Gong, Alkobadi were WUHS valedictorians

Editor's Note: In The Foothills Sun-Gazette's May 31, 2006 &#8220Graduation Celebration,” and the June 7 article &#8220Test of Teaching,” Woodlake Union High School senior Jamie Slater was identified as the valedictorian. Slater is the salutatorian. Seniors Megan Gong and Arafat Alkobadi were the high school's co-valedictorians. The Sun-Gazette apologizes to WUHS, the students and parents for the error.

Megan Gong

When it comes to academics, Megan Gong is all business! But when it comes to her career, the Woodlake Union High co-valedictorian wouldn't mind playing around.

Gong, who will attend the University of California, Los Angeles in the fall, plans to study business economics and marketing, but would like to study abroad in Japan and work for video game developer Nintendo.

&#8220That is one of my goals,” she said, &#8220but I am open to other ideas.”

Gong said that she really doesn't know where her business sensibility came from.

Jenny Gong, Megan's mother, came to the United States from China and went to school at Fresno State University, and is a financial analyst at Valley Business Bank. Megan's father did not go to college but has encouraged her to do what is best for her future. He is a part owner of General Foods Grocery store in Woodlake. Aaron, 19, is Megan's older brother, and attends University of California, Santa Barbara.

&#8220She has always been very motivated and a high-achiever” Raymond Gong, her father, said, &#8220We have just provided her with the opportunities and support for her to achieve whatever she wanted to accomplish.”

During high school Megan has been very socially active in many clubs, and joined the Skate Club to help promote building a skateboard park for Woodlake, which officially opened last week. Besides working in Key Club on community projects, Gong has also excelled in the Woodlake Tiger band, where she learned to play the xylophone, but switched to the clarinet.

According to Pace, she received the Kiwanis Club of Woodlake and Hope of America awards two years in a row as the top student in her class.

Gong is WUHS's only recipient of the Golden State Seal Merit Diploma which is awarded to students who have received outstanding test scores in all state tests, as well as being selected by her teachers for her outstanding academic achievement and citizenship.

&#8220I have always been interested in business, and remember when I was young that I enjoyed setting up a shop and pretending I had a business.”

Arafat Alkobadi

Bright, ethical, hardworking and motivated are just a few words to describe Arafat Alkobadi, said Sally Pace, Dean of Students at Woodlake Union High School.

&#8220I have had the pleasure of working with Arafat as his Academic Counselor at Woodlake Union High School for the past four years,” Pace said.

&#8220He is at the top of his class and was one of only five students selected to be guaranteed a place in the University of California Eligibility in Local Context (ELC) program.”

Academically, Arafat has been very successful. He is ranked 3 in a class of 155 senior and has a 4.15 GPA in the most rigorous academic classes Woodlake High offers as well as taking some classes at the local Community College. Arafat is always willing to work hard while participating in Basketball and working many hours for his families business.

Alkobadi earned several academic awards and scholarhips including: Air Force Math & Science Award, Wm. Merchant Valedictorian, Woodlake Rotary Club, WUHS Graduating with Honors, California Scholarship Federation, Bank of America Mathematics, Dell Scholars Program, WUHS Physics Medal, WUHS AVID Honors Medal, Ruiz 4 Kids Scholarship, Scholastic Achievement Certificate, Woodlake Lions Jack Dietz

Arafat comes from a very traditional Muslim family and he has had to work very hard at home and at school to have the opportunity to play basketball or participate in any extra curricular activities.

His father became ill last year and he had to take over the responsibility for working additional hours at the convenience store.

Arafat's ethical behavior, coupled with his outstanding work ethic, academic ability and good judgment will ensure his success in college.

He plans on majoring in business administration at a University of California or a California State University campus next year.

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