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News from the Foundation

Posted: January 20, 2020

Student of the Week Amanda Castellano

Senior at West Mesa High School

Nusenda Credit Union, in partnership with the APS Education Foundation, highlights an APS student each week.

What Amanda says about school: School is a great way to make new friends and it helps us get out of our comfort zone. School has been a great experience, especially with all the fun activities and school spirit. 

Favorite subject: My favorite subject is yearbook because I get to interact with different students at the school and make new friends. 

Plans for the future: I want to be a physical therapist because I've wanted a job that could help others. 

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More on Amanda (from her teachers, advisers and those who know her):  

  • Assists the school's Family Resource Center's food bank every 1st of the month
  • Helps to clean the football stadiums every Saturday morning as a member of the Cheer team
  • As a member of the Cheer team, she has participated in Tim Tebow's "Night to Shine" Prom, which is a dance celebrating people with special needs
  • Is a volunteer server every year at the annual Penasco Enchilada Dinner, a community function in Penasco, NM
  • Is an active participant within the youth group at her church, Second Presbyterian Church. She has gone on numerous excursions with the group, such as traveling around New Mexico to help pull weeds and maintain graveyards; helping clean the caverns in Carlsbad; providing blankets and toys to our local animal shelter; participating in her church's shut-ins and ensuring that the grounds are maintained, serving meals to the congregation; and even helping other churches around the state clean the interior and maintain/improve their exterior grounds. 

 Amanda has been a prolific contributor to our school's yearbook, El Espiritu, for the past three school years. This school year, she is serving in the role of Editor-in-Chief, and it is her fourth year in yearbook. She is dedicated to documenting the moments and people that make each school year special, and she ardently believes in the importance of the historical document that is the high school annual.

As a leading yearbook student these past four school years, Amanda has always gone out of her way to help her classmates, photograph important events, interview students and faculty, and put together outstanding yearbook spreads. As Editor-in-Chief this year, many times she has lead planning discussions and sessions with her classmates on the Advanced Yearbook staff.

She has participated in the selection of this year's theme, as well as the cover design session with our publisher's cover design artist, Herff Jones. She has taken on a number of coverage assignments, most namely the title page, the opening/theme spread, all six section dividers, two Student Life section spreads that cover student bucket lists, another that examines daily rituals of individual students. She is also covering Cheerleading and Fillies (our dance troupe), and girls' basketball, as well as building spreads on those topics. Needless to say, our yearbook wouldn't be the same without her, particularly this year.

She is truly selfless in that she is always willing to go the extra mile, work hard to represent her school community in a positive light, and never once has she ever tried to personally benefit from her position on the yearbook staff. She understands that her primary role is as a student journalist and that she should never abuse her position by putting herself and her friends in the yearbook.

She tries to be as inclusive as possible when selecting who she covers in the book, reflecting the diversity that constitutes the student body here at WMHS.    

Amanda is a joy to have as a student. She is always positive, attentive in her studies, and ready to help others. She displays a high degree of emotional intelligence and is able to place herself in the "shoes" of others, demonstrating empathy and the capacity to reach out and help others in need. As a student in yearbook -- now in her fourth year -- she has been an integral member of the staff.

Our past three yearbooks would not have been the same without her contributions, and our yearbook this year would more than likely suffer greatly without her efforts, as many of the most experienced students on the staff graduated last school year. Even though Amanda knew we would be starting over with many inexperienced second-year yearbook students this school year, she did not shy away from the challenge. Instead, she has embraced it. I have been astounded at her ability to maintain such grace under pressure.

 As previously mentioned, she is also a team leader on the cheer squad. I have been impressed by her ability to balance the demands of both Cheer and Yearbook, not to mention juggling the demands of her studies, her involvement in her church, as well as the inevitable trials and tribulations posed by her personal life. 

Given all that she is involved in, one might expect that at times she might seem overwhelmed or stressed, but never once can I recall her exhibiting any signs of that. She is truly a model student, one who demonstrates how to cope with the pressures of life, service to others, a  cause greater than one's self!