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Students shine at Les Miller event

Chamber of Commerce hosts breakfast to celebrate the best Costa Mesa students. This year was the first for Costa Mesa United awards.

May 18, 2012|By Steve Virgen
  • Costa Mesa High School student Matthew Morgan, left, listens as Principal Phil D'Agostino speaks of his outstanding achievements, including a 4.68 GPA, during the 33rd annual Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce Les Miller Outstanding Student Awards and Scholarship Recognition Breakfast.
Costa Mesa High School student Matthew Morgan, left,… (DON LEACH, Daily…)

Impressive. Incredible. Amazing.

These are words to describe the scholars and student-athletes honored at the 33rd annual Les Miller Outstanding Student Awards presented by the Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce on Friday morning at the Costa Mesa Hilton.

The words certainly fit Matthew Morgan. Those and one more: genius.

Matthew, 15, is set to graduate from Costa Mesa High two years early with a weighted 4.68 grade-point average. In the fall, he'll attend California Institute of Technology to major in mathematics.

He said he was encouraged to move to higher grades when he was in the fourth grade at Killybrooke Elementary School. Three years later, he was tackling ninth-grade classes and those were too easy.

When reading off Matthew's accomplishments, Principal Phil D'Agostino said Matthew missed three questions on his SAT practice test.

"He can levitate objects," D'Agostino joked.

And then he gave a bit of a take-that to the Dos Equis pitchman, saying Matthew is the most interesting man in the world.

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"It's flattering," said Matthew, whose aspirations can be put simply.

"I just want to do math. I enjoy it, and that's all I really want to do."

Matthew, who competed in cross-country and track and field, also enjoys video games and movies.

On Facebook, he lists his favorite quote as "I don't believe in no-win situations," from "Star Trek's" Capt. James T. Kirk.

Among the students honored from Mesa, Estancia, Back Bay and Monte Vista high schools, Orange Coast College and Vanguard University, four received the inaugural Distinguished Athlete Award from Costa Mesa United, the group that has helped fund several local athletic facility projects. Each of the four was given a $500 scholarship.

The quartet — Costa Mesa's Brooke Wanbaugh and Trace Curet; Estancia's Christina Brown and Jake Knapp — typified the students at the breakfast.

Wanbaugh, a cheerleader with a 4.02 GPA, is headed to UC Santa Barbara to major in political science and environmental law. She is Costa Mesa's yearbook editor, pep rally coordinator and was involved a freshman mentor.

She's also not one to steal the spotlight. When the Costa Mesa cheerleaders form a pyramid, she's the one in the back, spotting the girl who goes to the top.

But that doesn't mean she is shy or timid.

"I've always been the kind of person who strives to achieve higher," she said. "I like to challenge myself."

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