Valedictorian/Salutatorians for Class of 2019: Nathaniel Kim, Alyssa Agarwal, and Cristine Kleint

This year’s Valedictorian and Co-Salutatorians: Nathaniel Kim (right), Alyssa Agarwal (middle), and Cristine Kleint (left).

Continuing the tradition of celebrating excellence at Coronado High School, a committee of CHS faculty have selected this year’s valedictorian and salutatorian for the Class of 2019. However, the tradition of naming one student valedictorian and one student salutatorian was broken this year as two salutatorians were chosen. The committee considers multiple factors when looking at the candidates, and because this year’s class is extremely competitive, two particular students were awarded the honor. Congratulations to co-salutatorians Alyssa Agarwal and Cristine Kleint and valedictorian Nathaniel Kim.

Co-Salutatorian: Cristine Kleint

After evaluating students in the top five percent of the class, Cristine Kleint was honored as one of this year’s co-salutatorians. Taking on a rigorous course load and maintaining outstanding grades in every class, Cristine demonstrated academic excellence, recognized by her teachers and by her peers. Of all her coursework, she found her passion in math and the sciences. Her favorite class of all four years of high school has been Ms. Davis’ AP Calculus BC because the content revolved around problem-solving and real-life applications.


It’s what I’ve been exposed to ever since I was a child because my dad was an electrical engineer and my mom is a nurse,” says Cristine. “Everything that I’ve ever been raised with is geared towards the science side.”

There is no doubt that Cristine has talent in the STEM field. Last year at the Islander Awards, she was recognized with the Xerox Award for Innovation and Information Technology for outstanding achievement in the pursuit of innovation in technology given by the University of Rochester.

Looking back on all of the teachers she has been lucky enough to learn from, she would like to especially thank Ms. Davis as well as Mr. Lemei (AP Physics 2) for a “wonderful personalized learning experience.” “Both of these teachers have very unique and effective teaching styles, but I also really connected with them on a personal level,” she says.

When Cristine is not excelling in the classroom, she volunteers at the Sharp Memorial Hospital in the concierge area and has been volunteering for over three years. Cristine shares, “That experience really impacted me because I often talked to people there and listened to other people’s struggles, which put things in perspective for me.”

After a long college application process, Cristine has committed to Northeastern University in Boston, MA. The reason this school was so attractive to her was for their Cooperative Education program, giving students the opportunity to work in the field that they are studying, while also guaranteeing them a job after they graduate. She has declared as an electrical engineering major for its broad practicality. “You won’t be restricted with your career path,” she comments. “If I wanted to go to optometry school, I would still be able to use that, but if not, I could still become an engineer.”

Ultimately, Cristine’s career goal is to go to optometry school to become an optometrist. We wish her luck in all of her endeavors!

Co-Salutatorian: Alyssa Agarwal

Along with Cristine, Alyssa Agarwal was also named a co-salutatorian for her outstanding academic standing among her peers. Her freshman year, Alyssa joined the CoSA Visual Arts program, which she continued all four years. “I have loved being able to find a community in the arts and connect with different artists and different views on campus that I normally would not interact with if I were not a part of CoSA,” she shares.

Alyssa has pursued art outside of school as a teen advisor of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego in downtown. Through this museum, she has been able to conduct workshops, put together exhibitions, and collaborate on public art projects with the community in San Diego. “We do public art projects where we go out into the community, and we’ll have an issue to talk about and use art to discuss it,” she comments. Her favorite project that she helped lead was one regarding homelessness in San Diego, where the community helped decorate bags filled with donations that were sent to the Monarch School  in downtown San Diego. “It was a really cool way to interact and connect with art, while also having these discussions about homelessness in the San Diego community.”

In addition to art, Alyssa also has a passion for the sciences, “especially Mr. Lemei’s physics classes,” she mentions. “He always made it very applicable to life. We would get to learn about engines and how they work and so on.” As someone who has an impact on all of his students Alyssa recognizes Mr. Lemei as one of the most influential teachers she has had. “I will always remember how he would call on us to present in front of the class, and no one would ever want to go because they never wanted to say the wrong answer,” she recalls, “and he would always say, ‘It doesn’t matter if you make a mistake because we are all going to die in the end anyways.’ I always thought that was such a funny way to put it, but it’s honestly so true that those little mistakes don’t matter at all. He made us see that these small failures are not a defining moment in our lives.”

Alyssa also received a Junior Book Award last year in the field of science presented by the University of Rochester. The Bausch & Lomb Honorary Science Award acknowledges student achievement and superior intellectual promise in the science field and was awarded to Alyssa.

She has also been a dedicated Girl Scout throughout elementary, middle, and high school. In order to receive her Gold Award, which is the equivalent of an Eagle Scout Award, she created a children’s book about science and art. Copies of the book were bought and used by the Girl Scouts organization in their arts curriculum which Alyssa had also proposed.

With all of these outstanding achievements, Alyssa received admittance to Yale University. When asked why she has committed there, she said, “I committed there mainly for opportunity in research. I was considering UCLA and Berkeley, but I thought Yale would be cool because it’s such a different experience to go to school on the East Coast and make connections there.”

She will go on to study molecular and cellular biology, with the hopes of being able to double major in public health. As a career goal, she wishes to pursue something in the field of immunology, on a pre-med or research path.

Congratulations to Alyssa for all of her achievements!

Valedictorian: Nathaniel Kim

Receiving the distinguished title of valedictorian, Nathaniel Kim stood out as the top student in the CHS class of 2019 with the highest GPA and the most rigorous course load throughout his four years. When asked about his experience at CHS, Nathaniel says, “Overall, everyone is very supportive in what you want to do. When you have a goal, teachers, staff, counselors, everyone tries to help you attain that goal.”

Throughout his high school career, Nathaniel has accomplished much more than maintaining the highest GPA in his class. As an aspiring medical professional, he has volunteered a total of 525 hours at Sharp Grossmont Hospital, for which he received a scholarship. In his junior year, Nathaniel started a Days for Girls club on campus, which is an extension of an international organization that provides sanitation solutions to girls in developing countries. Last year, this club helped make over one hundred menstruation kits; for this achievement, Days for Girls was named “Club of the Year.” For all of his commitment to service, he was recognized with a California State Senator Outstanding Community Service award.

Nathaniel’s academic achievements include receiving the Harvard Book Prize at the 2018 Islanders Awards, based upon excellence of scholarship, as well as extracurricular and personal achievement. He also received a medallion in the subject areas of mathematics and science as a junior (distinctions that are normally given to seniors).

Nathaniel feels extremely lucky to have learned from the wonderful CHS faculty, but he recognizes his former French teacher Prof Zimmer as one of the most influential teachers he has had. “Some teachers you have a little bit of fear talking to them in person, but for Prof, he was your friend from the first day of school,” he shares. “Not everyone was super proficient in French, but he was extremely nice and supportive in giving everyone the opportunity to learn.”

Although Nathaniel excelled in all of the core academic subjects, he found his AP Music Theory class to be the most unique of all of his classes. “Out of all the classes I’ve taken at CHS, that one was probably the most eye-opening,” he comments. “It’s not like a science or math class; music is very different because it brings a diverse group of people together.”

An overall well-rounded person, Nathaniel played sports throughout high school, including lacrosse, track, and football. “I feel something that I learned from sports is the importance of respect in this world,” he reflects. “I’ve found that if you don’t have respect, the world can’t go ’round.”

Not only has his passion for sports influenced his philosophy on life, but it has also guided his career path. Last April, Nathaniel was accepted into the Program in Liberal Medical Education (PLME) at Brown University. PLME is an eight-year combined baccalaureate-M.D. program that accepts less than four percent of its applicants. In other words, once students finish their four years of undergraduate school, they are directly enrolled in Brown Medical School and are not required to reapply. With this degree, Nathaniel hopes to become an orthopedic surgeon for the NFL, pursuing his passion for football.

Congratulations to Nathaniel for all of his successes in and out of school!

Nathaniel, Alyssa, and Cristine will be giving their speeches on June 13 at their graduation.

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Andres de la Lama
Andres is a senior at Coronado High School and has written for the Islander Times and The Coronado Times throughout his high school career. He has also been a proud part of Coronado’s Days for Girls chapter and this year’s president. Andres aspires to be a screenwriter will go on study creative writing in college. Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: