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Nine students accepted to U.C. Berkeley represent strong class, principal says

Posted: May 24, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: May 24, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Daniel Zatarain, 18, left, plans to attend Johns Hopkins University to study biology, while Nicole Moravcik, 18, plans to study business at USC. The pair are two of nine Golden Valley High School graduating seniors who were accepted into University of California, Berkeley.

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Nine graduating seniors from Golden Valley High School were accepted to the University of California, Berkeley — an unusually high number of students from any public high school to get into one of the most competitive colleges in the country.

The Berkeley Nine, as they’re known around campus, represent the cream of Golden Valley’s academic crop for 2011. The students are part of a strong graduating class overall, Principal Sal Frias said.

Of the estimated 428 students that graduated Monday night, 44 percent were accepted to a four-year university, Frias said.
Golden Valley has carried a perception as having higher numbers of problem students than at other schools in the William S. Hart Union School District. But that perception is a myth, Frias said.

“People who badmouth Golden Valley, I just tell them, ‘You don’t know what you’re talking about,’” Frias said.

“This was a breakout year for our teachers, our counselors, our students and their parents. It’s a demonstration that our community is maturing.”

To say the nine students who were accepted to Berkeley excel academically would be an understatement. Among the group, a 4.0 GPA would be below average: The Berkeley Nine has an average GPA of about 4.3, Frias said.

But the students also represent a cross section of Golden Valley’s extra-curricular activities: some are in the Associated Student Body, drama, tennis, cheer and band.

“It’s really not about GPA boosting, said Katrina Lauron, 18. “It’s about taking the most challenging classes and getting involved at the school.”

Most of the students are friends since they’ve all at some point during their four years taken the same classes, senior Christine Lee said.

But finding out that so many Grizzlies were going to become Golden Bears came as a shock, and the news spread on Facebook.

“My Facebook status (update) got so many likes,” Lee said, laughing.

Golden Valley High School students attending Berkeley in 2011 are: Lauron, who plans to major in physiology and metabolism; Christine Lee, who plans to major in sociology; Dakota Nunley, 18, who plans to major in criminal justice; Alexander Lee, 17, who plans to major in microbial biology; Christian Navarro, 18, who plans to major in nutritional sciences; Madelyn Brehm, 18, who plans to major in film and Andrew Raulinaitis, 17, who is currently undeclared but plans to transfer into the College of Engineering.

Two other students who were accepted to Berkeley chose to attend different schools. Nicole Moravcik, 18, will be attending the University of Southern California and plans to major in business. Daniel Zatarai n, 18, will attend Johns Hopkins University in Maryland and plans to major in biology and eventually enroll in the school’s pre-med program.

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