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Grad leaves lasting impact on Adelante

Student moves to Roseville after losing both parents; becomes campus leader
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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Three weeks passed before new student David Echols made a friend at Adelante High School in Roseville.

So later, when other kids showed up for their first day on campus, he'd approach them and say hello. He had since made several friends and didn't want others to feel the initial loneliness he had experienced.

"I didn't want that to happen to another student," he said.

But offering friendship wasn't the only impact Echols, 18, left on Adelante, the school from which he'll graduate on May 30. He also started new clubs, and presided over a few others.

"He stepped up almost immediately, getting involved in clubs and activities on campus," said Principal Suzanne Laughrea. "He began two clubs that were very popular with students."

One of those is the Gay Straight Alliance with about 30 members by the time Echols completed his units in February.

"There were a lot of bisexuals and gays on campus and everybody was feeling intimated and bullied," Echols said. "I started the club to help bring awareness to the campus. ... The school became like a huge family. Everyone protected each other."

This sort of camaraderie is what he hoped for when he started at Adelante two years ago, after moving from Clearlake to Roseville to live with his aunt. His mother left when he was young and his father died during his teens. His brother had also passed away.

"Even though I've had bad luck, I turn it around and make it good," Echols said. "At Adelante, everyone has something in common. Their parent died, or is incarcerated. I was right there in the middle of it all and it was comforting for me to be there because everyone knew my situation and I never felt alone."

He became a campus leader.

He cofounded the Adelante Success Club to help students prepare resumes and job applications. Serving as president of Interact Club was Echols' favorite experience. The group, which partners with Roseville Rotary, conducts community service projects.

"I was the type of student that tried to get every kid to be part of something," he said.

This year, Adelante staff selected Echols to represent the school for eight weeks as student representative for the Roseville Joint Union High School District board of trustees. He was also voted president of the school site council/English Learner Advisory Committee.

"Even after he graduated early in the year, he continued to lead our meetings," Laughrea said.

Echols graduated with a 4.0 grade point average and works two retails jobs at the Westfield Galleria at Roseville, and has enrolled in fall classes at Sierra College. He plans to transfer to California State University, Sacramento and become a forensic pathologist.

But his time with Adelante is not quite done. Last week, staff selected him to speak at graduation.

"David has overcome so much adversity and we are so proud of what he's accomplished at our school," Laughrea said. "(He) has made Adelante a better school because of his contributions."

Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at SenaC_RsvPT.