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Sensational Scholars and Foreign Exchange Students (2005)
FLA-OC's 2005 Year of Languages Essay Contest Winner
Our Outstanding Students
(2004) | Anonymous Praise (2003)

Photos from the 2004 and 2005 Share Fair events!

Sensational Scholars

The following students were recognized in May at the 2005 Share Fair at the Knott's Berry Farm Resort Hotel in Buena Park.

Costa Mesa HS: Heather C., Nilani D., Patricia L.

El Dorado HS: Alex H., Michelle P.

El Toro HS: David B., Lee Anne L., Sarah H., Bryan D., Colin V.

Fullerton HS: Dominic M.

International Polytechnic HS: Joana H.

Los Alamitos HS: Ester H.

Oxford Academy: Starlene B.

Tustin HS: Rene G., Vivian Hye K.

Villa Park HS: Alice C., Megan F., Jeff G.

Warren HS: Amanda M.

Western HS: Jenneffer B.

Fabulous Foreign Exchange Students

Ditte Anker, from Denmark, spent the year in Tustin where she lived with a host family and attended Tustin High School. She was on the yearbook staff and performed in the Tustin High School theatrical production, Cabaret. In Denmark, she has an older sister and an older brother. She has played team handball since she was 5 years old.

Julie Helgesen, from Norway, also spent this year in Tustin, where she lived with her host mom and attended Tustin High School. She began studying French in Norway and has continued this year in French 4 Honors. At home in Norway, Julie has 3 sisters. She has danced ballet since she was 3 years old and skis every winter.

Daniel Sanner, from Germany, spent the year in Anaheim attending Western High School. He has three more years of high school in Berlin, and had already taken several years of his second foreign language, French, there. He came here to improve his English, and found many of his classes at Western to be easy. He liked Southern California, had visited Boston, and in June visited San Francisco before returning home with his parents and brother. His brother, one year younger, will be in New Mexico this coming school year.

Student write-ups

Heather C. (Costa Mesa HS, Teacher: Marilyn Bloomberg - Retired)
As a Spanish 3 student last year, Heather not only made a special effort to speak Spanish in class but also did so enthusiastically at last year’s Spanish Camp. Heather embraces all that she does enthusiastically, always preparing well for her classes and adding a unique “twist” that sparks interest. She has made valuable contributions to girls’ varsity basketball and student council - all this while taking AP coursework and studying independently for the AP Spanish Exam.

Nilani D. (Costa Mesa HS, Teacher: Lisbet Davalos)
Nilani has been an exceptional student since enrollment at Costa Mesa High School. The student body admires her for her outstanding skill as a soccer player while here teachers admire her as an exemplary student in all classes. Her warm, caring nature makes her a friend to all who know her.

Patricia L. (Costa Mesa HS, Teacher: Graciela Garcia)
Patricia has consistently demonstrated skill in Spanish by taking pride in preparing assignments at a superior level of performance. She possesses unique human qualities that are reflected not only in her work but also in her actions, which make her a role model for others to follow.

Alex H. (El Dorado HS, Teacher: Tina Livingstone Bobbitt)
Alex H. is an Outstanding Spanish IV AP student at El Dorado High School. His enthusiasm and his dedication to communicating in Spanish are exemplary. He also has a great sense of humor that keeps his classmates as well as his teachers entertained.

Michelle P. (El Dorado HS, Teacher: Suzanne Lovering)
Michelle P. is a language teacher’s dream come true. She is enthusiastic, hard working, and an excellent student academically. Best of all, Michelle takes pleasure in speaking the language and speaks it well. She will be greatly missed after 4 year in French with Madame Lovering.

David B. (El Toro HS, Teacher: Joan Kirschenbaum)
David, aka Davíd en español, is a serious, committed individual. He is interested in people and in how to improve conditions in the world. He has had the opportunity to travel and will do so again this summer when he goes back to Spain. David is independent, helpful, analytical and as smart as can be. Ms. Kirschenbaum predicts that his contributions to the world will affect society greatly and she is honored to be his teacher.

Lee Anne L. (El Toro HS, Teacher: Patricia Lopez)
No write-up provided.

Sarah H. (El Toro HS, Teacher: Regina Deeter)
No write-up provided.

Bryan D. (El Toro HS, Teacher: Joan Ekdale)
No write-up provided.

Colin V. (El Toro HS, Teacher: Gayle Traeger)
No write-up provided.

Dominic M. (Fullerton HS, Teacher: Christina Garner)
Dominic is a language student par excellence. In his fifth year he not only continues his studies of Spanish after having already passed the AP test, but has picked up a French class while also serving as a TA for foreign language. When he is bored, he studies Italian on line. Bravo, Dominic!

Joana H. (International Polytechnic HS, Teacher: Sarah Meyers)
It has been Ms. Meyers pleasure to work with Joana for the past three years in French. To begin, she is an outstanding student - she challenged herself to learn a third language. She is also regularly enrolled in college classes at Cal Poly Pomona along with all her high school classes. Additionally, she is a poet and performs her poetry, and does many volunteer activities such as tutoring children, working at the City of Hope hospital and visiting convalescent homes. She has a wonderful, quiet and respectful manner and relates well to other people. She is truly an exceptional student and human being. Ms. Meyers will miss her.

Ester H. (Los Alamitos HS, Teacher: Shari Kaulig)
Ester is not only an excellent AP student, but she has the most positive attitude ever! She loves learning and is always enthusiastic and cheerful. She said “Spanish is her favorite AP test!” Ester is a delight - a perfect child!

Starlene B. (Oxford Academy, Teacher: Tina Matic)
Mi estrella flaca... the best student of Spanish I have ever had, in so many ways! She is mature and wise beyond her years; her knowledge of the language, literature and cultures is vast and impressive; and she has a quality that makes her a joy and honor to work with, for both me and her colleagues... humildad. She humbly and respectfully encourages others to learn more about the Latin world through her own enthusiasm for it. I will miss her next year.

Vivian Hye K. (Tustin HS, Teacher: Susan Geery)
It is a pleasure to teach Vivian Hye K. in 4 Honors because of her enthusiasm for learning to speak and understand Spanish. She is an incredibly diligent student who thinks about the concepts we are studying and asks probing questions to make sure she understands. Her interest is genuine and she is always willing to patiently explain “en español” a difficult concept to another student.

Rene G. (Tustin HS, Teacher: Maribel Herrera)
to be added...

Alice C. (Villa Park HS, Teacher: Anita Torkelson)
An AP Spanish student, Alice C. is one of those students who make teaching a joy. She is definitely among the top few students of Mrs. Torkelson’s career, and a delight to know. Her academic excellence is paired with beauty of character, and Mrs. Torkelson is indeed pleased to recognize her today for the fine student and person that she is.

Megan F. (Villa Park HS, Teacher: Sandra Benuzzi)
It has been a privilege to teach such a motivated student as Megan F. Spanish 3 is a difficult year for most students, but Megan has risen to the challenge. She is a ready participant, and asks intelligent questions. Her pronunciation is easy on the ear, and she is honing her Spanish writing skills. In a world where everyone screams for attention, Megan leads by quiet example, demonstrating poise and class. Ms. Benuzzi wishes that every teacher had a student like Megan!

Jeff G. (Villa Park HS, Teacher: Tom Beeman)
Jeff is an all-around excellent student. He attended Spanish Immersion Camp in the Fall, has excellent pronunciation skills, and always ensures that his work is of the utmost quality. Mr. Beeman is proud to be Jeff’s teacher and he has a lot of respect for him.

Amanda M. (Warren HS, Teacher: Dominique Drechsler)
Amanda M. is a senior at Warren High School in Downey. She is a true linguist with an unquenchable desire to learn foreign languages. She is also a seasoned traveler who has already visited many countries throughout Europe. This year, Amanda took on the challenge of 2 AP classes and 3 AP exams in foreign languages. She is fluent in Spanish, French and German and will be spending this summer in Berlin at the Goethe Institute.

Jenneffer B. (Western HS, Teacher: Karen Donner)
With Mrs. Donner for four year of French, Jenneffer is a pleasure to have in class. She has always been a polite, cheerful, honest and diligent student. Besides being the best student in her class in oral production and effort, she is also a TA for Mrs. Donner this semester and proving to be a mature and reliable assistant.

2005 Year of Languages Essay Contest Winner

FLA-OC applauds Michelle Lew of Esperanza High School, a student of Liz Kaulard’s, for her winning essay on "How learning another language benefits my community and my country". Michelle received a $30 Borders gift certificate from FLA-OC, and her essay represented our organization at the state level in the National Year of Languages Essay Contest! Congratulations, Michelle! Thank you to all who participated in the contest, including numerous Foreign Language, English Language Arts and Social Science teachers from these secondary schools: Tustin High School, Troy High School, Esperanza High School, Oxford Academy, Hewes Middle School and C.E. Utt Middle School. Each of the students who participated in the essay contest will receive a certificate from FLA-OC for their valued involvement in the celebration of the Year of Languages. For more information on this and other Year of Languages events, visit the website at

Our Outstanding Students

The following students were recognized in May at the 2004 Share Fair at the Amazon Brazilian BBQ Buffet in Fullerton.

El Toro HS: Cynthia S., Parisa S., Michelle D., Kristy C.

Esperanza HS: Michelle L.

Los Amigos HS: Helen L., Trang N.

Tustin HS: Justine L., Crystal M., Amanda N.

Milikan HS: Alex S.

Oxford Academy: Adrian F.

International Polytechnic: Dominique and Angelique S., Jacqueline C.

Redondo Union HS: Sarah S.

Troy HS: Heather N., Ruchi D., Paige M-S.

School Not Listed: Jessica S.

Student write-ups

Cynthia S. (El Toro HS) is Mr. Valdés’ best Spanish II student and she has excelled in his class all year. Cynthia learns quickly and asks intelligent questions. Mr. Valdés is so proud of Cynthia and has enjoyed having her in class.

Parisa S. (El Toro HS) is multicultural and possesses a knack for languages. Her mother is Persian and Parisa speaks Farsi fluently. One of her favorite pastimes is visiting her grandma who has been teaching Parisa proficiency in reading and writing Farsi. At Open House, Parisa’s father remarked, “Ever since I can remember, Parisa has had the desire to learn Spanish.” – Very apparent! I’m honored to have such an outstanding honor student at the Spanish I level.

Michelle D. (El Toro HS) is a language student extraordinaire! Mrs. Traeger says that she speaks English, which is her native tongue; German, since she was little with her mom and dad; and French, which she has been taking since junior high. Michelle is very enthusiastic about learning other languages and cultures because she has been to Europe several times with her parents and has been exposed to the world’s diversity since she was little. Michelle is an outstanding student in all of her studies in high school, plus she is President of Kiwanis, and a member of the cross-country team. Michelle is also a musician who plays guitar and sings very well. In fact, for one of her projects in French IV Honors, Michelle dressed up like the “Singing Nun” and sang her famous song from the ‘60s “Dominique”. At French Camp this year, Michelle was awarded “Le Champion” or the best French speaker at camp. It is a pleasure to have Michelle in class, and Mrs. Traeger honors her as one of the most outstanding foreign language students in Orange County!

Kristy C. (El Toro HS) has been a French student for the past four years, and will go on to French IV AP next year at ETHS. Mrs, Traeger says that she is a “ray of sunshine” in her French IV Honors class every day. She comes into Mrs. Traeger’s room with a smile on her face, ready to learn, with no complaints or excuses. Kristy was the medallion winner for the ETHS “Excellence Awards” for French this year. Her outstanding work in French IV and her ability to write and converse in French at an advanced level were some of the reasons she was honored. When they were studying Le Petit Prince, Kristy was really interested in this classic French novel. She would write very insightful answers to the questions for each chapter, and was able to discuss the symbolism of the novel at great lengths in French, which is quite advanced. Kristy is also a singer in concert choir and was in the musical “Bye Bye Birdie” this year, and she has become passionate about music. Kristy has made it a joy for Mrs. Traeger to teach French IV this year. It was a difficult transition for her to make from her last French teacher of 3 years to Mrs. Traeger’s class, but she has made it work for her and for her teacher. Kristy is an outstanding student, and Mrs. Traeger is pleased to honor her as an exceptional foreign language student.

Michelle L. (Esperanza HS) – Mrs. Kaulard would like to honor Michelle Lew as the outstanding student in German for the 2003-04 school year. To illustrate just how competent in German Michelle is, she had to take the German 4/AP class, even though she actually was in German 3H. This presented no challenge to her whatsoever, as Michelle excelled in the class and even performed better than some of her German 4/AP classmates. Michelle also scored 90% on the National AATG examination, she was a participant in the German test given by the German Consulate, a challenging exam with written and oral components, and she did an outstanding job at the interview. Mrs. Kaulard is anxiously looking forward to having this dedicated and exceptional student working with her again next year.

Helen L. (Los Amigos HS) is both a formidable student and an exceptional young woman. Mr. Castillo is honored to have had the opportunity to be her teacher and he looks forward to hearing about the many accolades that are in the offing.

Trang N. (Los Amigos HS) is being honored by Mrs. Weissert, who has always loved having Trang as a student. Trang is a great person as well. What strikes Mrs. Weissert most is her loved of French – the language, the art, the culture, the food, etc., and her desire to study French in college and live abroad.

Justine L. (Tustin HS) is a Spanish II student. I describe Justine using the three R’s: remarkable, responsible, and riveting. Justine is always willing to speak Spanish in and out of the classroom. She makes teaching easy and fun. – Ms. Herrera

Crystal M. (Tustin HS) is a senior in Miss Petipas’ French III class this year and has been in her French classes since her sophomore year. For the three years that the teacher has known her, she has always been a pleasure to have in class because of her positive attitude, her genuine character, and her regular participation in class activities. She has taken a real interest in learning French and it shows in her strong effort to learn in class and in her participation in the spring French Immersion Camp. Crystal is always asking insightful, well thought-out questions about what is presented in class and has taken a serious interest in furthering her education. Crystal is the kind of student that makes the teaching profession worthwhile and enjoyable, and her teacher feels honored to have taught such a motivated and exemplary student these past three years. Miss Petipas wishes her the best this June as she graduates and moves on to college to work toward a career in medicine. Miss Petipas has no doubt that Crystal will be great at whatever she pursues! Congratulations, Crystal, on a job well done!

Amanda N. (Tustin HS) has an enthusiastic smile and positive attitude that help brighten Spanish IV Honors, and Mrs. Geery really enjoys working with her every day. Amanda always laughs at Mrs. Geery’s jokes and she takes pride in her increased fluency in Spanish. Amanda eagerly speaks Spanish in class, always participates in word-for-the-day, and also loves all of the culture that goes along with knowing another language. Mrs. Geery knows that they are going to have a great time in Spanish VAP next year, and offers Amanda “Congratulations!”

Alex S. (Milikan HS) has been studying German for 3 years and from the beginning has showed a great interest in the German language. He has been an active member of the German Club promoting the German Program wherever he can. Alex has already been twice to the German Language Camp and whenever Ms. Peterie and he see each other they speak German. Seeing a student enjoy speaking the language makes her day every time. Ms. Peterie says it has been a lot of fun and an absolute pleasure to teach Alex.

Adrian F. II (Oxford Academy), otherwise known as Martín Pescador, hijo, first entered Mrs. Matic’s Spanish class in 1999 as an 8th grade student at half his present size, yet still as quiet and respectful as he is today. He still has the same wide smile and eagerness to learn in his eyes, especially during the “Animals of the Amazon” project that was inspired by his love of wildlife. Over the years Adrian’s language skills have improved infinitely, making communication in Spanish with the Latin side of his family more exciting and productive. Mrs. Matic says that it’s been a pleasure getting to know and working with Adrian, and she knows that his future will be bright.

Dominique and Angelique S. (International Polytechnic) – I have been the luckiest teacher over the past 3 years to have Dominique and Angelique in my classes. The first year, they were not in the same class and I had a terrible time telling them apart. However, the next year they were in the same class and I figured it out! Dominique and Angelique are two of the most gracious and kind students I have ever had. They are always willing to help out in class and work with other students. Their French is outstanding. Additionally, they have often traveled to France and bring the love and the enthusiasm of the culture and language to the classroom. Their project work is top notch and very creative. Further, they are both wonderful dancers and perform with a dance troupe out of Cal. State Fullerton. It has been wonderful having these lovely young women in my class for the past three years. I will miss them so much! – Mrs. Meyers

Jacqueline C. (International Polytechnic) is a French student who is fluent in Spanish. She is the type of student that every teacher dreams of working with. She is delightful, generous and kind, and ALWAYS in a good mood. She works hard and I always know she will have one of the top grades in the class. It is so much easier to grade the outstanding work and tests! What a treat and privilege to work with such a wonderful young woman. My classroom will certainly feel empty without her, and I will miss her very much. However, I know she will continue to be her wonderful self and contribute greatly to all her classes and I’m happy for all the luck teachers who will work with her in the future. – Mrs. Meyers

Sarah S. (Redondo Union HS) has been Mrs. Leathers’ student for two years and her TA for one. She is one of Mrs. Leathers’ top 3rd year Spanish students. Sarah not only works to the best of her ability on all assignments, but she shows leadership skills and adds a positive attitude to her class. She has even designed and taught a lesson for Spanish 1-2. Sarah is a wonderful student and has a very promising future as a teacher.

Heather N. (Troy HS) is the most upbeat student that Ms. Hamrock has in her classes. Ms. Hamrock says that Heather participates enthusiastically, has a great sense of humor, and brings joy to the class each day.

Ruchi D. (Troy HS) is praised by Mrs. Menna as being an extremely intelligent, kind, wonderful and beautiful person. She is wise beyond her years and is always looking for ways to help others. She has won countless awards for academics in all subjects and has a great passion for the Spanish language. Ruchi loves the culture that is such an important part of the language. She traveled with Mrs. Menna, her husband, and 7 other students to Costa Rica in 2003 and that is where her teacher was able to get to know her better. Mrs. Menna will always remember her for her kind heart.

Paige M-S. (Troy HS) eagerly speaks Spanish! She practices in with Miss Villalba in Spanish I and at the track meets at Troy. Paige gas already expressed interest in Spanish Camp. Miss Villalba says Paige is incredible!

Jessica S. (school and teacher unidentified) has been a wonderful student of German over the past three years. She is always eager to learn and adds to class with her smile and good participation. She did not take the easy way out of doing just Spanish, which she already knows, but decided to learn another language. She is also a great soccer player, besides being a good German student. She was a great help to our team. She was the only player who was dedicated enough to show up for all practices, even though she has to come back to school from home. Jessica possesses superb team spirit. She is always very helpful in class and is well liked by her peers. Jessica is not only absolutely beautiful on the outside, but also on the inside. I am so glad she was in my class. She has made teaching for me and also my student teacher very enjoyable.

Anonymous Praise

As always, some very inspiring comments were offered at the May 2003 Share Fair at Esperanza High School, to recognize students for their outstanding contributions to our FLA-OC Members' Foreign Language classrooms. The article that follows was contributed by member Richard Doering ( and it was published in the 2003 Summer Edition of The Zest!.