by Lindsey Rodrian
It’s no secret that children are our future. The students of today become the leaders of tomorrow and this batch of local high schoolers have us excited to welcome the innovative, creative, technologically-driven “Generation Z.” Wise beyond their years, these teens are a driving force of passion, dedication, and hard work. We can’t wait to see what they’ll do next.
Edison High School
From a young age, Anisah Zarif of South Stockton knew she wanted to go to college to better her future, and immediately began researching what it would take to get there. This coming fall, the Edison High School student is headed to Howard University to study Business Information Systems. As she explains, receiving her acceptance letter felt really good. “I was freaking out because it was the first acceptance I received and realizing that I actually have a plan that is coming together is a great feeling,” she says.
With a heart of gold, Anisah finds time in her busy academic schedule to nurture her other passions: hiking, dancing, and community service. “I do a lot of different volunteer work including feeding the homeless, Kids In A Box, Coastal Clean-Up, Pixie Woods Clean-Up, Magnet Fair, and Rotary Read-In,” she notes.
As for a five-year plan, the 16-year-old states with a giggle, “I see myself living in an apartment, and starting my own business!
St. Mary’s High School
Stockton native Annie Loewen is a firecracker. If she’s not center stage in her latest theater venture, you can catch her hanging out with friends in downtown Lodi or studying away to maintain her sparkling 4.4 grade point average at St. Mary’s High School.
“My parents [Kurt and Joanie] taught me to never give up, to always work hard, and to treat people with respect,” she continues, “They taught me how to live my life and I am blessed to be raised by them.”
Wise beyond her 17 years, Annie says she is most grateful for good health, friends, and family. Next year she’ll be pursuing her journalistic dreams, in hopes of one day being a correspondent for the San Francisco Giants.
St. Mary’s High School
Brian Kronenberg of Tracy finds inspiration in his desire to, each day, be a better person than he was yesterday. The ambitious and enthusiastic St. Mary’s student works to devote 100 percent of himself to all of his life’s ventures—whether it be his love for Spanish and competitive soccer, or his role as Editor-in-Chief at the school newspaper and as rally commissioner for Student Council.
“My most memorable high school experience was my rally commissioner audition,” he explains. “My two friends and I did a five-minute dance in front of the whole school. It was one of the scariest yet most rewarding experiences of my life.”
But, deciding between University of Southern California, Notre Dame, or Georgetown—where he plans to study economics—isn’t his biggest concern. “My biggest fear is that I won’t be able to do laundry or cook my own food.”
Lincoln High School
Gianna Chien, headed to Stanford University to study Computer Science and English, is inspired to contribute to advancing technology in a meaningful way. “After watching the innovators of today—Sergey Brin, Larry Page, Elon Musk, and so many more, I find it impossible to conceive of a time when the simplest computer was an anomaly.”
The “dog-loving, laughoholic, energizer bunny” student appreciates the diversity and variety she discovered throughout her high school experience and credits her parents, both immigrants, as a huge source of inspiration. “Through hard work and tenacity, they worked their ways through medical school and achieved their dreams.”
Outside of her studies, Gianna loves to nurture her creative passions—writing, playing music, and rowing. “I feel lucky to have grown up next to the San Joaquin Delta where I’ve been rowing since the 8th grade.”
Tokay High School
Julia Coon says she has never been satisfied with mediocre. “My goal was never to beat those around me, it was to do the best I could do regardless of the circumstances or surroundings.” This outlook on life came from her parents, to whom she notes as the most influential people in her life, teaching her to always give one hundred percent.
Her steadfast work ethic led her to apply to the United States Military Academy. “I chose West Point because of its rigor: it’s academically and physically demanding,” she explains, “and it’s [a] four year test with tremendous rewards. I’ll be surrounded by people with the same drive and the want to serve our country after our four years of school and training.”
Outside of her studies Julia enjoys water polo, wrestling, snowboarding, playing bass, and her involvement in the National Honor Society, California Scholarship Federation, and the Christian Club.
Tokay High School
Julie Fukunaga credits her grape-growing roots as a major factor in the development of her interest, “in environmental issues and making an impact on the agricultural community,” the 17-year-old Tokay student says.
Teachers and counselor Mr. Hunt encouraged Julie early on to push her boundaries and see what she could accomplish. And what she can, did, and will accomplish is nothing short of extraordinary.
From founding the first annual NorCal Science Festival with her Tokay STEM team to her deep involvement in the Science Fair, Julie works to utilize computer science and electrical engineering to solve environmental problems.