Hughson High’s Payan recognized for positive changes she’s made

March 8, 2024

Carisma Payan’s father died when she was just a baby, devastating her family and depriving her of a relationship with a man she never got a chance to know. Fast forward a dozen or so years and Payan found herself running with the wrong crowd, making poor decisions, struggling in school, and disrespecting teachers and adults. She was viewed as a disruptive influence on campus and was suspended twice.

To her credit, Payan took stock of her life and where it was headed and chose to make some changes. As a sophomore last year, she ditched her old crowd and joined the Hughson High junior varsity softball team, where she made new friends and found a positive mentor in coach Courtney Thornwood. Payan started working out and doing yoga to improve her physical fitness. She also re-engaged in the classroom, began to earn good grades and got back on track to graduate next year.

In recognition of her turnaround, the Hughson Unified School District nominated Payan for the Every Student Succeeding program run by the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA). She and a couple of dozen other nominees will be honored Tuesday morning at a breakfast hosted by the Stanislaus County Office of Education.

 The Every Student Succeeding program, now in its 20th year, recognizes students in grades K - 12 who have overcome serious challenges, succeeded beyond expectations or just won the hearts of their school staff. That certainly describes Payan in the past year and a half.

“She lost her association with her friends and developed new relationships with the girls on the (softball) team that were very positive,” said Hughson teacher Tammie Moore, who nominated Payan. “She took her academics more seriously and is now a good student. She has surrounded herself with good people and productive activities and is now thriving. Great job, Carisma.”