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Charles Beck. Photos courtesy Malibu High School
Esme Bolander
Aaron Bond
Xavier Commerford
Samantha deNicola
Kendall Ferguson
Jade King
Lana King
Ashlyn Kunnerth
Kathryn Nadeau
Janet Ann Purtell
Jai Raye
Aidan Reid
Jibriel Taha
Scott Steepleton, Editor
4:03 pm PDT June 6, 2020

Malibu High School Principal Patrick Miller has announced the 2020 valedictorians.

The 14 young men and women are a diverse group with a can-do spirit that want to see the best for themselves and the world.

The valedictorian designation “recognizes these 14 students’ incredible commitment to their learning,” Miller said in making the announcement. “To earn valedictorian, these students had to earn/achieve an ‘A’ grade in all coursework, all four years.”

Typically these students would be announced at the annual senior awards and scholarship night and then recognized at graduation, Miller said in making the announcement. But COVID-19 restrictions prohibit large group events for the time being.

“This accomplishment is no easy feat,” said the principal. “Their academic success was a result of a lot of hard work and studying, an inquisitive mind-frame, determination and intrinsic motivation to succeed, and an ability to stay organized and focused on their learning.”

The class of 2020 is the 25th graduating class in Malibu High’s history.

“We are extremely proud of all 144 of our graduating seniors,” Miller said. “The class of 2020 is a smart and talented group and we are excited for their many future successes.”


 The valedictorians

Samantha deNicola is a natural leader with a “can-do” attitude. She’s goal-oriented, tenacious and has a commitment to lifelong learning. She has the ability to take concepts from multiple disciplines to solve problems both inside and outside the classroom. Her dedication to her community is very remarkable.  

Esme Bolander is highly intelligent, hardworking and compassionate. She cares deeply about the world and her place in it. She is friendly, kind and inspiring. Her heart leads her toward service and she has dedicated much of her time helping those in need.

Aaron Bond is a responsible and caring role model. He is a talented musician, has a great sense of humor and works hard to succeed. He doesn’t take life for granted and is always spreading his positive attitude and helping others.

Ashlyn Kunnerth is clever, creative and a wonderful performing artist and musician. She puts her all into everything she does with gusto and care. Ashlyn is mature beyond her years and possesses the traits of resiliency, empathy and leadership. She cares about real-world issues and dedicates her time to support the greater good.

Jade King has a large hunger for life, learning and happiness. She sets high goals for herself and works very hard on anything she sets her mind to. She’s a dedicated athlete, scholar and friend who is always making the world a better place through her commitment to service.

Lana King is humble, caring and kind, which allows her to create meaningful relationships with those around her. She’s goal-oriented and determined to accomplish any task at hand. Her intellectual capability is strong as well as her commitment to service and athletics.

Charles Beck is an intellectual, scholar and leader. He is intelligent and curious about the world around him. He hopes to be a professor, and will no doubt be an inspiration to the next generation of students to share his knowledge and skills, to help others and make the world a better place.

Xavier Commerford is a stellar student with remarkable talent, especially in the areas of math and science. He’s also a leader in the classroom, with his peers, and on the soccer field. He cares about others and he will always embrace an opportunity to think outside the box and find solutions to any challenges.

Kendall Ferguson is incredibly responsible, empathetic and creative. She’s highly intelligent, driven and goal-oriented. Whether it’s helping humans, animals or the environment, she pours her heart into whatever sets her mind to. She has a tremendous sense of compassion and caring for the world around her.

Jibriel Taha is an outstanding student who constantly helps his teammates and classmates learn and develop. Always exhibiting impressive leadership skills, Jibriel sets high standards for accomplishing greatness and encourages others to set and meet their own goals.

Janet Ann Purtell demonstrates integrity, selflessness and compassion for people and animals alike. She is creative, always a willing participant, and extremely responsible. She has an unstoppable desire to help improve the lives of others. Her drive to succeed is admirable.

Aidan Reid is eternally upbeat and genuine. She is a bright, diligent, conscientious student who spreads positivity everywhere she goes. Aidan is an inspiration to others, always encouraging them to strive toward greatness and make good choices.

Jai Raye is thoughtful, caring, and always willing and eager to help others. He is creative, inquisitive, and respectful. Jai is appreciated for his kindness and wonderful personality, in addition to always working hard and contributing meaningfully to classroom discussions.

Kathryn Nadeau has a genuine intrinsic desire to learn and takes every opportunity to enhance her knowledge about every subject. She asks good questions, has a wonderful sense of humor, and is consistently dependable and conscientious.