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The Tongva Times

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Aesthetic of a staff member
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Bren Belmonte, Staff Writer • May 30, 2024

Eagles flying high inside the gym at Renaissance Rally

The+Gabrielino+Winterguard+performs+at+the+Renaissance+Rally.
Meibo Su Padilla
The Gabrielino Winterguard performs at the Renaissance Rally.

  Last Friday, Gabrielino High School held its annual Renaissance Rally. Throughout the rally, academic achievements and many of Gabrielino’s Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) were recognized.

   The rally opened with a few announcements by Vince Lopez, Gabrielino’s principal, and a video of K-pop Club dancing to “Sweet Venom” by the boy group Enhypen.

   Juniors Aaron Situ and Kelly Munoz Rios were then given two awards for their service as San Gabriel’s Human Equity, Access, and Relations (HEAR) Youth Ambassadors. Former and current HEAR Commission chairs Dr. Chasity Jennings-Nunez and Viki Goto came to Gabrielino to announce the awards.

   Philip Zamora, department chair of the English department, announced the first set of awards given to outstanding students in the physical education, social studies, and English departments. Each department awarded eight students.

   This was followed by a performance by the Gabrielino Winterguard involving several large black sails. Members moved in and out of these sails as they handled rifles, flags, and sabers, spinning and throwing them into the air, interspersed with dance and synchronized movements.

   Emmett Suess, art department chair, announced awards for Career Technical Education (CTE) and VAPA. These included business communication, peer helping, woodshop, drama, production tech, band, orchestra, speech, yearbook, journalism, associated student body (ASB), dance, choir, and sports therapy, with two students awarded from each class.

   Kevin McClure, the physics teacher at Gabrielino, announced awards for the math, science, and world language departments.

   They then introduced the Gabrielino Jazz Band, seated on the gym’s far side. They proceeded to play “Runaway Baby” by Bruno Mars.

   Melissa Lopez, Athletics Director, announced several awards for outstanding athletes from each grade level. Two Mission Valley athletes for fall, winter, and spring sports were also recognized.

Two Sparky the Eagles dance around the gym. (Paris Ngeam and Jacob Schilf) (Meibo Su Padilla)
Spongebob and Patrick take center stage. (Meibo Su Padilla)

   Finally, Chris Saporito, counselor for the Wellness Center, awarded the Outstanding Student for Academic Excellence to two students in each grade level.

   This was followed by an intermission of two Sparky the Eagles, Gabrielino’s Mascot, running around and dancing in the gym. Two students later joined them in a Spongebob and Patrick inflatable costume.

   Lopez concluded the rally by announcing the valedictorian and salutatorian for the Class of 2024 to much tension and applause. The salutatorian was senior Kaden Tan, and the valedictorian was senior Alex Hoe.

Tan described it feeling “sureal”, but also “lucky”.

“The number of people I know who were also derserving of such an award, that I was chosen out of all of them,” Tan added.

   Tom Velekei, science department chair, outlined how students were chosen from each department. When the department meets leading up to Renaissance Rally, students are nominated and discussed by the teachers before settling on several students to award.

   The outstanding academic awards are chosen similarly, except the administration and the counseling department nominate and choose students. Students are awarded on a holistic basis considering their performance across various subjects. Lopez described them as  rounding out the awardees and asking “are we missing anyone?”

For the final rally of the year, Lopez takes on a much bigger role in designing and organizing the rally with ASB taking a backseat.

“ASB handles all of the rallies and dances any event happening on campus […] However, the Renaissance Rally is the one exception to this,” senior Jacob Schilf, ASB Vice President explained. “ASB is just called in when [Lopez] needs to have an act or have us make posters.”

   For many, the most striking feature of the rally will be the hundreds of eagles with students’ names plastering the gym walls. ASB worked to create all of them in the lead-up to the rally, each representing an award for GPA given to students during the second period on Friday.

   “I get excited every time we come into the Renaissance [Rally],” Lopez said. “we’re able to see the whole educational community, we try to make sure we get to every student […] not just the 4.0 or the high-achieving student.”

   Silver-colored eagles represented the Soaring Eagle award, meaning students improved their GPA by 0.5 points. Blue eagles were for the Screaming Eagle award, awarded for a GPA from 3.0 to 3.99 in the first semester. Finally, yellow eagles fittingly represented the Golden Eagle Award for a 4.0 GPA during the first semester.

   “I’m very proud of the [Soaring Eagle] acknowledgment because that’s raising the GPA half a grade level, and that shows students are trending in the right direction whether you’re going from a 1.0 to 1.5 or a 3.5 to a 4.0,” Lopez added.

   In total, 267 Golden Eagles, 679 Screaming Eagles, and 207 Soaring Eagles were awarded, representing outstanding academic achievement by Gabrielino students this year.

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About the Contributor
Isaac Chan
Isaac Chan, Staff Writer
Isaac Chan is in his first year with the school's journalism team. Outside of journalism, Isaac is an avid fan of video games, with particular fondness for Kirby, Mario, Zelda, and the Persona series—which he is always eager to discuss. Despite his penchant for gaming, Isaac is no stranger to hard work and often finds himself immersed in the challenges of overcommitting. He is particularly interested in politics and views journalism as an ideal platform to address and discuss pressing issues at Gab.
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