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April Student and Staff Recognitions

April Student and Staff Recognitions

We are so proud to celebrate the accomplishments of our Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) students and staff over the past month in our April recognitions column.

ACHS Students Receive Amazon Future Engineer Scholarship

Two Alexandria City High School (ACHS) students, Marwan Abdou and Yoseph Hassan, have each been awarded a 2023 Amazon Future Engineer Scholarship. They are among the 400 Amazon Future Engineer Scholarship recipients who will receive a $40,000 scholarship to study computer science or engineering this fall. They will also be given a paid internship at Amazon after their freshman year of college to gain hands-on, practical work experience with mentorship from Amazon leaders.

“This achievement is a testament to Marwan and Yoseph's resilience, brilliance and dedication to excellence, and I couldn't be prouder to have played a role in their educational journey. It also highlights their immense potential in shaping the future of technology,” ACHS Computer Science teacher Gretchen Wagner stated. “Their success also serves as inspiration for their peers, and I already have students that are interested in applying for the scholarship next year.”

Amazon Future Engineer is a childhood-to-career initiative designed to inspire and educate millions of students each year from underrepresented and historically underserved communities to build life-changing skills that leverage computer science and coding to bring their dreams to life.

ACPS Celebrates Student Poets

The ACPS Poetry Celebration, held April 26, 2023, shined a light on the talent of our student poets. Students in grades 3-12 were honored for their achievements during the gathering at Alexandria City High School’s (ACHS) Minnie Howard campus. Among the event’s special guests were Alexandria City Poet Laureate Zeina Azzam, a Palestinian American poet and community activist, and 2021-22 ACPS Elementary Poet Laureate Allie Cain. Best of school and best of division student poets were also honored at the gathering.

“The judges were very impressed by the creative talents of our ACPS poets,” Elementary Literacy Instructional Specialist Dr. Carolyn Wooster stated. “These students' words show us the power of poetry to give voice to the beauty, emotion and human experience of the world around us.” Two creativity awards were presented, one at the elementary level and one at the secondary level. The 2022-23 Poet Laureate Awards were presented to Noemi Ahn at Naomi L. Brooks Elementary School and Ruth Christino at ACHS.

Jefferson-Houston Teacher Named Finalist for Prestigious Math and Science Award

Geometry and algebra teacher Farr Prickett Quinn at Jefferson-Houston PreK-8 IB School is among Virginia’s finalists for the 2023 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). This award is regarded as the nation’s top honor for math and science teachers. It recognizes educators who develop and implement high-quality instructional programs that improve student learning in these subjects. 

“Ms. Quinn is deserving of such an award,” Jefferson-Houston Head of School Dr. John McCain said. “We are thankful to have a math teacher who cares and gives 100% to every student. She teaches, inspires and appreciates each students' unique differences.”

The National Science Foundation administers the PAEMST program on behalf of the White House. Virginia’s finalists were selected by review committees convened by the Virginia Department of Education. A national review follows for all finalists from each state, U.S. territory and state-level education system.

ACHS Teacher Awarded 2023 James Madison Fellowship and “TOP” Study Tour

Social studies teacher Fara Leigh Cepak at Alexandria City High School’s Chance for Change Academy has been awarded the 2023 James Madison Fellowship. In addition, she has been selected to travel to Germany this summer on a professional development study tour fellowship for social studies educators provided by the non-profit Transatlantic Outreach Program (TOP). TOP serves to empower teachers to bring the world into their classroom and community. After this study tour, teachers can then share the ideas and resources acquired with their students to enhance their global knowledge.

Cepak says the James Madison Fellowship will allow her to augment teaching knowledge concerning U.S. history and government. She will participate in a summer institute, which includes taking classes at Georgetown University, meeting with Supreme Court Justices and visiting the White House. Tuition to complete another master’s degree will be provided.

Titan Robotics Team Makes an Impact

Alexandria City High School’s (ACHS) Titan Robotics 5587 has done it again! For a second year in a row, they have won the prestigious For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Impact Award at the Chesapeake District Championships held at George Mason University on April 8, 2023. This achievement secured their place to compete at the highest level of the sport at this month’s 2023 FIRST Championship event in Houston, Texas.

"Winning this award for the second year demonstrates all the hard work we've put into our own team as well as our younger robotics teams. I am so proud of the team and all that we've accomplished,” Nick Kruse, team president and senior, said.

The Impact Award is given to teams that reflect the values and embody the mission of FIRST Robotics to transform the culture in ways that will inspire the highest levels of respect for science and technology while encouraging more youth to become leaders in these areas. Teams that win this award are considered ambassadors and provide models for other teams to emulate.

Award Team Leader Jack Pache, a junior, won the Dean's List Award at the district competition and represented Alexandria at the regional championships.

"Winning the Impact Award at both the local and district level gave us the opportunity to be surrounded by, and learn from, the top robotics teams in the world at FIRST Championships,” he said. “It was inspiring to be around so many people who share our passion for STEM and robotics."

Following the Houston event, team alumnus and mentor Saleh Hassen said, "The team did their best and I'm proud of them. This is their third appearance at the World Championships in the eight seasons the team has competed. Great numbers for such a young team!"

ACHS Future Business Leaders of America Shine in State Competition

Thirty Alexandria City High School (ACHS) Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) chapter members took part in competitive events in the state competition in Reston, Virginia, and brought home six awards.

  • Third Place: Mary Arnold (Accounting II)

  • Third Place: Aniya Witherspoon (Intro to Public Speaking)

  • Fourth Place: Zuha Hassen (Agribusiness)

  • Fourth Place: David Heiden (Economics)

  • Fourth Place: Mahmoud Koroma (Future Business Leader)

  • Fifth Place: Shadia Mumin (Intro to Business Procedures)

“We are proud of the students' hard work and dedication to this year's competition,” Business and Information Technology Teacher and Chapter Adviser Beulah Willis-Brown said. The other chapter advisors are James Pondolfino and Shawnell Carmichael.

The chapter was also recognized as an Honor Chapter this year. In the Northern Virginia Regional Conference competition in March, the chapter brought home 38 medals for the northern Virginia region.

ACHS Special Education Teacher Honored with Lifetime Achievement Award as Band Frontman

Alexandria City High School (ACHS) Instructional Assistant Gregory Elliott was awarded the 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award at The Wammie Awards. He was presented with the honor as the frontman for the go-go band Experience Unlimited, best known for one of its songs appearing in the 1988 Spike Lee movie “School Daze.” The band has continued to put out music, including an album called “Free Yourself” in 2021. The Wammie Awards recognize artists and musicians in D.C., Maryland and Virginia for their artistic endeavors.

Titans Choir Takes Home Grand Champion Award

The Alexandria City High School (ACHS) Titans Choir took home the Grand Champion Award for the highest scoring ensemble during a recent competition in Orlando, Florida. This honor includes Colore Dolce Superior First Place and Advanced Choir Superior First Place. Freshman Elisa Quesada Sayler won the Most Outstanding Soloist Award.

  • 2022-23
  • Student and Staff Recognitions