YOU'RE HIRED: Stephen Sundin has found a perfect fit -- a job with Lockheed Martin as a quality assurance engineer.

The 2010 Deer Valley High grad attended UCLA, where he received hands-on training as chief engineer for the ELFIN satellite. The project is "developing a small space probe to study space weather," according to a news release. Before that, he was a student in DV's Academic Challenge and Enrichment (ACE) Research Academy.

Jeff Adkins, lead teacher for the ACE Research academy, said Sundin credits his drive to work on such projects to his time at the Antioch school.

"When he was a student (here), Sundin did some independent research ... He photographed the moon and used the images to calculate the shape of the moon's orbit as a science fair project," Adkins said.

Sundin told Adkins "the academy really helped me learn about a lot of things in detail, from NGC 4051 to the orbit of the moon to witness retention. The academy allowed me to investigate something in detail. This isn't an opportunity most people have until graduate school. It also allowed me to make some good friends with similar interests."

ELFIN has recently been approved for funding by NASA's low-cost access to space program, providing the opportunity to place it on a NASA low earth orbit rocket.

"Stephen is a remarkable young man and has really capitalized on his experiences in our research academy," Adkins said.

For the past several years, 100 percent of ACE graduates have enrolled in college, according to Adkins. For more information, email astronomyteacher@mac.com.

STELLAR WIN: Heritage High School grad Allison Strauss has won a P.E.O. STAR scholarship.

Presented by Kathy Nelson, Strauss was recommended for the scholarship by Chapter XQ of Brentwood. Strauss will attend Georgetown University this fall.

According to a news release, the $2,500 scholarship is based on excellence in "leadership, extracurricular activities, community service, academics and potential for future success." The program is open to young women, who must be recommended by a P.E.O. chapter.

Founded in 1869, the P.E.O. Sisterhood is an international philanthropic and educational organization promoting "increased educational opportunities for women." With nearly 6,000 chapters in the United States and Canada and 250,000 initiated members, the Sisterhood has awarded $235 million. For more information, email knelson1@pacbell.net or visit www.peointernational.org.

WISH GRANTED: The Delta Education Group recently received a Dean and Margaret Lesher grant for $15,000 yearly for three years. The group is a nonprofit booster club composed of parents with "artistically passionate" students at Deer Valley Academy of Performing Arts. It says its "mission is to enhance the fine arts experience by coordinating parent, teacher and community involvement. Our financial support for the Academy helps to refine skills, acquire knowledge and develop leadership in all areas of the performing arts, preparing students for success in college, career and life."

While the $45,000 grant was awarded to the DEG, it will benefit the Antioch academy. The grant will help fund teacher requested projects, such as master classes, equipment, costumes, construction tools and more.

Kelly Green, work-based learning coordinator for the academy, said two of the parents instrumental in getting the award were Wendi Aghily (co-president) and Elisa Cutcheon (outgoing treasurer). Both helped pull the documentation and paperwork for the grant application.

POSTER CHILD: Some 12 area students won awards for their creative pieces in the first Contra Costa County Attendance Awareness Poster and Essay contest, part of the Every School Day Counts campaign. Marc Castillo, a Dozier-Libbey Medical High School senior, won the grand prize in the poster competition. (A De Anza High student won in the essay category.) Each winner received a $200 Target gift card.

If you have school news to share, contact Trine Gallegos at trineg@att.net. Note: Trine also does community outreach for Antioch High.