St. Helen student joins Sun-Maid Board of Imagination

By Michelle Martin | Staff writer
Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Samuel Loza, 10, a student at St. Helen School, 2347 W. Augusta Blvd., is one of six children selected for a position on the Sun-Maid Board of Imagination. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)

Samuel Loza wants to make one thing clear: He takes his position on the Sun-Maid Board of Imagination seriously, and he expects the California-based company to take it seriously, too.

The board, made up of six children ages 8 to 11 from around the United States, recently held its first meeting via videoconference, and the executives who attended listened to kids’ input, Samuel said.

What were they working on?

“I can’t tell you that,” said Samuel, 10, a fourth grader at St. Helen School, 2347 W. Augusta Blvd.

When pressed, he acknowledged that it was in the area of product development.

Samuel was selected in April after submitting a video entry that involved coming up with and telling a story about how a sour watermelon raisin got its flavor.

In his story, the raisin fell in a watermelon river and emerged not only with watermelon flavor but also “sour power.”

“I really like superheroes, so I went with kind of a superhero origin story,” said Samuel, a fan of the Marvel universe.

In his video clip, he tells his story, dances and answers questions asked by his mother, Vivian, who handled recording duties.

“It was easy because it was my mom,” Samuel said. “I’m super comfortable with her.”

For his year of service on the Board of Imagination, Samuel Loza will receive $5,000 toward his college fund. St. Helen School also will receive $5,000 and a year’s supply of Sun-Maid snacks.

When Samuel entered the contest, he had only attended classes in-person at St. Helen for a few weeks, according to his father, Oscar Loza. The family — which includes Sam and 3-year-old Nicholas — had moved to Chicago in January 2020 after spending more than a year in Brazil for Vivian Loza’s job. Before that, they lived for four years in Dubai.

Because of that, Samuel speaks Arabic and Portuguese, Loza said, and Spanish from communicating with his grandparents. He can also speak English with a British accent because his first four years of formal education were at the British School in Dubai.

The family did return to Chicago each summer to stay connected to family and to American culture, and Oscar said they did things like wake up early in the morning in Dubai to watch Game 7 of the World Series in 2016.

“I would tell him you can’t expect people in Chicago to know about the cricket superstars he talked about,” Loza said.

Samuel returned to in-person classes at St. Helen this spring, and he loves it.

“It’s great,” he said. “I get to see all my friends and play with them at recess and we can talk at lunch.”

A lunch that probably includes Sun-Maid products. Did he like them before entering the contest to be on the Board of Imagination?

“Yes,” he said. “I like the ones with flavors better.”


  • catholic schools

Related Articles