The Class of 2020 might have celebrated graduation unlike any beforehand, but the tradition of honoring top students remained untouched.
Coming in with GPAs of 4.48 and 4.38, Kaya Napachoti and Savannah Luy were respectively named Liberty High School’s valedictorian and salutatorian.
With a flare for the theater, Kaya spent three years with the Liberty Playmakers, during which time, she participated in the cast and technical production of six shows. She helped run the productions, creating material and music as a dramaturg.
Kaya said she genuinely loved every history class she’d taken over the years, but she went on to say each one of her teachers had been an incredible driving force in her education. She added that much of her individual success was thanks to her history and art teachers who helped cultivate her interests.
“I’m very thankful for Melissa Hatlen, Liberty’s AP world history and AP capstone teacher,” she said. “I have had her for three years straight as a teacher, and she has taught me so much history, sociology and theory. She has been incredibly influential to my values and goals as a learner and as a person, and so much of my success has been through her support and advice.”
She noted the Liberty salutatorian, Savannah, along with the other top 10 students at her school to be incredibly supportive.
“I am honored to be named valedictorian for Liberty High School, and I’m also so proud of the salutatorian and the rest of the top 10,” she said.
Kaya will attend UCLA in the fall and has plans to major in business economics and art history.
“Kaya has been very involved in our theater program here at Liberty along with our Model UN club and Multicultural Club,” said Liberty Principal Heather Harper. “Her goal is to become an art director where she can combine her passion for the arts and business to lead teams in creating marketing materials for companies of the future.”
Kaya’s mother, Tawny Diberardino, said her daughter’s success was something she accomplished all on her own.
“As her mom, I’ve seen her dedicate so much of her time to theater and school for years,” Diberardino said. “She has reached her goals independently, and I couldn’t be more proud.”
As the salutatorian, Savannah was involved with the National Honor Society and California Honors Society. Outside of school, she also taught computer science, ran a photography business and enjoyed sewing her own prom dresses. In recent months, she used those skills to help create and donate masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.
She noted her favorite teacher to be Mrs. Weise.
“She was just the best person to look forward to in the morning of my junior year,” Savannah said. “She truly made an effort to help each individual student, whether that be academically or something outside of that manner. She gave me the confidence to be good at calculus and, overall, the confidence to just pursue what I wanted to … I also owe it to all of my teachers! I’ve had the best teachers at Liberty, and I always say that they truly made my high school experience. I am so lucky to have teachers that motivated me, encouraged me and gave me confidence in what I do.”
Savannah also gave a nod to those other students named in Liberty’s academic top 10, stating they shared a mutual respect for one another. But she credited her success to her parents and sister, who were always there to support her.
“They left me studying and unbothered on those long nights before class the next morning,” she said. “They believed and trusted my abilities.”
Savannah will attend University of California, Davis, and plans to major in computer science and engineering.
“Savannah not only excelled in the classroom but was very active in our leadership program, Special Olympics and yearbook,” Harper said. “Savannah has shown a passion for creativity in the areas of photography, clothes design and computer coding.”
Naturally, Savannah’s mother, Deborah Cha, is extremely proud.
“She constantly speaks to balance out social inequalities and inspires other young girls around her,” Cha said. “Her status is well deserved, because of how I watched her put in the work for it.”