The Capitola-Soquel Times is pleased to recognize the 15 Soquel High School valedictorians and five salutatorians for all of their hard work.
Each of the valedictorians got all A’s every semester for four years — even during the pandemic, when schools were closed and teachers switched to online learning. Each salutatorian got only one B in four years.
Maya Rhee-Pizano is the No. 1 overall ranked student at Soquel High, with a 4.5 grade-point average, earning the superintendent’s award.
Joining her as valedictorian are: Laura Bennett, Ciara Cantlen, Eva Claussen, Audrey Finch, Adonay Gonzalez, Nicolas Graessle, Alyson Kosek, Danika Marlatt, Kyra Phelan, Lily Sonnenblick, Edita Stein, Ruby Storey, Alexandra Weiss and Max Cote.
The salutatorians are: Serena Crane, Tyler Holden, Rolando Mayoral Peralta, Sierra Long, and Maya McCain.
At the awards night May 25, some received scholarships; others received departmental honors and/or the California Seal of Biliteracy.
The Capitola-Soquel Times asked valedictorians to share what they enjoyed about Soquel High, how Covid affected their experience and their future plans. Their answers follow.
I will be attending UCLA in the fall. I will be majoring in biology on the premed track.
At Soquel, I was the varsity water polo team captain, varsity volleyball team captain, president of the doctors of tomorrow club, president of the Red Cross club, president of hype club, and Associated Student Body vice president.
Covid was extremely harmful and destructive to the strong connections of the legendary Soquel community, but as soon as we returned to in-person instruction that Soquel family reunited.
I love the community at Soquel. From Link Crew to Homecoming to MultiCultural graduation, Soquel is so unique and special to all of its students.
Parents: Molly and Brett Graessle
I will attend the University of British Columbia in the faculty of Science in the fall. I plan on majoring in computer science.
I have been involved in the girls tennis team for four years, Bring Change to Mind club as the treasurer and vice president for the past four years, and National Honors Society.
Covid has made it harder to want to continue pushing myself academically. Being isolated from my friends and peers just made it difficult to overcome the hardships as I no longer had the same strong support system as I had previously.
I enjoyed the welcoming community that was built during my time at Soquel.
Parents: Kristen and Bradley Kosek
I will attend Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. As of now, my major is biology but I would love to explore the Human and Organizational Development major. It is a combination of leadership, communication, and business.
At Soquel High, I was involved in sports, clubs, and leadership. I played softball all 4 years, volleyball for 2, and tennis for 2. In terms of clubs, I held positions and was a member of Women in Science, Interact, Link Crew, Soquel UKnighted (National Coalition Building Institute), Hype, Doctors of Tomorrow, and Biology. I also was class vice president freshman and sophomore year, Associated Student Body Vice President junior year, and Associated Student Body President senior year.
The social component of high school is just as important as academics. I derive a great deal of my motivation from those around me so not being able to physically see my friends and teachers made me lose some of the enjoyment of school. I had to be creative in adjusting to online learning and underwent many trials and errors. It was difficult to say the least but once we returned back to school, there was definitely a palpable sense of appreciation across my entire school. If I gained one thing from the pandemic, it was to appreciate the small things.
I enjoyed all of the long-standing traditions at Soquel High. Homecoming week, Mr. SHS (male pageant show), and musical chairs every Friday are just a few. Soquel’s spirit is unmatched. Some of my fondest high school memories are screaming in the bleachers for my friends out on the field, court, or pool. Also, I enjoyed all of the connections I made with my peers!
Parents: Monica and Eric Marlatt
I will attend UCLA in the fall to study physiological sciences on the pre-med track.
At Soquel High, I was the president of the National Honor Society, a member of Doctors of Tomorrow, and Women in Science.
I played varsity volleyball all four years at Soquel High and our team won the Central Coast Section this year.
Parents: Summer Rhee-Pizano and Eddie Rhee-Pizano
I will be studying history at Oxford University.
I was Model UN President, a member of Politics club, and a peer tutor at Soquel.
While Covid did present hardships for everyone, I felt that most teachers did their utmost to give us all an excellent learning experience on zoom.
I really appreciated the opportunity to take part in Model UN conferences, collaborating with students from all around California on solutions to international issues. I also especially enjoyed the English and history classes I got to take while at Soquel.
Parents: Rachel and Richard Sonnenblick
I’m attending the University of Washington, Seattle in the fall. My planned major is English.
At Soquel, I was in the varsity band, mock trial, and the varsity girls tennis team — all for 4 years. I’ve been part of the film club and the sustainable fashion club.
Covid affected me in the same way it did for others. At first, I felt pretty disconnected from school and friends. But I got used to it after a while.
The thing I enjoyed most about Soquel is being with my friends for the past 4 years. Especially this last year, I feel like the senior class has felt a lot more unified and friendly.
Through everything I’ve done at Soquel High, I’ve always had my friends and that’s the most important part of school for me.
Parents: Helen Ewan-Storey and Sam Storey
Top Photo: Soquel High School Valedictorians — Front row (from left): Alyson Kosek, Laura Bennett, Nicholas Graessle, Danika Marlatt, Alexandra Weiss. • Middle row (from left): Edith Stein, Kyra Phelan, Maya Rhee-Pizano, Ruby Storey, Adonay Gonzalez. • Back row (from left): Ciara Cantlen, Audrey Finch, Max Cote, Eva Claussen. • Not pictured: Lily Sonnenblick