Downey High held its 18th annual Viking Awards at the Downey Theatre last Thursday night.This awards ceremony recognized outstanding academic achievement displayed by Downey High students in a wide range of subject areas. Teachers nominated the students based on their academic achievement displayed throughout this school year. Each nominated student attended a mandatory meeting on April 24 in the gym to discuss behavior expected of a Viking Award nominee as well as take an individual picture that would appear on a video screen at the awards ceremony. "Out of 4000 students at Downey High, about 260 were nominated for the Viking Awards," said vice principal Horacio Freijo, who coordinated the Viking Awards. Awards are given for almost every subject area Downey High has to offer. From the nominated students in a specific subject area, some are chosen to receive a medallion, and from the group of medallion recipients, one student is chosen to receive the prestigious Viking Award statue. The evening ceremony began promptly at 7 p.m. with ASB president Katelyn Catt leading the audience in the Pledge of Alliance, followed by Downey High's very own Jazz Choir singing of the national anthem. Principal Tom Houts welcomed and thanked the audience for attending the event. He proceeded to introduce the Masters of Ceremony, science teacher Jeff Giles and English teacher Cara Cleek. Although they made minor errors in their speeches, they laughed nervously with the audience and joked about their mistakes. Every Viking Award nominee completed a Student Biography Card, which provided information and interesting facts about the student. On stage, Houts interviewed recipients of the statue about their hobbies and talents as well as asking graduating seniors their plans for college. "So, it says here on your bio card that you can belly dance," said Houts to Xiomara Anaya, the recipient of the award for English Language Development. "Could you please show us? Mr. Olariu [Jazz Choir director], could you play something on the piano for her to dance to?" Anaya, a senior, surprised and wowed the audience with her belly dancing. Vincente Velasco, a senior, was challenged to hula hoop for the audience on stage. "Your bio card says that you're really good at hula hooping, so to see just how good you are, we have a little surprise for you," said Houts. Velasco was presented with three hula hoops, and he impressed the audience with his ability to hula hoop with three hoops at once. Matthew Apodaca, the recipient of the Performing Arts award, showed the audience his talent of improvisation by acting like a bad principal and bad doctor. "Come to Comedy Sportz!" said Apodaca. "It's like this, only ten times better!" Lisa Seong-Young Kim, a junior, had a very special talent. When asked on stage if it was true that she had never gotten a B since first grade, she claimed that it was true. "My G.P.A. is 4.83," said Kim. Several seniors announced their plans for college. Vicky Beyrooty, a senior, announced that she is attending UCLA in the fall. "I'm going to major in engineering," said Beyrooty. Marro Park, a senior and the recipient of the award for Social Studies, announced that he is also becoming a UCLA Bruin. "I'm planning to major in economics," said Park. When asked why Bernie Glasser, a history teacher at Downey, was his all-time favorite teacher, he amused the audience with his humor. "He's my favorite teacher because he taught me that size doesn't matter," said Park, poking fun at Glasser's height. Glasser did not take offense at this joke and hugged Park on stage. Ricardo Mayo, the valedictorian for this year's graduating senior class, announced his plans for college. "So, just like Lisa [Kim], Ricky has never gotten a B in his life, and his G.P.A. is, oh, I don't know, a 4.9?" said Houts to the audience. "And he's been accepted to some universities called Stanford, Yale, and Princeton. Where are you going, Ricky?" "I'm going to Princeton," said Mayo, the last recipient of the night. "I want to become a writer."
********** Published: May 15, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 4