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QJSHS Interim Principal Kristy Warren, left, presented top 11th-grade student and triple-sport athlete Nick Caiazzo, center, with the Principal’s Recognition Award on Feb. 12 during the PUSD’s Board of Education meeting in Quincy. Nick’s family attended the presentation, including his parents Heather and Neal Caiazzo, and grandparents Rick and Joyce Whitsell. Photo by Roni Java

School board honors outstanding Quincy students

Two top-achieving Quincy students were honored Feb. 12 at the Plumas Unified School District’s Board of Education meeting in the restored historic schoolhouse.

Elementary science students also gave an engaging presentation with planetary models and a teacher thanked the trustees for investing in professional development for PUSD educators.

Family members joined the crowded audience as School Board President Leslie Edlund and trustees Joleen Cline, Dave Keller and Traci Holt, clerk of the Board, congratulated the honorees. Trustee Dwight Pierson was unable to attend.

Quincy Junior-Senior High

Quincy Jr./Sr. High School  Interim Principal Kristy Warren presented Nick Caiazzo, an 11th-grader and three-sport athlete, with the Principal’s Recognition Award and complimented him for his accomplishments and involvement in school.

“Nick is (literally) a straight-A student who has never earned less than top grades and he’s a very busy guy,” Warren said. “He’s got a basketball game tonight against Portola.”

Extending praise from English teacher Jason Hawkins, Warren said Nick takes AP classes, is conscientious and consistently exceeds the expectations of his teachers. He also demonstrates “a maturity that is virtually unmatched by his peers” and is recognized for his insights and analytical contributions to class discussions.

Hawkins’ commendation included an assessment that Nick is “very well-respected by his classmates. He always carries himself in a way that would make any of us proud. He is a leader by example and an exemplar in our school community.”

QJSHS Math and Physics teacher Dennis Hintz and Vice Principal Aleece Oravetz both sent word that Nick merited the principal’s award for other reasons, as well.

Describing the student as kind, thoughtful, diligent and “remarkably responsible,” the educators said, “He works well on any team he is assigned to and he has a great sense of humor!”

Nick plays in the school band and is known for devoting many hours to expanding extracurricular educational opportunities for his peers. With plans to head to a four-year university after graduation in 2021, he also serves in leadership roles on campus, including with the “S” Service Club and as a student officer for Quincy High’s California Scholarship Federation chapter.

Quincy Elementary School

Quincy Elementary School  Principal Lara Hollister presented her Principal’s Recognition Award to outstanding sixth-grade student Cheyenne Ellison.

“Cheyenne and her brother Dakota are being raised by their single dad, Donald Ellison,” Principal Hollister said. “She embodies the brilliance of our Quincy Elementary students and always has a smile on her face. I’m going to share with you some comments provided by her father and I’ll try not to cry.”

Hollister told the audience Cheyenne is 12 years old and “she has known adversity and struggle, but that has not stopped her from becoming the amazing young lady that she is.”

Cheyenne has many responsibilities, according to her father, including helping with household chores and making sure she and her young brother are ready and off to school. The sixth-grader takes weekly sewing classes and is an active member of a volleyball team.

She manages all of this while maintaining a straight-A grade point average.

Hollister said Ellison explained his daughter loves hiking and last summer, she asked him to allow her to complete a 3-mile hike on her own. According to his notes, “She finished the hike in record time and showed up with a smile to her awaiting dad,” the principal said.

In her spare time, Cheyenne enjoys bicycling, camping and boating with her family. She has future plans to become a nurse, or a cosmetologist, or an interior designer — she hasn’t quite decided which yet.

“But it is without a doubt that whichever (path) she chooses,” her father wrote, “Cheyenne can and will accomplish anything she puts her mind to. Love, Dad.”

Applause filled the meeting room and Cheyenne accepted her award from Principal Hollister with a hug and a bright smile.

Teacher appreciates training

After the awards, QJSHS Interim Principal Warren invited teacher Karen Hicks to address the school board, saying, “We’re so lucky to have a full-time Spanish teacher and I invite you to visit Karen’s classroom. She is an excellent teacher and has served for many years as a classroom advisor, oversees the crochet club and chairs our annual walk. Let me tell you, that’s a large job, coordinating all of the staff!”

Hicks thanked the trustees and school district for their support and said 20 years ago, she was not planning to become a teacher. She was invited to teach Spanish and accepted the challenge, crediting two retired teachers with excellent assistance as she started out.

“Most of all, thank you,” she told the board. “It’s been the tremendous professional development and training I have received locally that has been incredibly helpful in my career.”

She also thanked the district and trustees for investing in PUSD’s educators, for providing technology in the classrooms, as well as curriculum support, and said the training she has received has taught her ways to integrate new methods into her teaching and inspired her with ways to motivate students.

Projects make lessons fun

Next, QES Principal Hollister introduced the trustees to teacher Rachel Molsee.

“Rachel teaches cool project-based learning while her sixth-graders bounce on yoga balls that she acquired by doing a fundraising project,” Hollister said.

Molsee outlined a recent science lesson series that focused on solar and lunar cycles.

“The students researched their topic,” she said, “made working models, wrote informative papers for the language arts portion of the project and then demonstrated what they learned to our school’s third-, fourth- and fifth-graders. It was awesome!”

Molsee brought up two of her students to demonstrate the value of project-based-learning for science and other lessons.

Abby Warren and Scarlet Wood carried their three-dimensional planetary models to the front of the room and showed the audience how much fun they had studying phases of the moon and the impact of the earth’s rotation around the sun upon the change of seasons in each hemisphere.

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