BY: MITCH BULL, Brisbane Chamber President and CEO,, 415-467-7283

The Brisbane Chamber of Commerce celebrated the excellence of the Brisbane School District and our local students at its’ annual “Excellence in Education Scholarship Recognition Awards” event, held at the DoubleTree Hotel by Hilton on Wednesday evening, May 23. The achievements of sixteen outstanding students and a Brisbane School District educator were highlighted during the evening. David J. Canepa, District 5 Supervisor for San Mateo County was the keynote speaker for the event. Canepa, who grew up locally before obtaining his degree from the University of San Francisco, spoke on the challenges of education in today’s world and how it takes the involvement of students, parents, teachers and the community-at-large. He asked the student honorees to “give their parents a hug, or a fist bump” to thank them for their support in the students’ journeys so far.
Brisbane School District Awards:
Outstanding students were recognized from each of the schools within the Brisbane School District. Andrea Katotakis, Principal of Brisbane Elementary School, and Sarah Neidhart, Principal of Panorama Elementary School were on hand to present the following awards:
Elementary School Awardees: (Submitted by the BSD and edited for space allowances)
Anna Zavodnik, who attends Brisbane Elementary School, was named the outstanding 5th grade student at her school. She is a most rounded student whose academic successes are outweighed only by her life skills. She is a deep thinker, curious scientist, strong reader, and a writer who uses creativity and organization. Her personal warmth, humor and caring make her an extraordinary human being.
Panorama Elementary School’s 5th grade student of the year, Julio Molina, was not chosen based on standards that educational institutions typically look for in a student. This student is a model young person who uses perseverance, integrity, kindness and grit; the qualities, I think, count more than just test scores or grades on a report card. Julio is the hardest working student in our class. He is the definition of perseverance. He never gives up and you can be sure he is doing the best that he can do! He is also kind and always has kind words to say about others. He has no enemies (which is amazing when you’ve grown up for six years with the SAME people!) He is positive about any and all situations. He always finds a way to look at things in a hopeful way. This character trait helped him win the election for Vice Mayor of Century City, our classroom city, he helped name. He used courage to run for Vice Mayor, wrote and gave a speech and was voted into office by his peers!
Lipman Middle School Awardees: Two Lipman Middle School Students were selected and recognized as the outstanding 8th grade students at the school:
Zuzu Lorentzen was named as an Outstanding 8th grade student at Lipman. Zuzu is an incredibly patient, thoughtful and creative student that gets along with everyone. She is an extremely hard worker who always strives to put forth her best effort. She used the power of writing to show her deep, critical thinking skills, while often voicing her opinions and thoughts. Next year, she will be enrolled at Oceana High School, in Pacifica.
Michael Co was honored as the second Outstanding 8th grade award recipient. He is a “big man” on campus who goes by the name of “Mr. President.” He is well loved and respected by all of his peers and teachers, as he is always willing to help his fellow students with assignments and projects. Michael is a very organized and engaged learner. He is kind, polite, thoughtful and motivated to learn and to succeed in life. Next year, he will be attending Shasta Charter High School in Daly City.
This year, the Outstanding Educator Award for the Brisbane School District was presented to a teacher who has been a mainstay in the district since 2005, Janine Lee, who teaches 4th and 5th grade at the Brisbane Elementary School. She is collaborative, caring, and always gives 100 percent in everything she does. She is the type of teacher students remember, and often come back to visit. Janine Lee is an exceptional teacher who has earned the respect of the children, her colleagues, and the parent community in her many years of service within the BSD.
High School Scholarship Recognition Awards:
The evening continued with the recognition of 12 outstanding students who were selected as recipients of a Brisbane Chamber of Commerce Scholarship Recognition Award. This award program, now in its’ 23rd year, is made possible through the generosity and support of our local businesses and residents.
This year, the Brisbane Chamber raised over $ 10,400 in donations. These grants were made available to student applicants who either live in Brisbane, or whose parents work for a company affiliated with the Brisbane Chamber of Commerce. The chamber thanks all of the businesses and individuals who made the contributions that make it possible to encourage these outstanding scholars to move forward with their educational goals and to help make their passions a reality. Over the 23-year history of the program, the Chamber has granted 224 awards to local scholars totaling more than $275,000.
An Overview of the 2018 Scholarship Recognition Award Recipients:
These scholars come from diverse high schools and exhibit varied interests and plans for the future. Here is a brief snapshot of each awardee:
Brianna Abney – Brianna, a resident of Brisbane, attended our local schools before entering High School at Terra Nova High School where she compiled a 3.4 GPA, while qualifying for the Honor Roll and taking AP courses. While at Terra Nova she participated in peer counseling and gained much insight into who she is and what she wants to do next. She also was active reading and writing poetry and drawing. She also served as a summer intern at the SFArts Education Project where she worked with children from the ages 6-9. Now that her high school career has come to a close, her next step is to attend the College of San Mateo, where she will start her studies with the goal of having a career in the field of Forensic Psychology.
Malcolm Barnes – The second awardee is also a Brisbane resident. Malcolm Barnes carried a full schedule of classes and after school activities while compiling a 3.86 GPA at the Shasta High School and qualifying for Honor Roll and High Honor Roll recognition during his time in school, while also taking AP classes in classes such as Calculus, Statistics, English Literature and Spanish. He has been active in sports, playing baseball and basketball as well as a public speaker and early “founding’ member of the Brisbane Skatepark. As he graduates to the next level of education, his goal is to pursue studies in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of California – Davis. Malcolm is planning for a career in the sciences as a Biochemist with a Ph.D. in the field of Medicine.
Brianna Castaneda – The next awardee, Brianna Castaneda, has spent a lot of time going to school and playing lacrosse and softball. Brianna, a senior at Christian Brothers High School has compiled a 3.85 GPA during her high school career. An Honor Roll student, she has been recognized as a national Hispanic Scholar. Brianna is planning to attend college with the intent of majoring in Business Marketing at the University of California-Santa Cruz.
Luke Conti – Luke, a resident of Brisbane, attended our local schools before entering High School at Shasta Charter High School where he compiled a 4.20 GPA while taking college prep and AP –advanced placement courses, and qualifying for the Honor Roll. While at Shasta, he also played soccer and served with a mission and mentorship in Nicaragua, working with Cornerstone Church in SF and Compassion International. His next step is to attend Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, where he is planning to start his studies in Civil Engineering.
Ida Funke – Ida, a resident of Brisbane, attended both of our local schools and was honored previously as the outstanding student of both her 5th grade class and her 8th grade class. Following her graduation from Lipman Middle School, she enrolled in the French-America High School in San Francisco, where she compiled a 4.17 GPA and outstanding scores on her SAT tests in math, writing and physics (well over 740 – remember 800 is perfect). As a senior research project, Ida researched the parallels between the acquisition of language in humans and those of birds learning birdsongs and trying to understand why birds, humans, bats and marine mammals acquire language through vocal learning while our closest genetic cousins, primates, are unable to do so. When interviewing one of the panelists asked if she had ever received a grade of B in a class. Ida looked at us and basically said, no, I wouldn’t think so… She has performed in school concerts, been active in theatre, and was a member of her HS swim team. She will be taking her educational (and ukulele) skills to Southern California to major in Applied Sciences and Mathematics at UCLA in the fall. She is planning to have a career in the Mathematics and Science field. In the 23 years we have been doing interviews, our committee members consider Ida to be one of the best candidates we have ever interviewed.
Nelson Guanzon – Nelson, who goes by Nico, is also a resident of Brisbane, and attended our local schools before entering High School at Serra H.S. in San Mateo. During his time at Serra, Nelson earned a 4.00 GPA and has been recognized as a member of the California Scholarship federation and of the National Honor Society. Active in the school robotics club and competitions, he also had the opportunity to live offshore in Shanghai. While there he worked in a factory making sandals and in a bakery. He is planning to take the next step in his education by attending Loyola Marymount University where he is planning to major in Engineering to pursue a career in the Biomedical Devices field, a field where he would like to design items that make an impact in society.
Zachary Hui – Zachary attended our local schools before entering High School at Shasta Charter High School where he compiled a 3.43 GPA while taking college prep and AP –advanced placement course and qualifying for the Honor Roll. While at Shasta he also participated as a Mission Blue Camp counselor, a member of a Dragon Boat team, and as a “decoy” to help educate retailers selling alcoholic products to underage consumers. His next steps involve heading north to the wine country, attending Sonoma State University, where he will start his studies with the goal of having a career in the field of Electrical Engineering or law enforcement.
Kyra Lemmelin – Kyra, another resident of Brisbane, attended our local schools before entering High School at Mercy in San Francisco. At Mercy she compiled a 4.30 GPA while taking AP and college prep courses, qualifying for the Honor Roll and being recognized with academic high honors with distinction. A student of the performing arts, she has been active in musical theatre as a dancer and singer, a member of the Mercy Women in performing Arts club, as well as a Student Broadcasting producer. She has been a volunteer at Brisbane Dance Workshop. She has also participated as a volunteer at the Fiesch Sport camp in Switzerland, instructing the proper use of the “ropes” course. She will be packing an umbrella as she is heading to the Pacific Northwest to pursue a degree in Engineering from Seattle University.
Svea Listmann – is passionate about biology, especially marine biology. She attended Terra Nova High School, in Pacifica, and earned a 3.50 GPA, while taking AP and college prep courses. A member of the Principal’s List and the Honor roll, Svea is a well-rounded student who has been featured as a member and soloist with Pacifica’s Spindrift Dance Company, while also being the President of the Terra Nova HS Science Club. While in high school, she attended a week-long college course at Cornell University on Sharks, Rays, and Skates (not the skate park kind…) In a world where 60% of our planet is covered in water, Svea wants to “immerse” herself in her line of studies, namely Marine Biology and Marine Science. She will be attending Eckerd College, in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Ariana Margate – Ariana is another of our home-grown students. Following her elementary and middle school studies, she has been attending Oceana High School, in Pacifica, where she attained a 3.6 GPA. While at Oceana she was captain of the Varsity Basketball team, participated in tennis and was the manager of the JV and Varsity track team. She has also served as a Teacher’s Assistant at Oceana, and as a Teen counselor at the Brisbane Mission Blue Summer Camp. She is also a member of Oceana’s student government and of its’ Filipino Club. Ariana will be attending CSU-Channel Islands, where she will be majoring in the sciences with plans on having a degree in the nursing/medical field.
Nichika O’Malley – another of our local students, Nichika was in one of the first classes enrolled at Design Tech High School. In his first year, the classes were literally in a hallway at Mills High School, before Design Tech moved to their own facility in Redwood City. Nichika, earned a 3.29 GPA during high school and had the opportunity to teach English to students and disabled adults in Japan. He has also attended the national Flight Academy in Pensacola Florida and achieved a certification from the SF Japanese Language Center, where he studied Japanese for 11 years. He has experience as a lifeguard and swim instructor, as well as a being an educational tutor for children attending Kumon Educational Center classes. Another very well-rounded student, he has participated with his church in visiting and working with Native American tribes in New Mexico. His plan is to start classes in the desert climate of Tempe, Arizona as he enters Arizona State University in the fall to pursue a career in Sports Management and Broadcasting.
Joseph Sid – another Brisbane resident is our final honoree of the evening. Joseph has gone through our local schools before enrolling at Westmoor High School. He compiled a 3.0 GPA and very good SAT scores during his high school career and has served as the Treasurer of the Filipino Barkada Club and has also achieved a 2nd Degree Black Belt in Tae Kwan Do. Joseph has also held positions in the Westmoor HS Democrat club and has volunteered at the SF Food Bank and the Westmoor PTSA. He is looking forward to his next adventure, starting as a freshman at San Francisco State in the fall. He is planning to follow a course of study in math and science with the goal to have a career in Computer Engineering.
For 2018, the following companies and individuals made contributions to make these awards possible: BiRite Foodservice Distributors, F.W. Spencer and Son, Inc., First National Bank of Northern California, Golden State Lumber Co., Inc., Integrated Resources Group, Lyon Medical Construction, Recology, Inc., South San Francisco Scavenger Company, Inc., Universal Paragon Corporation, Ron Davis, Mitch Bull, Teresa Montgomery, Drew and Carly Peltier, Tamara Palmer-Heath and Larry and Christine Purcell.
The Chamber wishes to say “Thank You” to the following people and organizations who helped to make this years’ event a special one for everyone involved: Golden State Lumber Company and Tamara Palmer-Heath, as the sponsor of this event and their involvement in the Brisbane Chamber and the community! Mimie Dalnish, DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel and WhiteCaps dining for their “over and above” service for the catering and set up for the event. The “Presenters” whose involvement in the production and presentation of the student and teacher commendation certificates ensured that the 2018 Awards event was one that the recipients will always remember: Jeffrey Lew – representing the Office of State Senator Jerry Hill; Kevin Fong – representing the Office of Assemblymember Kevin Mullin; Sera Alptekin representing the Office of U.S. House of Representatives Member Jackie Speier; Mayor Pro Tem Madison Davis – representing the City of Brisbane; Supervisor David Canepa – representing District 5 for the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors and the guest speaker for the event.
The Scholarship Recognition Award Committee for their countless hours in interviewing and selecting the recipients of the 2018 awards: Freddy Beaman – City National Bank; Rich Borghello, Recology, Inc.; Xiomara Cisneros – Universal Paragon Corporation; Tamara Palmer-Heath – Golden State Lumber, Inc. and Jennifer Wilder-Smith – BiRite Foodservice Distributors. Without these volunteers the interview process could not happen.

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