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Kike Riojias

Enrique (Kike) Riojas Berazaluce

Age: 16

School: Pleasant Valley High School

Parents: Enrique Riojas and Cecilia Berazaluce

Why was student nominated? "Enrique is an excellent example of a well-rounded student, who puts in tremendous effort with anything he does. Enrique demonstrates kindness, humility and thoughtfulness in his interactions with anyone he comes across," said teacher Jason Jones. "He most recently was responsible for helping create and plan a Veteran’s Day Assembly at Pleasant Valley High School to honor veterans and commemorate the 100th year anniversary of World War I. Throughout his time in the Pleasant Valley School District, Enrique has demonstrated excellence and has enriched the experience of our staff and students. We are so proud to call him a Spartan."

What are you most proud of? "I am most proud of the changes I have made in the lives of those around me and the communities that I belong to. I am proud of what I’ve done for others and for myself. If I have been a source of light, of wisdom, of stability; if I can make a person see the world differently, work harder, or see the potential for creation and love in all situations, I will have accomplished my mission, everything is secondary. I hope my assembly has changed people’s minds about the tragedy of war, the power of art, the influence of history, the responsibilities of being a citizen, and what it truly means to be an American."

What makes you happy? "There is nothing that makes me happier than connecting with people. Whether it is talking to a friend, hugging a parent, reading an author’s work, or listening to a masterpiece, there is nothing better than knowing that I am an active part of the world. Having a decent conversation with someone I trust fills me with life. Helping someone who is downtrodden gives me peace. Joking and messing around with a friend is my equivalent of nirvana."

What teacher has inspired you and why? "Two teachers in particular have greatly inspired me. Donald Fry, my freshman English teacher motivated me to think more critically and be more outspoken in my views. He asked nothing but the best from me and helped me to refine my communication, debate and analysis skills. When I had serious personal doubts, he was the first one I went to. The second teacher who helped me was Francis Dunbar, assistant director of theater, who was a constant guiding hand during the creation of the assembly. He was never afraid to bring objections and helped me out in any way he could. His influence turned the project from a meaningful gesture to a powerful performance. No person has shown me the true power of art before Francis Dunbar."

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