High-achieving students honored

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 At its June 4 meeting, the Garden Grove Unified School District Board of Education will recognize 17 outstanding high school sophomores chosen as Simon Scholars for 2013.

This special occasion marks the seventh year of the collaboration with the Orange County-based Simon Family Foundation benefiting district students having college aspirations in the face of daunting personal and family challenges.

 At its June 4 meeting, the Garden Grove Unified School District Board of Education will recognize 17 outstanding high school sophomores chosen as Simon Scholars for 2013.

This special occasion marks the seventh year of the collaboration with the Orange County-based Simon Family Foundation benefiting district students having college aspirations in the face of daunting personal and family challenges.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the boardroom of the district Education Center, 10331 Stanford Ave., Garden Grove. Following the introduction of the scholars by their school principals, the trustees will pause from their regular business for a short recess with the students, their family members, and Simon Family Foundation leadership.

The program is headed by Kathy Simon Abels, Ph.D., Simon Family Foundation executive director, with support from staff directors — Megan Barnes, program director, and Cynthia Neyra, director of collegiate programs.

The scholars were chosen after a rigorous screening and interview process for their inspirational commitment to overcoming adversity and achieving personal success while positively impacting the lives of others. The foundation will support the following sophomore students from Los Amigos and Rancho Alamitos high schools as the newest Simon Scholars from the district:

Los Amigos High School — Carmen Andrade (Santa Ana), Guadalupe Arcos (Santa Ana), Elizabeth Bella (Santa Ana), Jose Noriega (Santa Ana), Kim Pham (Santa Ana), Eddie Reyes (Santa Ana), Alexandra Trujillo (Fountain Valley), Gerardo Vazquez (Santa Ana) and Lorena Zeferino (Santa Ana).

Rancho Alamitos High School — Aldo Almeida (Garden Grove), Antonio Avalos (Garden Grove), Sandy Hernandez (Garden Grove), Diana Hoang (Garden Grove), Alyson Lopez (Stanton), Rafael Rodriguez (Garden Grove), Elizabeth Tran (Garden Grove) and Wilson Tran (Garden Grove).

The San Clemente-based Simon Family Foundation annually provides scholarships to over 60 worthy Southern California high school sophomores who come from disadvantaged backgrounds yet demonstrate the motivation to succeed and give back to their communities.

While in high school, the scholars receive intensive support to help them overcome the hurdles in preparation for higher education so they can be competitive and successful once they enter the college environment.

Each student receives a $1,000 cash stipend, a notebook computer, SAT preparation courses, college application assistance, tours of college campuses, academic tutoring, exposure to the arts, life-skills and leadership training, administrative and personal support and potential internship opportunities.

Following high school graduation, students are each awarded a $16,000 needs-based college scholarship. In return, they must maintain solid academic performance, exhibit high standards of personal conduct, and demonstrate meaningful community service while serving as role models for other youth.

The scholarships represent cash, goods, and services totaling $25,000. When combined with administrative support costs per student, each scholarship is worth in excess of $30,000 over the six years. Nationwide, the Simon Scholars Program has awarded just over 500 scholarships valued at $16 million.

The Simon Family Foundation administers Simon Scholars Programs in four Southern California school districts including Garden Grove, Oceanside, San Marcos, and Santa Ana Unified school districts. The district was invited as a scholarship participant beginning in 2008. The new national organization, the Simon Foundation for Education and Housing, also partners with Certified Simon Scholar high schools in Atlanta, Georgia; Santa Fe, New Mexico; and Washington, D.C.

The Simon Scholars Program is funded by Ronald M. Simon, the founder and CEO of RSI Home Products, a leading manufacturer of home cabinetry.

After achieving great success as a businessman from humble beginnings and immigrant parents, he became a philanthropist focused on supporting the educational dreams and goals of disadvantaged youth by establishing the Simon Scholars Program in partnership with his daughter, Dr. Kathy Simon Abels (Simon Family Foundation/Southern California) and his son Steve Simon (Simon Charitable Foundation/New Mexico).

For more information, visit the foundation’s website at www.simonfamilyfoundation.net.

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