Valley Sun All-Star Sierra Katow: All smiles

In addition to engaging in scholarly, sports and normal teen activities, this week's Valley Sun All Star is intent on saving the planet and is known for her contagious smile, her teacher said.

Sierra Katow, who this fall will be a sophomore at La Cañada High School, is involved in a host of activities at the school and a member of the city of La Cañada Flintridge's Youth Council. But, one of her proudest accomplishments, to date, is a Web page she created called Ecotopians.com.

On the site, the virtual community is focused on saving the planet from global warming and other avenues of impending doom. The site visitors can share green tips, buy virtual items with virtual money, play games and spend time with like-minded individuals.

The website took Katow about eight months to create. The site has been online for about three months and now has nearly 400 users, Katow said, adding, “I definitely hope it will grow even larger.”

Katow's former English teacher at La Cañada High School, Jamie Lewsadder, said she appreciates all the work the youth has done on that and another recently created website. “I am constantly impressed with her innovations,” Lewsadder added.

Lewsadder said that Katow is a model student and consistently scored highly on all tests, essays and homework assignments.

However, her “favorite quality that Sierra possesses goes beyond her diligence and conscientiousness. Her positive outlook is contagious,” Lewsadder said, adding, “I have never heard her complain. She seems to smile all day long. When I see her at 7 a.m. painting a sign for ASB or in the afternoon after basketball practice, the smile remains.”

Katow was born at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena and has lived most of her life in La Cañada. She is the daughter of Vincent and Corrine Katow of La Cañada, and has a sister, Melissa, 20, a student at the University of California, Berkeley.

She attended La Cañada Elementary School, and La Cañada High 7/8.

At the high school, she will be the sophomore class vice president, and is involved in the Academic Decathlon, Spanish and Red Cross clubs. She recently was elected to cover publicity for the Red Cross Club and she's looking forward to becoming more active in the group.

She also enjoys playing basketball, and has been involved in that sport for the past seven years. She's on the high school's junior varsity basketball team and, she said, she “thoroughly enjoy[s] being on a team with some really enjoyable, funny people.”

Although she's as yet undecided on a career choice, she plans to go to college. She also plans to continue her fascination with the Internet and web design.

“I first became interested in creating websites when I was about 11 years old. I taught myself HTML and other basic computer languages at [that] time. Then, last year, I picked up PHP and MySQL, which were more complicated computer languages,” she said, adding that she used those to create her Ecotopians.com site.

“Currently, I am studying Ruby on Rails, another coding language, with which I hope to create a whole new website very soon,” she said.

She also plans to use her Web knowledge to help enhance the Youth Council's Web page and also to create a website for the Red Cross Club.

“I just became part of the city's Youth Council, which I'm extremely excited about. Hearing from the other Youth Council members, it sounds like I am going to be able to become more involved with the city and learn what goes on,” she said.


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