Twenty-two outstanding students were honored by the Santa Rosa Teachers Association in an annual ceremony that highlights academics but even more so the students’ citizenship.

The winners and their schools:

Emmerich Anklam, Santa Rosa High School

Amanda Carpenter-Roy, Santa Rosa Charter School for the Arts

Claire Anderson, Steele Lane Elementary School

Giana Chiddix, Ridgway High School

Riley Craig, Proctor Terrace Elementary School

Tovi “TJ” Balliao, Comstock Middle School

Jennifer Nunez, Helen Lehman Elementary School

Jose Solorio, Monroe Elementary School

Jonathan Gomez, Elsie Allen High School

Justin Wedel, Biella Elementary School

Natalia Campos, Lincoln Elementary School

Luisa Ciaffa, Hidden Valley Elementary School

Graham Miller, Montgomery High School

Jennifer Vargas, Cook Middle School

Samantha Perry, Rincon Valley Middle School

Cathelina Padilla-Schoop, Santa Rosa Middle School

Sotha Am, Burbank Elementary School

Max Meislahn, Brook Hill Elementary School

Mitzy Morales, Doyle Park Elementary School

Humaira Shaheen, Maria Carrillo High School

Sophia Templeton, Slater Middle School

Rubi Lopez, Piner High School

Of the 22 honorees, testimonials for 10 were submitted to so here are some excerpts:

Brook Hill Elementary School student body president Max Meislahn is that school’s student of the year.

A regular on the Principal’s Honor Roll, Meislahn was recalled by his kindergarten teacher as the kid who wore a tie for picture day and counted more than 100 bears as a wee one – always taking his education and studies seriously.

He has developed into a strong writer and is a lead player on the school newspaper, The Bobcat Rap, where he has worked since third grade.

Fourth grade teacher Barbara O’Donnell said Meislahn stands out by the way he treats others.

“Max always sees the best in people and is never stingy with compliments,” she said.

Meislahn hopes to attend Cal before becoming a famous filmmaker.


Lincoln Elementary school sixth grader Natalia Campos is described by students and staff at the school as hard working, enthusiastic and determined.

An honor roll student, she is also a super athlete who excels in ice skating and whatever the P.E. teachers can throw her way, according to school staff.

She spends her lunch hours helping in the cafeteria and is active in Science Olympiad, chorus, band, the spelling bee and Girl Scouts. She is currently student body president.

Campos is interested in becoming either a marine biologist or FBI agent.


Luisa Ciaffa is Hidden Valley School’s student of the year.

“She is an exceptional student in all academic areas,” said her teacher Susie Kiraly. “She is a very creative and unique individual.”

Ciaffa is an active basketball player who suits up for the Hidden Valley squad as well as the YMCA team. She also plays softball and soccer.

She has been active with Odyssey of the Mind, had a role in “Treasure Island” staged by the Masoula Children’s Theater and has played guitar since the second grade.

“Luisa has a variety of interests,” Kiraly said. “She juggles all of these extra activities as well as stays current on all of her academics. Not only does she stay current, but she does an exceptional job, too.”

(Campos, who I met on Wednesday, also appears in this story: which ran in Thursday’s Press Democrat about the bird festival at Lincoln).


Regular ExtraCredit readers will recall the name Tovi Jonah “T.J.” Balliao as a recent student of the month for Santa Rosa City Schools, so it only makes sense that the staff at Comstock Middle School are again honoring the eighth grader as their school’s student of the year.

Math teacher Carolyn Hamill says Balliao is “inquisitive and genuine in all his efforts.”

Balliao is a “terrific leader,” said English teacher Allie Young, who said Balliao participates to the best of his ability and is always positive and enthusiastic.

Balliao is eighth grade class president at Comstock and active in most school activities, according to the staff there.

Balliao can be trusted to work independently, and he can also supervise other students in small groups, according to art and leadership teacher Dawn Thomas.

Counselor Julie Natalini credits Balliao with having a great sense of humor, being well spoken and mature.


Thank Montgomery High School senior Graham Miller for the return of the Joke of the Day.

A dormant tradition on the Viking campus, Miller is credited with reviving the Joke of the Day as a regular part of the Montgomery High day.

As student body vice president he has also been instrumental in developing a new video bulletin called “The Viking Minute.”

Miller, a key member of the Viking mens soccer team, is also an outstanding student who is excelling in the rigorous International Baccalaureate program, according to school officials.

Miller is also credited with inspiring younger leadership students with his work ethic and demeanor.

Gianna Chiddix arrived at Ridgway High School one full year behind graduation schedule, yet in a year and a half, she has maintained a 3.17 grade point average and is set to graduate this month.

“Once Gianna entered our school, she transformed herself into a model student with great drive, and I am positive that she has not even come close to reaching her maximum potential,” said her advisor, Eric Roberts.

“Gianna is punctual, highly prepared, and insightful and has a helpful demeanor,” he said. “Other than being an exemplary student during the day, Gianna has been supporting herself and living by herself for more than two years.”

Chiddix has worked with Worth Our Wait and has appeared with Guy Fieri on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” according to Roberts.

Chiddix plans to attend Santa Rosa Junior College.


Monroe Elementary School’s Jose Solorio wants to be the first person on Mars.

The sixth grader is described as an extremely hard working student who has excelled in all his years at Monroe. He dreams of being a doctor or astronaut who travels to Mars.

School officials say Solorio has a good moral compass, supportive parents and a thirst for knowledge and understanding.

He loves to read and counts James Patterson as his favorite author.

When he wanted his final draft of a report on ancient civilization to be typed, he borrowed a laptop and typed 12 pages in one night, according to school officials.

“Jose can do anything he puts his mind to,” said fifth grade teacher Ledlie Allen. “He has a bright future ahead of himself. Jose can be whatever he wants to be because he has the dedication, desire and energy.”


Piner High School senior Rubi Lopez is active across campus – as a standout athlete and stellar student.

She’s a member of the Piner cross country and wrestling teams, on which she made the state tournament this year.

As a member of the Key, California Scholarship Federation, spirit and math clubs, Lopez is everywhere for the Prospectors. She is also president of the campus Latino Club and spearheaded a “Latino Culture Night” that featured a talent show, beauty pageant, dinner and dance that packed the multi-purpose room, according to school officials.

Lopez has a determination that is evident whether she is competing on the athletic field or tackling an advanced placement physics lesson, according to her teachers.

Growing up with many sick family members, Lopez became inspired to pursue medicine as a career. But she is also interested in promoting higher education among Latinos within Santa Rosa City Schools.

Emmerich Anklam is Santa Rosa High Schools’ student of the year.

Anklam earned a perfect score on the SAT, according to school officials and has maintained the highest academic standards in his four years at Santa Rosa High.

Described as a student who is driven, goal-oriented and constantly studying, he is a major contributor to the intellectual community at Santa Rosa.

A member of the school’s successful debate team, Anklam has made his academic mark at Santa Rosa High over four years.

Sophia Templeton is Slater Middle School’s student of the year.

Described as mature, Templeton follows through with any task given her and does an amazing job of completing multi-step tasks, according to school officials.

Templeton is a problem solver who is willing to help anyone on campus – student or adult, according to school officials.

A secretary in the counseling office where Templeton works as an aide said the eighth grader has hugged crying students, given words of encouragement and invited a frightened, newly enrolled student to hang out with her friends.

Templeton is described as a student who does not wait for other students to be friendly, she shows them the way.