CHS students receive recognition for their school achievements


Clarion photo Anna Rollins

Christina Tang recognized for the Asian Pacific Islander award

By Emily Diamond, Editor-in-Chief

Three PPS recognitions—Young, Gifted and Black, Asian/Pacific Islander, and Sí Se Puede—were awarded to four Cleveland High School seniors. Teachers, counselors, and administration nominated students based on their school involvement, academic successes, and work ethic during high school. “One of the things that the recognition shows is that these are students who not only are intellectually and academically gifted, but are also involved in their community,” said Heidi Tolentino, counselor.


Meg Matsuzaki and Christina Tang

Meg Matsuzaki and Christina Tang were recognized for the Asian/Pacific Islander award. Both Matsuzaki and Tang are extremely active in Cleveland activities and give back to the community.

Matsuzaki is passionate about environmental science and photography. At University of Oregon next year, she plans to explore her options in science and narrow down her interest. This year, Matsuzaki co-founded Sustainable Agriculture Club with senior Jessica Loveland, and they recently planted a garden at someone’s house. “It’s really awesome because we get to harvest our own vegetables and spread awareness about eating local and food systems and how important they are to us,” Matsuzaki said.

Last summer, she started her own senior photo business; in total, she photographed over 40 seniors. In addition, Matsuzaki is a co-captain of the varsity lacrosse team, co-Editor-in-Chief of the Legend, co-historian for senior class cabinet, plus a member of the literary magazine and National Honor Society.

Tolentino, Matsuzaki’s counselor, nominated her for numerous reasons. “I chose Meg because of all her academic success and the fact that she’s going to be the first generation in her family in this country to go to college,” Tolentino said. “Also, being very involved in the I.B. program is a pretty amazing accomplishment.”

Tang plans to go down a different route. She is debating between attending Simon Fraser University and Pacific University next fall, both of which she chose based off their study abroad programs.

Currently, Tang has a variety of passions. “I’m debating being an interpreter or pre-dental major or get a degree in business administration with an emphasis on entrepreneurship. I also like international affairs or something related to health care because I really like helping people,” she said.

Tang is very involved in community service. She co-founded Key Club in the beginning of her sophomore year with senior Hannah Dressa. They initially had 15 people in the club, and now they have over 50 members.

She is also involved in the business world. “Every year, I participate in this camp called Enterprise Academy, which is an entrepreneurship focused camp where they split you up into a team with students from different high schools. You have 24 hours to make a business plan. That has really inspired me to maybe pursue business in the future,” said Tang.

Similar to Matsuzaki, Tang is a first-generation college student. Tang is half Vietnamese and half Chinese, plus she was born in Canada!


Christina Rodriguez-Pedraza

Christina Rodriguez-Pedraza received the Sí Se Puede award, which is given to Hispanic students. Spanish is Rodriguez-Pedraza’s first language. “As a fourth and fifth grader, she was only speaking Spanish and learned pretty quickly to be the translator for the family and really saw education as a way to keep moving upward and forward for the family,” Nicholas Yoder—Rodriguez-Pedraza’s counselor—said. “In my limited time of knowing her,  I know she is very deserving as a student who has learned a lot from the educational setting. I think is going to give back a lot to the community, too,” Yoder said.

Rodriguez-Pedraza is involved in the AVID program and Key Club. “AVID has motivated me to go beyond and look farther than high school,” she said. “Key Club changed my perspective on volunteering. My favorite one was Potluck in the park at O’Bryant square where we fed homeless people. The one-on-one interaction was really powerful and influenced me as a person.”

Next year, Rodriguez-Pedraza will participate in the Portland Community College Future Connect program. After two years, she plans to transfer, perhaps to Pacific University. For a career, Rodriguez-Pedraza hopes to pursue ophthalmology and become an eye surgeon. “I saw a cataract surgery last summer and I wasn’t really squeamish; I was very intrigued by it. I think it’s amazing that a doctor can restore someone’s vision.”

Cece Robinson

Cece Robinson was awarded the title of “Young Gifted and Black.” She has been in Key Club for three years plus she is a student representative on the AVID site team. In addition, she has been in a program called Minds Matter for three years, where she attends classes every Saturday to help her prepare for college. “Very few students actually make it through that program because it’s so rigorous as far as the time commitment,” said Tolentino, Robinson’s counselor. “It’s a pretty amazing thing and she’s overcome a ton of really difficult situations to be able to be successful.”

Next year Robinson will attend Pacific Lutheran University. She plans to complete the pre-med requirements and major in mathematics. Currently, she foresees a career as a pediatrician as she loves working with kids.