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Local club of 7th-graders honored

Posted: June 8, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: June 8, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Kevin Linell struggled to keep three tears from falling down his cheeks as he honored 15 seventh-grade students at La Mesa Junior High on Monday.

“Just give me a moment to calm myself down,” Linell said. I’m so proud of you.”

Linell, college access-program coordinator for Career and College Club, was at La Mesa to present the students an award for Site of the Year and Club of the Year.

The Club of the Year distinction came along with a grant for $1,000.

“You should be so proud of yourselves,” Linell said. “You guys are amazing.”

Linell, who has a daughter at La Mesa Junior High, pleaded with the school’s principal to give Career & College Club a chance when the program was in its infant stage.

“People were wondering how we would do this,” Linell added. But we pulled it off.”

Pete Fries, principal at La Mesa Junior High was hesitant at first.

“Taking a chance with kids is always a good thing,” Fries said. “I thank Mr. Linell for pushing me to get our students involved in this.”

Andrew Fiock, a counselor intern, said they are not sure how they will use the money, but there is talk of a visit to a college campus.

Students who participated in the program are also grateful.

|Caleb Clarke, a participant in the career and college club, enjoyed the experience.

“It was a lot of fun,” Clarke said. “I got to meet a lot of new friends.”

Clarke was inspired to join the club after watching the University of Texas on television. “It has been my dream since I was 8 years old to go to college in Texas,” Clarke said. “I want to go there to play sports.”

Like Clarke, Christopher Smith has dreams of playing sports.

“It was fun,” Smith said. “I got to work with all my friends.”

Smith has dreams of attending UCLA where he hopes upon graduation it will lead him to be a professional basketball player, or an engineer like his parents.

Both Clarke and Smith applauded the academics at the schools they hope to attend.

This was La Mesa’s first year participating in the club.

“They are neat kids who were excited to learn about college,” Kathy Gorlick, school counselor and facilitator of the group, said.

Gorlick sheds light on how the 15 students were recruited.

“We were not looking for straight-A students,” Gorlick said. “We wanted students who had the qualities to be a mentor.”

Students who participated in the club are: Sienna Becerra, Caleb Clarke, Megan Fraley, Dania Hassan, Azaria Hill, Emily Holmes, Sandra Pelayo, Tasnim Mina, Melanie Montes, Giancarlo Motta, Alma Santiago, Chris Smith, Meghan Topolski, Abbir Virani and Miriam Gonzalez.


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