As SKPS students begin the start of their summer break, the Class of 2022 will continue to inspire others for years to come. 

Today, we highlight a Class of 2022 graduate from South Salem High School, Rachelle Zavalza-Arellano. 

An Inspiration for school leaders & students alike

“Rachelle is an absolute inspiration for me,” said South Salem High School Principal Lara Tiffin. “She has gone from being an English Language Learner, to becoming an International Baccalaureate diploma candidate, meaning she has taken our most rigorous classes.” 

Rachelle is an example of how students in the Class of 2022 not only overcame incredible obstacles, but also prioritized their success and looked out for the wellbeing of others. 

Throughout her time at South Salem High School, Rachelle was a familiar face at many school activities, clubs and initiatives, including being one of the leaders in developing the first cross school collaborative effort of “Latino Week,” which aims to highlight many of the cultures and backgrounds represented by Salem-Keizer students. 

“Rachelle has worked very hard throughout her time in school,” said South Salem High School Community School Outreach Coordinator Liza Rodriguez. “She is a champion of all students, with a very big heart and a very global perspective on the world.”


Active engagement with her Saxon family & the community

Rachelle was also an example of the ability of our young people to engage with the community to create improved environments for all students. 

“As the niece of a Mexican elementary school teacher, I was repeatedly reminded of the challenges students face accessing educational resources and the privilege it is to receive an education in the US,” said Rachelle. “Growing up with these conversations, I have always been interested in researching the different educational systems across the country.”

During her time as an SKPS student, Rachelle was actively engaged in improving systems. Below are just a few of the ways Rachelle supported her education, our community and schools: 

  • Willamette Academy
  • Pineros Y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste; Student Intern
  • Oregon Department of Education; Student Advisor
  • ConnectOregonStudent; Academic Tutor
  • Latino Club; Club President
  • DECA; Membership Director
  • Key Club; Vice-President
  • SKPS Equity Committee
  • Spanish Honor Society

Plans for the future

This fall, Rachelle plans to attend Stanford University with an interest in pursuing a career as an educator and potentially returning to the SKPS community. 

We can’t wait to see all that you accomplish, Rachelle! 

Rachelle and friends in graduation gowns

“I am so proud of the Class of 2022,” said SSHS Principal Tiffin. “They have been through a lot. They came back this year as the only students that had been in our building for a full year since COVID. A lot of responsibility fell on them to continue our traditions and make sure they modeled the inclusive culture of South. They did that and more.”