A headshot of Areli LopezWhen I first met Areli Lopez, she was very poised, confident and focused. Had this been a job interview, she would have been considered a master.

She later told me that one of her first high school teachers told her to work hard, play hard, but work hard first. She guided her academic life from that quote and as a result of that, she has worked hard.

Areli, a senior at Middle College High School, is currently enrolled in three classes at San Bernardino Valley College: English 104, Economic 100 and Math 253. The math class is equivalent to college level calculus.

Areli is the ASB (Associated Student Body) President at her school and is involved in many extra-curricular activities. Her duties are to work in harmony with all students and staff members so that the campus can be a friendly atmosphere. She is looked upon as the one to represent all students at all times.

As a Peer Leader on campus, she is involved in freshman orientation and freshman seminar where she and others hold workshops for incoming students. Their coaching includes time management, stress reducers, study habits and other strategies to become successful high school students.

She is also involved in cyber security, a program where the school partnered with California State University students to gain knowledge on protecting computers, programs and data from unintended or unauthorized access.

That’s not all.

Areli is a member of the school’s Focus Group where twenty students meet with the principal weekly to discuss what’s needed to improve the school climate. One of the outcomes was establishing a process for student recognition. Students receive pins that can be used as lapel pins or they can attach them to their lanyards honoring them for their special recognition.

The Focus Group also assists with welcoming students before the first day of school and assist in providing them breakfast. They continue to work on solutions for positive classroom behaviors.

Areli is a member of the Interact Club and they’re busy in the community where she can be seen cleaning the parks in the city. She is involved in her church, serving as a youth group leader. In this position, she helps her peers at church learn how to be successful in the classes.

She also helps the church and the community by collecting and distributing clothing and distributing food to the people in Seccombe Park.

Areli, even with her busy schedule, finds time to work. Actually, she has two jobs. She works at her former middle school and also works at the college by assisting one of her professors. Her plans are to attend college and began her career by teaching at the college level.

Thank you Areli by keeping it in perspective – work hard, play hard, but work hard first.

By Margaret Hill, Columnist. The San Bernardino County Sun.