High school seniors are missing some of the school traditions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

They won’t be walking across the stage for graduation, sharing their brief message of thanks and what’s next.

The Big Bear Grizzly is spotlighting high school seniors during the next several weeks, helping to honor their accomplishments.

Email Kathy Portie at kportie.grizzly@gmail.com to set up an interview for your Big Bear High School or Chautauqua High School senior to be featured during the coming weeks.

Maddy Boone

Maddy Boone believes in giving back to the community. As president of the Big Bear High School Rotary Interact Club, she has led the organization to provide a service to senior citizens in Big Bear during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Maddy oversees the Interact delivery service as its coordinator. She has also participated five years with Odyssey of the Mind and works part-time at Del Lagos Boutique.

Maddy says she wanted to challenge herself academically, taking a full slate of AP and honors classes. Physics is a favorite subject. “I fell in love with that class,” Maddy says. “Physics is like math in pictures.”

Maddy plans to attend Crafton Hills College her first two years to take advantage of the county’s free tuition program. Then she hopes to transfer to Cal Poly Pomona to study civil engineering or aerospace engineering. “I definitely want to be an engineer,” Maddy says.

Maddy says her mother and grandmother have been her inspiration. Mrs. Carillo and Interact advisor Julann Warren have been her mentors.

Maddy says she hopes future Big Bear High School classes embrace what life has to offer and not waste the moment. “Live high school to the fullest,” Maddy says. “Enjoy every single drop.”

Daniel Grace

Sports has been big in Daniel Grace’s life. As a three-sport athlete in football, wrestling and track & field, Daniel has been a member of several Cross Valley League championship teams. He lettered two years in football and four years in wrestling. Daniel was a CIF participant in wrestling as well. “Sports has kept me together and taught me important lessons, and helped me with all of the good decisions I’m trying to make,” Daniel says.

This year Daniel also participated in Big Bear High School Time Travel Club. History is a favorite subject, he says.

Academically, Daniel is on track to finish strong after a challenging junior year. “I’m very grateful where I’m at today and thank all the people who helped me get here,” Daniel said. “My teachers helped me a lot, especially Mrs. (Catherine) Williams.”

Daniel also credits teacher Bo Kent for helping him during his senior year.

Daniel plans to enlist in the Navy following graduation. He wants to serve his four years and receive benefits that will help pay for college. His ultimate goal is to be a firefighter.

“Growing up, I’ve always had an interest in helping people,” Daniel said.

Wrestling coach Eric Seaman is one of the people Daniel said has helped mentor him. “He’s always been there for me,” Daniel said. “He helps a lot of people.”

Maria DeLeon

Art and golf have been the main after-school activities for Big Bear High School senior Maria DeLeon. “I’ve been doing art since I was 3 years old,” Maria says. “I’ve taken private lessons in painting. I took pottery in high school.”

Maria is a member of the Big Bear golf team, which has won all four league titles during her high school career. She also works part-time at 572 Social Kitchen & Lounge.

Academically, Maria enjoys history and was in AP Spanish her junior year. Maria plans to attend Crafton Hills College and major in fine arts. She wants to transfer to a four-year college and earn a degree in interior design.

“I want to work for someone first, to learn the business, and then eventually open my own business, and flip houses,” Maria says.

Maria says she has been in Big Bear since halfway through kindergarten. “I didn’t speak English at first,” Maria says. “All my teachers through the years have helped me develop.”

Maria also credits her mother for inspiration. “She has always been into interior design,” Maria says.

Maria says it’s important to work hard and enjoy the experience. “Try your best, because life is definitely hard,” Maria says. “As long as you try to do the best you are able to do, you can do what you want to do.”

Ana Melissa

Life is something to experience, according to Big Bear High School senior Ana Melissa. She’s had the complete high school experience academically, in sports and performing arts.

Ana lettered four years on the Big Bear golf team and three years on the varsity soccer team, participating in CIF competition in both sports. The golf team was league champion all four years.

Ana also volunteers with the US Adaptive Recreation Center and coaches in the Snow Summit Race Team’s development team program.

Ana has been a member of the MountainTop Strings for 11 years, participating in two European tours and the Carnegie Hall performance while playing viola. She was also second princess in the Miss Big Bear Pageant.

Academically, Ana took AP history and AP calculus her junior years. This year, Ana studied AP biology and AP English.

After high school, Ana plans to major in engineering at the University of California at Santa Cruz.

Ana says Chris Leong and Lisa Griffiths have been mentors.

Ana’s advice to underclassmen is to try not to get overwhelmed and just try your best. “Try to get involved in everything you can,” Melissa says. “The more experiences you get, the more lessons you learn. Get involved.”

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