The Pasadena ISD Board of Trustees recently recognized the 2015-16 Vanguard Community Service Award honorees.
The Vanguard Community Service Awards are given annually to the top five seniors at each high school in the district. Students are selected by campus administration, based on guidelines that require at least 300 hours of community service completed outside of school activities.
This year, students donated over 9,000 hours of service in support of the community. Service projects included organizing food and clothing drives, providing assistance at community events, volunteering at local pet facilities, spending time at nursing homes, and teaching young children.
The recognition ceremony included a video presentation which featured all of this year’s honorees. Counselors from each high school introduced their students in front of board members, administrative staff and parents.
Honorees were presented with medals and a certificate of appreciation, on behalf of the board and School Superintendent Dr. DeeAnn Powell. In addition, each honoree received take-home items including Vanguard programs with student bios, a copy of the video, individual posters with photos of the recipients, and gift bags with coupons from local vendors. Refreshments were provided courtesy of Jason’s Deli and Mamaritas Mexican Restaurant and Cantina.
The theme of this year’s Vanguard program was Champions of the Community, recognizing students who “championed” a cause and made positive contributions to the areas where they reside.
“We are honored to have students who go beyond the normal expectations to make positive contributions for our community,” Dr. Powell said. “Their service not only reflects their dedication to the community, but also highlights the collaborative relationship between our school district and our community partners. We are so proud of all the honorees.”
The 2015-16 Vanguard honorees are:
J. Frank Dobie High School
The Dobie High School 2016 Vanguard honorees are (from left): Hainhu Ho, Anna Le, Faridhe Puente, Sydney Sweet, and Anna Tran. Dobie principal Franklin Moses stopped by the board meeting to recognize his students.
Hainhu has participated in numerous community service projects through National Honor Society, HOSA and Key Club. These projects include elementary school festivals, athletic events and animal adoption initiatives, along with tutoring children. She has received the Academic Award of Excellence, and HOSA Area and State Competition Awards. She plans to study kinesiology at the University of Houston.
As a long-time member of the Vietnamese Girl Scout Troop, Anna continuously finds ways to help the community and regularly tutors students at Melillo Middle School in ELAR and math. She also volunteers at the Houston Food Bank, Memorial Hermann Hospital and the Vietnamese Martyr’s Church Crawfish Festival. She plans to attend the University of Houston and major in digital media.
Faridhe coordinated numerous community service efforts including the donation of 200 books and toys to patients at Texas Children’s Hospital when she was president of HOSA. As president of the National Honor Society, she also coordinated a clothing drive providing 300 pairs of jeans for teens. Faridhe is an AP National Scholar and aspires to be a neurosurgeon and social activist.
Sydney has used her skills in construction work to help transform a storage room at her church into a Sunday school classroom. She plans to attend the University of Houston to study nursing.
Anna volunteered through UNICEF, helping to raise money for clean water and vaccinations for mothers and children in developing countries. She also participates in Adopt-a-Beach, where she extends a green thumb to help with beach clean-up initiatives in Galveston. She plans to attend the University of Texas Medical Branch to pursue a nursing degree.
Dr. Kirk Lewis Career and Technical High School
Lewis Career and Technical High School (from left): Ana Fernandez, Aurora Hogan, Lourdes Huerta, Cinthia Portillo, and Martha Trevino. Also pictured: school principal Steven Fleming.
Ana volunteered at the Pasadena Animal Shelter, Gulfgate Animal Hospital and various pet adoption events. Ana’s passion for helping animals motivated her to pursue a veterinary degree from the Vet Tech Institute of Houston.
Aurora volunteered at a local animal shelter and at various athletic events. She is practicing to be multi-lingual and plans to pursue a career in international business in hopes of becoming a financial advisor overseas.
Lourdes volunteered at the Gulfgate Animal Hospital. When she graduates from high school, she will be a certified veterinary technician. Lourdes plans to attend Sam Houston State University and double-major in communication and marketing while minoring in animal science. She hopes to own an animal hospital or animal shelter in the future.
Cinthia spent summers volunteering at Kids World Academy. She has received the National Award of Excellence and plans to major in biology at Baylor University in hopes of becoming a pediatric oncologist.
When Martha is not playing soccer and drawing, she spends time volunteering at Citi Animal Hospital and the Pasadena Animal Shelter. Her volunteerism has inspired her to continue working with animals as a veterinarian technician. She plans to attend San Jacinto College in the fall.
Pasadena High School
The Pasadena High School Vanguard students are (from left): Erik Garcia, Alondra Chavez, Jasmin Astorga, Monica Gonzalez, and Nataly Granados. Also pictured: school principal Joe Saavedra (far left), Claudia Flores, senior counselor, Erika Nations, assistant principal (far right), Pasadena Early College High School dean Aldo Prado.
Jasmin was inspired to volunteer when she met JROTC instructor Master Sgt. Shafi McCants her first day of high school. She has been involved in the Pasadena Christmas Tree Lighting, JROTC freshman camp, and the annual upperclassmen JROTC camp hosted at Atascocita High School. She was the first female in the nation to receive the Legion of Valor Bronze Cross for Region 5. She plans to study law and major in psychology.
As a leader at United We Dream-Houston, one of the largest immigrant youth-led organizations that advocates for undocumented individuals, Alondra discovered her passion for social change. She has served various roles in the organization for the past two years leading the data team, training new volunteers, helping with recruitment and more. Alondra’s volunteer work has inspired her to pursue a degree studying social work and political science.
Erik A. Garcia
Erik volunteers with the school’s annual Burn Sam event, a bonfire celebration in which students and staff burn a Texan mascot before a football game. He said he loves seeing the community come together for this timeless tradition. When Erik is not volunteering, he is practicing for academic decathlon, for which he recently won first place in speech. Erik is interested in becoming a marine and plans on attending the University of Houston and Texas A&M.
Monica was inspired at age six to get involved in the community. Since then, she has participated in various volunteer service projects with her church including the St. Pius V youth group, where she helps with gardening, clean-up efforts and teaches faith formation classes for first-, second- and seventh-graders. She also collects stuffed animals and sends them overseas to children. For these reasons, she was awarded Most Inspiring Youth by the church. She plans to attend the University of Houston.
Nataly said she discovered her passion for volunteering after working with students at Pomeroy Elementary as a classroom helper with the Pasadena ISD Afterschool Centers on Education (ACE) program. She plans to study industrial engineering at Texas A&M.
Pasadena Memorial High School
Pasadena Memorial High School’s 2016 Vanguards are (from left): Alison Tran, Yahaira Perez, Sarah Lyon, Kelly Cortez, and Ashley Ali. Also pictured: the school principal Dr. Angela Stallings.
Ashley is a member of the first graduating class of the Pasadena ISD Dual-Language program. She has volunteered with Neighborhood Centers where she learned to hone her talents and personal strengths to make contributions. As an Emerging Leader with the organization, Ashley provided academic enrichment to students, along with entrepreneurship opportunities and leadership development to more than 400 youth around the Houston area. Her goal is to someday become a pharmaceutical doctor and to continue volunteering.
Kelly helped feed the homeless for Thanksgiving. Her favorite volunteer project involved assisting with the End of School Year Services summer school program, where she made a difference helping students in the special education program. Kelly plans to study child development to become an occupational therapist.
Sarah will be the first in her family to graduate from high school and prepare for college. She has volunteered at Masters Tae Kwon Do Academy, where she helped students and staff with various tasks. Her favorite volunteer project was making blankets for a children’s hospital. She will major in mathematics in hopes of becoming a teacher.
Yahaira volunteered at the Strawberry Festival, Books for the World and Texas Poison Control. She said her most memorable experience has been working with kids at Bush, Garfield, Genoa, and Turner Elementary Schools. Yahaira is a member of the first group of dual-language graduates in the district. She received the prestigious Rising Star Award from State Rep.Carol Alvarado and the Youth Leadership Award from the Rotary Club of Pasadena. After high school, Yahaira plans to major in civil engineering and minor in education at Texas A&M.
Alison has volunteered through the Vietnamese Eucharistic Youth Group, at the Houston Food Bank, senior homes and at Bush and Garfield Elementary Schools. Alison is part of the first graduating class of the district’s dual-language program. She is also an AP Scholar with distinction and she was awarded the prestigious Thomas Jefferson Award. She plans to attend the University Houston to study chemistry.
Sam Rayburn High School
Sam Rayburn High School’s 2016 Vanguard students are (from left): Sohara Zafar, Elizabeth Rosenbaum, Jennifer Medrano, David Avendano, and Kaitlyn Alaniz. Also pictured: Rayburn principal Robert Stock.
Kaitlyn and her friend established a cheerleading program at Red Bluff Elementary, where they used cheers to motivate students for the STAAR test. She plans to attend San Jacinto Community College.
David’s love of football inspired him to become a coach. As a volunteer at the CIS/ACE Afterschool Program at Red Bluff Elementary, he enjoyed mentoring students. Avendano said he found his calling, one day hoping to pursue a career in education as a coach. “I just like knowing I’m helping these kids and making a difference in their lives,” he said.
As an officer of her campus’s HOSA club, Jennifer took the opportunity to volunteer at the Boys and Girls Harbor. She also helped coordinate health fairs at local elementary schools and volunteered at the Houston Zoo’s Zoo Boo event. She plans to attend Stephen F. Austin and pursue a nursing degree.
As a leader in her school’s HOSTS organization, Elizabeth volunteers at several churches in the area, tutoring orchestra students and organizing supplies and surplus for the Community Pregnancy Center. She was chosen as Junior Rotarian of the Month in October last year. She plans to major in biology at Harding University.
Sohara helped establish the HOSTS program at Rayburn as a member of the National History Honor Society so students could read to children at Gardens Elementary. In fact it was her love of literature that motivated her to volunteer. She surrounds herself with books as a volunteer at the local library. As a volunteer with the Boys and Girls Club, she is a summer STEM mentor, where she teaches girls between the age of 8 and 11. Sohara plans to major in either international relations or cognitive brain science at Tufts University in Medford, Mass.
South Houston High School
The South Houston High School 2016 Vanguard students are (from left): Jesus Herrera, Kristina Tarango, Ryan Garcia and Lizbeth Galindo. Also pictured assistant principal Harvey Zuniga (far left) and senior counselor LaBryant Benjamin. Not pictured: Cyir Jackson.
Lizbeth volunteers “because I want to open myself up to the world and learn about people and how they network,” she said. She volunteered through the district’s ACE program, providing care to children and helping with homework assignments. In the fall, Lizbeth will attend Texas A&M to study mathematics.
Ryan volunteered at his church as a teacher’s assistant in the children’s ministry and as a clean-up crew member at the Armand Bayou Nature Center. “Volunteering is a form of generosity and personified form of humbleness,” he said. “Not only does it make you feel included in your community, but it also make you proud of your community.”
Jesus enjoys giving of his time at his church, La Iglesia Del Pueblo, where he assists with the production of their television broadcast system, at Paramount Health Care visiting the elderly, and at his alma mater, Matthys Elementary, for the campus’ fall festival. He earned a blue ribbon last year at the Texas Association of Future Educators in the Region 4 TAFE conference.
Cyir said she loves to sing, bake and read, but it was her love of athletics that inspired her to become a volunteer. She taught a team of girls in her community one of her favorite sports, volleyball. “I loved when my girls would start to understand what I was teaching them,” she said.
As the president of her campus’s Key Club, Kristina organized community service projects for the club’s members. Her favorite project was volunteering at the Armand Bayou Nature Center. “It was an amazing reward seeing how much our team worked to make the center a more welcome environment for visitors,” she said. She volunteers because, she said, “no matter how small you think a ripple in the ocean is, it grows and reaches farther and farther, I’m just one person, but you never know how big your impact can be.”