District honors top graduates at ‘Salute to Excellence’

Posted: Thursday, May 31st 2018


Group photo of all students honored at 2018 Salute to Excellence

More than 80 high school seniors graduating in the top of their class were honored at the annual “Salute to Excellence” celebration at Sea World.

Honorees were joined by their families, as well as principals, administrators and Board trustees to celebrate and reflect on their accomplishments. Each student was introduced by their principal, and received a medal and certificate. 

KUSI Onsite Interviews

  • Interview 1: Alexis Montoya, Brenton Porter and Thomas Souvannarath, Lincoln High
  • Interview 2: Brenda Rozas, Kearny High; Zachary Kirk, Madison High
  • Interview 3: Maya Salameh, SDHS International Studies; Ryan Nguyen and Jonathan Schindler, Patrick Henry High
  • Interview 4: Board Vice President Sharon Whitehurst-Payne 

Each school honors the top 1 percent of its graduating seniors based on the number of students in their senior class. Students honored had grade-points averaging well above 4.0, and will be attending schools like UCLA, UCSD, Yale and Stanford, among other universities, in the fall. 

Maya Salameh from San Diego High School of International Studies is a co-valedictorian. In 2016, Salameh was selected as a National Student Poet and was invited to speak at the White House by President Obama. Salameh will be majoring in psychology and International Relations at Stanford in the fall. 

Board President Kevin Beiser, Board Vice President Sharon Whitehurst-Payne and Trustee Richard Barrera each spoke briefly and congratulated the graduates. Cheryl Hibbeln, executive director for the office of school innovation and integrated youth services, delivered remarks on behalf of the district. Ed Abeyta, associate dean and director of pre-college programs at UCSD, served as emcee. 

Kearny High School ASB President Diego Robles addressed the attendees and commended the students for their hard work and dedication. 

“Being recognized for this award of excellence demonstrates that you know the importance of education and that you’re a determined individual who chose to go above and beyond,” Robles said. “You truly are an example of academic success, and we all admire and congratulate you for taking nothing less than the best from your equation.” 

Prior to the ceremony, the district hosted a reception featuring entertainment by the award-winning Preservationists, the student jazz band from Mission Bay High School.

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