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Honoring SBHS Top Dons

As the school year comes to an end, Santa Barbara High School celebrates our Top Dons.​​ Every year teachers from every department nominate who they think best represents their department. According to the teachers, there are usually a few names that come up for every department but ultimately they are chosen by who excelled academically, were involved in our community, showed good character and overall demonstrated what being a Don is. 

The Top Dons ceremony took place on May 23rd on the front lawn of Santa Barbara High School at 4pm. Teachers went in alphabetical order from their departments, giving a speech on what made them choose the honored student. Recipients went up to the stage to receive their award and announce where they were continuing their journey after high school.  

This year 27 students were honored, below is the list of our 2023 Top Dons along with the  department they were chosen from.

I asked a few students from this list what being Top Don felt like to them. “At first I wasn’t aware what a Top Don was, but once I was chosen, they explained what it was to me and I felt really surprised and really happy because (…) an award like that felt so far away for me and being actually recognized was really cool,” the MAD Top Don recipient, James Sanchez shared. One of yearbook’s Top Dons, Xiomari Loaeza, said that she is very thankful and happy to have been chosen. 

Congratulations to this year’s Top Dons who continue to show us what being a Don looks like !!

Sophia Chamorro – Art 

Ella MaClear – ASB

Jaxon Burford – Athletics 

Joseline Gonzalez Aguilera – AVID

Heero Bigby – Business 

Christian Sanchez – Computer Science 

Emmanuel Razo Aguilar – Culinary 

Anya McCue & Keelyn Ferguson – Dance 

Jesus Rosales Ibarra – Emergent Multilingual Learner 

Grace Wyman – English 

Anya McCue – The Forge

Josue Valdez -Instrumental Music

James Sanchez – MAD

Troy Gankas – Math

Jacob Velasquez – PE

Hattie Ugoretz – Science 

Parker Hann – Social Studies

Michael Alvarado Ruiz – Special Education

Morgan Gonthier & Destiny Ornelas – Sports Medicine 

Sofia Rakowski – Theater

Lena Szerwo – VADA

Kyle Fitton & Josue Lopez Montes – Vocal Music

Sierra Ortiz & Xiomari Loaeza Gonzalez – Yearbook

All the top dons [Image Credit: Valeria Polanco].


  • Valeria Polanco

    Valeria Polanco is a senior at Santa Barbara High School and the News Editor for The Forge. She hopes to further her education within the community and wants to use the skills she learned through the Forge throughout her educational and professional life in the future. Outside of the class she likes to read and hangout with her friends and family.

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