Results show ‘exceptional’ year for Corona academics

By Jonathan Cooper

Now graduated, members of Corona del Sol’s Class of 2005 are settling into post-high school life--but not before leaving Corona with a notable cache of accolades.

The class’ accumulation of 15 National Merit Finalists rank it among the highest of its peers in Arizona, particularly for a public school, according to the Corona administration. 

“We normally do extremely well with our National Merit Finalists,” said Corona Principal Jim Denton.

But this year was exceptional, he added. “This was a good year.”

With four students tied for the top rank spot, the class was treated to four valedictory speeches at the graduation ceremony May 25. These students were Salman Ahmad, Urusa Alaan, David Tsen and Jill Zou.

Also notable are the school’s two Flinn Scholars, Urusa Alaan and Joel Edman. It is considered highly prestigious for a school to have even one Flinn Scholar among its student body, the administrators said, adding that two is considered outstanding.

Marilyn Ly, another 2005 graduate, was named a Presidential Scholar. This honor is only bestowed upon two students from each state.

“It was a good year academically,” said Assistant Principal Mark Duplissis.

The administrators didn’t know of any particular change or curriculum enhancement that may explain the success of the recent graduates, but spoke of “waves” that schools experience from class to class.

“It’s cyclical,” Denton said. “You ride the wave.”

The administrators also credited the education from Corona’s feeder schools in the Kyrene School District.

“The education they’re receiving in those (schools) really helps us enhance what they know,” Denton said.

“We also have a really good instructional staff,” Assistant Principal Lydia Denne added.

Denton said the factors are infinite, and the class’s accolades cannot be attributed to any single reason.

“It’s a strong community,” Denton said.

“I really believe the community plays a role in it too.”