Volume 4, Issue 6
February 2019

In partnership with the Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs of Cypress, the Cypress School District held its fourth annual Every Student Succeeding Breakfast at the Cypress Community Center on February 21. Inspired by a student recognition program of the same name created by the Association of California School Administrators, the event honors students who have overcome adversity or other life challenges to find success in school.
Students were recognized from the Cypress School District, as well as other schools within our community, including Cypress High School, Oxford Academy, Lexington Junior High School, Grace Christian School, and St. Irenaeus Parish School. Family members, teachers, school administrators, school board members, and city leaders were in attendance to show their support for these remarkable students and hear their inspirational stories. Student honorees were individually recognized and awarded with certificates and medals in celebration of their accomplishments.
We hope you will take a few minutes to learn more about some of the amazing, resilient students living in our local community.

Anne Silavs, Superintendent
Exposed to harmful substances during her prenatal life, Iszabella is a young lady who has endured medical issues, learning challenges, and other hardships since birth, including living in an educational treatment center to address her special needs. However, with the love and support of many people, Iszabella’s desire to be successful has empowered her to overcome life’s obstacles to become a more confident person. In addition to accepting help from others to improve her academic skills, Iszabella’s unfolding self-confidence has blossomed into an interest in extracurricular school activities, too, including music and school leadership activities. In spite of a rocky path, Iszabella is clearly headed in the right direction!
Some children endure hardships, disappointments, and struggles beyond comprehension, and this was true for Fallon and her siblings. As she will tell you, “Since kindergarten, I’ve known that many kids are homeless and living on the streets because I was one of those kids.” Despite such overwhelming odds, Fallon never gave up. She attended school ready to learn even though she lacked basic necessities like food, shelter, security, and healthcare. Eventually, she took the brave step to ask adults at school for help, and she is now getting the support she needs and that all children deserve. Fallon possesses a level of strength seldom required of someone her age. “Now my life will be calm like how I wanted it to be, so I can be a regular child.”
Philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein once said, “The limits of my language are the limits of my world,” which underscores the critical role language plays in our lives. Indeed, Collin is a shining example of a young man whose life has been transformed by assistive technology that enables him to access language and have a voice. He is the unquestionable team captain of a small community of students who use aided augmentative and alternative communication systems to learn and interact with others at school. In the middle of language therapy sessions or classroom lessons, it is not at all uncommon for others to look to him for help. There isn’t anyone on campus that doesn’t thoroughly enjoy interacting with Colin, including his posse of friends. There’s nothing limiting Colin’s world. He’s an inspiration to all!
Sometimes disappointment is the best teacher of important life lessons. While a talented dancer with a passion for her art, Royenn found herself in a position where she was unable to participate in school performances last year due to poor choices she had made. Rather than point to excuses or blame others for the consequences, Royenn took responsibility for past mistakes and completely transformed herself. Not only does she effectively handle her own business, she mentors other young dancers to do the same, supporting them in overcoming insecurity. She demonstrates a level of poise and maturity unique for someone her age. We don’t just need more students like Royenn, we need more humans like her.
Perseverance and dedication have made Erick the consummate warrior. Raised by a single father who emigrated to the United States from Vietnam, Erik works tirelessly to help his dad and support his family when he gets home from school each day. An ordinary student might buckle under the weight of such responsibility, but not Erik. He rises to the occasion. In all aspects of school and family life, he is a true champion. In addition to earning California’s State Seal of Biliteracy, Erik is an accomplished student, athlete, poet, and Eagle Scout. In light of his grit, determination, and school success, it comes as no surprise that Erick is also Congressman Correa’s nominee to West Point this year!
The inner beauty of a diamond develops under high pressure, and Luke is no different. From the time he was four until age eight, he and his mom were homeless. They moved often and lived in many different situations. At one point, Luke recalls sleeping in a garage on a mattress placed on top of paint cans. It was so cold that he and his mom had to hold each other all night to keep warm. In the face of fear and uncertainty, his mom would ask, “Are you okay, honey?” He would always answer yes because he felt he needed to be strong for her. Luke and his mom are a terrific team, and today the family is doing well. Luke is making good grades in school and is wise beyond his years. He is a sensitive, socially engaged, and compassionate human being. Without question, Luke is a dazzling diamond to behold!  
Despite a developmental language delay when he was young, Jesse is a student who never gives up. He didn’t begin speaking until the age of four, and then only with his immediate family. When he started kindergarten, he didn’t speak at school for the first two months until finally, at the end of October, he uttered his first words to his teacher. While academics and social interactions do not come easy for Jesse, he is undeterred. Through school and home supports, he has learned to use his eye contact, sense of humor, and even a little sarcasm to communicate and relate with others. Jesse has ventured out of his comfort zone to experience more of the world around him and discover new interests. With his positive attitude and zest for life, he will continue to succeed and accomplish his goals.
Determined, confident, and cheerful are just a few of the words that describe Sophia. When she was born, Sophia was diagnosed with a rare medical condition. While it has taken a toll on her body, Sophia’s spirit is strong and unstoppable. She has never let life challenges get in her way, striving to do everything that other kids do. Whether it’s street hockey, flag football, volleyball, or jumping rope, Sophia is out there giving it 110%. She doesn’t get discouraged, she doesn’t complain, and she prides herself on being self-sufficient. Sophia is a shining example that strength doesn’t come from what you can do, strength comes from overcoming the things you thought you couldn’t do.  
Over the past five years, teachers and staff have watched Chisom develop both academically and socially into a confident young man. He’s gone from being a shy student to one who engages teachers in conversations and shares a hug with a smile that shines bright. In addition to his academic skills, Chisom has developed the important skill of self-reliance. He is a hardworking young man who strives to meet high expectations, even when the work before him appears difficult. He’s gone from “I can’t” to “I’ll try,” and his tenacity and resilience are admired by his peers. Chisom’s accomplishments are a testament to the value of hard work, loving family support, and a strong and supportive educational community of staff and students.
While eager to please, school was not easy for Elijah, which took a toll on his self-confidence. At times, he compensated for these insecurities in ways that created conflicts with his classmates, further isolating him from his peers. However, with ongoing support from teachers and staff, Elijah began to improve academically, and his confidence grew. He became more comfortable asking for help, which further fueled his school success. Now Elijah participates in class discussions and perseveres through challenging tasks. He has blossomed, both socially and academically. With the encouragement and support he’s receiving, Elijah will continue to develop the skills and confidence needed for a successful future.
Although her path has not been an easy one, Akile has worked very hard to accomplish her educational goals. She is an example of perseverance and resiliency, demonstrating that with commitment and a positive outlook, you can achieve just about anything. She believes that obstacles in the road are opportunities that can make you stronger, enabling you to successfully overcome other barriers in the future. Akile does not complain or hesitate to complete important tasks. She simply pushes forward and does not allow challenges to impede her success. Over the years, Akile has developed a quiet confidence that sets her apart from others. She is a valued member of her school community.
Candi Kern - Sandra Lee - Brian Nakamura - Bonnie Peat - Lydia Sondhi, Ph.D.
Anne Silavs