La Jolla High School to graduate 355 students in 2015

La Jolla High School will graduate a very impressive class this year – when 355 Vikings don a cap and gown 2 p.m. Monday, June 15, 2015 at Gene Edwards Stadium. Of the graduating class (up from the 340 that graduated last year), more than 200 will leave La Jolla with the academic distinction of a 3.5 Grade Point Average or higher. The students collectively received more than $1 million in scholarship money for the next phase of their educational lives.

Of this year’s graduates, 171 are boys and 184 are girls, and 97 percent are college-bound (six have not committed to college and another four will participate in San Diego Unified School District’s special education TRACE program for young adults).

Commenting on the class, principal Chuck Podhorsky said, “The competitive quality of La Jolla High School’s students becomes more and more outstanding. To get into universities now is so much more difficult than it was for me 30 years ago, but our students are doing so much more amazing things. They really pack in the number of Advanced Placement courses they take and they engage in community service projects. Sometimes you feel like an underachiever when you see how incredibly smart and gifted they are.”

Fifty seniors will graduate Cum Laude. Seven seniors are National Merit Scholar finalists, with another 25 receiving National Merit Scholar Commending Letters in recognition of their academic promise.

The GPA range for the top 10 percent of students is an astonishing 4.48-4.86. Capping that range is Valedictorian Erica Liu.

Following her is Salutatorian Nikola Nikolac, who has a 4.85 GPA. Both will deliver speeches at graduation.

Liu plans to attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the fall. Although she doesn’t know what major she will declare, she plans to study engineering.

While at La Jolla High, she said she took advantage of the Advanced Placement and community college classes offered on campus. The busy senior also participated on the swim team, coached a math team at Muirlands Middle School and played on the school’s Quizbowl team.

“Quizbowl is like team Jeopardy with more in-depth questions and it’s really fun,” she said. “I’m friends with the people in the club and it was nice to have friends with common interests.” Thankfully, she said, MIT has a Quizbowl team as well.

To those preparing to enter high school, Liu advised, “Just do what you like. If you do stuff you enjoy, you’re going to put in the effort and you’ll reap the rewards. It’s going to be a better experience than if you do something for the status or for your parents or if someone is forcing you.”

At the same time, she said, keep an open mind. “Explore different subjects or activities because you never know what you’ll like until you try it.”

High school staff members say farewell

■ After at least 20 years of service each, the following employees will be retiring from La Jolla High School this year: school receptionist Jo-Ellen Palreiro, registrar Monteen Solberg and head counselor Cathy Hutchins. There were no reports of retiring employees from Muirlands Middle, La Jolla Elementary or Bird Rock Elementary schools.