Ryan Scarff, Elizabeth Douglass Summers, Savannah Jane Tate, Devin Claire Trabant and XiuRui Zhang

National Merit Scholarship Program Finalists: Amanda Belle Buckingham, Rohit Rao Jayanthi Kolar, Katherine Nicole McGauley, Andrew Xuan-Viet Pham and Devin Claire Trabant

National Merit Scholarship Recipient: Amanda Belle Buckingham

Principal’s Leadership Award: Emily Copp

Senior Class Leadership: President: Patricia Flynn, Secretary/Treasurer: Sarah Martino

SOCSA Scholarships: Sarah Bond, Sarah Jaques, Brooke Lewis, Jacob Sloan, Elizabeth Summers, Gwendolyn Thomas and Shannon Tweed

South Coast Water District Scholarship: Brooke Dorsey, Briana Gibbs, Sarah Martino, Liana Sequeira and Emma Suffridge

United States Marine Corps—

Distinguished Athlete Award: Emily Jaimerena and Matthew Slade

Scholastic Excellence Award: Amanda Buckingham and Cade Montgomery

Semper Fidelis Award for Musical Excellence: Ian Gibson and Emma Suffridge

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