Rosemary Mallard had never been to Paramount High School Principal Douglas Rozelle's office, but earlier this month Rozelle went looking for her.
"You never hear from these types of students. She isn't an athlete or cheerleader. She is low-key. A good student. She just does her job," said Rozelle, explaining Mallard's previous anonymity.
But Mallard's lack of fame ended when the 18-year-old was named champion of a statewide typing competition held at schools throughout California and sponsored by Olympia typewriters. She will now compete for the national title with state champs from 48 other states.
So on May 9, the principal, two representatives from Olympia and her class counselor went to Mallard's typing class to honor the senior who wants to become a secretary, who is fifth academically among the 459 Paramount High seniors graduating in June.
Mallard received a $350 portable electric typewriter, a T-shirt with "Super-Typist" printed on it, an achievement award from the California Business Education Assn., a candy wreath from her teacher Josephine Sprague and a round of applause from her classmates.
The 5-1, 108-pound girl with light-brown hair was overcome with happiness.
"This is the most exciting day of my life. This is the most fun I've ever had," Mallard said later during an interview.
Usually, Mallard's days are busy if not quite so hectic.
"Give me a good book to read and I'm satisfied," said Mallard, who lives in Paramount and was born in Huntington Park.
The excitement began earlier that day when she received a $200 achievement award from the Paramount Women's Club during a luncheon at Progress Park.
Mallard, who has a 3.88 grade-point average, told the club members of her desire to "become a secretary in a large company some day."
But before that, Mallard said, she will attend Cerritos College for two years, majoring in secretarial science.
"I'm normally not very talkative. I think in the past I've been a bit withdrawn and shy," said Mallard, who will become the first member of her family to attend college.
Her family includes her mother, Monika Mallard, 42, her father, Jerry Petit, 43, four brothers and a younger sister. Rosemary is the second eldest.
"I've attended four different high schools including one in Minnesota where my family moved to be close to other relatives. I found it (at first) difficult to get to know other students," said Mallard, adding that she has outgrown the shyness that comes with moving to new surroundings.
"I've been at Paramount for two years and I've gotten used to the other students and can talk to them," Mallard said.
Her resilience extends to her schoolwork, allowing her to perform well in the classroom, said Michael White, senior class counselor.
"Rosemary is just a super kid. She has taken tough courses, including algebra, geometry, advanced-placement English. She has almost a perfect grade-point average. She can go to probably any four-year college of her choice," White said.
"She is outstanding," echoed Sprague, the typing and business teacher.
"She will be a success no matter what she does," White said of the industrious youth.
Typically, after school, Mallard rushes home to her 10-speed bicycle and rides to the county library in Paramount, where she shelves books six day a week and earns about $450 a month.
About half of her pay goes to her parents, Mallard said, to help with family expenses.
He parents "don't ask for any money. But I feel I want to contribute. They are great people. They have taken care of me all my life. I'm giving them a little."
Mallard said she is not tempted by the possibility of going "to a big, four-year college" and prefers staying "close to home and attending a smaller, two-year college."
But she is excited about taking a trip back Sioux Falls, S. D., to visit relatives this summer.
"I'm saving money for the trip. But I will only stay a week because I must get back to my job," she said.