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The Accolade

The Student News Site of Sunny Hills High School

The Accolade

The Student News Site of Sunny Hills High School

The Accolade

School officials say new character-based award promotes positive self-esteem and campus unity

Chloe Kang
Art teacher Chablis Bates awards senior Camila Carriedo (left) with the Lancer LEGEND medallion to recognize her act of selflessness on Sept. 1 in Room 22.

Academics, character, selflessness, resilience and leadership. 

These five pillar values of a newly introduced character-based recognition program for the 2023-2024 school year. 

The Lancer LEGEND award, an acronym for Leadership, Excellence, Greatness, Elite, Noteworthy, Dominant, created by Associated Student Body [ASB] adviser David Fenstermaker is the newest award available for students. 

Fenstermaker said he developed this honor earlier this spring to recognize students who are exemplary in everyday life, not just in academics.

“It’s mostly about celebrating more than just victories,” Fenstermaker said. “These are students doing things that are worth celebrating, but we wouldn’t normally celebrate.”

Working with Fenstermaker said the program gives all staff members the chance to nominate a student so long as they belong in the following 10 programs: athletics, Advancement Via Individual Determination, Band, cheer, coding & gaming/eSports, dance, engineering Pathways to Innovation & Change, International Baccalaureate, theater or agriculture. 

The idea for Lancer LEGENDS is much deeper than solely the recognition for non-academic endeavors. It is about bringing the campus community together and bringing positive incentives to being a good samaritan, Fenstermaker said. 

“I hope [students] realize that my biggest [motivation] was, if you and I are in different programs and we win the same award, that should connect us,” the ASB adviser said. “We [would] both have that same character trait. It doesn’t matter if one’s on the football team and the other in band … it ends up being a unifying thing for the school.”

As of Sept. 8, three students have received this recognition; however, 47 medallions remain to be given out this school year.

Seniors Savannah Taylor (left) and Camila Carriedo wear their Lancer LEGEND medallions after being recognized for their selflessness in helping another classmate in art class.

The honors being handed out randomly throughout the year rather than at a banquet “reinforces the concept that being legendary is a process and not simply an end result,” according to Fenstermaker’s proposal.

When awarded, students receive one medallion engraved with the word “LEGEND” as well as a black shirt reading “Lancer Legend” and the Sunny Hills mascot, Winston the Lancer, under the emblem. 

The ASB will also hold a breakfast celebration for all recipients at the end of the school year; however, the date for the next LEGEND ceremony has not been decided yet as the awards occur on the random, Fenstermaker said.


When teachers find a student they believe falls under one of the five pillars, they will notify the adviser of the program the student is a part of via email to tell them of the individual’s outstanding actions. 

The staff member soon looks at the student’s class schedule to see which of the periods would be most appropriate to present the medal and the T-shirt, athletic director Paul Jones said. 

“We usually want to check for an elective or non-Honors class so we don’t have to disturb the learning environment,” said Jones, who also had a hand in the creation. 


Jones presented the first LEGEND award to sophomore Isaac Gaxiola on Aug. 21 in his fourth period Video production class. Gaxiola was the pioneer in receiving the accolade after he helped out math teacher Jina Shia move boxes during Lancer Days after his football practice.

“It feels special [to be the first] in a way that I can’t explain,” said Gaxiola, whose friends have now nicknamed him “Lancer Legend.” “That’s what I like to do, help people out who need it and hopefully make the school a better place.”

Shia said she was surprised by Gaxiola’s willingness to help her despite how tired he seemed from his practice — especially since the two did not know each other prior. 

She reached out to Jones to let him know of Gaxiola’s good deeds, and a few days later, she said she was glad to see a picture — sent by the athletic director — of him holding his prize.

“I was very proud of him,” said Shia, who did not know that Isaac would be receiving the award when sending the email. “It’s nice to know that on the SH campus there are people out there that want to help.” 

A few weeks later on Sept. 1, seniors Camila Carriedo and Savannah Taylor were awarded under the pillar of Selflessness for their efforts in helping translate a lesson for a student who was having a difficult time.

That’s what I like to do, help people out who need it and hopefully make the school a better place.” 

— sophomore Isaac Gaxiola

Carriedo noticed a student in class who primarily spoke Spanish, which she also spoke, and asked Taylor to switch seats with her so she could assist the person in need to the best of her abilities. 

“I felt happy to help her and help other people,” said Carriedo, who was nominated in her 3-D design class by art teacher Chablis Bates. “I was in the same situation as her in learning English, and it was difficult to understand the class.” 

For this year’s graduating seniors, they can wear the LEGENDS medal at their graduation ceremony, Taylor said. 

“I was like ‘Oh my god, this is my first award,’” she said. “It really did feel like an award too — I was just so happy.”

Bates, a new face on the SH teaching staff, said she was moved by the students’ altruistic efforts and was excited to be able to recognize the girls in class, as she has never had an award of this character at her previous teaching establishments. 

“I was super proud and happy,” she said. “[Mr. Weinreich and Ms. Volen] came in and took pictures, and we all celebrated them — it was awesome.”

The teacher said she is grateful for these additions to the campus from the perspective of an arts teacher whose students are not always high-achieving students. 

 “I am thrilled about [these awards] because not everybody is academically the best and it’s hard when you’re not in honors classes to boost your GPA and get recognition,” she said. “This is [a good] way for teachers to recognize the kids being good human beings.”

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Alexxa Berumen, Spotlight Editor
Junior Alexxa Berumen returns for her second year on staff as the special sections editor after dedicating her sophomore year to her feature editor position. She hopes to expand the topics the publication focuses on during her year of working in the spotlight section. Berumen has earned several Best of SNO awards starting her freshman year, as well as 2 honorable mentions for stories written in the 2022-2023 school year. Outside of The Accolade, she enjoys volunteering, reading and listening to music.
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    Daniel TaylorOct 22, 2023 at 8:38 pm

    That’s my daughter Savannah. I’m so proud of you Savvy.