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Outstanding Achievements: Torreys Recognized for Excellence in Various Disciplines

By Jennifer Fogarty, communications content manager
We’re bursting with pride to share students’ accomplishments in academics, arts, athletics and robotics.
ACADEMICS
Micah Afshar ’23 was named a candidate in the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program. Of the millions of high school seniors nationwide, he is one of approximately 4,000 general program candidates. Application is by invitation only and selection is mostly based on SAT and ACT scores. 
 
Karch Borsa ’24 passed the entrance exam for the Chemistry Olympiad. The U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad (USNCO) program is a multi-tiered chemistry competition for high school students. The next step is the national exam, which takes place in April.
 
Talia Chehab ’31 won the silver medal in the Optimist International Club Oratorical Contest. The fourth grader delivered a speech on “Discovering the Optimism Within Me,” the contest’s theme. Judging criteria included poise, content, delivery and presentation. 
 
Maya Krishnan’s ’24 research in novel therapeutics for neurological disorders was awarded second place in the California Science & Engineering Fair, in the senior division of biochemistry and molecular biology. There were 896 participants in Grades 6–12 from 351 schools who presented 743 projects. Maya qualified for the statewide science fair based on earning first place in the Greater San Diego Science & Engineering Fair. This was the second year she won first place at the local fair. 
 
Erik Tang ’26, Jialu “Charlotte” Wu ’25 and Zitao “Albert” Yang ’23 earned qualifying scores in the American Mathematics Contest (AMC) through the Mathematical Association of America. Students who perform exceptionally well on the AMC 10/12 (based on grade level) are invited to continue participating in the AMC series of examinations culminating with the International Mathematical Olympiad. All three students participated in the first exam of the series, the American Invitational Mathematics Exam (AIME). Charlotte’s AIME score, combined with an Honor Roll distinction on the AMC 10 earned her the opportunity to move forward and compete in the USA Junior Mathematical Olympiad (USAJMO). Only the top 230 students are invited to take the USAJMO, a six-question, two-day, nine-hour essay/proof examination. 
 
Jialu “Charlotte” Wu ’25 earned third place in the senior division of behavioral and social sciences of the Greater San Diego Science & Engineering Fair for her research on text-to-image AI to increase reading comprehension. During the fair, Charlotte also won a Professional Society Award from the San Diego Psychological Association.
 
Jiuyu “Jerry” Zhang ’24 virtually presented his first published paper at the 11th International Conference on Data Mining & Knowledge Management Process (DKMP 2023) in Vienna, Austria. Jerry’s paper, “Machine Learning and Chatting Services in College Search A Study on Students' Preferences”, is based on research he conducted to develop an app called CollegeCore that provides real-time support and information for high schoolers during their college decision and application process. The main feature, Chat Bot, is patented and available in app stores.


ARTS
Eliana Bevash ’27 was named the runner-up from thousands of submissions in the St. Mary's College River of Words International Poetry Competition. The contest—the largest in the world—promotes environmental literacy and inspires students in K–Grade 12 to translate their observations into creative expression.
 
Two national winners in the 2023 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards are from LJCDS:
  • Qinzhe “Lawrence” Cai ’24 won a gold medal for Harvest (pictured above) and two silver medals for Ceremony and Nuns Feeding Vultures in visual art.
  • Victoria Huang ’25 won a silver medal in writing for a set of three poems submitted together (Happy Birthday, Dad; Keep Out; Victoria). 
National medal winners are invited to an annual awards ceremony in NYC, traditionally held at Carnegie Hall as part of a multi-day celebration of their work, with readings and gallery showings all around Manhattan. Fewer than 0.8% of the 300,000+ entries in the Scholastic competition end up winning national medals. Read the La Jolla Light article on the national winners. LJCDS recognized the 29 winning regional submissions from eight students in Grades 8–12.
 
Out of more than 1,300 entries, Lilith Ehrich's ’23 piece, Devil Mask, is among 152 selected for the National K-12 Ceramic Exhibition, an annual juried competition. Designed to showcase the best ceramic work in the country, the exhibition takes place in a different city each year in conjunction with the annual conference of The National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts.
 
Lilith Ehrich ’23, Ally Gallagher ’23, Lola Gallo ’26, Sophia Gizzo ’25, Olivia Howe ’25, Madeleine Johnson ’25, Nikki Pan ’25, Chloe Richardson ’24, Josh Rock ’26, Zoe Torres ’25, and Hally Wu ’24 are the 11 LJCDS students chosen to display their art in the highly selective Groff Exhibition at the City Gallery at San Diego City College and online. The California Art Education Association, San Diego Chapter, designed this exhibition to be the peak of standards-based and competitively juried annual student art exhibitions in the county. Out of the six awards presented at the closing reception, Madeline’s piece Insides won the Creative Expression Award and Lola’s piece The Arrangement won the Photography Award.
 
Leila Ghazi Nouri ’23 received a Recognition of Excellence from the Tri-M Music Honor Society, the national honors society for student musicians. Leila has been a four-year member and three-year officer, organized and managed Tri-M open mics, and led a schoolwide instrument and musical item drive benefiting Music4Kids San Diego.
 
Victoria Huang ’25 applied and was chosen to attend the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio this summer at the University of Iowa. With an acceptance rate between 15–20%, the two-week program of seminars and workshops is one of the most prestigious writing programs in the country.
 
Travis Lee ’28 won the middle-school category in the La Jolla Poetry Writing Contest, sponsored by the La Jolla Library and Warwick’s of La Jolla in honor of National Poetry Month. Travis’ winning poem will be featured in a lobby display at the La Jolla Library.
 
Sonali Pathria ’24 was chosen to have her art (pictured below) displayed in two exhibits. Read the La Jolla Light interview with Sonali.
  • An acrylic painting called Flight to the Light is at the San Diego Museum of Art’s 47th Biennial Young Art Exhibit until May 15. 
  • A colored pencil drawing called Together We Grow is on view in Los Angeles at the Autry Museum of the American West’s 7th Annual Student Visual Arts Exhibition through June 30.
 
Asha Postins ’24 was awarded third place for her oil painting On the Surface in the 2-dimensional art category for Grades 9–12 of the California Youth Art Month. La Jolla Light congratulated Asha. Her piece moved to the state-level competition after winning second place at the county and regional levels, where her art was displayed at the Riverside Art Museum in March.


ATHLETICS
Women’s basketball continues to stack up the accolades. 
  • ESPN announced the SCNEXT Top 25 teams. The 2022–2023 LJCDS women’s basketball team ranked #8 nationwide. 
  • Breya Cunningham ’23 was recognized on MaxPreps First Team All-America as one of the top players in the country.
  • Breya was also named CIF San Diego Section Player of the Year for the second consecutive season.
  • Each year, only 20 student-athletes are recognized as San Diego Section All-CIF women's basketball players. This year, five of those elite players were from LJCDS. First Team All-CIF: Breya Cunningham ’23; Sumayah Sugapong ’23; Jada Williams ’23. Second Team All-CIF: Naomi Panganiban ’24; Tajianna “Taji” Avant-Roberts ’24.

Garrett “Bito” Bass-Sulpizio ’23
was selected as The Mission Fed Coastal Conference Fall Season Male Scholar-Athlete and was nominated as a Scholar-Leader Athlete with the National Football Foundation - Walter J. Zable/San Diego Chapter.


ROBOTICS
For the first time since 2017, the LJCDS robotics league team, the Torrey Techies, advanced to the San Diego Regional Championships of the FIRST Tech Challenge. Teams are challenged to design, build, program and operate robots to compete in a head-to-head challenge in an alliance format. The senior team comprised Nicholas Cunha, Daniel Du, Kyle Huo, Gui Xin “Chris” Tian and Ryan Trubey.
 
Roland Breise ’23 and his team, Crash Test, won the Inspire Award while representing San Diego at the FIRST Championship world competition this April in Houston. He’s been a member of this robotics team with other La Jolla area students for 10 years. The judged Inspire Award recognizes the team who embodies important values like Gracious Professionalism™ both on and off the playing field. La Jolla Light highlighted the team’s history.


Sonali Pathria ’24
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