For their strong academic achievement, perseverance, and dedication to pursuing their goals, Monrovia High School seniors Kate Tadeo and Jessica Lee have been named the Class of 2020’s valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively.
“It is with great pleasure that we celebrate Monrovia’s top scholars, who have displayed the hard work, dedication, and wisdom we admire in our student and academic leaders,” Monrovia Board President Rob Hammond said. “Kate and Jessica are wonderful people with great hearts and bright futures.”
Tadeo earned a 4.74 GPA and will attend Columbia University to study neuroscience and behavior, with plans to become an anesthesiologist. Tadeo has been designated a John W. Kluge Scholar through the Columbia Undergraduate Scholar Program.
Tadeo completed 15 Advanced Placement (AP) classes, as well as several courses at Citrus College as part of Monrovia’s dual-enrollment Early College Program. Tadeo is a graduate of Monrovia’s Math and Science Academy (MASA) and a member of the National Honors Society and California Scholarship Federation (CSF).
“It feels very good to have all of the hard work pay off,” Tadeo said. “There were so many nights, especially in my junior year, when I stayed up all night long studying for my AP classes. But I am so happy to be going to Columbia. I’m ready for my next step.”
Tadeo’s best memories of school include four years on the cross-country team, which helped her to relax, and serving as vice president of Monrovia’s Interact Club, where she performed community service in partnership with Rotary International, including the annual “Santa Clothes” event for Foothill Unity Center K-8 students.
“Every December, we would take them on $250 shopping sprees at Kohl’s,” Tadeo said. “We would go into the store with the kids and help them pick out clothes. It was a chance for them to choose their wardrobe with someone closer to their age. They were so happy. It was adorable.”
“Kate and Jessica represent the best of Monrovia Unified: academic excellence, school spirit, community activism, and integrity. As is often the case with our students,” Superintendent Dr. Katherine Thorossian said. “I am inspired by their enthusiasm and optimism.”
Lee earned a 4.56 GPA, has completed 13 AP and six Honors classes and will attend UC Berkeley to study environmental engineering. Lee is a MASA graduate, is a member of the Mandarin Honors Society and CSF and served as captain of the Monrovia girls varsity tennis team.
“My love for the environment actually comes from cars. When I discovered Tesla electric cars, I became interested in technology and developing products that are environmentally friendly and benefit humanity.” Lee said. “I even brainstormed and developed self-watering pots, of which I made over 300, to donate to my local nursing homes. This way the community could enjoy nature indoors with ease. I’d love to become an entrepreneur one day.”
Lee is part of a Toastmasters Gavel Public Speaking Club, which hosts youth workshops that help elementary school students with public speaking, offering tips on eye contact and body language. The group, which consists of high school student leaders across Southern California, has raised money for the United Way HomeWalk, a 5k to end homelessness in Los Angeles, and has an annual holiday tradition of singing carols and performing skits at area nursing homes.
“Senior year has been my favorite year. It’s been very relaxing,” Lee said. “I’ve really enjoyed being with my friends and not worrying about college submissions. There were many new places in Monrovia that we would go to. That’s my favorite memory of school.”
Tadeo and Lee are continuing family traditions. Tadeo’s brother, Kemyl, and Lee’s brother, Kevin were Monrovia High valedictorians.
“I have had the pleasure of knowing Kate and Jessica since they arrived at Monrovia High and am so proud of them for all of the work they have accomplished here,” Principal Kirk McGinnis said. “It has been a struggle for our seniors this year, but Kate and Jessica have come through it all as true leaders, with confidence and compassion. Congratulations to the Monrovia High Class of 2020.”