Students in the Spotlight

Three Current San Marcos Students Balance Fame and School
Students in the spotlight graphic made on Canva.
Students in the spotlight graphic made on Canva.
Mia Batcher
Brooks behind the scenes for an episode for the History Channel.
Brooks behind the scenes for an episode for the History Channel.

When walking through the busy halls of San Marcos High School with a population of nearly 4,000 you may not notice the three that stand out among the crowd. Being famous is a lot of student’s dreams but for many, it feels like a very far reach. Three students who walk among these halls have had a taste of fame. Sophomores Zack Brooks, Ian Wilson, and senior Raphael Ueda are the students who have experienced fame before graduating. They share their story of making it big and their role models that lead them there.

Zack Brook’s heart raced as if it was going to beat out of his chest as he prepared for his newest audition. He started to tense up but puts on a brave face and starts to do what he does best. Lights, camera, action! Zack has to go through this overwhelming process every time he auditions for a new movie, including Are You There God It’s Me, Margaret. In 2020 Brooks got his first major role in a movie, playing Philip Leroy, a teen heartthrob in the movie. Are You There God It’s Me Margaret was released on April 28 2023, and quickly gained popularity.  The story follows a teen girl who moves to a new town and starts a brand new phase of her life. This movie takes place in the 1970s and is originally based on the book by Judy Blume. His co-stars include Rachel McAdams and Abby Ryder Forston. With a 99% score on Rotten Tomatoes, viewers can watch this film on many streaming services. Brooks got into acting about two years ago when he was twelve. At first, he lost the role because the movie got postponed due to COVID-19 pandemic but then he rebooked it and got the role.

Brooks with his role model and mother, Candice Barley.

One of his biggest role models is his mom, Candice Barley, who has been an actor for 16 years. Before Brooks was in the movie Are You There God It’s Me Margaret he was in the TV show Tulsa King. Tulsa King was released two years ago on Nov. 13, 2022. Brooks played Devin in the show and through this series he got his start in acting. His co-stars in Tulsa King included Sylvester Stallone, Andrea Savage, and Scarlet Rose Stallone. Tusla King has a 79% score on Rotten Tomatoes and you can watch this show on many streaming services. His most recent appearance in front of the screen was for an episode on the History Channel called “War of 1812.” He played the boy who inspired the National Anthem. He even had to travel to Oklahoma for the show. 

Brooks has to balance his life between being a student and a star. Brooks said, “I have a job so it is hard to go away and come back and have good relationships.”  Brooks wants to continue acting so you may see him on the big screen in the future. Brooks wants to continue acting in the future so you may see him in one of your future favorite movies.

Brooks with his role model and mother, Candice Barley. (Candice Barley)
Photo of Wilson with his band, Mesa Muff.

The lights queue, the curtain opens, and a crowd forms below. Ian feels comfortable in his place of work as he begins to strum his guitar with his band behind him. Ian Wilson is an up-and-coming musician in the  band Mesa Muff. The band has been playing together for about six months and has played multiple gigs. The band members include drummer, Luke Petterson, bass player, Nate Urbina, and Wilson who plays the guitar. For many sophomores performing in front of a large crowd can seem like a huge feat but Willson has learned to master this fear.

Wilson pictured on the far right with band members.

Wilson said, “ In the beginning, it is (scary) but then you kind of fall back on what you practiced so it becomes less nerve-racking.” Willson has been playing his guitar for eight years. The band doesn’t practice anywhere fancy just in Wilson’s garage. Wilson was previously in a band called Sunshower which is where he met one of his band members, Urbina. He met his other band member, Petterson, at the School Of Rock located in Vista, CA. School of Rock is a very popular school with over 300 locations worldwide and professional musicians that come and teach. 

Balancing a full band and high school life might seem like a lot to handle for a sophomore but Ian handles it very well. “It probably affected it (High school experience) positively because you meet more people and it’s just a fun experience,” said Wilson. Wilson has found his passion for music from artists he listens to. Wilson wants to continue his career in music into the future so make sure to listen in on the radio because you might be listening to one of his songs.

Ueda skating down a gutter

Sponsored by Monster Energy, Nike, and Toy Machine, Raphael Ueda has competed in over 25 competitions before graduating high school. Raphael Ueda has been skateboarding since before he can even remember. He first started skateboarding just because it was something to do and because he didn’t like team sports. His little hobby turned out to be a true talent that has gotten him a lot of attention from companies. 

“I got sponsored by Monster Energy through my team manager for Nike and Toy Machine which ended up contacting my agent saying that the team member from Monster wanted to talk. It’s like a whole process but they just hit me up on Insta to start a contract,” said Ueda. Currently, Ueda has a broken femur which has put a pause on his skateboarding for a little, but this doesn’t stop him. 

“I have a broken femur right now but I think it’s just a mental game honestly because even though I broke my femur three weeks ago I know that in three months I will be back to skating so it’s not too much of an effector plus things happen I’m young I have plenty of my career ahead of me so I don’t have to worry about it too much,” said Udea. Ueda has a pretty normal social life in high school. 

Ueda skating down a gutter
Ueda skating Monster Energy Ramp at Monster sponsored event.

“Honestly, I know that people know that I skate and stuff but I try and keep it pretty low-key unless people find my Instagram. I would rather just be a student for the most part.”  Ueda’s biggest inspiration is his dad, who is also a professional skater. 

“He’s the reason I started skating so it’s definitely the main influence on why I started too. Like growing up with it and getting to skate all these really cool places and getting to travel with him is definitely the reason,” said Ueda. Ueda hopes to go to college and continue skateboarding in the future. You may even see him in the Olympics one day. 

All three of these students have people around them that inspire them. Studies show that having a role model when you are young can affect you by having a long-lasting good career. Wanting to make it big is one thing but having people to support you and help you through the hard times is everything.


Ueda skating Monster Energy Ramp at Monster sponsored event.
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