The Student News Site of Gabrielino High School

The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

Valedictorian Chen, Salutatorian Liu lead Class of 2021

By Ashley Voong | Staff Writer

   On June 3, it was announced that Gabrielino High School’s Class of 2021’s valedictorian and salutatorian are Curtis Chen and Noemi Liu, respectively. The top candidates for these honors were seniors Christopher Dao, Kevin He, Jason Ho and Ryan Quach.

Senior Curtis Chen. Photo courtesy of Curtis Chen

     As a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar, having taken 13 AP courses throughout his high school career while maintaining consistent membership in both NHS and CSF, and a current weighted GPA of 4.7, Chen earned the valedictorian honor. In addition to his rigorous academic study, Chen has been a member of the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) club as the current Vice President of Competition, a member of the Math Club, a member of the Physics Club, two-year Cross Country runner, one-year Track & Field runner, and a member of Gabrielino’s Tutoring Association.

   Outside of school, Chen spent his time as a San Gabriel Library volunteer, Monterey Park Hospital volunteer, teacher’s aid at the Escalante Math Program, and as a translator for his family’s business. He has accumulated over 350 service hours throughout the past four years, earning the President’s Volunteer Service Gold Award.

   “I’m planning to attend the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) as a Computer Science major so hopefully, one day, I will make a startup with Computer Science,” Chen stated.

Senior Noemi Liu. Photo courtesy of Noemi Liu

     Between studying and speech, Salutatorian Liu splits her time as the founder of Gabrielino’s Society of Women Engineers Club, an embedded time math tutor, and a two-year wrestler and volleyball player.

     As a National Merit Commended Scholar and AP Scholar with distinction, Liu has maintained a 4.7 weighted GPA having taken 12 AP courses. 

Liu is the Duo Interpretation Event Leader, national qualifier, and state runner-up in Humorous Interpretation, and a four-year competitor of Speech and Debate. This year, she has also virtually competed at several national circuit tournaments throughout the nation.

Outside of school, Liu continues to work as an independent tutor as well and volunteers at her local church. In the past, she has interned for an environmental engineering firm called Chassell Technology and volunteered in local efforts such as the Ronald McDonald House through the American Heritage Girls Organization.

   Liu has committed to Yale University as an Engineering and Applied Mathematics major in the fall.    

Senior Christopher Dao. Photo courtesy of Christopher Dao

With a 4.7 weighted GPA, Dao enrolled in 11 AP courses, becoming an AP Scholar with Distinction, and participated in the Interact Club, Math Club, Physics Club, and Psychology Club. He is also a member of NHS, serving about 100 volunteer hours throughout high school, and a life member of CSF.

   “I wish I would’ve participated in more extracurricular activities and possibly an internship but other than that, I am proud of my high school achievements,” told Dao. “I feel honored about [being a finalist] and did not expect it.”

As a Computer Engineering major, Dao will be attending the University of California, Irvine.

Senior Kevin He. Photo courtesy of Kevin He

   Having taken 10 AP courses as an AP Scholar while maintaining a 4.6 weighted GPA, He is involved in the Interact Club as the current Web Master, FBLA as the current Business Relations Director, and was a part of the Track & Field jumps team his freshman and sophomore year. He has also been a two-year member in both NHS and CSF with a total of about 200 hours volunteering at the W&L Foundation and Amax Academy.

   However, his most notable accomplishments and passions lie outside of school as he co-founded his business, Versus—an e-commerce advisory subscription service for buying and selling automation software—where he was able to raise over $5,000 for the Black Lives Matter Movement in 2020.

   Throughout high school, He also founded two programs: Pearl Academy and the Make-a-friend Program. Pearl Academy, working in partnership with McKinley Elementary School, allows high school students to tutor elementary school students and the Make-a-friend Program offers senior students an opportunity to connect and mentor an underclassman.

   Completing the CS50 course by Harvard and receiving the Python certificate, He enjoys his free time coding. To further this interest, He will be attending the University of California, Berkeley as a Computer Science major.

Senior Jason Ho. Photo courtesy of Jason Ho

   Ho has taken 11 AP courses as an AP Scholar with Distinction, holding a weighted GPA of 4.7. While participating in the Interact Club as the President, Math Club, and Psychology Club, he has held consistent membership in both NHS and CSF.

  “The way I keep on top of [my work] is when assignments are given, I try to do them as soon as possible,” Ho explained. “That way, it frees up my schedule with time either after school or during lunch for club meetings and on the weekends for volunteering.”

   In the fall, Ho plans to major in Biochemistry at UCLA.


Senior Ryan Quach. Photo courtesy of Ryan Quach

    Along with Chen and Ho, Quach will be attending UCLA with a major in Pre-Statistics. Throughout high school, he took 10 AP courses and holds a 4.6 weighted GPA, qualifying as an AP Scholar with Distinction and CSF lifetime member.

   “I also fulfilled all the requirements for the California Seal of Biliteracy which will be given to me later on this year,” Quach added.

 In addition, he has taken part in the Interact Club as the current vice president, Chess Club, Conversation Partners Club, Math Club, and Psychology Club.

  According to Principal Sharron Heinrich, these six candidates were selected as the top among the 409 students in their class based on their overall grade point average (GPA), rigorous course of study over four years with an emphasis on advanced placement (AP) and honors courses, consistent membership in National Honor Society (NHS) and California Scholarship Federation (CSF), leadership and consistent participation in athletics and other co-curricular programs, volunteerism at school and in the community, academic recognition by national organizations, and involvement in activities that promote learning beyond the school.

Donate to The Tongva Times

Your donation will support the student journalists of Gabrielino High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Tongva Times

Activate Search
Valedictorian Chen, Salutatorian Liu lead Class of 2021