IUSD Students in the News!

IUSD students in the news

The following student news roundup provides a recent snapshot of some of the outstanding accomplishments of our more than 35,000 students.  Congratulations and we look forward to seeing what is next for you and your teams.  

Fourteen IUSD High School Students are OC Register Varsity Artist of the Year Semifinalists
The Orange County Register recently announced the semifinalists for Artist of the Year.  According to the Register, a panel of arts teachers for each discipline — theater, dance, instrumental music, vocal music, film, handcrafted visual arts and computer-assisted visual arts — selected 105 semifinalists from among 616 nominees based on applications, performance videos, art portfolios, film samples, and artistic résumés.

The seven disciplines are further divided into specialties.  For instance, in the specialty of dance, a student would be nominated in one of the following specialties: commercial dance, concert dance, street dance, or world/cultural dance.

IUSD students from all five of our comprehensive high schools placed in each category. 

Sophia Chung – Northwood High Schools

Computer-Assisted Visual Arts
Marta Meinardi – University High School

Akash Dewan – University High School
Yinzhi Pan – Portola High School

Handcrafted Visual Arts
Grace Hong – Portola High School
Mishtee Shaw – Portola High School
Wanyu Xiang – Portola High School

Instrumental Music
Esther Kim – Woodbridge High School
Irene Lee – Northwood High School
Cody Nakatsukasa – Northwood High School
Amy Palm – Irvine High School
Joseph I. Pena – Irvine High School

Olivia Biase – University High School

Vocal Music
Kevin Corrigan – Woodbridge High School

The Register reported that of the 105 semifinalists, 24 finalists will be identified, one representing each specialty. One student from each discipline, seven in total, will be named a 2021 Artist of the Year.

The Artists of the Year will be announced on May 2.

Thank You to the 2020-21 IUSD Student Advisory Committee Members
IUSD would like to thank our 2020-21 Student Advisory Committee members, especially during this unprecedented year.  We greatly appreciate their feedback and perspectives on a variety of topics including:

  • Student experiences with the hybrid and IVA academic models
  • How to create and sustain positive student cultures for students during the pandemic
  • Student action plans for working with school staff
  • Communications/school website feedback
  • Mental health and wellness  

IUSD Communications and Education Services teams established the Student Advisory Committee in 2018 to meet the following vision and objectives:


  • To understand the student experience by talking directly with a diverse group of students.
  • Provide students an opportunity to have an active voice and role in their learning.
  • Provide a forum to receive candid feedback from students about IUSD student-related initiatives and services.


  • Enhance outreach, resources and communication tools for students and families.
  • Utilize the student voices and perspectives to continually improve how we effectively meet student needs through IUSD resources, services, initiatives and programs.
  • Give students the opportunity to actively engage in the development of campaigns, web resources, and other materials that will directly connect with the student community.

Each year, students from the Creekside High School and each of our five comprehensive high schools participate on the committee.  This year we had students from both hybrid and IVA academic models participate virtually.    

This year’s members include:

Creekside High School
Emily Coffman

Irvine High School
Mannat Bawa
Mia Huyhn
Alexa Wade

Northwood High School
Cameron Arcand
Jasmine Sinchai

Portola High School
Michelle Kim
Jane Zoe

University High School
Zach Haughey
Ziyad Merchant

Woodbridge High School
Olga Barbashova
Oluwatoni John
Tatsat Upadhyah

Thank you again for your engagement and partnership to improve IUSD communications and initiatives on behalf of all students. 

University and Woodbridge High Schools Finish in Top 10 at State Academic Decathlon
On the heels of winning its first Orange County Academic Decathlon in February, University High School earned seventh place overall at the state-level contest, while Woodbridge High finished one spot away in eighth place.  Congratulations to both teams!  Click here to read more about the state competition. 

Uni team members are Kiana Agahi, Elaine Chao, Vansh Goel, Adi Krishnamoorthy, Grace Lee, Donya Sharafkhanian, Arwen Wang, Sophia Wang, and Ozhan Zarifi.

Woodbridge team members are Risha Bhat, Samuel Brown, Irene Chang, Olivia Kim, Jeffrey Meredith, Sergey Mironov, Alexandra San Agustin, Iris Shen, Catherine Tsaowimonsiri, Melissa Tsaowimonsiri, and Melvin Wu.

University High School Takes First Place at Regional and National Ethics Bowl Competitions
The University High School Ethics Bowl Team took first place at both the regional and national competitions, which were held virtually this year.  The Ethics Bowl is an academic team that competes against other high schools to discuss ethical and moral frameworks as they pertain to various social, political, and economic scenarios. 

The regional and national events are sponsored by UNC-Chapel Hill.  To read more about the competition and organization, click here.

Team Coach and Advisor, Ann Campbel, said, “Our team is a new and young team.  We started our club in the fall of 2019 and competed for the first time in January 2020.  We did well but did not move past the first round.”

“We competed again this year, via Zoom, at Regionals, which was hosted by Chapman University.  To our surprise, we won that competition and earned a spot in the National competition, held at UNC, once again via zoom.  We were excited to go and knew we would learn and grow by interacting with some very formidable competitors.  Many of the schools competing were from extremely elite Ivy League prep schools. We spent two very long days on Zoom, about 10 hours each day.  By the time we reached the finals, Uni was the last public school standing, and I am proud to say, our students are the 2021 National High School Ethics Bowl Champions!”  

In total, 290 schools participated in the rigorous competition, which began in January with regionals and concluded this month with finals.  Congratulations to Uni team members Sohrob Habibi, Grace Jin, Caitlyn Liao, Chiara Rignot, Grace Wang, Mohan Xu, and Allison Yue, along with Coach Campbell.

Woodbridge High School’s Warrior Color Guard Crowned So Cal Champs
Last weekend, Woodbridge High School’s Warrior Color Guard took top honors during the virtual Southern California competition, earning two gold medals and being crowned So Cal Champions.    

“This season, guard students have worked so hard and we are so incredibly proud of these amazing kids and the season they’ve had,” said Woodbridge High Instrumental Music Teacher and Guard Director Brad Harris.  

Warrior Guard Members include: Maya Barank, Yuval Brudner, Annie Clayburn, Margaret Jenkins, Lisa Jeong, Saiyushi Kumar, Rachel Lee, Aiden Ma, Yanelly Mego, Sarina Mizui, Cynthia Nakano, Sadea Osbourne, Momo Takano and Yuka Ximu.  

Mr. Harris concluded, “Thank you to our school administration and to the District for always being supportive of our show’s message. Most importantly, thank you to all the wonderful students who made this show come to life.”

Woodbridge High School’s Jared Frazier Named a 2021 Edison Scholar
Woodbridge High School’s Jared Frazier is one of 30 high school seniors in Southern California to be named a 2021 Edison Scholar and will receive a $40,000 college scholarship to pursue his dreams in STEM.  Jared plans to major in Mechanical Engineering, where he wants to pursue electric car technology and natural gas options for vehicles.  As a presidential service awardee at Camp James and the secretary for the Sea Scouts, Jared dreams of being the first person in his family to attend a four-year university and to build tools to protect the environment and serve the community.  Click here to learn more about Jared and the Edison Scholarship program.

Northwood High School’s Nithin Parthasarathy is Helping to Fight Food Waste and Hunger
Northwood High School’s Nithin Parthasarathy is helping to fight food waste and hunger, one bagel at a time.

It all started with a visit to a local bagel shop in early 2020.  Nithin watched workers throw portions of unused bagels in the trash. It was at that moment he created a vision of turning eateries’ leftover bagels into food for the hungry.

And now, nearly a year later, his vision has turned into a non-profit business — the Zero Waste Initiative — that distributes bagels to hungry people across the county.

According to a recent article in the OC Register, Nithin has distributed more than $100,000 worth of bagels to hungry people across the county. He was also one of 10 youths nationwide to be awarded a $500 Earth Day scholarship this month from the National Society of High School Scholars Foundation.

Nithin told the Register he hopes his efforts help raise awareness about the disparity between food waste and food insecurity.  “No matter where I go to college, I want to expand,” he said. “No matter where I go, I want to continue growing this important initiative.”

Uni’s Andrei Mandelshtam is a Regeneron Science Talent Search Scholar  
University High student Andrei Mandelshtam has been named among the top 40 of the nation’s top high school scholars in the Regeneron Science Talent Search.  The finalists were selected from 1,760 highly qualified entrants based on their projects’ scientific rigor and their potential to become world-changing scientists and leaders. 

Established in 1942, this is the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science and math competition for high school seniors.  The competition was founded to offer a chance for America’s best and brightest students to present their original research to professional scientists. As a reward, each of the top 40 finalists will receive $25,000.  Some previous contestants have gone on to win the world’s top science and math honors such as the Nobel Prize and National Medal of Science.

To learn more about Andrei’s project: The Structure of the Positive Monoid of Integer-Valued Polynomials Evaluated at α in Q, click here.