Weekly roundup: Top scholars from the class of 2021, a community’s search for a kidney donor, and more

One student with a 4.7 grade-point average is headed to USC with the goal of becoming a pediatrician. Another student with a GPA of 4.8 will major in creative writing at Chapman University and has dreams of writing books and graphic novels. A senior who served as secretary of her school’s art club will attend UCI in the fall to pursue a career as a software engineer.

With commencement season in full swing across the county, there’s no shortage of inspiring storylines. And this week, the Orange County Register captured dozens of them with a sampling of graduating seniors who are on the path to greatness.

The newspaper says it reached out to local high schools and invited their valedictorians and top scholars to celebrate their achievements by submitting photos and summaries of their high school activities, post-graduation plans and career goals.

Meanwhile, the Register has also begun its annual tradition of sharing OC commencement pictures, starting with Brea Olinda, Capistrano Valley, Portola High, San Clemente, San Juan Hills, Trabuco Hills and Woodbridge high schools.

And here are some of the other stories we’re following this week:

  • The assistant principal of Edison High School in Huntington Beach says the community’s response to his search for a kidney has “been almost overwhelming.” Described as loyal, trustworthy and caring, Kevin Fairman, himself an Edison High graduate, started dialysis last year after being diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, the Daily Pilot reported. His kidneys are now functioning at less than 15 percent.
  • Santa Ana Unified officials announced that the district’s campuses will reopen for in-person instruction when the 2021-22 academic year begins in mid-August. A remote learning option will be available for families who choose to remain off-site.
  • A trio of mental health videos produced by students from Orange County recently earned statewide honors in the 2021 Directing Change Program and Film Contest. Dozens also earned regional recognition.
  • Stressors associated with the pandemic have amplified mental health issues in schools, and some educators say they’re not equipped to respond to traumas that can include food and financial insecurity, exposure to sickness, and prolonged isolation.
  • An OC high school is facing a backlash over a section of its student-produced yearbook that is “unbalanced” in its assessments of former President Donald Trump and current President Joe Biden.
  • With individual trustees referring to ethnic studies as “terrible” and “concerning,” the Orange County Board of Education set dates and announced a location for a pair of town hall meetings to discuss the interdisciplinary course of study that’s in place or under consideration in several local school districts, the Register reported.
  • Gov. Gavin Newsom is proposing to expand transitional kindergarten so that it’s an option for all California 4-year-olds by 2024-25. Assembly Bill 22, introduced by Assembly member Kevin McCarty (D–Sacramento) in 2020, has similar aims but would take a slightly different approach.

This is the part where we encourage you to keep up with local education news stories by bookmarking the OCDE Newsroomsubscribing for emailed updates and following us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.