Miramonte Senior Profiles

At the end of the year, Miramonte recognizes the achievements and talents of several VPA students. We hope you enjoy reading about their journeys and their future plans! Congratulations to these talented seniors and to the entire Class of 2020!

Adilson Amado has had quite the senior year! For the last quarter, Adilson has been highly active in instructing his peers on the techniques of animation, related to Digital Design. Adilson’s interest in computers started during his First Year at Miramonte with Web Design and Coding. From that experience, Adilson has already been able to start taking design classes at DVC with the hopes of pursuing a career in animation and caricatures. “My classes at Miramonte have been well-rounded and very enjoyable”. Safer travels during your gap year Adilson!

​​Nisha Andrews has been participating in the Miramonte Public Speaking program since she was a freshman, and prior to that, was part of the OIS debate program in 7th and 8th grade. Being a part of the Pub program at MHS has been one of the favorite aspects of her high school experience. It helped her become more confident and comfortable with sharing her beliefs, as well as becoming much more knowledgeable about current events and global news. According to Nisha, the best part of the MHS Pub program is the amazing community. Because all of the classes are made up of mixed grade levels, it introduced her to countless mentors who encouraged and guided her within the program, and later allowed her to do the same for younger students. Every new student to the program is paired up with one or more student "Buddies" who mentor them throughout the year, helping students succeed and gain lasting friendships. It is because of the strong and supportive Pub community that she became involved in the competition aspects of the program, eventually making it to outrounds at the Cal Invitational and to the CHSSA state tournament in Public Forum. Nisha is headed to UCLA for college, and hopes to pursue public speaking and debate there as well. Nisha believes that being a part of the Miramonte program improved her leadership, speaking, and writing skills, and helped her in a variety of other classes and with her goals. As an officer in the program, she’s been able to get more involved in all aspects of the program, from mentoring other students to pursuing community service opportunities such as the annual food drive. We wish Nisha the best in her future endeavors! Go Mats!

Jackson Blazona went to middle school in Oakland, so he tried Public Speaking and Debate for the first time during his freshman year at Miramonte, where he has continued for all four years of high school. When he first began, he participated in Individual Events (IE), but by his Junior year he made the decision to focus on International Extemp and Public Forum. Last year, he placed 6th in the State for International Extemp and represented Miramonte at the competition in Long Beach, CA. The best part about Pub, according to Jackson, is the buddy system, “The mixed level/mixed grade aspect of the class is unique and provides a great opportunity for the freshman to watch and learn from the upperclassmen, which is motivational and awe inspiring. As you continue on your path within Pub, there are leadership and mentoring opportunities, which is also beneficial.” The great thing about the competitive tournaments is that students are competing against higher level speakers, which “puts you in a position for success, as long as you can self motivate”, according to Jackson. His involvement in Pub has led to a passion for the news; he loves to learn new information and follow policy developments, all which he learned from public speaking. Being involved in Pub also helped Jackson find what he likes in terms of future studies, which he will be doing in the Fall at Claremont McKenna College! He will be an International Relations major, along with Economics/Accounting. He also plans to participate in their Model UN program, something he took advantage of during his time at Miramonte. Jackson leaves us with the great advice to “take advantage of all of the opportunities that are presented to you!” Wishing you continued success, Jackson! Congratulations!

Athena Davis has participated in the Miramonte Public Speaking program since her freshman year. That was her first foray into Public Speaking, and she was hooked! Congressional debate is her speciality and she has had success competing at both the state and national levels. Last year, she competed and came in 3rd place in the State (2019) in congressional debate, and also represented Miramonte when she competed at Nationals in Dallas, TX. Athena really enjoys public speaking because she finds it empowering to learn how to convey her thoughts and ideas on important issues. In congressional debate, students get to learn a lot about many topical policy issues, so it is a good way to stay informed. According to Athena, “the community aspect of our Public Speaking program is the best part. It is a closely knit group and everyone is really supportive of one another. Public speaking can be stressful at times, so we become really close.” In addition to Public Speaking, she participated in Mock Trial during her Freshman and Sophomore years at MHS. Athena plans to attend UC Berkeley in the Fall, majoring in History with a potential minor in Classics. Cal has a Mock Trial team that she may consider and she can see herself pursuing a law career in the future. Public Speaking has been a great launching point for either of those endeavors. Athena believes that Public Speaking is a class everyone should take for at least one year while at Miramonte; it’s a great way to meet new friends and you gain valuable life skills along the way. We wish you all the best, Athena!

Alanna Lausch has been participating in drama since the 4th grade at Del Rey Elementary. She states: “I love the drama/theater arts community as it allows for tremendous self-expression and creativity which is not typical for the rest of the academic classes that are on most student's schedules. It's a great outlet for learning about life. It breaks down barriers between people and connects them on a whole different level.” Alanna believes that the opportunity to take arts and theater classes throughout her education in Orinda made the difference in her decision to pursue a degree in theater.“Without this theater background, I would never have had the option, let alone the confidence, to pursue this type of degree.” Alanna debated between NYU and UCSD and due to the constraints of the pandemic, decided to go to UCSD.

Anna Palamountain has been participating in drama and other forms of performing arts since she was3 years old! Her drama and competitive dance background started in Lafayette where she attended elementary and middle school. She ultimately had to scale back her dance activities to devote her time to drama. Anna says: “Miramonte Drama has given me an outlet to fall in love with performing arts and has helped me grow not only as an actress but as a person. It has given me so much. Drama has shaped me into the person I am and has brought so much joy and happiness into my life.” Anna plans to go to college in Southern California to study acting and film and hopes to start auditioning and working professionally in the film industry while in college.

Jenny Shen recognized her passion for art starting at Del Rey Elementary, and has honed that love and passion throughout her high school career at Miramonte. Through the extensive offerings of Miramonte’s Visual Arts Programs and talented teachers, Jenny has been able to develop her own skills and art styles, further allowing her to explore a variety of mediums. “The new curriculum that was introduced to me my first year at Miramonte provided a new level of education that I was very lucky to receive”. Jenny plans to attend The School of Art Institute in Chicago to continue to advance her artistic talents and skills.

Sarah Stenovec has been participating in 3D Art since her Sophomore year. Sarah said “I never worked with clay or 3D materials until Gavin Kermode introduced it to me. It opened up a whole new world and I felt like there was endless time for opportunity and discovery.” Sarah focused her work on the human body in clay, which she says broadened her perspective immensely. The guidance she received from Mr. Kermode led her to pursue 3D art further. Sarah plans on attending Colgate University in Hamilton, New York in the fall. She hopes to take a 3D Art class to learn as much as possible with the strong base that she credits to Mr. Kermode and Miramonte Crafts.

Meet Emily Zalevsky! Emily is an outstanding senior who participates in choir at Miramonte but has also participated in a variety of other Visual and Performing Arts programs throughout her school career. Prior to moving to Orinda in 8thgrade, Emily participated in music at her local elementary school, as well as the local performing arts company. At Miramonte, she has found that choir has given her the tools needed to work towards achieving a career goal of becoming a film scorer. “I am so lucky to have gone to Miramonte, because this school has such a fantastic arts department that is so intertwined in the school as a whole.” Emily plans to attend CU Boulder College of Music, pursuing a dual degree in Music Composition and Physics, with further study at USC Thornton School of Music for a graduate degree in film scoring.

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