Malabago, Markell named SHHS Freshmen of the Year


June 22, 2022

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Ethan Malabago, left, and Peyton Markell were named Sweet Home High School's Freshmen of the Year.

Ethan Malabago and Peyton Markell have been named this year's Sweet Home High School Freshmen of the Year.

The award is decided by SHHS staff members based on academic achievement, extracurricular activities and community involvement.

Both students ended their freshman year with a 4.00 GPA. Both have distinguished themselves in various fields. With their selection, both will be inducted next fall into the National Honor Society.

Markell, 15, is the daughter of Eric and Rachel Markell, respectively a police officer and a teacher at Foster School.

She has an older sister, Rylee, a junior-to-be, with whom she can often be seen in close proximity.

"We basically do everything together," Peyton Markell said.

"Rylee works really hard at everything and I want to be like that all the time too. She likes helping out, and leading people."

Malabago, also 15, is the son of Ramil and Lisa Malabago, both of whom are Sweet Home High School staff members. He has a younger brother, Evan, who will be a seventh-grader in the fall.

Both freshmen have been involved in the Leadership class and Markell has been involved in the Key/Interact Club since she was a seventh-grader.

"It got shut down at the very end (of that year)," she said. "I joined back up this year."

Markell has stood out as an athlete, lettering in soccer, swimming and track as a freshman.

"I like being involved in all of them," she said of sports and other activities. "I like being athletic and playing sports, and I like helping people out."

Both were surprised to receive the award. Malabago said he was conversing with a friend when the announcement was made, and didn't hear his name.

When he was summoned to the office – where his mother is a school counselor – to receive the award, "I thought I was in trouble," he said.

Markell said she was "really happy."

"I do a lot of stuff," she said. "It just made me feel good that people noticed. Knowing that the teachers voted was pretty cool.

"I volunteer a lot," she said. "Mostly through Leadership and Interact."

One of her favorite activities, she said, has been helping with the three blood drives held last year at the high school.

"I really just liked helping out with them. I liked recruiting people to come and help, to give blood."

Malabago said he hasn't competed in sports in high school, but he enjoys working out and playing the piano.

"I'm self-taught," he said. "I just enjoy playing for family, for myself. I've participated in a couple of talent shows."

He also helps his father, the school district's audio-visual technician, working last summer for the district as a technician himself.

"I helped with 'Manley Jobs' (videos about outdoor careers produced by SHHS Natural Resources teacher Blake Manley), and I've live-streamed school board meetings and I did last year's and this year's graduations," Malabago said.

"My dad really loves audio and video stuff. He's always doing it at home, so I picked it up and eventually started helping out a little bit."

Both said their families provide examples and encouragement.

"My family helps me be really successful – along with working hard at everything," Markell said. "It's easier and better if you work hard, if people support you.

Malabago said his parents are "awesome, they're really good people to look up to."

"They're always approachable about anything. I feel like I could ask any question and they'd answer without thinking about it. They're supportive."

Both said they are aiming to maintain their perfect grades.

"I would really like to get a 4.00 by the end and I would like to keep getting letters for all my sports," Markell said. "I'd also like to be more involved in activities at the school."

She said she "has no idea" what she might do once her high school career is complete.

Malabago, who said his favorite subject is math, said he's also shooting for a 4.00 before he heads off to pursue a career involving "something in computes or engineering."

"They're good kids," said Tomas Rosa, who teaches the high school's Leadership class, in which both are involved.

He noted that Malabago helped launch student-operated video announcements for the high school, and with other telecommunications tasks.

"He kind of learned from the best," Rosa said. "He is a quiet kid, but he jumps in. He's a pretty positive guy who does whatever's needed.

"He's more of a behind-the-scenes kind of guy, but he's really good behind the scenes."

Markell, he said, is "more outgoing.

"She's kind of your kid that wants to be involved in everything and helps out with everything. If there's a need, she'll jump in. She's a worker."


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