Exchange club awards Students of the Year

Kern Valley Exchange Club Student of the Year Award winners

Photos and story by Catherine Stachowiak

The Kern Valley Exchange Club awarded its selections for the Youth of the Year, ACE, and Outstanding Middle School and Young Citizens of the Year awards, for the 2023/2024 school year, Thursday May 9, at Paradise Cove Lodge.

On behalf of the club, President John Blythe gave each student an honorary citizenship recognition certificate acknowledging them for demonstrating quality conduct in their every day life and excelling in the areas of academics, attitude, character, citizenship, leadership and sportsmanship.     

Elementary school students recognized were Angel Oropeza and Kenzie Whitfield. Middle school students the club awarded were Josiah Thomey, and Kenadie Young.  High school students awarded were Mikaela Richey, Kyle Espinoza Denys, and Jonas Bordner.  

Jonas Bordner recipient of ACE Award (middle) with principal Alan Paradise (left) and president of exchange John Blythe (right)

Additionally the organization awarded Jonas Bordner the ACE Award.  A recipient of the Ace Award stands for accepting the standard of excellence.  Blythe told the audience that students who receive that award have overcome life challenges and obstacles beyond other students and thrived despite life circumstances. 

Jonas brought up his GPA significantly despite lower performance as a freshman.  His teachers said he is kind, smart and hardworking. Jonas thanked his principal Alan Paradise. He said,  “I’d like to recognize my grandparents who helped me out of a situation that was not desirable.” He also thanked his interventionist, and those who believed in him, which helped him to achieve.  Jonas plans to attend a Cerro Coso Community College in Ridgecrest to earn his Associate degree in business administration.

Mikaela Richey was first in her class at Kern Valley High School. Her principal Alan Paradise said she is a kind person, of good character, and she had her PR Personal Best in Discus. Paradise said she is a marvelous person. She plans to attend Samford University at Birmingham, Alabama to study Geography.

Kyle Espenoza Denys is second in his Kern Valley High School class, and outstanding athlete involved in multiple sports. California Scholarship Federation recognized Kyle as student athlete for the Central Section.  He’s involved in leadership and ASB.  He plans to attend University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB) and was accepted to UCLA and other top schools.  Denys thanked his mother and his schools and the Roach family for helping him and teaching him life skills and work skills. 

Kenadie Young, a middle school student at South Fork Union School District is a straight ‘A’ student and stands out as a leader.  She’s one of the best behaved of all students in her school, and her school considers her as a fantastic athlete 

Josiah Thomey, South Fork student is very focused on academics and is one of two males doing Algebra 1 this year, with a top GPA of all the boys in grade 8.  He is the top

qualifying male student. He saw other struggling students who needed assistance and reached out when he saw the need. 

Grade 5 student, Angel Oropeza demonstrates excellence in all that he puts his mind to, whether it’s designing an experiment, collaborating with others in the classroom, or shining at sports. 

Grade 4 student, Kenzie Whitfield stood out having one of the school’s top GPAs for the year, being top in her class.  She demonstrates great athletic skills, and has good sportsmanship and leadership, in her class.