Sunday, August 1, 2021

CHS Class of 2021 Valedictorian and Co-Salutatorians: Samantha Lorr, Alex Hurlburt, Paloma Ronis von Helms

The 2021 graduation ceremony will be at 7:30 pm on Thursday, June 17 at CHS’s Niedermeyer field.

The Coronado High School (CHS) Class of 2021 is looking forward to an in-person graduation ceremony Thursday, June 17. Following tradition, CHS recognized the top graduating students as class valedictorian Samantha Lorr and co-salutatorians Alex Hurlburt and Paloma Ronis Von Helms. These distinguished academic awards are selected by faculty based on academic grades, rigor, and performance throughout four years of high school.

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2021 Valedictorian: Samantha Lorr

Samantha Lorr is the Class of 2021 Valedictorian. She will be attending Yale University.

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Samantha has lived in Coronado all her life, attending preschool through CHS where she earned a weighted grade point average of 4.64 after taking 17 Advanced Placement (AP) classes at CHS. Samantha will be attending Yale University with a planned major in mechanical engineering and potential minor in entrepreneurship or economics.

  1. What were your favorite CHS classes?

My favorite classes at CHS were AP Physics 2 and Associated Student Body (ASB)! I loved all of my classes, but those definitely stood out – AP Physics 2 because the material was so applicable to the world around me (it made me love physics and develop an interest in engineering which I plan to pursue in college) and ASB for helping me to get more involved in the life of the school and have a voice in what goes on at CHS events. I honestly can’t pick a favorite teacher — each of my teachers has uniquely impacted me in some way, and I’m so grateful to have had such an amazing faculty at CHS over my four-year career. There are so many of them I would love to thank, but I don’t think they’ll fit here 🙂

  1. What are your favorite CHS memories?

Some of my favorite CHS memories come from Homecoming Week 2019. It’s a chaotic time, but after weeks of planning in ASB, seeing how all the events come together is so rewarding, and everyone is all amped up with school spirit! Chanting our cheers as the class walks down Orange Avenue in the parade is so fun, and the dance is always incredible.

  1. What activities do you participate in?

I’m Captain of CHS’ Varsity Golf Team, Commissioner of Finance for ASB, President of the club Days for Girls, Treasurer of NHS, and Co-Captain of Academic League. I’ve also been a member of Girl Scout Troop 5548 for 13 years, and I’ve led numerous community service projects through that including the annual Halloween Costume Drive. I also tutor other students in math and science.

2021 Co-Salutatorian: Alex Hurlburt

Alex Hurlburt is a Class of 2021 Co-Salutatorian. He will be attending UC Berkeley.

Alex moved to Coronado in the third grade, and he has attended Coronado schools through high school where he took 13 AP classes and earned an estimated weighted grade point average of 4.6. Alex Hurlburt will be attending the University of California at Berkeley with an intended major in Chemical Biology.

  1. What were your favorite classes at CHS? 

My favorite class at CHS was AP Chemistry, which I took during my sophomore year. I really enjoyed Mrs. Kim’s humor, the labs, and the bond of collective struggle formed between classmates. As a math person, I also really enjoyed both Calculus AB and BC.  Although I’ve always been STEM focused, I also really loved Mr. Heaphy, whom I had for both World History Honors in 9th grade and AP World in 10th. I appreciated his desire to keep students current on national and world affairs, while also making course material relevant and applicable. His lecture-based style of teaching was engaging and enjoyable, even on the days I didn’t feel like taking notes; he is an amazing story teller. Ms. Davis is another one of my favorite CHS teachers. This year, even when school was fully remote, she offered a Friday morning homework drop-off in the school parking lot where we could all come to chat. These morning meetings provided some normalcy to my senior year as well as easy and stimulating conversation. 

  1. What are your favorite CHS memories?

My fondest memory from my time at CHS would definitely be hitting zero (no score deductions) with the high school cheer team at Nationals last year. I was really nervous about joining cheer, and honestly didn’t work up the courage to do so until sophomore year, but doing so completely changed my high school experience and helped me become more social and personable. It sounds super cliché to talk about perseverance, but our team had a really rough season leading up to Nationals (a torn ACL, a broken jaw, a few concussions, a loss at states, etc.), and so hitting our routine and winning was super rewarding. I think it’s important to mention that it was my foot that broke the girl’s jaw. Other notable favorite memories include lighting things on fire in AP Chemistry, taking Spanish 2 as a junior (a mortifying experience), and practicing and performing in Lisette Puebla’s Homecoming skit. 

  1. What activities do you participate in?

On campus, I am the Vice President of the National Honor Society as well as a member of the clubs Days for Girls and Interact, as well as on Varsity competition cheer. Outside of CHS, I’m a member of a local competition jump rope team, The Coronado Speed Spinners. My first Coronado friend in third grade was a member of the team, and she bought me my first rope and convinced me to join. Since then, I’ve taken on the role of team captain, and competed at the national and world championships. In addition, I teach jump rope camps and classes throughout San Diego. 

Jump rope aside, I’ve also worked in food service for much of high school, starting as a host at Chez Loma my sophomore year, Nicky Rottens my junior year, and now Miguel’s as a senior. In this position, I’ve been exposed to servers from all over San Diego with all sorts of stories. I’ve learned restaurant etiquette (that is, things I can do as a guest to make the lives of service workers easier), and, much like through cheer, I’ve learned to be more confident in myself and my voice.  

Co-salutatorian: Paloma Ronis von Helms

Paloma Ronis von Helms is a Class of 2021 Co-Salutatorian. She will be attending Stanford University.

Paloma grew up in Coronado and is graduating CHS with an estimated weighted grade point average of 4.6 after taking 13 AP classes. Paloma will be attending Stanford University in the fall. 

  1. What were your favorite classes at CHS?

I’ve taken so many memorable courses during my time at CHS. Some of my favorites have been AP World History, English 10 Honors, AP Chemistry, and AP Calculus. I’ve loved so many of my teachers, and I feel so grateful to have been able to learn from such wonderful, dedicated people. My favorite teachers closely align with my favorite courses, as they were the people who made my classes and time at CHS engaging, interesting, and fun — Mr. Heaphy, Ms. Davis, Mr. Lemei, Ms. Castillo, Mr. Chao, Señor Bayless, Ms. Kim, Mr. Silverman, and so many more.

  1. What are your favorite CHS memories?

Coronado is such a unique and close community, so some of my favorite CHS memories have been school-wide moments that we’ve all been able to share together — moments like Ms. Kim, Ms. Belong, and Ms. Vanasse all “fighting” each other in the quad in their blow-up dinosaur costumes on Halloween, or when the whole school turned out for the staff basketball games.

  1. What activities are you involved in?

At CHS, I am the President of our National Honor Society chapter, so I spend a lot of time coordinating volunteer events and participating in peer-tutoring, whether through one-on-one sessions or by holding larger test review sessions. I’m also an officer for the Young Democrats and the Feminist Club, and most of my work for these groups was focused on the election: encouraging voter registration, spreading information and awareness, etc. Outside of CHS, I was an intern for the Coronado Historical Association during my junior and senior year, so I spent much of my time outside of school working on oral history projects focused on the Coronado community. I’ve also been a girl scout for the past 10 years, and our troop has worked really closely with the Monarch School in San Diego for years; we’ve led continuous donation drives and volunteer opportunities for the school. I’m also really passionate about politics and social justice, so some of the work I do outside of school involves volunteering or participating in events or initiatives for these causes. 

The three academic honorees will give speeches during the 2021 graduation ceremony which begins at 7:30 pm on Thursday, June 17 at CHS’s Niedermeyer field.


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Chloe Berk
Chloe has called Coronado home since she could walk or talk and considers herself a true Islander. She is currently a student at Coronado High School and a writer for the Islander Times. After studying and writing articles, she enjoys volleyball, the beach, and her newly-adopted dogs from PAWS.
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