Mount Madonna School Class of 2024

Class of 2024: Valedictorian, Salutatorians and Seniors’ College Choices

Mount Madonna School Class of 2024Mount Madonna School (MMS) is pleased to announce Ona Musoll-Buendia as the 2024 valedictorian and Anya Gonzalez and Emma Monclus as salutatorians. These students earned this distinction through hard work and focused effort, edging out their peers at the Central Coast school known for strong academics, environmental education, learning journeys, performing arts and scholar athletes. The 2024 high school graduation ceremony will be held at the school’s upper campus on Thursday, June 13 at 10:30am.

“The graduating class is comprised of academically strong, talented and creative students who are ethically minded,” commented Head of School Ann Goewert. “I am proud of Ona Musoll-Buendia, valedictorian, and Anya Gonzalez and Emma Monclus, co-salutatorians, for their hard work and personal accomplishments. These individuals are scholars, caring friends, athletes and budding scientists.”

Musoll-Buendia will attend the California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly) and plans to major in environmental science.

Ona Musoll Buendia Mount Madonna School 2024 Valedictorian.jpg med“I chose Cal Poly because of its ‘learn by doing’ philosophy,” said Musoll-Buendia, who came to MMS in the seventh grade. “During my time as a Mount Madonna School student, I have been very grateful for teacher Nicole Silva Culbertson. She is an inspiration to me because of her love for the topics that she teaches. She is very passionate and loves what she does, which translates to her students being interested and eager to learn.”

Gonzalez will attend Gonzaga University, where she plans to study nursing.

“One factor in my decision to choose Gonzaga is because of its well-established, direct-entry nursing program,” said Gonzalez. “Other factors that are important to me are the university’s social environment and school spirit.”

Gonzalez began attending Mount Madonna School in kindergarten, and like classmate Musoll-Buendia, says teacher Nicole Silva Culbertson has positively influenced her education.

“I am incredibly grateful for Nicole Silva Culbertson,” said Gonzalez. “She teaches with such grace and humor, and her dedication and hard work never fail to inspire me.”

Monclus is choosing to attend the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) and will study biomedical engineering.

“Some factors for me in choosing UC Davis were the beautiful campus, you can bike everywhere, second-year housing is easier to find, and it is relatively closer to home,” said Monclus.

Monclus joined Mount Madonna School in seventh grade and says teacher Sam Lee is someone she looks up to.

“Sam Lee always teaches his class with excitement and passion,” she said. “This encourages his students to try their hardest in his class and have fun while doing so. Even though the class is super-fast paced, Sam Lee does a wonderful job of thoroughly explaining the lesson of the day with infinite patience for us.”

In addition to these students, Mount Madonna School’s Class of 2024 includes 13 other students. The students are listed below with their college choices.

Beatrice Miller, University of Washington; Bella Sol Padilla, Santa Barbara City College; Cooper Padilla, Berklee College of Music; Cy Harris, University of California, Santa Cruz; Erik Howley, University of Hawaii, Manoa; Erin Kavitsky, University of Portland; Ethan Lee, Cabrillo College; Irulan Cockrum, San Francisco State University; Isaiah Orozco, Sacramento State University; Logan Shaw, University of California, Davis; Peter S., San Jose State University; Sophia Manzur, University of California, Los Angeles; and Wyatt Adams, Santa Barbara City College.

Emma Monclus Mount Madonna School 2024 Co Salutatorian .jpg medMount Madonna’s Head of School shared well wishes for the Class of 2024.

“Mount Madonna School’s graduating class of 2024 is committed to academic and personal excellence,” said Goewert. “I am proud of these passionate and talented young scholars. They will attend some of the finest universities and prestigious programs. May the senior class continue to develop their capacity to think independently and advocate for change.”

Recently, several of the soon-to-be graduates took time to reflect on their college choice, planned studies, and MMS teachers who inspire them.

Beatrice Miller: “I chose the University of Washington because I love the college. As regards inspiring MMS teachers, I would say Sara Sobkoviak. She is my coach and teacher and an overall caring mentor.”

Bella Sol Padilla: “I plan to study sociology at Santa Barbara City College, as I want to remain in California. The MMS teacher who inspires me is Shannon Kelly, because she has been so helpful throughout my senior year and she is such a genuinely good human being.”

Cy Harris: I am choosing to attend the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) because it was my top college for a long time. I love my hometown and UCSC is the perfect location, because I get to stay close to home. I love the ocean and the forest and it has both. I plan on majoring in education and getting my teaching credential. At MMS, I am particularly grateful for Shannon Kelly. Her class has meant a lot to me and I’ve learned so much from it. I think she is an inspiring teacher and person.” 

Irulan Cockrum: “I am planning to go to San Francisco State University and then transfer to Parsons School of Design once I complete my general education. I made this decision for financial reasons, and it is important for me to know that I’ll be immersed in a good program that’ll prepare me to transfer.

“At MMS, I am super inspired by Shannon because she helps me so much with teaching me concepts that I genuinely love to learn about. Her way of teaching is engaging and extremely touching. She also took us to India and DC which was very powerful and I’m grateful for her. She also made me feel confident about my decision to choose SFSU over Parsons which I was and still am extremely sad about. With her guidance, I now feel more secure and heard. Shannon cares so deeply for her students and connects with us. I love Shannon so much. 

Isaiah Orozco: I am choosing to commit to Sacramento State University to pursue a B.S. in construction management. The school has an amazing campus with so much to offer, as well as their prestigious and accredited construction management program.

“At MMS, the teacher I am most grateful for is Shannon Kelly, whose class and curriculum have definitely helped to shape my newly found perspectives on many topics and life opportunities.” 

Sophia Manzur: “I am choosing to attend the University of California, Los Angeles. I wanted to be part of a program that will push me out of my comfort zone and help me grow as an artist, while also supporting my general education and allowing me to learn new things outside of theater.

“As regards inspiring MMS teachers, I would have to say Sampad Kachuck. Without him being able to create a safe space when I was in middle school to express myself, I wouldn’t have been able to find the joy that theater brings me. Sampad taught me that being a theater maker is not about performing, rather it is about collectively sharing your heart with the people around you, which will soon be your forever family.” 


Contact: Leigh Ann Clifton, director of marketing & communications,

Nestled among the redwoods on 380 acres, Mount Madonna School (MMS) is a diverse learning community dedicated to creative, intellectual and ethical growth. MMS supports its students in becoming caring, self-aware, discerning and articulate individuals; and believes a fulfilling life includes personal accomplishments, meaningful relationships and service to society. The program, accredited by the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) and Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), emphasizes academic excellence, creative self-expression and positive character development. Located on Summit Road between Gilroy and Watsonville. Founded in 1979.


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