From the desk of Dr. Tuin, THS Principal

December 3, 2021

Coming off a good break, we dove right in with a full, productive, and celebratory week! From the classroom and beyond, there were so many good things happening as we prepared for finals in just a couple of weeks.

Clearly, one of my highlights occurred when approached by two different students who came to tell me they received a Questbridge match. This is a rare full college scholarship opportunity received by only two THS students in the previous 15 years. (We have a former student currently attending Notre Dame and another one attending Yale as a result of this program.)

Gabriel Samcam-Vargas was waiting for me with his counselor, Jayme Acosta, to inform me that he received a match with Princeton University in New Jersey. He came to us four years ago barely speaking English. He was sent to the US from Nicaragua to live with relatives because his family was in danger as civil rights leaders in their country. His parents stayed to do important work, and Gabriel came to Tustin High School to prepare for college. He moved from an ELD English class as a freshman to a regular English class within a few weeks. By the second semester of his freshman year, he was succeeding in an Honors English class. In his Junior year, he took on an even bigger challenge in AP English Language and earned a “5” (the highest score) on the AP test. Gabriel’s story is an amazing one of perseverance and hard work and explains why Princeton was excited to accept him.

Just an hour later, Jeremy Heyer approached me with his friends to let me know he received a Questbridge scholarship to attend Stanford University. Jeremy has an amazing story in his own right of perseverance to overcome huge obstacles. Seeing the excitement and opportunity in his face was precious, and a memory I will cherish. I know his current counselor, Katie Hersey, filling in for Jessica Sotelo, was ecstatic.

Ironically, I visited Mr. Ryan Miller’s AP Literature class where both young men were participating in an interesting lesson. Mr. Miller designed a trial setting in which students roleplayed characters from A Brave New World. Prosecution and defense “lawyers” presented their case in front of a jury and judge. It was impressive to see the students analyzing, synthesizing, and creatively applying what they absorbed from their reading. Oliver Willoughby Jones presided as the honorable judge and conducted what was an impressive display by many of applying their learning. It was a reminder of some amazing students we have the privilege of working with here at THS.

Later that night, I participated in a TUSD Program Night, where some THS teachers presented an overview of programs here at Tustin High School. CTE Pathway courses and MUN all shared about the opportunities students have to learn and gain skills that prepare students for life after high school.

Overlapping that meeting, was the start of our first Choir, Orchestra, and Band Concert in almost two years. It has been a long time since parents and students from these programs could gather in one place. It was not only a night to celebrate the season and showcase students, but also a celebration of being together in person.

Winter sports all added to the excitement this week as boys’ and girls’ soccer, boys’ and girls’ basketball, and water polo each had big wins. Girls’ water polo won a dramatic overtime win on Tuesday, and boys’ soccer continued to put together a string of wins. Boys’ basketball also won another game this week and is off to a great start. Girls soccer won two games this week, doubling their win total from all of last year. Girls Basketball won two close games, including a win again #17 ranked Beckman on Tuesday.

Today, the celebration continues with our first indoor assembly in two years. We will host two assemblies to decrease the number of students gathering, but it will be great to be together in the Pavilion. The decorations from the assembly will be used again tonight in the Winter Showcase that will feature our Dance teams in the old gym.

In all the celebrating, it is important to remember some students struggle more than others. I am grateful to our student services team which supports students academically and emotionally. Joanne Cabrera was honored by the Tustin Public Schools Foundation for her outstanding work with a student. She has provided important individual interventions for students who struggle the most, and grateful she is a Tiller.

Go Tillers!

Dr. Jon Tuin

Tustin High School Principal