Senior Spotlight

Senior Spotlight: Chantel Alice Adedeji

Senior Spotlight: Chantel Alice Adedeji –by Emma Smith

The curtains sweep aside to reveal a stage bedecked with props and a colorful backdrop. The intense lighting focuses on a face familiar to many ESHS students –that of senior Chantel Adedeji. Well-known for her memorable performances in numerous El Segundo Drama Department productions, Chantel (also known as “Chawntizzle” and ChawnTuesday”) fell in love with acting in the sixth grade. “I then went on to join drama club in middle school, and participated in school plays. By the time I was a freshmen in high school, I knew I wanted to act for the rest of my life.” Through her new craft, she manages to combine all her childhood career dreams of being “a talk show hostess, singer, and lawyer;” her passion for the stage has driven her to explore the option of majoring in theatre at a four year university –a goal many members of the class of 2010 can identify with.

While excited for graduation, Chantel is acutely aware of the challenges ahead: “I also dread the fact that college won’t have the sort of continuity that high school has. For the last four years I have continuously seen the same faces day after day, and with college you don’t get that anymore.” Many of these same faces have been those of friends and family, without whom “high school would have been miserable.” Chantel explains that her sister has been her major support system; having graduated from high school three years previously, her guidance has been priceless. In many ways, it enabled Chantel to experience high school to the fullest, taking advantage of memorable moments like pairing up with Elizabeth Tuihalamaka to be “the Colored Jonas Brothers for Disney Day during Spirit Week. I was Joe Jonas, and she was Kevin…we performed Burnin’ Up at the LTA and had a blast!” The enthusiasm Chantel brought to that performance spills out of her on both on the ESHS stage and during periods of downtime. To her, having fun means “[hanging] out with friends, [writing] songs, [acting] out scenes, [making] up random words…Jersey Shore is definitely a guilty pleasure of mine!” This senior seems to live by the saying: never a dull moment.

While Chantel Adedeji is today the picture of exuberance and talent, she was extremely shy as a young child. “People could barely get a word out of me…gradually…I have become much more sociable.” Much of this transformation and Chantel’s general zeal for life comes from her mother, her biggest inspiration. “She came from Nigeria to the United States in the eighties. She went on to be accepted to the University of Southern California and obtain her nursing degree…She’s constantly by my side and always looking out for my best interest, and I am so blessed to have her in my life. She’s faced many obstacles in her life but she never gives up, and because of her, I will never give up [either].” Chantel not only inherited this courageous determination to forge ahead from her mother, but also received a distinctive pride in her heritage: “I am a proud Nigerian American.” This ability to identify and celebrate her own self-worth is something that will aid Chantel for the rest of her life, enabling her to create the future she is so bent on pursuing.

Senior Spotlight: Ryan Denman

Senior Spotlight: Ryan Denman -by Emma Smith

Very few people can pull off running around ESHS with a magic carpet under one arm. In fact, the list can be whittled down to one Ryan Denman. Granted, participating in school activities like Spirit Week is part of being an active member of ASB (Denman is Vice President this year), but this senior’s enthusiasm tends to take such events to a whole new level. Every Eighties’ Day makes it onto a list of his favorite high school memories; he walks the halls in vibrantly colored shorts with a massive boom box, keeping a beloved ESHS tradition alive.

This all-out attitude Denman uses to dominate Spirit Week translates to other aspects of his high school experience, inspiring his involvement in a variety of sports and clubs: “I’ve participated in soccer, track, soccer club, Habitat for Humanity, ASB, and many other school functions. But…my favorite was probably starting the Eagle’s Nest at football games.” During his freshman year, Ryan joined forces with Kevin Ellis, another member of the class of 2010, to create this cheering section during the ESHS football season. Four years later, his “Gunslinger” call is unmistakable and his Rocky impression unforgettable. It seems that he spent more autumnal Fridays covered in blue and gold paint than anything else. This level of dedication crops up in Denman’s academic career as well; “[one] great high school [memory was] a Forest Gump monologue I gave in Ms. Cobb’s class, during which I adopted an accent and brought fake tears.”

That set of skills will prove particularly useful in his future career. “When I was younger I wanted to be a professional football player/stuntman/ lawyer, but it didn’t work out because (one) my parents wouldn’t let me play football, (two) I’m not talented enough to be a stuntman, [and] (three) I found out how much school I’d have to [complete] to be a lawyer.” Now, Ryan plans to become a comedic actor after finishing college.

While many seniors wait for March and acceptance letters with anxiety, Denman adopts an optimistic outlook. “I’m pretty excited to take the next step and gain freedom,” he remarks. With his friends serving as a high school support system, Ryan finds relaxation in hanging out with them, as well as watching movies and spending time at the beach. He draws inspiration from all those “who graduated high school and got out of their home town,” achieving what is currently one of his major goals. The rest of senior year is going to fly by, and this senior seems ready to take on the world outside ESHS.

Senior Spotlight: Stephanie Aceves

Senior Spotlight: Stephanie Aceves

This time of year is stressful for all of El Segundo High School; with finals right around the corner, many are buckling down to review those last few chapters with uncharacteristic haste. For seniors, it is just another wave of stress to endure; with the last few applications submitted and midyear reports looming, schedules feel just as packed with mile long to-do lists. Stephanie Aceves experiences this just as fiercely as the rest of her classmates. Aside from being one of the top students of the class of 2010, Stephanie has been involved in countless activities inside and outside the high school; these include the ESHS volleyball team, Link Crew, Club Volleyball, Robotics Club, Key Club, and the ESHS soccer team. She even created the club Save the Angels, shouldering immense responsibilities as president and founder. For her, this undertaking has special significance: “It’s more than just a means for helping the homeless. It has really opened my eyes to the situations these people are in, especially with the recession.  A few months ago, one of the people who came to…us [said] she was a graduate from the class of 2009 and was already living on the streets. Since then, I can’t get her out of my head.” Stephanie brings these sentiments of empathy and dedication to everything she does. In times of stress, like the current situation, she turns to friends and family for support; “[they] are there for me to be excited when I’m excited, to pout when I’m pouting or to tell me when I’m wrong and help me understand things from their perspective.” The thought of losing that network of people who care is what truly concerns Stephanie, and many others, about graduating. “I’m dreading the moment when it really hits me that high school is done; I won’t be able to see the people I’ve become so close to over the past four years on a daily basis anymore, and that sucks.”

In the meantime, she counts the months until her departure from ESHS, getting everything set up to achieve future goals while trying to maintain equal focus on the present. Stephanie intends to major in Chemical Engineering while taking Fine Arts or Animation classes on the side. While this differs greatly from her childhood dream of being a veterinarian (“the only animal-related profession [children] know”), it combines her current interests and passions into one solid package. Many expected her to follow some science or math-related path, but her more creative love is relatively new: “To relax, I put my headphones in my ears and listen to my music, then draw.  Drawing really clears my mind because all I have to focus on is my pencil on the paper.” It’s compartmentalizing made easy, a useful skill in the midst of a flurry of paperwork and homework problems.

While Stephanie is serious about her schoolwork, responsibilities and future plans, she certainly does not have the same attitude in her day to day life. Her favorite high school memory is “pretty much every time I fall at school” –not generally an enjoyable experience. In Stephanie’s mind, however, “life isn’t fun if you’re serious and can’t laugh at yourself.” Hanging out with friends gives her plenty of chances to do this, as hours of fun “usually include at least one moment when I embarrass myself.” Stephanie claims her outlook parallels her sister Jenny’s: “She doesn’t always realize it but she’s really funny and people always love her… I realized I could learn from her, so I’ve been studying her ever since.”  With good grades and a positive attitude, it seems that many seniors would benefit from studying Stephanie herself in the months ahead.

Senior Spotlight: Joshua Bryon Echiribel

Senior Spotlight: Joshua Bryon Echiribel

Amid a flurry of skirts and pompoms stands one man in sweatpants: Joshua Bryon Echiribel. For this cheerleader, participating with the others is a favorite high school memory; it is a matter of “finding something I love to do…I’ve had so many memories in general with cheer…it was the greatest experience of my life.” While this provides the opportunity to really get involved in ESHS, Josh explores his true passion in his current Fashion Design SCROC class: “Since i was young, about 9 years old, I’ve always wanted to do something in the fashion industry; I mean it progressed from wanting to be a model, to a stylist, and then to being a fashion designer. I still love to model once and a while, but my true passion is in the fabrics; knowing that one day I will be clothing people in things that makes them feel good about themselves is just enough joy for me.” In pursuit of this goal, Josh intends to attend FIDM for 2 years, then move to London to study fashion design at the Instituto Marangoni. “I actually got accepted there but cost of living is horrible.” In the end, Josh plans to own his own boutique, then start his own line and make a name for himself.

The senior admits to being “terrified and dreading leaving all my friends and leaving my nest which has sheltered me for 12 years.” Yet he is already realistically moving toward achieving his future goals. Josh is actually having a fashion show on January 16th to showcase the pieces he has created thus far. This obviously requires a good deal of determination and work ethic mirrored in Josh’s comment that, “I’ve done this for myself, to better my knowledge and my career. My support system has been me and I’m proud of myself for making it this far.” While rather independent in this sense, the budding designer has been influenced by many people in his life, the most important of which are his mother, aunt and good friend, Erika Wilvang. “Ever since I was born, [my mother] has taken care of me as a single parent; she has taught me so much throughout life, and she supports me in anything I do.” Josh had a rather tumultuous childhood, often moving; he has lived in Ohio, New York, the San Fernando Valley, Echo Park, Long Beach, and now El Segundo. His aunt “always sent me something in the mail, just to show that she still loves me no matter what and that she’s there for me wherever I am in the world.” Erika, on the other hand, “taught me that I can experience life even without all the bad things teens usually do. She has been there for me, and I will always be there for her.”

While most seniors seem relatively uncertain about their futures and plans, Josh is content with his current path. “I love to make new friends and I love to travel; one day when I’m old and [rickety] and tired of being the CEO of my own Fashion House, and tired from traveling the world, and I decide to retire, I will retreat to Rome, Italy to live in peace. That’s my last stop.” In the meantime, Josh will continue to find peace and relaxation on an everyday basis by filling his room with music and new sketches, designing his way through life.

Senior Spotlight: Lauren Farello

Senior Spotlight: Lauren Farello

If someone made a list of the most intelligent, involved students at ESHS, Lauren Farello’s name would appear near the top. This year’s ASB Secretary, Lauren can look back on almost four years of a schedule stuffed to the brim with everything from Pennies for Patients to varsity sports to hosting an Austrian exchange student. Piling such activities onto an already full academic plate has been a challenging but thrilling experience for her.

Many students will recognize Lauren from school assemblies and related events; she has been an active member of the Associated Student Body for her entire high school career. “I’ve always been interested in Student Government (I was in it at Center Street in 4th grade), so when I was choosing classes to take in high school, I knew I wanted to be a part of it.” If her previous positions can be considered proof, she has succeeded in her goal. The senior was Sophomore Secretary/Treasurer and Junior Secretary/Treasurer, now remaining involved as ASB Secretary. “It’s been such a good experience, working with a variety of people who want to make our school a better place,” Lauren says of her student government experiences. The concept of working with a group dedicated to helping others and bettering the community seems to have struck a particular chord with this dedicated ESHS student. Her “ultimate goal is to work at the United Nations, Amnesty International or some other international organization, specializing in women’s rights.” The declaration of such a lofty aspiration follows a logical plan: Lauren intends to major in International Relations and Studies with a minor in Spanish. While these goals differ more than slightly from her childhood dream of being a combined singer, dancer, actress, lawyer, teacher and doctor, Lauren feels up for the challenge. “I feel that ESHS has properly prepared me to achieve my goals after high school, and I cannot wait to begin a new chapter in my life.” She only dreads leaving family and friends behind; “I’ve always had the best group of friends and the most supportive and loving family, and I am definitely going to miss them when I go off to college.”

One specific group of individuals Lauren will most certainly miss is her teammates. After participating in 4 years of Varsity soccer, 3 of Varsity softball (with 1 year on the JV team), and cross country this year, strong bonds were formed. “I think that seeing my teams work together to represent our school and our community is something extremely special.” While these experiences provided many memorable moments, Lauren’s most cherished high school memory is when the Austrians came to El Segundo High. She enjoyed learning about their culture, personalities and, “although I had no idea what they were saying, I loved hearing them speak German to each other.” It is easy to see why she would want to continue those kinds of experiences through an internship at the UN or another worldwide organization; appreciating the similarities and differences between cultures is something Lauren cherishes.

She also holds dear the many inspirational people who have blessed her life throughout these past years. In terms of those closest to her, this means friends and family, who “have continuously supported me in my endeavors, and encouraged me to shoot for the stars.” In terms of historical role models, this means Eleanor Roosevelt, who “has inspired me to change the world for the better.” In terms of the ESHS faculty, this means Mrs. Burns; “I always leave her office with a smile on my face, feeling like I can do anything I put my mind to.” This mindset will carry Lauren, and the rest of the senior class, out of ESHS this spring. Hopefully, like the ASB Secretary, most are “ready to see the world and find a way to make a difference in it.”

Senior Spotlight: Max Reynolds

Senior Spotlight: Max Reynolds

“Because if there was a flood, we would survive.” Or so say the last year’s ESHS waterpolo t-shirts. One senior who knows quite a bit about such a legacy is senior Max Reynolds. He was involved in swimming during elementary school, and has been swimming with the Eagles since the last few months of his 8th grade year, when he practiced for his freshman year high school season. “I started playing water polo because I already had a swimming background but really I wanted to get out of PE more than anything. I ended up sticking with it because it was a challenge and I enjoyed playing.”

High school life is a challenge unto itself, as Max has quickly discovered. With so much going on academically and socially, the talented senior found refuge in sports: “As captain of JV soccer sophomore year and polo captain this year, my lessons in team building and leadership have been endless. Sports create a great opportunity to meet new people, anybody that you work out with for two hours or so every day for four years, you are bound to have a bond with.” And bonds have been formed. While Max explains that some of his closest friends are “two guys that I met in pre-school,” his ESHS friends involve the majority of the waterpolo team, including many players who have graduated. It is with them, after all, that Max learned the biggest lesson he has taken from high school sports –persistence. “Whether it’s a water polo shot, a step in soccer, or a swim stroke, everything takes work… I know that no matter what it is, anywhere from a calculus problem to learning how to cook an omelet, with hard work and persistence anything is possible.” It is with this same determination that Max Reynolds looks ahead, as most seniors do during the college application season. “I barely know what I am doing next week so I can only give an educated guess for the next few years…I look forward to getting out of the sheltered walls of el Segundo and expanding my boundaries.” Max plans to backpack around Europe or Australia as well as start off with the intention of attaining a mechanical engineering degree. This was largely influenced by his involvement in Robotics Club at ESHS this past year; in his words: “We built a fully functional automated/remote control giant robot, what can beat that?” The goal of becoming a mechanical engineer also actually grew out of one of the senior’s childhood dreams. When he was younger, Max wanted to be a professional stuntman; “Once I realized this wasn’t a very likely option I started thinking it would be cool to set up or design movie stunts. This got me interested in engineering…”

In order to achieve these lofty goals, Max Reynolds plans is applying to several prestigious schools, including a few UCs and USC. The latter is definitely Max’s dream school: “I am even eligible for tuition remission due to my dad’s employment at an off-campus research center funded by the university.” As for staying involved in sports through college, the waterpolo player is sad to say that keeping up with academics and the added athletic component would be too much to balance at one time: “I plan on joining a competitive water polo club (offered at USC and SB) to stay in shape but I will be focusing on my studies in order to better set myself up for the future.”

Embarking upon the adventure that is college will provide Max with many new sources of inspiration, but right now “the most prominent influences have probably been my teachers, in particular Mrs. Clemmer and Mr. Wheeler…[Mrs. Clemmer] has taught me many lessons not only about math but about studying and school in general that I am going to take with me into college…[Mr. Wheeler’s] work ethic and outlook on life have been very inspiring to me.” One last person that has inspired Max Reynolds is his former waterpolo coach at ESHS: “I just want to send my best wishes out to George Harris who is currently on medical leave and is unable to participate in the water polo season or teach this year.” He remains in the thoughts of his team as they, like Max, go about swimming, studying and planning their futures.

Alicia Maples

Alicia Maples

by Emma Smith

Second period on a typical school day involves glaring fluorescent lights, stiff desks, flurries of notebook paper and a familiar voice on the PA system. The cheerful explanation of upcoming events from Key Club meetings to cafeteria options echoes in classrooms throughout the campus. This information is read to the general student population by the ASB President, Alicia Maples. Alicia is a senior at ESHS and has been participating in student government since middle school, where she was also student body president. For this motivated student, being a part of the high school associated student body has “honestly made my high school career…you are so involved and there is always more to do. It was definitely the best decision I made.” While the stress of being in such a leadership position could get to anyone, Alicia has found it to be her niche: “I’ve always had a passion for student government and leading people. I’m just looking to make the school more fun and spirited for everyone because school should be fun in my eyes and I know I can make it that place for others as well.” With an eye for helping others and an approachable demeanor, Alicia makes a great president and a good friend. Her high school experience has been shaped by numerous friendships and support systems. She lists a few of the people that have “always been there for me and vice versa: my best friend Kendall Roles (going on 4 years), my best friend Danielle Hannan (going on 7 years), Chelsea Lynne Bangasser (going on nine years) and Kainoa Russell.” The lifelong, trusting nature of such bonds is evident through Alicia’s certainty in her prediction: “The girls will be in my wedding someday.”

Between juggling academic work, keeping up with friends and remaining attentive to her ASB duties, Alicia Maples takes the time to get involved in ESHS in a more physical manner. She played softball for two years, but her truly beloved sport is volleyball. “I’m currently playing on Varsity and I’m among the three Defensive Specialists on the team…The team sports have given me some of the greatest laugh attacks and moments I’ll never forget.” Taking the time out of an already busy schedule to work out with her fellow players is a labor of love, but Alicia does it with an eager attitude. Her enthusiasm for the sport and her teammates is practically contagious; the senior proudly comments, “I’ve loved every team I’ve been a part of.”

The highs and lows of everyday life have not prevented the ESHS ASB president from seeing the bigger picture, that is, the fact that senior year has her in its grip and college looms on the horizon. As a child, Alicia and her brother had very specific career plans in mind for their futures, and Alicia is surprised to see how well these dreams still stack up against her current goals: “I wanted to be a pet shop owner and my brother wanted to be an ice cream truck driver so we could enjoy as much ice cream as we wanted and could have as many puppies as we wanted as well. How funny it is looking back because ice cream is still my favorite food and my passion is still with animals; I’m looking into Veterinary Medicine.” She reminisces about those years that have flown by, fondly recalling that during “my sophomore homecoming…our float was amazing!” Her options for the future call for some serious thought and a relaxed outlook as Alicia and the other seniors prepare for college, leave home and become adults: “I cannot wait! I’m nervous to enter the real world but I feel like I’m more than ready… I’m looking at UCSD, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, University of Texas, and University of Hawaii. I just wish I knew which field of study I am headed for; but I’m not worried about my destination …just trying to enjoy the ride.”