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55 of County's Latino Seniors Make Grade

Education: School officials say academic recognition helps open doors to colleges.


Fifty-five Orange County high school students have been named finalists in the College Board's National Hispanic Scholar Recognition Program, which acknowledges exceptional academic achievements of Latino seniors.

The recognition means the finalists are identified in a book listing their names and addresses. It also means that they have a good chance of winning merit scholarships. And, colleges and universities nationwide are encouraged to seek the students as candidates for admission.

The local students are receiving kudos for their achievement from their principals, teachers and counselors at their public and private schools.

"I'm really pleased that some of our top students are being recognized like this," said Sara J. Hall, the senior counselor at Esperanza High School in Anaheim. Her school has four scholars this year. "It is a significant honor. They can put this on their college resumes and it really could open some doors."

Hall said the four students are among the top in their class. Similar comments were made about other Orange County students.

Listed in this year's program are 3,000 finalists and students who received honorable mentions from across the country, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. To qualify as finalists, the students earned high scores on the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test/National Merit Qualifying Test last year, were recommended by their schools and maintained higher than 3.5 grade-point averages.

The Orange County finalists are:

Jess A. Rodriguez, Aliso Niguel High School; Andrea M. Alarcon and Justin Holley, Brea Olinda High; Rick M. Cortez, Brethren High; Andrew K. Gulledge, Corona del Mar High; Jeffrey A. Reyes, Dana Hills High; Alison L. Cumbley, Edison High; Hafid Mantilla, El Toro High; Michelle Oliveros Larsen, Tatiana Ortiz, Michael J. Penilla and Devin D. Swanson, Esperanza High; Alejandro E. Vicente, Foothill High; Darios R. Benitez Felix, Fountain Valley High.

Rafael Farias, Irvine High; Nino M. Cordoves and Victor M. Duarte, Laguna Hills High; Natalie A. Dunn and Michael A. Morales, Loara High; Carmel M. Heckel, Michael A. Litschi, Crystal I. Lopez and Adriana A. Publico, Los Alamitos High; Erin A. Kocka, Marina High; Jennifer I. Cushing, Thomas T. Dixon and Eduardo R. Ferrer, Mater Dei High; Jennifer M. Lopez, Mission Viejo High.

Joanna N. Edwards and Joseph F. Lisi, Newport Harbor High; Abdiel Gonzalez, Orangewood Adventist; Leticia Negrete, Rosary High; Linda Lara, Saddleback High; Crystal M. Starr Pollard, San Clemente High; Jerry F. Benzl, Santa Margarita High; Chris M. Hovanec, Savanna High; Daniel S. Delgado, Nicholaus P. Rowe and Kenneth J. Sterk, Servite High; Hans A. Protzel, Sonora High; Erin M. Ulloa, Sunny Hills High; Diane E. Carrera, Justin M. Kirk and Amanda D. Williams, Troy High; Carolina Bravo Karimi, Delfina F. Garfias, Darin J. Hanson, Xerxes F. Lopez Yglesias and Rosalie A. Siler, University High; Rachel M. Anguiano and Stacie A. Somes, Villa Park High; Matias Cudich, Jameson Parker, Kathleen M. Romo and Megan A. Ybarra, Woodbridge High.

In addition, eight local students received an honorable mention. They are:

William R. Gulley, Corona del Mar High; Amanda D. Martinez, El Toro High; Maritza Mejia, Laguna Hills High; Jesus R. Merino, John F. Kennedy High; Jesse T. Dahl, Marina High; Solange Rousset, Newport Harbor High; Amy L. Weltmer, University High; Ruben Juarez, Valley High.

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