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Way to Go: Diego Montes, Brentwood

Diego Montes was "Student of the Month" at

Diego Montes was "Student of the Month" at Brentwood High School. Credit: Brentwood School District

A Brentwood High School sophomore who returned to the United States from El Salvador in 2014 is challenging himself inside and outside the classroom.

Diego Montes, 18, has maintained a 90 grade-point average since moving to Long Island to live with his aunt, uncle and cousins to pursue a better life. He transferred to regular English classes after eight months of being in the school’s bilingual program.

He also works up to 17 hours a week at a local McDonald’s to send money to his mother and three younger siblings in El Salvador to build a new house.

Montes’ efforts earned him his school’s “Student of the Month” award for December.

“I definitely love living here because I have a lot of opportunities I didn’t have in El Salvador,” Montes said. “I really want to challenge myself. I said, ‘It’s go hard or go home.’ ”

Montes was born in California, but his mother took him to El Salvador when she returned there. He was only 8 months old, he said.

In addition to classes and work, Montes teaches English to one of his sisters when they talk on the phone or via the computer.

“He’s taking advantage of all this country has to offer,” said Maria Trujillo, a Spanish teacher at the high school.

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