File Photo: Rachelle Llones, the SPED (special education) class valedictorian of Palo National High School
File Photo: Rachelle Llones, the SPED (special education) class valedictorian of Palo National High School

PALO, Leyte, March 17 (PNA) — A senior secondary student from this town is awarded on Monday as one of this year’s 9th Kabayan-Ten Outstanding Public School Students (TOPS), an initiative of Kabayan Noli De Castro Foundation in partnership with the Department of Education.

Rachelle Llones, the SPED (special education) class valedictorian of Palo National High School was chosen as the academic excellence awardee for the Visayas regions.

She considered the award as “another miracle” that happened in her life after she and her entire family survived the deadly super typhoon Yolanda in 2013 that claimed the lives of her 10 schoolmates.

“Surviving Yolanda taught me how to overcome my own fears and challenges,” Llones said, adding that despite losing their house to typhoon and being away from her formal study for a month due to the destruction in her school, she remained hopeful.

“I put my trust in God,” she said.

In the SPED class of 35 students, Llones garnered an average grade of 95.52.

Aside from being the president of their Supreme Student Government (SSG), she is also the campus paper editor and an UPCAT (University of the Philippines College Admission Test) passer.

Yet, in the campus, she has always been known as simple and down-to-earth despite her academic achievements.

Lllones said she wanted to be an accountant someday.

“Thank you Kabayan Foundation for the award,” Llones said, after learning that aside from receiving the Kabayan Medal and Certificate, she will also get a cash award and full tuition fee, including miscellaneous fees and monthly allowance for the entire duration of the college course.

“This is such a humbling experience for me,” she added

Her father, Domingo, earns meager income as a carpenter while her mother, Mariafe, is an ordinary housewife.

Llones is the second among three siblings. The eldest is already in college.

“I reminded her to study hard so she can help her parents,” her school principal Socorro Ausa said.

During the awarding ceremony at the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) main office in Pasay City, she was accompanied by her mother, class adviser, and school principal.

The Parents-Teachers Association members in the school helped in defraying the plane tickets and other travel expenses of her mother so they can be together during the awarding ceremony on Monday morning.

“This is a gift to my parents,” the girl said.

Other winners for academic excellence awardees are: Ananda M. Wisely, San Jose National High School, Division in Antipolo City; Reina Joy Q. Balacuit, Bukidnon National High School in Malaybalay City; and Viq Ashley G. Alentajan, Canumay West National High in Valenzuela City.

For exemplary leadership awardees: Mark Jiro R. Raciles, Bicol Regional Science High School in Ligao City; Sherwin I. Bautista, Regional Science High School in Aklan; John Samuel J. Yap, Gusa Regional Science High School in Cagayan de Oro City; and Juvy Mae C. Lobramonte, Pinagbuhatan High School in Pasig City.

The Special achievement awardees are Cristina M. Sevillana, Tugatog National High School in Malabon City; and Al-Fattah I. Kasim, Notre Dame Village National High in Cotabato City. (PNA)