Flying, Architecture, Medicine, Fire Science and ‘Creepy Crawly Things’ Inspire February Students of the Month

Connor Forbes
Connor Forbes
8 Min Read
The Student of the Month winners for February are, left to right, Micah Elijah Remick, Liberty High School; Jason Paul Lopez, Perris Lake High School; Ariel Avila, Perris High School; Nahokulani "Hoku" Kaohu Nakasone, Paloma Valley High School; and Kaylee Melanie Faucher, Heritage High School. Photo by Don Ray

February Students of the Month

The Perris and Menifee Valley’s Chambers of Commerce have announced their five Perris Unified High School District Students of the Month for February. Nominated by teachers and staff at their respective schools, the students are selected for their character, integrity, love of learning, perseverance to overcome challenging circumstances, community service, and the manner in which they make a difference on campus.

The recognized students and their families were honored during a celebratory breakfast sponsored by the chambers along with local businesses and organizations.  The attending business and government representatives are presented first-hand accounts of the student’s accomplishments, as told by the educators. Each honoree received certificates of recognition, numerous gifts and hearty congratulations and encouragement to continue their paths. 

The Perris Valley Chamber and the Menifee Valley Chamber wish them the best in their endeavors. If you wish to learn more about the Student of the Month Program, please contact founder, Sally Myers at (951) 506-8024.

By Don Ray

Ariel Avila — Perris High School

February Students of the Month
Ariel Avila. Photo by Don Ray

The first thing that comes to mind if you mention Ariel Avila’s name to Assistant Principal David Na’il is her obsession for ‘creepy, crawly things.’

“She’s not afraid of spiders and scorpions or anything like that,” he says with a grimace. “You know, the poisonous venomous things?”

Ariel Avila doesn’t deny it — she embraces it because insects and reptiles are part of her future.

“I want to study pharmacology because I want to be able to make medicine,” she says. “There are new studies showing that scientists are making heart medicine for people who are in cardiac arrest — using scorpion medicine.”

“She’s spot on,” Na’il said after he dug into the topic. “They’re using that as some kind of medicine for heart bypass.”

She’s the founder and president of the science club. She plans to major in pharmacology at U.C. Santa Barbara where she’ll research medicines made from venomous jellyfish, poisonous mushrooms, and such.

Kaylee Melanie Faucher — Heritage High School

Kaylee Melanie Faucher. Photo by Don Ray

Kaylee Faucher’s grandfather, Doug Spoon, had been torn between architecture and journalism. He passed on architecture and became a well-known journalist and publisher (three-decade sports editor of the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, current publisher of Menifee 24/7) in the Inland Empire.

Kaylee decided to pursue his second choice.

“I’d love to attend Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and major in architecture,” she said. “I want to honor his once dream while also creating eco-friendly and more affordable and sustainable homes — and reduce the carbon footprint of our communities.”

Her teacher, Richard Santana, calls her a phenomenal student.

“She showed incredible aptitude when it came to everything from 3-D modeling to programming to solving problems,” he said, “and everything she needs to know for a career in architecture.”

Robotics Club advisor Stacey MacPherson said Kaylee is up to her ears in activities — always with a smile on her face.

“She organized and put together a robotics camp for the summer where we would have our students from three feeder schools join us,” MacPherson said.

“She goes way above and beyond.”

Jason Paul Lopez— Perris Lake High School

Jason Paul Lopez. Photo by Don Ray

Jason Lopez emerged from COVID isolation and online learning as an anxious kid who had trouble interacting with others. So, he sought some motherly advice.

“Her advice,” he says, “was to put myself out there a little bit at a time and interact with more people.”

He immediately signed up for ASB, and it paid off.

“Eventually I was doing the morning announcements, helping the cashier at the Student Store, and planning for events,” Jason said.

He also became a teaching assistant for the front office and began volunteering at the March Field Air Museum.

Now, he wants to go to school to become a pilot — and, who knows, maybe join the Air Force.

His mother, Christina Lopez, knew he could do it.

“Anything that he puts his mind to, he completes,” she said. “He’s shown that since he was a little boy, all the way up until now — when he graduated early because he was so determined.

“He wanted to get it done.”

Nahokulani “Hoku” Nakasone — Paloma Valley High School

Hoku Nakasone. Photo by Don Ray

“First off, Nahokulani means ‘The Star from Heaven,’” Her mother, Kelly Walker said. “And since the day she was born, she’s been an amazing daughter.”

“Her smile lights up the room,” her AP biology teacher, Heaven Boone says. “She’s humble and she’s positive. She’s a great student, but she’s also grateful.”

“Being a good student also comes with being a good older sister,” Hoku says. “My mom’s a nurse, and she works 12-hour shifts at the hospital. So, when she’s gone, the responsibilities of taking care of my siblings fall on my shoulders, which I happily take on.”

Hoku becomes a cook, a housecleaner, a chauffeur, and a homework coach — and at the same time, keeps up her own workload from school.

She also runs track and cross-country.

Hoku plans to major in biology at a four-year university and become a physician’s assistant.

“I’m hoping that I’m inspiring my sisters,” she says.

Micah Elijah Remick —Liberty High School

Micah Elijah Remick. Photo by Don Ray

Micah Remick is the captain of Liberty High’s swim team as well as its water polo team.

When he’s not studying, he volunteers to give swimming lessons to kids, and he teaches water safety.

“He’s a natural leader,” his mother, Sally Lopez said. “He’s always thinking of others before himself. He’s so kind and compassionate.

“And he’s always been a big brother to my younger son — just making sure that his brother is always safe.”

His swim coach and honors chemistry teacher, Felicia Asbury, says he’s extremely intelligent and learns things quickly, but she most admires him for his tremendous work ethic.

“He works so hard,” she said. “Whatever his goals are, he is going to make sure he achieves them.”

“I will be going to Miramar College in the fall,” Elijah says, “and I’ll be majoring in fire science. I want to be a firefighter paramedic.

“I just want to help people save lives.”

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