Meet BOHS’s Valedictorians and Salutatorian

%28clockwise+from+top+left%29%3A+Sophia+Akinboro%2C+Wilton+Diep%2C+McKenna+Grigoli%2C+Richard+Kim%2C+William+Kim.+Ethan+Oh%2C+Rebecca+Park%2C+Shannon+Park%2C+Marc+Thai%2C+Josh+Yoon%2C+and+Jackie+Piepkorn+have+been+recognized+as+Valedictorian+and+Salutatorian+for+the+Class+of+2021.+The+designations+are+awarded+to+students+with+the+highest+%28Valedictorian%29+and+second-highest+%28Salutatorian%29+grade+point+average+in+their+graduating+class.+

(clockwise from top left): Sophia Akinboro, Wilton Diep, McKenna Grigoli, Richard Kim, William Kim. Ethan Oh, Rebecca Park, Shannon Park, Marc Thai, Josh Yoon, and Jackie Piepkorn have been recognized as Valedictorian and Salutatorian for the Class of 2021. The designations are awarded to students with the highest (Valedictorian) and second-highest (Salutatorian) grade point average in their graduating class.

The academic spirit of BOHS was revealed once again with the naming of 11 Valedictorians and one Salutatorian for the 2020-2021 school year. Despite COVID-19 creating drastic change and hardship for students throughout Brea, these 12 students will graduate from BOHS with the highest grade point averages on campus.


Valedictorians

Sophia Akinboro

Courtesy of Sophia Akinboro

The Wildcat: What college or university will you attend?

Sophia Akinboro: Northwestern University 

W:What will you major in? 

Akinboro: Pre-med and neuroscience and global health. 

W: How do you feel about your Valedictorian award? 

Akinboro: I’m excited about it. I think it’s a nice cherry on top of the past four years but I think my journey to getting here is what makes me most excited if that makes sense. I’m proud of those long hours of studying working to get A’s in those really hard courses.

W: What other awards did you receive? 

Akinboro: National Merit Finalist, AP Scholar

W: During the last four years of high school, what would you say is your proudest and greatest accomplishment? 

A valuable lesson that I’ve learned at Brea Olinda is to be someone who makes things happen.”

— Sophia Akinboro

Akinboro: My research project with a surgeon is probably my greatest accomplishment. Being able to work with people in the medical field and learn from them, while studying a new medical technique to make a change in people’s lives, is something I’ll never forget and always cherish. 

W: What is something you regret not doing during your high school years?

Akinboro: Sleeping more! I really really wish I slept more.

W: Who is the most influential teacher you’ve had in your four years at BOHS? 

Akinboro: I don’t know if I could only pick one teacher that has been most influential to me. I know it’s cliche, but I think every one of my teachers was influential in making me the person I am today: from Mrs. Chamberlain in the first grade to all my high school teachers now.

W: What is one of the most cherished memories you’ve made in high school? 

Akinboro: Definitely the ones made during dance class. I’ve met some of my greatest friends in dance and I think I’ll always cherish all the funny moments and inside jokes we had.

W: What are your hobbies? 

Akinboro: I love to dance, bake, and spend time with my friends and family. I also love to read a ton.

WWhat is one valuable lesson that you’ve learned at BOHS? 

Akinboro: I think a valuable lesson that I’ve learned at Brea Olinda is to be someone who makes things happen. I don’t know why this has always stuck with me but during my freshmen welcome day Ms. Dietz gave us a speech saying it’s up to us to decide if we want to be “those who make things happen or those who watch things happen.” And I’ve used that definitely in my everyday life to push me to be a leader and hopefully make even just a little bit of a positive change in people’s lives.

W: Do you have any tips for underclassmen? 

Akinboro: Don’t forget to actually sleep (it’s really important). Also, of course academics matter, but some of the greatest achievements you’ll remember in high school are the memories you made with your friends. So make time for them.


Wilton Diep

Courtesy by Wilton Diep

The Wildcat: What college or university will you attend?

Wilton Diep: University of California, Santa Barbara

W:What will you major in? 

Diep: Undeclared 

W: How do you feel about your Valedictorian award?

Diep: As Tony the Tiger once said, “great.” 

W: What other awards did you receive? 

Diep: I won my school’s coloring contest in 2nd grade.

W: During the last four years of high school, what would you say is your proudest and greatest accomplishment? 

Diep: The real accomplishment was the friends I made along the way. 

W: What is something you regret not doing during your high school years?

Diep: Going to a school dance. 

W: Who is the most influential teacher you’ve had in your four years at BOHS? 

Diep: Mr. Quiming is definitely my most influential teacher. He taught me to appreciate life because there’s no time like the present.

W: What is one of the most cherished memories you’ve made in high school?

Diep: I’ll never forget my first varsity home game where the crowd threw streamers on the court after we scored our first basket.

W: What are your hobbies? 

Diep: Basketball, piano, drawing, and movies.

WWhat is one valuable lesson that you’ve learned at BOHS? 

Diep: Everyone else has their own lives and probably won’t give you a second thought, so stop worrying about what others think and just focus on what makes yourself happy.

W: Do you have any tips for underclassmen? 

Diep: Stop vaping.


McKenna Grigoli

Courtesy of McKenna Grigoli

The Wildcat: What college or university will you attend?

Grigoli: Undeclared

W:What will you major in?  

Grigoli: Business Administration/Management, with minors in Environmental Science and Spanish

W: How do you feel about your Valedictorian award?

Grigoli: I’m grateful to share the award with such amazing students. I was overwhelmed with excitement when I heard the news! It’s been a goal of mine since I was nine years old, when I went to my cousin’s graduation and they introduced their Valedictorian.

W: What other awards did you receive? 

Grigoli: September Lions Club Student of the Month; October Student of the Month; BOHS Lettered Scholar Gold Medal; Distinguished Scholar; Honors Graduate; BOHS Scholar Athlete (2018, 2019, 2020, 2021); Century Conference Scholar Athlete (2018, 2019, 2020, 2021).

The last four years have been nothing like High School Musical.”

— McKenna Grigoli

W: During the last four years of high school, what would you say is your proudest and greatest accomplishment? 

Grigoli: Binge-watching Friends and The Office!

W: What is something you regret not doing during your high school years?

Grigoli: I wish I had gone to more of our away football games, and sporting events for other athletic programs!

W: Who is the most influential teacher you’ve had in your four years at BOHS? 

Grigoli: Obviously my mom (Mrs. Grigoli), because she is the only one who can take away my car keys. 

W: What is one of the most cherished memories you’ve made in high school?

Grigoli: Junior year ASB camp at UC Santa Barbara is a week I will never forget. (OCL!) We performed in the talent show with our TikTok skit that ended up going viral and I got to spend the week learning how to make BOHS even more spirited with some of my best friends! 

W: What are your hobbies? 

Grigoli: Playing softball, running, yoga, going to the beach, spending time with friends and family. 

WWhat is one valuable lesson that you’ve learned at BOHS? 

Grigoli: The last four years have been nothing like High School Musical.

W: Do you have any tips for underclassmen? 

Grigoli: Enjoy all the little moments of high school! Go to every dance and football game, participate in every rally and spirit day! It goes by in a blink, so soak it all up! Don’t walk in late on Wednesdays with Chick-fil-A or Starbucks, just call yourself out and eat it in the car.


Richard Kim

Courtesy of Richard Kim

The Wildcat: What college or university will you attend?

Richard Kim: Undeclared.

W: What will you major in?  

Kim: Business Management or Economics 

W: How do you feel about your Valedictorian award?

Kim: Grateful. Thank the Lord!

W: What other awards did you receive? 

Kim: Brea Lions Club Speaker Contest (Finalist); Brea Rotary Club Speaker Contest (Finalist); Student of the Month March, Sept., and Nov. 2018, and Aug. and Sept. 2019

W: During the last four years of high school, what would you say is your proudest and greatest accomplishment? 

Kim: Learning at least one thing I found genuinely interesting everyday. Hopefully that continues.

W: What is something you regret not doing during your high school years?

Kim: Not getting my driver’s license right away. I’m working on it though. 

W: Who is the most influential teacher you’ve had in your four years at BOHS? 

Kim: Mrs. Wertz. She was my Speech and Debate coach during my freshman year and got me into the craft. 

W: What is one of the most cherished memories you’ve made in high school?

Kim: I finished all my work and there was nothing else to do in class, so I just slept. I felt so refreshed after. 

W: What are your hobbies? 

Kim: I love to spontaneously sing random lines. Sometimes it’s from a song, a textbook I’m reading, or an ad I just watched. I don’t sound good, but I have a fun time.

WWhat is one valuable lesson that you’ve learned at BOHS? 

Kim: Financial literacy and preparedness. Thank you Mrs. Collier and Mrs. Dombrowski!

W: Do you have any tips for underclassmen? 

Kim: Read your textbooks.


William Kim

Courtesy of William Kim

The Wildcat: What college or university will you attend?

William Kim: Vanderbilt University

W: What will you major in?  

Kim: Biology

W: How do you feel about your Valedictorian award?

Kim: I feel honored and grateful. 

W: What other awards did you receive? 

Kim: Track and Field Medals; Brea Lions Club Speaker Contest (Finalist); Brea Rotary Club Speaker Contest (1st Place); Student of the Month; BOHS Silver Lettered Scholar; National Merit Scholarship Commended Student; BOHS Principal’s List

W: During the last four years of high school, what would you say is your proudest and greatest accomplishment? 

Kim: Developing and refining my public speaking skills. 

W: What is something you regret not doing during your high school years?

Kim: Not starting my college applications earlier. 

W: Who is the most influential teacher you’ve had in your four years at BOHS? 

Kim: I believe that every teacher I had has impacted me in their own way, whether it was a life lesson or a new perspective.

W: What is one of the most cherished memories you’ve made in high school?

Kim: Running the 400m sprint. 

W: What are your hobbies? 

Kim: Running, reading, and learning new things. 

WWhat is one valuable lesson that you’ve learned at BOHS? 

Kim: How to give a speech. 

W: Do you have any tips for underclassmen? 

Kim: Start your college applications early! 


Tristan Montera

Courtesy of Tristan Montera

The Wildcat: What college or university will you attend?

Tristan Montera: Midland University

W: What will you major in?  

Montera: Exercise Science

W: How do you feel about your Valedictorian award?

Montera: I am very honored to be named Valedictorian and proud of myself for all the hard work I put in. 

W: What other awards did you receive? 

Montera: Century Conference Scholar athlete two times; the BOHS academic award two times; the Richard Gilder Prize, and American Chemical Society Outstanding First Year Chemistry Student Award.

[Mr. McCall’s] classes and working with him as an athletic training student aide have been really influential in my decision to study to become an athletic trainer. ”

— Tristan Montera

W: During the last four years of high school, what would you say is your proudest and greatest accomplishment? 

Montera: Maintaining straight A’s while taking difficult classes.

W: What is something you regret not doing during your high school years?

Montera: I felt like my high school years were very fulfilling with being involved in the Medical Club, Link Crew, and basketball. The only regret would be not getting to attend a prom; however, that was out of our hands due to the pandemic.

W: Who is the most influential teacher you’ve had in your four years at BOHS? 

Montera: The most influential teacher I have had is Mr. McCall. Mr. McCall inspired me to major in exercise science in college. His classes and working with him as an athletic training student aide have been really influential in my decision to study to become an athletic trainer.  

W: What is one of the most cherished memories you’ve made in high school?

Montera: Winning the championship of a basketball tournament my junior year.

W: What are your hobbies? 

Montera: Playing basketball and playing on my Xbox.

WWhat is one valuable lesson that you’ve learned at BOHS? 

Montera: Learn things from your failures in life and improve on it the next time. 

W: Do you have any tips for underclassmen? 

Montera: Work hard everyday in your school work because you never know what that hard work will help you accomplish. 


Ethan Oh

Courtesy of Ethan Oh

The Wildcat: What college or university will you attend?

Ethan Oh: Undeclared

W: What will you major in?  

Oh: General Computer Science 

W: How do you feel about your Valedictorian award?

Oh: It’s cool. I do think there are plenty of people who deserve it more than I do though. 

W: What other awards did you receive? 

Oh: AP Scholar with Distinction

W: During the last four years of high school, what would you say is your proudest and greatest accomplishment? 

Oh: For now it’s becoming Valedictorian, but in June, it’s going to be graduation, for sure.

W: What is something you regret not doing during your high school years?

Oh: I regret not preparing for university earlier, like taking the SAT and starting the Common Application. 

W: Who is the most influential teacher you’ve had in your four years at BOHS? 

Oh: The most influential teacher I’ve had has to be Mr. Salesky. He taught me about the “Work Day.” If you know, you know. 

W: What is one of the most cherished memories you’ve made in high school?

Oh: I can’t really think of one specific memory; just hanging out with friends was fun. 

W: What are your hobbies? 

Oh: I like to play video games; right now I’ve been playing a lot of Teamfight Tactics. 

WWhat is one valuable lesson that you’ve learned at BOHS? 

Oh: I learned to just relax and not sweat school too much, or else I’ll just get stressed and miserable. Don’t think too much about what could’ve happened; I myself try not to think too much about anything.

W: Do you have any tips for underclassmen? 

Oh: It may seem over-stated, but don’t procrastinate unless you can do it well. At the time I’m writing this, I have to write two 500-word essays in five days for a scholarship, so it’s doomed.


Rebecca Park

Courtesy of Rebecca Park

The Wildcat: What college or university will you attend?

Rebecca Park: University of California, Irvine

W: What will you major in? 

Park: Computer Science 

W: How do you feel about your Valedictorian award?

Park: Happy and proud.

W: What other awards did you receive? 

Park: National Merit Finalist 

W: During the last four years of high school, what would you say is your proudest and greatest accomplishment? 

Park: Getting to be a Valedictorian.

W: What is something you regret not doing during your high school years?

Park: Going to school events like dances or sports games. (I thought I would go to all of them during my senior year.)

W: Who is the most influential teacher you’ve had in your four years at BOHS? 

Park: Mrs. Cornett because she genuinely made me [feel] excited to come to class every day and taught me how to appreciate and learn from mistakes instead of trying so hard to avoid making them.

W: What is one of the most cherished memories you’ve made in high school?

Park: The award show at the marching band competition semifinals during my junior year. 

W: What are your hobbies? 

Park: Drawing, listening to music, playing instruments, diamond paintings.

WWhat is one valuable lesson that you’ve learned at BOHS? 

Park: If the teachers give a long time to finish a certain assignment, that probably means you should get started on it early instead of waiting until the night before the due date.

W: Do you have any tips for underclassmen? 

Park: Plan out your classes now instead of waiting until it’s too late. 


Marc Thai

Courtesy of Marc Thai

The Wildcat: What college or university will you attend?

Marc Thai: Undeclared

W: What will you major in? 

Thai: Biomedical Engineering

W: How do you feel about your Valedictorian award?

Thai: I feel very relieved. After four long years, my hard work has finally paid off.

W: During the last four years of high school, what would you say is your proudest and greatest accomplishment? 

Thai: I’m definitely proud of myself for maintaining straight A’s throughout high school. This is something I’ve been working on the past four years. Now, I can finally look back and reflect on the ups and downs of my journey towards Valedictorian. 

Build relationships. Having people by your side will make the journey through high school much easier.”

— Marc Thai

W: What is something you regret not doing during your high school years?

Thai: I regret not being able to build more meaningful connections with many of my classmates. This past year has made me aware of how I took my classmates for granted, and there will probably never be the same opportunity. 

W: Who is the most influential teacher you’ve had in your four years at BOHS? 

Thai: The most influential teacher I’ve had is my current English teacher, Mr. Quiming. Mr. Quiming’s class was unlike any other English class I’ve ever had. This class soon became an atmosphere where I felt safe to be authentic with my writing. As a result, I believe my creativity and overall writing skills have improved. 

W: What is one of the most cherished memories you’ve made in high school?

Thai: Definitely my memories from tennis. The experience and fun I had during my time on the tennis team will last with me forever. 

W: What are your hobbies? 

Thai: I like to play tennis, skate, watch baseball, and hang out with family and friends. 

WWhat is one valuable lesson that you’ve learned at BOHS? 

Thai: One valuable lesson that BOHS has taught me is to keep moving forward. As life continues on, there will be many obstacles in the way. Clearing these obstacles is not an easy task. However, as long as you keep moving forward, there will be no obstacle that you can’t eventually overcome.

W: Do you have any tips for underclassmen? 

Thai: I’d say the most important tip is to build relationships. Having people by your side will make the journey through high school much easier.


Josh Yoon

Courtesy of Josh Yoon

The Wildcat: What college or university will you attend?

Josh Yoon: Stanford University

W: What will you major in? 

Yoon: Sociology

W: How do you feel about your Valedictorian award?

Yoon: For me, receiving the Valedictorian award felt like the view of the sunset after a long hike up a mountain. It shows that my determination and dedication is being awarded but also serves as a reminder that I have to carry on with the same energy into college and beyond.

W: What other awards did you receive? 

Yoon: National Merit Finalist 

W: During the last four years of high school, what would you say is your proudest and greatest accomplishment? 

Yoon: My proudest accomplishment of the last four years of high school is the self-growth I found while attending and the realization of the path I want to take after high school.

While teachers do give valuable and even life-changing advice, experience allows oneself to uniquely adapt and learn in any given situation.”

— Josh Yoon

W: What is something you regret not doing during your high school years?

Yoon: I live my life with no regrets.

W: Who is the most influential teacher you’ve had in your four years at BOHS? 

Yoon: Although it is a cop-out answer, I have to say experience. While teachers do give valuable and even life-changing advice, experience allows oneself to uniquely adapt and learn in any given situation.

W: What is one of the most cherished memories you’ve made in high school?

Yoon: All of my most cherished memories I made during high school are from the synergy of being in a learning environment with friends.

W: What are your hobbies? 

Yoon: My hobbies are about new experiences. Whether it be venturing through the coast of Southern France to learning about the socio-cultural inequities that permeate our criminal justice system from Bryan Stevenson’s memoir [Just Mercy], I am always hungry for new information and experiences. I am fascinated by culture, history, and life now and before me. Each experience is so unique and I have come to appreciate it in all its forms.

WWhat is one valuable lesson that you’ve learned at BOHS? 

Yoon: The most valuable lesson I learned has to be the importance of effort and hard work on even the most trivial aspects. Whether it is a small homework assignment to the final of a class, I find that setting a steady rhythm of constantly trying your utmost best on everything to be healthy outlook for life.

W: Do you have any tips for underclassmen? 

Yoon: It’s a bit of a no-brainer, but you should really see the underlying and often overlooked significance of school and the effort that teachers and staff put out for the students. In fact, looking at the immediate circumstance, reasons on why a certain action played out, and the impacts of the event afterwards will allow you to become more tuned with other people and society around you.


Salutatorian

Jackie Piepkorn

Courtesy of Jackie Piepkorn

The Wildcat: What college or university will you attend?

Jackie Piepkorn: Undeclared

W: What will you major in? 

Piepkorn: Computer Science 

W: How do you feel about your Salutatorian award?

Piepkorn: I feel really lucky to receive this award. 

W: What other awards did you receive other than your Salutatorian award?

Piepkorn: Outside of school, I recently received the 2021 Orange County Winner of the NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing. I also will be receiving the Information Technology cord, Advanced Sciences Cord, and Communications cord at graduation.

I am especially proud of how far my club, Lady IT, has come. After reaching almost 30 members last semester, we are currently participating in the international Technovation Girls competition.”

— Jackie Piepkorn

W: During the last four years of high school, what would you say is your proudest and greatest accomplishment? 

Piepkorn: I’m really happy that I’ve had the opportunity to hold leadership positions in high school. As president of four organizations, I have discovered that I really enjoy leading and working with others to achieve a common goal. I am especially proud of how far my club, Lady IT, has come. After reaching almost 30 members last semester, we are currently participating in the international Technovation Girls competition and we are about to teach computer science at our third school this year. I received the 2020 National Honorable Mention of the NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing last year, which was related to my role in Lady IT.

W: What is something you regret not doing during your high school years? 

Piepkorn: I wish I had learned how to play the bassoon.

W: Who is the most influential teacher you’ve had in your four years at BOHS? 

Piepkorn: I honestly can’t pick. Mr. Salesky really has supported me in continuing in my computer science journey, and Mrs. Bottalico inspired me to possibly pursue computational biology. Both of them are really positive, uplifting teachers.

W: What is one of the most cherished memories you’ve made in high school?

Piepkorn: My best memories were definitely spending time with my saxophone section. Whether it’s football games or KBBQ, we always have a lot of fun together. Our section has a lot of unique traditions that definitely made my band experience special, and I’m glad I was able to pass them down.

W: What are your hobbies? 

Piepkorn: I have been learning Swahili on Duolingo and recently reached a 325 day streak. I’m in band, so I know how to play the alto saxophone, glockenspiel, and xylophone. I also play an occasional basketball or volleyball game.

WWhat is one valuable lesson that you’ve learned at BOHS? 

Piepkorn: I have learned the importance of setting aside time for having fun. It’s easy to burn out if you’re just studying all the time.

W: Do you have any tips for underclassmen? 

Piepkorn: I would say challenge yourself in your classes. Doing so has made high school a fulfilling experience for me.