HHS Students
Hughson High Class of 2024 leaders Kelley, Romero, Scarioni and Crarry reflect on quality of education, academic success

Cailin Kelley and Maggie Scarioni are the Hughson High School Class of 2024 valedictorians. Denise Romero and Kylee Crarry are the salutatorians.

The graduation ceremony is scheduled for Friday at 7 p.m. at Husky Stadium. All members of the Class of 2024 will receive their diplomas then.

Kelley, Romero, Scarioni and Crarry recently took time to answer some questions about their high school experiences.

Question: What are the key things other students should know about your academic success and how you achieved it?

Kelley: Having a plan is a good idea. I knew generally what classes I wanted to take for junior and senior year before the end of 10th grade, and that helped me prioritize what I wanted from early on. As a goal-oriented person, having a specific thing to look forward to also helped me stay on top of my academics. Personally, my four-year goal was to become valedictorian, but on a smaller scale, goals like passing AP exams or qualifying for scholarships were a good motivator to get me to study. I also had a great support group of friends and family. My older sisters were crazy good at calculus, and so they helped teach me any trickier formulas or methods, while my friends helped motivate me to study by having us all rely on each other within our study group. I learned the difference between learning and memorization early on in life, and I also learned what is better for what classes while in high school. From my experience, learning is better for one’s education in both the short and long term for most classes, but being able to memorize information in a pinch certainly comes in handy when the curriculum is very fast paced. While I often procrastinated more than I should have, I still knew how to do the work when the time came, and I knew how to do quality work quickly. I recommend not procrastinating as much as possible, and if you do, only do it for assignments that are on the quicker side. Also, getting to know my teacher well gave me more wiggle room when it came to the formality of my assignments and knowing exactly what they wanted. I was able to be frank with them and they were friendly with me, allowing me time to make up assignments when I had games or performances that kept me from being in class on a certain day.** **

Scarioni: I think other students should know that I owe all my academic success to God, my family and my friends. I would not have achieved this much if it were not for the support from my family and the people I surrounded myself with. My family has always pushed me to do my best in not only schoolwork but every area of my life, and I naturally ended up being friends with people that had the same values. Being constantly surrounded by people who were encouraging each other to do well has helped me form a way of working in which I try to do my best. I seriously do not think that I would have achieved this much if I had not been taught to value a good attitude and ethic surrounding my work from a young age. I am extremely grateful and blessed that I have people who love me and push me to do my best, and my achievement is due to those people. Especially when schoolwork and responsibilities get overwhelming, my family and friends have helped me stick to it and encouraged me to keep going.

Romero: The key thing other students should know about my academic success is that failures will happen, you may get one bad grade on a few assignments but never let that discourage you and always give it your best effort. I achieved my academic success by giving my best foot forward.

Crarry: I think the things that helped me most to be successful was having good friends who were also in my AP classes, because it made the difficult classes fun and because we could help each other with the work. Another thing that was important to my success was managing my time well, so I didn’t have to rush often. One last thing was all the things I did outside of classes, because although it made managing my time harder, having other things to do helped me from being bored or burnt out of school.

Q: How much time outside of regular class did you spend studying or doing homework?

Scarioni: It depended on the year and classes I was taking, but during my busiest times I would spend around three or four hours a day doing homework and studying. When I took AP U.S. history, Math 3 Accelerated, Spanish III, and AP biology at the same time, I was pretty swamped with homework throughout the whole year. Some days I would have almost six hours of homework. This year, I would say that I probably only spent around an hour or two per day doing homework or studying. However, a lot of times I wouldn’t have any at all, which was really nice.

Romero: It depended on the workload for the week but most days, I only spent about 2½ hours on homework and studying. Of course, every student is different and may deal with different learning abilities; however,  homework and studying are second nature to me which is why my studying and homework time may look different than other students homework and study time.

Crarry: I probably spent around 30 minutes to two hours on homework over the years, although sometimes I would have to spend three or four hours doing notes for APUSH or practice tests for AP calculus.

Kelley: Depending on what classes I had that semester, anywhere from an hour to three hours a day. It changed for each class and what we were doing in it at the time, but often I had the opportunity to do most of my assignments in class. Some days I did not have any homework at all, but others I had to jump right to work as soon as I got home and did not stop until late into the night. More often than not, I had only around an hour and a half a day, which I often finished in my study hall this year.

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Q: Which classes and/or teachers at Hughson High had the most influence on you?

Romero: Senora Newsome was my biggest influence at Hughson High. She always influenced me to try my hardest and never give up. She motivated me when I did not have motivation and she always helped and encouraged me throughout high school.

Crarry: Mr. Kroll (APUSH) and Mr. Zylstra (AP calc) had the most influence on me. They are both really good teachers and they want us to do well in class. And those classes were both pretty hard, so they helped me get better at time management.

Kelley: My anatomy teacher and cross country/track coach Joel Bernard probably had the most influence on me during high school. I learned a lot from him about life and sports, and he coached me through injuries, anemia, bad races, but also personal records (PRs), and both sports and academic successes. He pushed me to work harder and to stop making excuses, which helped make me tougher and more mentally and physically fit to complete high school and face beyond. Honorable mentions go to Brad Thompson, Cindy Newsome and David Zylstra. Mr. Thompson was my choir director of 12 years and my drama teacher of three; I have learned not only how to act theatrically from him, but how to act as an interdependent leader. Sra. Newsome is everyone’s biggest fan, and her encouragement and advice to “throw mud at the wall” and try until something sticks helped me push through the rough times and accomplish what I have. Mr. Zylstra fed my classmates and I both intellectually and literally, bringing us donuts to keep our spirits up while we stressed over the struggles of my favorite subject, AP calculus.

Scarioni: I think that AP calculus and AP U.S. history are the classes that have had the most influence on me. These classes were tough for me. I had to learn how to actually study, take good notes and figure out how to do my own research. In these classes, I had to stay on top of my work and make sure that I understood in order to maintain a good grade. In these classes, I also bonded a lot with my classmates because we were all working hard together. These were some of the hardest classes I took, but also the most fun. Mr. Bernard and Mr. Zylstra were the two teachers who had the most influence on me. Mr. Bernard was my cross country and track coach. Being on his team showed me how working hard can also be super fun at the same time. He’s the best coach that I have ever had in my life. He really did want me to do my best in not only races and practice, but school and life overall, too. Mr. Zylstra also showed me how to have fun and work hard at the same time. I loved his math classes, although they were pretty challenging.

Q: How many Advanced Placement classes were you able to take? Were you challenged?

Crarry: I took two my junior year (APUSH and AP literature and composition) and three my senior year (AP calculus, AP government and AP language and composition). Mostly I was challenged with the workload but the actual material for AP calc was pretty hard.

Kelley: I took eight AP classes: four junior year and four senior year. Each year I took one of them online (first AP U.S. history then AP macroeconomics), which was certainly a struggle to do. Without an actively involved teacher, it was very difficult to stay on top of the syllabus and thoroughly learn the material. Otherwise, while the normal AP classes I took were faster and more in-depth, the environment of learning within them was very active and fun, and the people in them really wanted to be there and to learn (meaning they were more well behaved and polite than your average high school student). Besides that, the fact that they finished a month before the end of school definitely made them worth it to take.

Scarioni: I was able to take six Advanced Placement classes. I was challenged mostly by AP U.S. history, AP biology and AP calculus. I would say that the hardest thing for me to learn in these classes was time management. I’ve learned that using your time wisely makes work a lot easier to finish instead of procrastinating. I wish I would have learned this earlier, because these classes would have been much easier and enjoyable if I would have done my work in a more timely manner. There are also some other classes that I took that were not AP that were challenging for me such as Spanish III and Math 3 Accelerated.

Romero: I was able to take six AP classes. However, school has always come easy to me and these classes felt like normal classes to me although everyone has different learning abilities and may find these classes more challenging and difficult than I did.

Q: What kind of culture of learning exists in your home? What has that meant for your success in high school?

Kelley: I was very fortunate to have parents who allowed me to put my education first before anything else. I was homeschooled from first through eighth grades, so my parents and siblings were highly involved in my curriculum. They encouraged me to try my best and pushed me to improve myself. Their support allowed me to spread myself a bit thinner when it came to high school, and my older sisters who had done it all before gave me a go-to for advice and two cheap tutors. I definitely would not have gotten to where I am without them backing me up.

Scarioni: In my family, my siblings and I are encouraged to do our best in our schoolwork. My mom always said that if I got a bad grade but tried my absolute best, she would be proud of me, nonetheless. We are all required to get the grades we are capable of. I tried to put my best work in, and my best work resulted in A’s. (Of course, I had a lot of help, though.) In my home, we are encouraged to ask if we don’t completely understand something, and that has helped me immensely as well. Instead of just getting through assignments and the class, that kind of mindset has pressed me to ask and do my own research to try to understand topics that are challenging for me.

Romero: The learning culture in my home has always been to give it your best and always try your hardest. My parents have always been my biggest supporters and they have always encouraged me to do my best; yet, they never pressured me into taking certain courses. They always supported and encouraged my academic journey.

Crarry: My parents have always encouraged me to read and learn, they help me when they can and are very supportive of all the things I do in and outside of school. This helped me succeed because I knew that they wanted me to keep learning and pushing myself and that they would always be there to help.

Q: What should members of the community know about the quality of education at Hughson High?

Scarioni: As with a lot of classes, I think that you get what you put into it. Many of the teachers, in my experience, are happy to elaborate deeper into topics if you are interested and ask. The AP classes that are offered are good quality and the teachers want to teach. I feel prepared for college with the classes I was able to take. A drawback is the lack of available classes, but that’s just because HHS is a small school.

Romero: As someone who has always taken rigorous courses all throughout high school, I would say the variety of course options is limited. However, teachers who teach the courses are always there to motivate and aid students to achieve their goals. Many courses may only be offered for one period, making selection difficult if certain classes overlap. Students have to choose between one course or another, limiting the students academically.

Crarry: Hughson High has a really good education program. All the classes that are offered are really good quality and all the teachers are really good as well. Hughson tries really hard to set everybody up for success in their classes, sports, clubs and their futures.

Kelley: Hughson High may not have all the AP classes you want, and some subjects are more emphasized than others, but because of the smaller class sizes students are able to form personal connections with the teachers and staff in a way you just would not see at other schools. I feel there is more of a “tough love” learning environment in the classes I experienced, meaning that the teachers will give the students the means and opportunities to learn, but will not do it for them. Of course, help is available, but this way of teaching allows students to take more responsibility and pride in the work they do, preparing them better for life. Personally, I feel prepared for college classes based on what I learned during my time at HHS.

Q: Outside of class, what kinds of teams, organizations or clubs are you involved in? How important are extracurricular activities in preparing you for college and beyond?

Romero: Outside of class, I was involved in the Hispanic Youth Leadership Council and became president. This club helped me get out of my comfort zone allowing me to meet students from different backgrounds and schools and allowed me different connections. In life, making connections with others is key to success and this club allowed me to take the first step into achieving success in the future.

Crarry: I did band (symphonic, jazz and pep), golf and softball all four years. And Maggie and I were the conductors of the pep band this year. I think extracurriculars help prepare you because they help you find what you enjoy and are good at, and they also teach you teamwork, and time management and communication skills.

Kelley: I was part of the varsity cross country, soccer and track teams, as well as the Women’s Sound Investment (choir) president. I am a three-year member of the Hispanic Youth Leadership Council and the California Scholarship Federation secretary as a lifetime member. I participated in the drama program on campus and also helped coach a middle school running club on the weekends. I believe that learning to balance a busy schedule for yourself early on in life is one thing that will give you an edge for college life. You want to be well-prepared and well-rounded before entering college and the general workforce. One part of that is to learn early how much you can handle so you recognize when you are burnt out and need to take a day. It is also helpful to then be able to make up the time you missed while recovering.

Scarioni: I was in a bunch of clubs, including the California Scholarship Federation (CSF), Key Club, Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) and the HHS Bible Club. I also participated in band and the jazz band for two years and went to youth group at my church. As for sports, I ran cross country and track for all four years and played soccer for three. Although I was definitely busy, I think that it is absolutely important to be involved in extracurricular activities outside of schoolwork and classes. Being involved teaches you so many things: to manage time and a busy schedule, to build strong relationships with people, develop leadership skills, how to work toward a goal, to be a good teammate, and to be a contributing community member. I also think that they are fun and that it is important to take a break from schoolwork sometimes.

Q: What is the right balance for teens busy with school, teams or clubs, and even part-time jobs?

Crarry: I think that if you manage your time well you can balance a lot of different extracurriculars, so I think doing all the clubs and sports you want to do and still doing well in school is definitely possible.

Kelley: Make yourself a schedule/routine to follow, or just know what you need to get done in a day. Try your very best not to double-book yourself, and if that is unavoidable, be prepared to prioritize and cut your losses.

Give yourself a rule to follow -- like teams before clubs, jobs before teams, and classes before jobs, or however it needs to be -- so that the decision will be easy when the time comes. Also, if you have friends who have busy schedules with you, then the long list of things to do seems significantly shorter and easier to manage. Just make sure you do not struggle alone.

Scarioni: I think that it is good to keep busy, but to also have time for family, friends, and yourself. For me, I was able to keep a good balance between all of these things, but there were times where I had to readjust my schedule to regain balance. This is a hard question because everybody’s life is different, and the balance will be different depending on the things you think are important. I think that taking care of responsibilities, like schoolwork, before having fun is necessary but it’s important to not get so overwhelmed with responsibilities that there is no time for extracurriculars and even time for family, friends and yourself.

Romero: Every student has a different life balance they choose to juggle. I think every student is different and there is no right or wrong balance. I do believe, however, that students should give themselves more credit and breaks when they get overwhelmed with the amount of extracurricular activities they are involved in. I hope students also remember they’re only human and sometimes things do become overwhelming and that’s OK. Things that are worth it never come easy!

Q: What are your college and career plans?

Kelley: I am planning to attend Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in the fall to major in biomedical engineering. I hope to work in cell therapy or tissue engineering after I graduate, or potentially shift to attending medical school.

Scarioni: I plan to attend UC Davis in the fall as a biology major. I don’t quite know what career I would like to pursue yet, but I am interested in possibly a medical-related job. I hope that starting as a biology major will help me figure out what I like and don’t like.

** Romero:** My career plans are to work in the medical field. Eventually, I want to become a nurse practitioner or some type of doctor. As of now, I’m working on becoming a nurse.

Crarry: I am planning on going to BYU-Idaho but I am not sure what I want to major in or what I want my career to be, but I am interested in having my own business in the future.

Q: What themes are you going to talk about in your graduation speech?

Kelley (the only graduate giving a speech): The legacy and accomplishments of our class and the circumstances and people who made us the way we are. Also, my own experience at Hughson and some of the memories of the past four years.