This article originates from the 5th issue of the San Joaquin County Office of Education's Outlook magazine.
After a tragic car accident took the lives of her mother and younger brother, 11-year-old Yajaira Quintero Martinez moved to Ripon to live with her aunt and uncle.
She adapted to her new home, making friends, learning a new language, and getting good grades. Now a senior at Ripon High School, Yajaira’s personality and ability to persevere drew the attention of Ripon Unified School District officials, who nominated her to receive an Every Student Succeeding Award.
“Yajaira aspires to make others laugh and be happy,” said Victor Ramirez, Ripon High School vice principal. “She is a respectful, caring, and loyal person. We look forward to sharing in her future successes.”
Yajaira was one of two students from Ripon Unified to receive the award, which celebrates students who overcome adversity in their lives to find success. The second student from the district was Cody Raichel, a senior at Harvest High School who was able to get his academics back on track. The change has put him on a trajectory to graduate this year and head to junior college and pursue a career in welding.
Both were among the 18 students from San Joaquin County schools recognized at an awards breakfast with their teachers, superintendents, and families gathered to support them at the San Joaquin County Off ice of Education on Feb. 14. Each of these students had faced obstacles and overcame them to achieve success.
The Every Student Succeeding Awards were granted by the San Joaquin County charter of the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA).
“The purpose of the award is to honor students at all grade levels who have succeeded, against all odds, beyond expectations, or simply won the hearts of the administrators and other educators who helped them achieve their goals,” according to ACSA.
Students were nominated by their supporters at their schools who helped them along the way as they overcame physical and mental barriers, improved attendance, left a gang, returned to school, or found the will to change their attitude.
Each student had an inspiring story that was shared with a brief video during the breakfast.