Pocket Life

By Corky Mau
June 2024

Amazing Grads

From Scouting to Marines, these students shine

To celebrate graduation season, I checked in with two exceptional John F. Kennedy High School seniors. Both are excited about their accomplishments and the next chapter of their lives.

Kai Nakaoka achieved a rare double Scouts honor, Eagle Scout and the Girl Scout Gold Award. Fewer than 10 young women nationally accomplished this feat in the past two years, putting Nakaoka in an elite club.

She’s been in Girl Scouts since kindergarten and joined the Boy Scouts when it admitted girls in 2018. She’s done double scouting duties ever since. Both groups offered unique experiences, but Nakaoka says, “I’m very glad I did both.”

Her Eagle Scout project supported Zak’s Closet, a Downtown clothing boutique for transgender and non-binary youth. She helped remodel the boutique and conducted a clothing drive that almost tripled the inventory.

Robotics was the focus of her Gold Award project. Nakaoka created 18 videos about earning badges in robotics and raised funds to supply robotics to kids in afterschool programs.

She co-founded the Kennedy powerlifting club and holds four international records, six national records and 59 state records in the 44-kilo class. She’s headed to UC Berkeley to study pre-med and hopes to become a surgeon.

Solomon Phillips self-published an autobiography, “Liberation.” The process took two years. He already has ideas for a second book.

Phillips mentored 18 freshman cadets in Kennedy’s Marine Corps Junior ROTC. He credits his own mentor with inspiration.
“Sergeant Major Javier Esparza has been a very positive influence for me since I joined the ROTC,” he says. “I now have more confidence in myself and I’m grateful for his guidance.”

Phillips will attend Sacramento City College and plans to transfer to Texas State University. His goal is to teach science—along with enlisting in the Marine reserves.

He’s active in the Pocket/Greenhaven Rotary Interact Club and Youth Development Support Services that assist Sac City Unified teachers and administrators.

Phillips, Nakaoka and their Kennedy classmates graduate June 12 at Sutter Health Park.


Everything in the Robbie Waters Library lobby bookshop is 50% off during June’s monthlong book sale. Selections include family board games and jigsaw puzzles.


Food trucks and Fridays go together. Enjoy family fun at Garcia Bend Park on June 21 from 5–8 p.m. Trucks include Bella Familia Wood Fired Pizza, Game Day Grill, Drewski’s Hot Rod Kitchen, Smokin’ Ewe BBQ and West Coast Taco Bar.


Classic car shows take place Fridays, June 7 and 21, at Device Brewing Company in the Promenade Center. Cars are on display from 4–8 p.m. in the parking area off Windbridge Drive.


Let’s wrap up this edition with two more achievers from Kennedy High. Marissa Gong and Jorge Rodriguez received $500 scholarships from the Pocket-Greenhaven Community Association.

Gong is active in student government and competes in varsity track and basketball. She started a book club at an elementary school, earning a Girl Scouts Gold Award. She’ll study political science.

Rodriguez will use his scholarship while pursuing an engineering degree at UC Davis. He’s vice president of the MESA (Math, Engineering, Science Achievement) club and teaches catechism at St. Anne Catholic Church. Congratulations to all grads!

Corky Mau can be reached at corky.sue50@gmail.com. Submissions are due six weeks prior to the publication month. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram: @insidesacramento.

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