She strives to live by the Golden Rule, thinking of how she would feel if she were in another’s shoes, and now, Lassen High School senior Isabella Geoia is the first We Are Lassen Graduate — a newly founded honor, bent on recognizing one graduate who embodies the character attributes detailed in the program’s identity — welcoming, excellence, respectful, loyal, authentic, strong, successful, engaged and noble.
Geoia wasn’t initially aware why she’d be pulled in front of her peers during the May 14 Signing Day Assembly with some other seniors.
“I was nervous standing in front of the whole school,” she recalled.
Standing up there along with the other nominated students she thought for sure someone else would get it — but it was her name announced in the student-filled gym.
“I was really happy, but also shocked,” Geoia said. “It was really fun and really exciting.”
The idea for a We Are Lassen Graduate stemmed from a student group, representing a mix of different students, according to assistant principal Josh Blackburn.
“Why don’t we recognize character,” Blackburn said the group asked.
So, the students quickly set up some guidelines for the position: The student must have been a Lassen High School student for three years, and they cannot have any suspensions.
“It was completely student-driven,” said Blackburn.
From there, teachers nominated 12 students who they believed were great models of the We Are Lassen program. Ten of those qualified — Geoia, AJ Fong, Tamsen Malone, Julianna Nelson, Finn Obsorn, Brittney Patton, Damari Shannon, Carbin Spafford, Ellie Stewart and Becky Struthers.
With this title, Geoia is invited to give a speech and will sit third during the graduation, behind the valedictorian and salutatorian.
Geoia is the17-year-old middle daughter of three to Paul and Laura Geoia.
Born in the old Susanville Hospital, she has lived in Janesville all her life and has spent much of her time raising eight pigs as part of 4-H, participating in Teen Court, the STEM club, of which she is president and many other service and extra-curricular activities.
She also participated in basketball, field hockey, softball and this year did track and field.
In her everyday actions, though, she tries to keep others’ feelings in mind and believes the Golden Rule, “Treat others the way you would like to be treated,” is important.
“I strive to always do the right thing even when it is hard. I also believe it is important to keep promises, and respect yourself and others,” she said.
And those who nominated her believed she embodies those character traits.
“Bella is always one of the students counseling asks to show new students around. She is friendly, always says hi to everyone and genuinely wants to know if you’re having a good day,” read one of the comments with her nomination.
“Bella changes herself for no one. She is not afraid to be herself and is not motivated by accolades. She is so unique,” continued another comment.
Another nominator wrote, “she has countless hours of documented community and school service. She never misses an assignment. She gives her all to everything she does. She is also outgoing.”
“Bella has integrity. She strives to always do the right thing, even when no one is looking. She is a role model to all. She is a true patriot. She is kind, loving, accepting of everyone. There are a few people whom I would/ could nominate, but Bella stands out as the student who hands down, exhibits every quality of We Are Lassen,” read another.
Geoia’s favorite classes at Lassen High School are AP English 11 and AP biology, and her future plans include going to Lassen Community College for a couple years and transferring to a school in the California State University system to pursue a degree in biology.
From there, her life could go in many different directions. She’s thinking about teaching or working the medical or research fields.
For now, though, her speech for the June 7 Lassen High School graduation is already written, and she didn’t want to give it away early — but it speaks to the recently installed We Are Lassen program, which she shared has shifted the culture on campus to one for the better.
She didn’t have to give the speech, but as the first one with the honor, she wants to set the tone.
“I think it’s been a great program,” she said, adding it’s been one of the most influential and impactful programs at the school in for her four years. “Thank you to all the people who contributed to make the We Are Lassen Program a success.”