INSIDE OUR SCHOOLS
My colleague, Phil Quaranta, at Pasadena’s Center for Independent Study connected me with one of his 9th grade students. He told me that she has very high grades in the courses and completes them pretty rapidly. She loves physics and wants to go to Caltech.
By Scott Phelps
I called Angie and set up an interview.
History of Schooling and Excelling in Math
Angie Coronado went to a local private school from kindergarten through 3rd grade. She then went to Norma Coombs Elementary School for 4th and 5th grades. She remembers enjoying Ms. Whitley’s 5th grade class and being on Pasadena USD Math Field Day teams, saying, “I have always been very good at math; it always came easy.” In 4th grade her team earned a gold, a silver and a bronze. In 5th grade her team won first place for the district and went on to compete at the county level. She then went to McKinley K-8 School. She was in the Math Academy in 6th grade and also during the first semester of 7th grade. She said it got too stressful to do at home during COVID. There used to be weekly tutoring but not during COVID. She said she fell a little behind. She then went to Marshall for 8th grade as it was closer to their home. She liked her 8th grade science at Marshall because they touched on physics.
In 8th grade, she started at the Center for Independent Study (CIS). Her grandparents were staying with her family, and at high risk of serious illness or death from COVID. Because of this, her mom asked if she would consider going to online school. Her sister was at CIS and liked it, so she thought why not. Her sister, Isabelle, is taking double classes this year as a 10th grader in order to finish high school early.
Getting Interested in Astrophysics and Taking a Course at Caltech
Angie said “I had to take physics in 9th grade, and I really liked it. I learned more about astrophysics (by reading about it outside of class) and that really pulled me in.” She took an Artificial Intelligence (AI) course through the Mark Cuban Foundation. She said, “I learned fundamentals about AI and how it fits into daily lives. At the end, groups had to present a concept of something we could make with AI that would help someone.” Her group’s idea was motion detector glasses for the blind, adding, “It was fun.”
Fulfilling Her Parents’ Wishes: High Expectations for Herself
At CIS she has enjoyed working with her mentor teacher, longtime Pasadena USD and CIS teacher Mr. Quaranta. During 8th grade, she had normal progress in her courses. In her 9th grade year, she finished both Math 1 classes, and completed six academic courses with very high grades. She is asking to take German as well. This semester she is excelling and will also take Physics B. Mr. Q. said she focuses on one class at a time and finishes that course before doing another one. She has a 4.0 GPA. Her lowest percentage score in her eight completed courses is 98.6%, but she wants them to be 100%. She got a 100% in three of her courses!
She is in Spanish 3 as a 9th grader. She took a placement exam and voila! Spanish is her first language, as both parents—Alvaro and Aurora Coronado–-are from Nicaragua. She was born here, but both parents spoke Spanish at home, and she learned Spanish in pre-school and in her early grades.
Angie said, “It’s always been really important to my parents that we have good schooling because they left their country to have a better life for their family. I tested into the GATE program when I went to public school, and then from there it has been opportunities they (her parents) want me to take, and I don’t mind.”
Looking to the Future and Studying Space
Angie has applied for the California State Summer School for Mathematics and Science COSMOS program this coming summer at UC Davis. According to the program’s website, it is “an intensive four-week summer residential Pre-College Program for high school students who have demonstrated an aptitude for academic and professional careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects.”
In college she wants to study astrophysics and math. Caltech is famous and close to home so she wants to apply there. Angie says, “Space is so big and there’s so much we don’t know; it’s fascinating to me. I like to know everything that I can… everything.”
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