The high school senior is student body president, and also served as class president in ninth and 10th grades. Being a part of the associated student body was one of the most valuable experiences at Crescenta Valley High, he said.
"ASB kind of opened doors to everything else … socially, getting to know teachers, making new friends," he said. "It taught me self-respect, knowing that the student body trusted you to lead them and represent the students, it's really humbling."
Winning the Falcon Award was also humbling because the other finalists were so well qualified in terms of academics, he said. Ryon went up against five other finalists — some who are headed for distinguished colleges, others who excel at a certain discipline, all winners of multiple accolades and volunteers in many organizations. The six finalists were whittled down from 11 semifinalists and an initial pool of 32 Crescenta Valley High seniors.
"He has a very good sense of humor and he's good with [people of] every age and he has a very good heart," his mother, Afsaneh Tanara said.
Choosing from such an accomplished group of candidates was difficult, said 17-year-old Erin Gustafson, chairwoman of the award committee.
"There was some disagreement — but, in the end, we agreed on Ryon," she said. "The committee is very happy with the decision."
The Falcon Award committee raised funds for the prizes that went along with the accolades — $75 for each of the five semifinalists, $250 for five finalists and $1,000 for the winner.
Students were responsible for nearly every part of the award — including the reception after the awards assembly, preparing the slide show during the assembly, introducing the finalists and choosing the winners.
"Every other award is chosen by adults," said math teacher Pat Rabe, who acted as the student committee's advisor. "There's something about the students choosing. The kids that are doing the selecting, they actually know that the [candidates] were doing their stuff in all the activities they're a part of."
ANTHONY KIM covers education. He may be reached at (818) 637-3238 or by e-mail at anthony.h.kimlatimes.com.