By Elizabeth Marie Himchak
Del Norte High reached another historic milestone when its first four-year class of Nighthawks walked across the stage to receive their diplomas.
The 462 members in the Class of 2013 concluded their journey as the school’s trailblazers with plenty of pomp and circumstance in the school stadium on June 13 followed by the “From Start to Finish” Grad Nite party at MCAS Miramar Officers Club.
Among the students led in by a junior honor guard carrying an ivy vine were Valedictorian Jessica Zhou, Salutatorian Shraman Ray Chaudhuri and class speaker Christopher Le, the latter determined by a contest where seniors submitted what they would say to their classmates at graduation.
Zhou, the 17-year-old daughter of Del Sur residents Kemin Zhou and Haiping Lu, earned the class’ top academic standing by achieving a 4.5 GPA. Her plans are to attend the University of Southern California on a full tuition scholarship so she can study business administration and international relations.
“I think I’d (eventually) like to go to medical school to study public or global health,” Zhou said, adding she is most interested in working on the policy and economic side of health care at an international level.
As for being part of Del Norte’s first class to complete freshman through senior year at the 4S Ranch campus, Zhou said, “It is really special. ... Our experience was so unique. We are the trailblazers whose footsteps others will be following.”
She kept busy by taking 13 Advanced Placement courses among her classes, with her favorites being AP Calculus BC and AP U.S. History due to the teachers, Zhou said. In addition, she enjoyed AP Chinese that she took off-campus.
When not studying, Zhou said she stayed busy with Science Olympiad, which she founded as a freshman and was president all four years, Model UN, swim team for three years and “I even tried basketball my freshman year,” she said.
Zhou said her favorite high school memory occurred at Science Olympiad this year when the team went to the state competition in Los Angeles.
As for advice to younger students, “Do what you think you like ... and ultimately stick with what you like most,” she said, adding they should not be afraid to try new experiences.
Ray Chaudhuri, the 17-year-old son of 4S Ranch residents Siddhartha and Easeeta Ray Chaudhuri, earned a 4.47 GPA. His plans are to study electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“The Del Norte people and those in the community have been so outgoing, friendly and collaborative,” Ray Chaudhuri said, adding they influenced him.
He also mentioned Science Olympiad as his favorite extracurricular activity along with an internship at San Diego Super Computer Center where he taught computer classes and developed an app for iPhones.
Among his 13 AP classes, Ray Chaudhuri said his favorite was AP Calculus BC because of the instructor and “I’m really interested in engineering and science. Math I really like. I had a teacher who prepared us rigorously.”
Ray Chaudhuri said his favorite high school memory was made recently, during the senior class trip to Disneyland. “It was a fun time to hang out with my friends before we go our separate ways,” he said. “We went on rides until 3 a.m. and overall it was a great day.”
As for advice to younger students, he said, “Most definitely do what you’re truly passionate about and don’t just force yourself into clubs (you’re not interested in). Find your niche, like I did with Science Olympiad.”
From Thursday afternoon's ceremony. All photos by Elizabeth Marie Himchak