Meet the 2017 Selfless Seniors
The 14 students will be recognized during the first ever Gold Bar Gala on Friday, April 21.
Fourteen of the most giving and most impressive students in Albuquerque Public Schools have been selected as 2017 Selfless Seniors by the APS Education Foundation.
The students, nominated for their often unheralded works at their schools, communities and even families, will be recognized on April 21, 2017, during the first-ever Gold Bar Gala, hosted by the Foundation. They also were photographed by Albuquerque’s Frank Frost, whose work has been critical to Selfless Seniors since its inception in 2008.
Ana Kilgore, Albuquerque High School
Ana’s contributions to her school and community are many. She currently serves as the Student Body Vice President and National Honor Society Secretary. She is a member of BLISS (Bettering Lives in Small Steps) and MESA (Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement). She is also involved with the Make-A-Wish campaign, Roadrunner Food Bank and her church. By helping organize charity events, Ana has raised funds for New Day, the Rape Crisis Center and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Albuquerque High School Activities Director Stephanie Dunn wrote of Ana, “I often hear of students participating in student leadership because it looks good on transcripts. This is probably the furthest thing from Ana’s mind. She sincerely gives her entire heart and soul to helping out Albuquerque High School and her community. She just lives her life the way she knows how to, which is with absolute grace, dignity and honor.”
Clarizza Morales Chacon, Atrisco Heritage Academy High School
Clarizza will be a first generation high school graduate. Along with her academic achievements both at Atrisco Heritage Academy and through courses provided by UNM, Clarizza also serves as the co-president for the MESA/Dream Makers Club and as the president of the Bilingual National Honor Society. Clarizza volunteers to serve senior citizens through the Jaguars for Positive Change Club and helps to support her family by working with her mother two days a week to clean houses. Diane Russell, Health & Social Science Academy Head at Atrisco Heritage Academy, once asked Clarizza how she was able to complete all her schoolwork so well. Clarizza replied: “Ms. Russell when I came to the United States in the 8th grade I could not speak or write English very well so I would stay up and translate all my assignments from Spanish into English.” Ms. Russell writes, “This student continues to humble me.” Clarizza plans to finish college and continue on to dental school.
Kelsey Clark, Cibola High School
Kelsey has spent hundreds of hours volunteering for her school and community. The numerous individual organizations, community events and programs she has supported, includes: the Suicide Awareness Program with the Jason Foundation, Operation Smile, a car wash for first responders, her elderly neighbor, Roadrunner Food Bank, the Color Run at Seven Bar Elementary, Sierra Vista Fall Festival, “Days for Girls” Project, Gorham Boy Scout Ranch, the Palmilla Senior Center, Rio at the Grande Assisted Living and many more. Her basketball coach, Lori Mabrey, writes of her, “She does not wait for someone to ask, she acts. Kelsey makes you want to do more.”
Timothy Mondloch, Del Norte High School
Tim participates and has taken leadership roles in numerous school activities including band, National Honor Society, Tri-M Music Honor Society, Black Student Union, Environmental Club, and Speech and Debate. Tim also finds time to care for his elderly grandmother and tutor elementary school students. Tim recently attended the NAACP Albuquerque Annual Civil Rights and Diversity Conference and volunteered as a participant of the Youth Panel. Stephanie Cooper, his Black Student Union sponsor, writes of his panel participation, “His knowledge of current events and his articulate position on rights for people of color drew applause from an audience of community leaders.”
Kawai’ola Wong, Eldorado High School
Kawai’ola has built an impressive record of accomplishment of not only engaging in community service but also staying with programs for years. He has become a leader in the programs he serves, including Boy Scouts, the Eldorado High School choir program, Youth Ministry, Ukulele Club, and the Gay Straight Alliance, among others. Matthew Aguilera, his mentor and youth director, writes of Kawai’ola: “The biggest difference I see between Kawai and other giving students is his ability to commit and tenacity to stay with it for more time than he is needed to ensure the program’s success and his individual success. He wakes up early to further himself as a singer, an actor, a minister, an intellect and social justice advocate; and this is unlike any high school student I have ever seen.”
Pholopater Faltas, Highland High School
Pholopater, also called Phil, is active in numerous clubs and activities, donating his time to the Saint Thomas of Canterbury Church, Explora, Princeton Place Rehabilitation & Nursing, and the UNM Hospital Emergency Department. Along with excelling academically, Phil is already an accomplished musician and tennis player. As a member of the Gun-Sense Movement, Phil organized a student walk in honor of Jayden Chavez-Silver and Lily Garcia, young victims of gun violence. Phil was born in Egypt and last year became a U.S. citizen and now works to help other foreign students by organizing study groups. His teacher, Mark Ramirez, writes of Phil, “When he graduates from Highland, he will leave behind a lasting legacy of not just individual service, but an established tradition of student body commitment to the school, to APS, and to the community of Albuquerque.”
Reagan Vice, La Cueva High School
Diagnosed with autism, Reagan took part in La Cueva High School’s Best Buddies program and was paired with Wes Swainston, a 2015 Selfless Senior. Since his freshman year, Reagan has shown a passion for helping other students living with a disability through friendship and support and has participated in leadership opportunities through Best Buddies. Wes writes, “What separates Reagan from his fellow seniors isn’t his disability, it’s his drive to make people happy, to make people feel good about themselves and to make sure everyone knows that they have a friend so no one feels the pain of being alone.”
Wendy De La Cruz, Manzano High School
Wendy is no stranger to adversity. During her freshman year, her mother was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Wendy took her mother’s shifts cleaning offices at night to help support the family as well as take care of her younger brothers. Despite having limited time, Wendy has excelled in school, and she gives her time to the community through the AVID program, Educators Rising and the Spanish Honor Society. Having to learn English herself, Wendy now supports other students struggling to learn and helps them keep pace with their classes. Francesca Martinez, a teacher of Wendy’s, wrote of her: “I feel that all students are willing to help and give when prompted to, but Wendy will take the initiative and do things without being asked or told. I feel that this separates her from her classmates and peers.”
Adela Castaneda, Rio Grande High School
Adela not only volunteers through the National Honor Society but also volunteers with Presbyterian Hospital, helping with patient rehabilitation. She also volunteers her time at her church daycare and at an elementary school reading to young students. Adela truly enjoys helping others and bringing them comfort. Laurene Pena, sponsor for the NHS, wrote of Adela, “She doesn’t volunteer for her own recognition or just to have something to write for her college applications and essays. She does it because she truly cares about other people and wants to make a difference in the lives of those she helps.”
Amanda Miner, Sandia High School
Amanda is an accomplished and engaged student. Her ambition and determination to succeed are evident through her engagement in several school activities as well as her dedication to the International Baccalaureate Program at Sandia High School. Amanda has gone the extra miles in supporting her fellow students by starting the Students for Students club, providing over 400 survival bags for homeless teens last year. Amanda also volunteers at Clinica La Esperanza as a translator and helps with patient intakes and vitals for the clinic. Candice Kuhlman, counselor at Sandia High School, writes: “Helping others changes you and gives you a different perspective on the world. By establishing [the Students for Students] club, these students were given the gift of giving and doing for others. It isn’t easy to motivate teenagers to get out of their comfort zone, so Amanda has shown true leadership skills to make this happen.”
Adriana Torrez, Valley High School
Adriana never wants to miss an opportunity. She has been involved in the Valley Senate, MESA Valley Academy and the National Honor Society. She also volunteers at the Boys and Girls Club. She has worked with young students on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) activities and helps collect donations for the homeless. Serri Grube, MESA sponsor at Valley High School, writes of Adriana: “Her drive isn’t the only thing that impresses me. She has the best attitude about life and is so willing to help in any way. I have never seen her without a smile. She has an amazing personality and I am a better person just knowing her.”
Susan Hastings, Volcano Vista High School
Susan gives back to the community through her volunteer efforts with Children’s Miracle Network and Sunset View Elementary School. Susan also serves a caregiver for her father, who lives with a traumatic brain injury, and works with patients who also suffer from traumatic brain injuries. Susan herself has a genetic eye retinal detachment, which impairs her vision, but not her attitude. Joshua Moorhead, a friend of Susan’s, writes, “She is able to make my friends and I smile, laugh and enjoy our time together with jokes and creative ideas.”
Guadalupe Moreno, West Mesa High School
Lupe has been volunteering in her community since she was in elementary school. Her community service has only grown with time. She has dedicated herself to helping those less fortunate by collecting food and clothing donations. She has also helped her fellow students by packing snacks for those getting ready for the PARCC exams and helping prepare performers at a school-sponsored event. Outside of school, she volunteers with her community senior center with the APS Title I program. She and her mother also help care for an elderly neighbor, and Lupe works to ensure people of all ages have access to food and clothing through her volunteer work. Emilia Ramirez, school counselor at West Mesa High School, writes: “Lupe has been observed to treat everyone equally, no matter how different they are. She always acknowledges everyone, is kind hearted and is one of the most humble teenagers I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing.”
Natalie Chambers, Nex+Gen Academy
Natalie coordinates events at Nex+Gen Academy as part of her engagement in the ambassador program. She spearheaded a new program called the Buddy Program, which pairs juniors and seniors with incoming freshmen. Even though Natalie lives on her own and doesn't have a car, she finds a way to get to school and attends school events and volunteers in the community. Krystal Irby, a teacher of Natalie’s, writes: “Natalie leads by quiet example. She is not center-stage riling up the crowd. She is humble and very quick to notice and recognize the contributions of others. Natalie is truly selfless. She has overcome many obstacles in her own life and always seems to have so much to give to others.”