The Class of 2020 will be remembered in history for many reasons. For the first time in Daniel Pearl Magnet High School’s history, three students tied for valedictorian with a 4.225 GPA and three students tied for salutatorian with a 4.115 GPA.
The initial reaction to the three-way ties from school counselor Martina Torres was excitement. She believes that all six of these students are very deserving of this recognition, especially after all their hard work.
“In prior years, I’ve seen so many students work equally as rigorously,” Torres said. “But when the GPA comes to a hundredth of a point difference and the top recognition only goes to two people, I feel so bad because I know that there are so many more who are worthy of these titles.”
With three students each being named valedictorian and salutatorian, she finds this to be a happy end during the COVID-19 pandemic and school closures.
Read more about the Class of 2020’s valedictorians and salutatorians here.
For the past four years, Olivia Bullock has been working very hard to be named valedictorian of her class. Knowing all of her hard work has paid off has lifted a big weight off of her shoulders.
“It has been pretty much my number one goal through high school,” Bullock said. “I was preparing for it to happen and taking all the classes that could get me there, but when it did happen I was incredibly excited.”
She not only feels a great sense of pride for herself but for her family and friends who helped her get to where she is now.
“I’m more thankful than anything and it’s an incredible feeling to be able to share that feeling with others,” Bullock said.
Bullock played soccer for Birmingham Community Charter High School for four years, the last three years she spent on varsity. Her senior year, she was named a captain. She was also on the junior varsity softball team during her first three years of high school. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she never got to play her last season of high school softball.
Aside from being a student-athlete, Bullock has participated in many activities. A few of them include reading to younger students during field trips with the library practice class her senior year, getting a solo in the spring show and joining leadership her senior year, where she ran a clothes drive and helped run the spring semester blood drive. She was also part of the National Honors Society during her freshman year and the California Scholarship Federation her senior year.
“Doing so much has definitely caused me many sleepless nights, several mental breakdowns, lots of headaches, trying to catch up or doing things the day they are due,” Bullock said. “When everything goes wrong, that is when my boyfriend, my parents, my friends, my siblings — essentially my entire support system— come in and help me put my head on straight. I could never accomplish so much without them.”
Bullock committed to the University of California, Los Angeles for the 2020 fall semester and will be majoring in Mathematics. Her goal is to become a teacher. Bullock was accepted into the University of La Verne, California State University, Northridge and UCLA. Ultimately, she chose to attend UCLA because she wanted to attend a prestigious college, likes their teaching major and campus and because of it’s close proximity to her house.
Although Bullock is excited to begin her path of becoming a successful teacher, there are things she will miss. Some of those things include seeing her friends every day, playing soccer with her supportive teammates and all that comes with being a kid.
“There are some people who have obviously been thrown into those things early on, but high school is still a place where you can mess up and everyone will understand,” Bullock said. “ You never think about how much you miss essentially being babied until you are expected to know how to be an adult.”
Throughout high school, Isabelle Marin took all of the AP classes that were available and that she was eligible for. It paid off as she is one of three valedictorians for the Class of 2020.
“I was very excited and proud because all of my hard work had paid off,” Marin said. “It is something that I have been working toward for four years.”
She was part of the California Scholarship Foundation and president of the National Honors Society. She considers this leadership position her greatest accomplishment in high school. While volunteering at several organizations, Marin has accumulated 100-plus volunteer hours.
“I took things one day at a time and I was always very organized,” Marin said. “ I used my planner to make a schedule for everything I had to do.”
For the 2020 fall semester, Marin will be attending Los Angeles Pierce College and majoring in biology. She was accepted into the University of California, Santa Barbara, University of California Santa Cruz, University of California, Davis, California State University, Chico, California State University, Northridge and California Lutheran University.
“I ultimately decided to go to community college because I couldn’t afford to pay for the housing fees even with financial aid,” Marin said. “It was difficult because I was accepted to fantastic schools but I think it was the best decision I could have made for myself.”
Marin will miss the daily routine that comes with high school. She is also upset that her senior year was cut short. Although she was looking forward to making many memories in the last few months of senior year, especially during all the senior events, she’s looking forward to starting a new chapter in her life.
“I want my fellow class to keep their heads up during these hard times and to keep working hard. For the class of 2021, I would tell them that all the hard work they are doing now will pay off,” Marin said.
After all the stressful classes, a few close calls and a lot of hard work, Ivan Moreno is grateful for all the support his family and friends provided him with. He feels very proud of his two friends who are named valedictorian as well, all tied with a 4.225 GPA.
“I already had my suspicions, (but) I was still really happy and proud to hear the news,” Moreno said. “I think my mom’s reaction to the news though was what left me feeling super accomplished with all things said.”
Although Moreno did not participate in many extracurricular activities, he volunteered for the Bernie Sanders campaign and tutored. He considers self-studying for AP exams outside of the school’s curriculum, such as AP Physics, to be his greatest academic accomplishment. He has also found smaller things in his life to be great accomplishments as well.
“There have been more minor things that I’ve taken to be as great accomplishments in their own way,” Moreno said. “Such as any time I’ve been able to help someone understand a concept, especially when it comes to math and tutoring.”
Moreno will be joining the Trojan family at the University of Southern California for the 2020 fall semester, where he will be majoring in astronautical engineering. The other schools he was accepted into include the University of California, Los Angeles, University of California, Berkeley, Pomona College, University of California, Irvine, University of California, Davis, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and the California State University of Northridge.
“Of the colleges I was accepted to, USC was my top choice by a large margin because of the kind of environment I felt it fostered, the availability of grants they had and the exceptional engineering programs they had to offer,” Moreno said.
All of the memories, banter and interesting conversations made with friends throughout high school are some of the things Moreno will miss. As he begins a new chapter in his life, along with his fellow class of 2020, he’s looking forward to all that the future holds.
“I’m looking forward to meeting people and the potential new memories I will end up making,” Moreno said.
Alyanna Ahorro is graduating with the class of 2020 as one of the three salutatorians. Her hard work throughout high school definitely paid off and she’s graduating with a 4.115 GPA.
“When I found out I was a salutatorian I immediately called my family and my friends,” Ahorro said. “I was just very excited about the great news.”
Ahorro was also involved with a few clubs on campus. She was a member of the Interact Club along with The Filipino+ Club. She wasn’t just any random member though, she also happened to be treasurer of both clubs.
“There were other clubs I joined in the beginning of the year,” Ahorro said. “I just never committed to them the same way I committed to Interact and TFC+.”
Ahorro will be attending California State University Long Beach in the fall. CSULB wasn’t her only option, she actually had to choose between UC Riverside, San Diego State, Cal State Fullerton and CSUN. Ahorro will start with majoring in pre-public relations but has plans of double majoring in business and political science in the future. Having to choose between five different amazing schools was obviously a tough decision to make.
“I guess I just used the process of elimination to decide where I was going to go,” Ahorro said. “Schools like CSUN were too close to home but then schools like San Diego are too far and paths that I’m not ready to take.”
Graduating with a GPA of 4.115, Jason Echeverria decided to attend Los Angeles Valley College in the fall.
“I was also accepted to CSU Fullerton and UC Santa Barbara but I wasn’t really ready to move away from home,” Echeverria said. “It’s just me and my mom in an apartment and I don’t think I could’ve just left her alone.”
Echeverria is thinking of majoring in something music-related, possibly something for music education. Echeverria was a part of the music program at Daniel Pearl Magnet and has even recently released some music that he had been working on since freshman year.
“I worked on something for so long and then I finally got the courage to release it,” Echeverria said. “Releasing something that took so much time and being proud of it has been one of my greatest accomplishments.”
The Class of 2020 sadly did not get a proper graduation because of the pandemic and everyone had to stay home. Obviously, the whole situation is very sad for people like Echeverria who worked hard throughout high school and gained the title of salutatorian only to have to graduate under unusual circumstances. However, Echeverria is surprisingly being very optimistic.
“Obviously this is all very unexpected and at the end of the day, it’s a huge bummer,” Echeverria said. “But I think this is an opportunity to be innovative and do something that, not only hasn’t been done before but also something that the Class of 2020 will always be remembered for.”
Mathew Spahr is a design editor for the Prestige Yearbook at Daniel Pearl Magnet along with being a member of the National Honors Society and is going to be graduating with the class of 2020 as a salutatorian.
“Volunteering through NHS has probably been one of the most rewarding things I’ve done,” Spahr said. “It really gave me perspective and helped me learn how to properly interact with people.”
Volunteering, editing, being in multiple AP classes and still needing to have some sort of social life is not easy at all. Spahr was not only able to successfully juggle all four aspects in his life but also came out of it as one of the top students graduating this year.
“It sounds funny but I really think my planner helped me through high school,” Spahr said. “Having everything mapped out and self-discipline really helped.”
Spahr will be attending CSUN in the fall and majoring in marketing. He was also accepted to CSU Channel Islands, Cal Lutheran and was offered a guaranteed transfer to Tulane University in New Orleans. Graduating high school and going to college is definitely something almost every student looks forward to but having to graduate during a quarantine probably isn’t something most seniors are happy about.
“When school first closed, I didn’t really think anything of it but now I just really miss going to school,” Spahr said. “I wish we could have a little time to go back to thank the teachers that impacted us and to say goodbye to friends that are going different ways.”
Nathalie Miranda was a contributing writer to this story.