I returned to the SH Open House from the perspective of a student speaker


Rebekah Kim

Seniors Alejandra Quismorio (left) and Kate Yang team up to deliver a speech about their experience as International Baccalaureate students in the gym as part of the opening ceremonies of the Jan. 24 Open House for eighth-graders and their parents. The pair was among six student speakers selected by school officials to tout the variety of programs offered at Sunny Hills.

Nearly four years ago, I took a seat in the Sunny Hills gym as an eighth-grader, one of hundreds on those bleachers listening to former principal Allen Whitten introduce a few Open House student speakers who delineated their individual high school experiences.

I listened to their anecdotes while questions raced through my mind.

Would I try out for a competitive athletics team? Would I participate in on-campus clubs? Would I join any academic programs?

But not once did the following question cross my mind: Would I end up standing behind that podium sharing my SH story?   

Nearly four years later on Jan. 13, the opportunity I never expected came my way. I received a summons slip from assistant principal Sarah Murrietta during fifth period.

Of my four years as a Lancer, I had never been summoned by an assistant principal, so naturally, I questioned the reasoning for the two-minute walk to Room 3. Upon taking a seat in her office, however, the unease faded, and she walked me through her request.

In under roughly two minutes, she asked that I speak about my academic and extracurricular experiences as a Lancer alongside senior Alejendra Quismorio, a fellow International Baccalaureate [IB]  classmate of mine. 

Whether as editor-in-chief, IB student or girls golf player, I was to press upon the reasons students should enroll at Sunny Hills. We ended the meeting with Murrietta giving me a week to submit a draft of the speech to her via email.   

After I left the meeting, I – without hesitation – knew I would be centering the bulk of my speech on The Accolade

It was a no-brainer.

I dedicated nearly four years to student journalism: from learning the fundamentals of the 5Ws + H and what Associated Press style means as a freshman in the Journalism 1 class to reporting campus news as a sophomore and junior in the Advanced Journalism class and designing print issues for students, parents and staff as the publication program’s editor-in-chief. 

I, however, sought to not limit the activities I pursued on the Hill. As a freshman, I played for the varsity girls golf team, continuing on with the sport to senior year. From junior to senior year, I registered for IB classes as a full-Diploma candidate to push the boundaries of my education.

The trials and the triumphs of these activities cooperatively constructed the individual standing behind the podium, the name in the byline and the student graduating in May 2023.

When the evening of Jan. 24 came around, I found myself sitting in the VIP section in the gym with the five student speakers, the principal, ASB president senior Jacqueline Woo, ASB senior class president Sierra Chavez and dignitaries from the Fullerton Joint Union High School District [FJUHSD].

We delayed the opening ceremony for a few minutes to ensure families and students could seat themselves. I turned to Quismorio , who sat on my left, and Woo, who sat on my right, to ease the anxiety that overcame me. Periodically, I looked over to my mom, who sat on the left side of the gym, to see her expression of reassurance as I nervously looked out at the sea of 1000+ faces.   

I delivered the speech with Alejandra, who spoke of her time as a player for the girls varsity volleyball team, and, side by side, we introduced the several programs and activities we took on in conjunction with the IB Program.

I employed The Accolade as one of many justifications for selecting Sunny Hills above neighboring schools within the FJUHSD. Apart from the programs of neighboring schools, The Accolade gave me the leeway to work with an adviser who has professional, in-field experience and work toward designing print publications to compete for national awards. 

For those who did not attend Open House, I inserted an excerpt to hopefully encourage you to consider enrolling as a Journalism 1 student or Accolade staff member:

“As a student journalist with The Accolade, I have spent hours interviewing teachers, the administration and a diversified roster of students. These firsthand interactions and intimate conversations with individuals scattered across campus are just a few examples demonstrating the welcoming atmosphere and social culture home to Sunny Hills. Involvements with programs, like The Accolade, or on-campus clubs have embedded balance and productivity within my academic strengths. I’ve found an equilibrium between maintaining a standard of academic excellence and exploring my passions.”

A few months prior, I spoke to an audience of prospective IB sophomores in the SH Performing Arts Center [PAC]; however, the number of people listening to the 2023 Open House  nearly triples the amount in the PAC. Jan. 24 marked one of the largest events I have ever spoken at.

The minutes before delivering the speech suffocated me, but I left the podium with a sense of gratification. The two minutes I stood facing an audience of eighth-grade students validated the hours to years I invested toward the campus, the students and my education. 

Following the introduction ceremony, I lingered around The Accolade’s table to speak with eighth-graders who demonstrated interest in the program. There, I spoke with district board president Joanne Fawley, who shared her support for three print issues we had published in the first semester and praised us for being the rare school in the district that still produces a print product for readers. 

I felt pleased and privileged to receive such congratulatory remarks from people of such honor. My SH journey has been arduous but worth every word — in print and online.