18 Under 18

Jason Carpenter, Reporter

Inspired by Forbes 30 under 30 list, here is the 3rd annual NHS 18 under 18, featuring 18 amazingly talented students at Novato High under the age of 18. These exceptional students have proven to rise above and beyond with their achievements and accomplishments, both inside and outside of the classroom.


Dante Lacuadra (senior)

Dante is an exceptional student academically, with a GPA over 4.0, earning him acceptance to Harvard. 


Volunteering at Marin General Hospital and participating in HIV research at the Buck Institute are two of his many impressive accomplishments, in addition to being an Eagle Scout.


In his remaining limited time, he generously tutors struggling pre-calculus students, and is the top player on the Hornets’ tennis team, leading them to the playoffs for the first time in 20 years. Lacuadra received first-team honors along the way.


Kiana Briggs (freshman)

This past year, Kiana was the best golfer in Marin County and completed an historic season, leading the Hornets to a 9-6 record and winning medalist honors.


Kiana, the MCAL’s Player of the Year, scored a 4-under par 67 at the MCAL championship, 11 strokes ahead of the second-place finisher.


Briggs will be a household name in MCAL girls golf for the next three years.


Enzo Pereira (sophomore)

Enzo has been drumming for eight years, and is now a highly-skilled member of the MSA Jazz and Rock bands. 


He has been in a band called Saving Rain for a couple years, and they will soon release their newest album, “The End of Saving Rain.”


“Drums appeal to me because they are a vital part of almost all styles of music,” said Pereira. “I also love drums because you don’t have to stand up, you just get to sit down for an hour.” 


Dante Cokinos (senior)

Known as a true “Renaissance Man,” Dante has many talents, excelling in theatre, cinematic arts, and writing.


He recently played the role of Clarence in “Richard III,” where he was a pivotal part of a cast that won gold and received perfect marks at the Lenaea Theatre Festival. 


Cokinos is also an immensely gifted filmmaker and intends to pursue film at Emerson College.

Last semester, Dante, and his friend Elliott Scheuer, created the film “An Exercise in Cheese,” a short documentary about trying to make cheese in a house.


Sloan Takeuchi-Ross (junior)

Sloan is an advanced ballet and hip-hop dancer of 14 years, who has been in MSA’s advanced dance program since her freshman year. 


Along with teaching dance classes to children at Venetia Valley, she is president of Novato’s Dance Club, and has completed hours of vigorous ballet training.


Recently, she won “Heroes Around ME,” an NHS PTSA Reflections Contest, as well as the county competition, allowing her to enter the statewide competition in the dance-choreography division.


Zach McIntyre (junior)

As a four time All-American swimmer and an academic prodigy, Zach has a bright future ahead of him.


Coming from a swimming family, McIntyre has been swimming since he was four years old and currently trains 18 hours a week.


He is the 7th ranked swimmer in the U.S in the 50 meter freestyle, and this season he was victorious in both of his events, the 100 and 50 free, at the MCAL swim meet.


Melina Christensen (senior)

In AP Studio Art, Melina’s art is incredibly dynamic and impressive. She also often volunteers to speak on behalf of MSA Drawing and Painting and is amazing at constructive critique, giving helpful advice to her classmates. 


Taylor Mancini, the MSA fine arts, drawing, and painting teacher, spoke to Christensen’s artistic abilities.


“She is incredibly creative, highly-dedicated and fiercely-loyal,” said Mancini.


Josh Jossart (senior)

Josh was the top wrestler for Novato High and secured a spot in NCS. He finished with an impressive overall record of 18-4, finishing first in his 160-pound weight division after dominating his opponents match after match. 


At the Redwood Invitational and the Snowden Memorial, he placed 2nd and 3rd respectively. 


Jossart, who will attend Cal Poly this Fall, will be missed by Novato wrestling.


Aidan Zahn (sophomore)

Aidan is famous for her Tik Tok account, with over 500,000 followers, where she has built an extremely large social-media platform for herself. 


An aspiring short filmmaker, Aidan uses her Youtube channel to post numerous entertaining and thought-provoking videos for her followers.


Eli Torgersen (senior)

During his four years of high school, Eli has played guitar for both the MSA Jazz and Rock bands.


He is also a member of the band Funkschway, which was started last year by five Novato students: drummer Cole Bailey, bass player Ben Comick, pianist Ryan Kennedy, vocalist Sara Lofrano, and Torgersen on guitar. You can listen to their funky and relaxing yet upbeat songs – like “Battery” and “Grateful Christina” – on Spotify.


Eli will be attending Berklee College of Music this Fall in Boston.


Lauryn Taylor

Lauryn, a talented and experienced high school and club volleyball player, has helped lead the Hornets for her first 3 years of high school.


Her amazing dives from the libero position and her ability to track down tough shots from opposing teams is fun to watch and valuable to the Hornets success.


Hank Nicholson (senior)

Hank shines in the creative-writing program, as his writing has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.


Also a talented actor and singer, he has hosted the two MSA soirees in the past year. Hank, a gifted student academically, will be attending UC Berkeley in the Fall.


Ava Scafani (sophomore)

Ava is one of the top gymnasts in the Bay Area, competing at level 10, the highest level in USA gymnastics. She is also a talented asset to Novato’s diving team, and has had a lot of success, both athletically and academically, as a sophomore.


Braden Rome (sophomore)

As a sophomore attacker for the boys lacrosse team, Braden has been a big part of a group who competed for an North Coast Section Championship, falling short in the title game after a strong season.


Braden should be a key contributor for boys lacrosse the next 2 years, as the program has proven to be on the upswing.


Walter Mazariegos

Walter is on the U-18 team for the San Jose Earthquakes, and will travel to Spain this summer to try out for pro Spanish clubs.


Luke Kurtz (sophomore)

An amazing mountain biker, Luke excels in downhill races. At the Sea Otter Classic, he finished in 3rd place.