News from Patrick Henry High School – Nov. 17, 2017

By Elizabeth Gillingham

Volley for the Cure

In support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Patrick Henry High School (PHHS) girls volleyball team participated in several activities. They began by hosting Liz Maracheau, a PHHS mom and breast cancer survivor, who spoke to the team about her journey. The girls were able to ask her questions and have an engaging discussion with her.

On Oct. 10, the team held their “Volley for the Cure” games against Coronado High, wearing pink warm-up jerseys, pink socks and pink ribbons. The back of the jerseys had “We Play For” written above the list of names of people that each girl knew who had been affected by cancer. The team dedicated the games to those individuals. All three teams, varsity, JV and freshman, won their Volley for the Cure matches. To raise funds that will be donated to the American Cancer Society, the girls sold pink bracelets and baked goods, raising almost $300 to help in the fight against cancer.

The JV girls volleyball team took second place in the JV Fall Classic Tournament held last month in Poway. After playing Torrey Pines, Rancho Bernardo and La Jolla Country Day, the girls advanced to the Silver Bracket, where they beat Ramona 32-30 in round one, and beat San Miguel in the semi-finals 25-13, before losing to Mission Vista in the finals, 28-26.

PHAME wins Orchid for architecture

PHHS is proud to report that they were selected by the San Diego Architectural Foundation (SDAF) to receive the coveted Orchid Award for outstanding building design that was reviewed by the SDAF.

Orchids & Onions is the only interactive, community-based program geared toward raising awareness and encouraging practical discourse in response to San Diego’s built environment. Nominations and feedback are given from a website. Based on the interest, a jury of design professionals was selected to determine the official Orchids and Onions based upon public submissions in categories including: architecture, interior design, landscape architecture, historic preservation and miscellaneous. The ‘Miscellaneous’ category encompasses anything and everything that the existing categories do not, including public art, environmental graphics, and sustainable design. Nominations are accepted year-round, with the nomination period closing in August.

The new performing arts building at Patrick Henry is this year’s winner of an orchid Award for outstanding design.

While giving the award, the following citation was read regarding the selection of Patrick Henry High School’s Orchid Award:

“The Patrick Henry High School Arts, Media & Entertainment Center and Production Studio (PHAME) building is a comprehensive revitalization project seeking to transform the community through collaborative use. The jury said the enthusiasm was infectious from school leadership as they explained the value of the facility for their students. What could have been a typical bare bones building has become a sense of pride that makes the students feel special and inspires creativity. The jury noted that this Orchid stands an example of the positivity that good architecture can have on education. This building was smart, the materials were simple and the colors were fresh!”

Student of the Month

Student of the Month Cody Lefler

Cody Lefler is a senior at Henry and was selected as the second PHHS Student of the Month for this school year. Lefler was honored during the Grantville/Allied Garden Kiwanis Club meeting last month by vice principal Jennifer Pacofsky.

Lefler was nominated because of his commitment to many facets of the school. He is noted for always having a smile on his face and always being willing to help any staff or student. He spends a lot of time off campus involved with our special needs population. He participates in the Down Syndrome Buddy Walk and supports Exceptional Athletes by cheering on present and past students. He excels in academics including AP classes, sports, and leadership roles on campus. Lefler also participates on the football team, soccer, tennis, Circle of Friends, Link Crew and ASB.

“Cody is one of the nicest kids that I know and he is super respectful and kind,” said one of his teachers.

“Cody is positive, works hard, doesn’t give up in the face of obstacles and brings together the students around him,” said another one of his teachers. “Cody has the perfect mix of attitude and respect. He can make you laugh and also be the one that realizes someone is having a bad day and say a kind word or just be there for his friends. His respect for himself and others makes him a wonderful human being to be around.”

‘The Ultimate’ returns to PHHS

Paul Vaden, 1986 alumni extraordinaire, visited PHHS last month to share his career path and how his dedication toward being the best in what he wanted to do played out in his life. He spoke to over 1,200 students sharing his memories from Henry and how he had envisioned himself coming back and presenting his success through boxing competitions some day.

Paul “The Ultimate” Vaden was born on Dec. 29, 1967 in San Diego, California and dreamed of becoming a world boxing champion since 4 years old. On Aug. 12, 1995, Vaden achieved his lifelong goal and to this day, Vaden remains the only native San Diegan to become a professional world boxing champion.

Boxer and Henry alumnus Paul Vaden and principal Elizabeth Gillingham

Vaden started his 23-year boxing career at the age of 8. Known then as “Kid Ultimate,” Vaden had a highly accomplished amateur career traveling the world and compiling an outstanding amateur record of 327–10. It wasn’t until he was 11 that his coach discovered he was left-handed and started teaching him how to box southpaw. In 1990, Vaden became the United States National Amateur Light-Middleweight champion. Vaden was also a bronze medal winner in the 71 kg (156 pounds) division at the 1990 Goodwill Games.

Vaden turned pro April 5, 1991, now campaigning as “The Ultimate,” and began his career with 18 consecutive wins. On March 25, 1994, he won the IBF Inter-Continental Junior Middleweight title with a 12-round unanimous decision over veteran John Montes. On Aug. 12, 1995, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas as a decided underdog, Vaden defeated Vincent Pettway by 12th round TKO to win Pettway’s IBF 154-pound title.

In all, Vaden’s professional boxing career held a record of 29 wins, three losses, and 16 KOs. He won the 1994 IBF Inter-Continental 154-pound title, 1995 IBF Junior Middleweight World title, 1999 USBA 154-pound title, and was inducted into the California Boxing Hall of Fame in 2009. On Feb. 16, 2016, Vaden became the third boxer to ever be inducted into the Breitbard Hall of Fame. This prestigious honor can be found inside San Diego’s Petco Park Stadium.

After retiring from boxing, he began commentating for boxing telecasts on TV and served as the Global Health Advisor for Qualcomm, Inc. It was during this time he realized that he could help motivate and encourage others through his own experiences, which led to the start of his training programs, motivational seminars, and corporate wellness programs.

Vaden’s message is universal: “Answer the bell.” This message uplifts, inspires and most of all, conditions professionals in every scenario to strive for excellence in business, life and physical health.

In 2013, Vaden published his first book “Answer the Bell: Inventing Your Life as a Champion.” The book gives his readers a first-hand account of his own personal challenges as a boxer; beginning with the Jackie Robinson YMCA, and including the peak of his career at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Hotel & Casino.

Today, Vaden is a consultant and keynote speaker for several companies throughout the nation. He is also a published author, advisor, TV commentator, mentor, coach, and motivational speaker. Currently, a documentary short film about his life, “Vaden Versus,” is touring film festivals throughout the globe.

Also dedicated to the San Diego community, Vaden serves on boards for both the San Diego Chapter for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) as well as the National Conflict Resolution Center (NCRC). In addition to his role on the board, he is also the celebrity spokesperson for the JDRF.

With a disarming blend of candor, honesty and hopefulness, his counsel allows people to reach new personal peaks and face life’s daily challenges head-on.

Broadcast Class is looking for alumni

As part of our celebration of the new Performing Arts & Media Center (PHAME), PHHS is conducting a series of interviews with influential people who have had an impact on our school and community. Our first guest was Paul Vaden who recently spoke to classes in the theater and was later interviewed by broadcast journalism students about his life, boxing career and his work today as a motivational speaker. His interview can be viewed at the Patrick Henry High School’s webpage under the “Broadcast Journalism” link.

Mark Abbott is PHHS’s broadcast journalism teacher and he is looking for alumni who would be willing to sit down and participate in a quick interview in our new facility.

“Your words and thoughts can have an enormous impact on high school students and the broadcast allows you to reach a large audience by sharing only a small amount of your time,” Abbott said. “Please consider this opportunity to give back to the school and community in this very rewarding and impactful way.”

Interested persons should contact Abbott at or 619-889-3395.

Student receives Society of Women Engineers award

Patrick Henry High School student, Maya Rozenshteyn, has been honored with the SWENext Global Innovator Award for her engagement in the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) community, her solid understanding of engineering principles, her role in serving her own community and her strong leadership skills. Maya will be honored alongside her peers at a formal ceremony at the SWE annual conference and career fair on Oct. 27 in Austin, Texas.

SWE is an international nonprofit organization that supports women in engineering. SWENext is SWE’s program for girls 18 and under to get involved in the organization, learn more about engineering and receive access to resources that support their interest in engineering. SWENext has allowed Rozenshteyn to connect with women engineers and strategize solutions to address her concerns on the lack of female participation in engineering. Rozenshteyn started the SWENext Club at Henry, the first in the region.

Maya Rozenshteyn (YouTube)

“SWENext is an opportunity for SWE to nurture our future generation of engineers, providing them with resources to help them learn more about engineering and exposing them to other women engineers who can help them along the way,” said Randy Freedman, director of student programs at SWE. “This is the second year of our SWENext Awards program, and we couldn’t be more pleased with the level of enthusiasm and commitment these girls already have to a future in engineering. Maya has been an exemplary role model in her community, and we are confident that with her passion for engineering, and her commitment to the community, Maya will do great things.”

Rozenshteyn is a junior and is interested in both mechanical engineering and computer science. She runs cross country, is a member of the California Scholarship Federation, secretary of Catalyst for Success, and president of the Architecture and Construction Engineering Club and the Engineering Student Council.

As SWENext Club President, Rozenshteyn supervises the planning of club outreach events aimed to foster middle school girls’ interest in STEM through speaker panels and interactive projects. She also connects girls in the club to local STEM professionals and teaches them the ins and outs of networking. As president of her school’s Engineering Student Council, she serves as the bridge between the school and community, working with other students, teachers, parents and engineers to improve upon local engineering events and classes, including STEM day, where fifth graders across the county congregate at her school to learn about STEM fields. Rozenshteyn is also youth outreach chair at her synagogue.

In 2016, Rozenshteyn interned at the USS Midway, redesigning the audio tour to make it more accessible for the impaired. She won third place at the highly competitive Chevron Design Challenge State Finals. In summer 2017, she was selected for the prestigious Young Scholars Internship at San Diego State University, conducting research to characterize polyurea microspheres and their impact mitigating properties.

“Hopi elders once declared that, ‘We are the ones we have been waiting for.’ We have the power to incite change in the world. I, for one, hope to be a mover and shaker in the STEM community and inspire others to be active STEM participants as well,” Rozenshteyn said.

For more information about SWENext, visit For more information about the Society of Women Engineers, visit

—Elizabeth Gillingham is principal of Patrick Henry High School.

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