Salmon editor Christian Mendoza and staff writer Bella Minyo were named the 2020-2021 “Titan of the Year” award winners.
The TOTY Award is given annually to the two eighth grade students who best exhibit the qualities of a model SAMS student. These qualities include leadership skills, empathy toward others, service to the school community, excellence in academics, and contributions to extra curricular activities.
The process was organized by Ms. Birch, who asked teachers and staff members for nominees in May. That survey produced 34 student names and ten finalists were chosen through a staff vote.
In addition to Christian and Bella, Jordan Fowler, Eleni Karnavas, Liberty Paladin, Noelle Roth, Jaiden Gulick-Johnson, Luke Jarzynka, Ryan McGaffick, and Austin Shaw were also recognized for their accomplishments as finalists for the award.
“Organizing the Titan of the Year award is a highlight of the year for me! It’s so gratifying to read through the dozens of stories the teachers submit about students who have made a difference in our school and community,” Ms. Birch said. “These are the student leaders who make the climate of our school wonderful, and acknowledging them for their achievements – about which these students are notoriously humble – is so rewarding!”
Christian and Bella join previous TOTY winners Aidan Deluca and Valentina Navas (2018-2019) and Piper Keane and Logan Peterson (2019-2020). Their names will be added to a banner that hangs in the corridor outside of the SAMS Main Office.
“The hard part about this process is that I wish, deep down, that I could give the award to all the nominees. The students are all so talented, involved, considerate, and kind. I hope they all know that they are all regarded in the very highest way by their teachers and the staff at SAMS. We have such a special school here, such a special group of young people, and I stand in awe of them every year,” Ms. Birch said.
Photo by Shaler Area School District