December Student and Staff Recognitions
So many achievements have been accomplished this past year by Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) students and staff. We close out 2022 with several impressive recognitions within our school division.
ACPS Financial Services Department Recognized for Excellence
ACPS achieved the highest form of recognition in governmental accounting and financial reporting. The Government Finance Officers Association of the U.S. and Canada (GFOA) awarded the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting to the division for its annual comprehensive financial report for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2021. ACPS has likewise been recognized by the Association of School Business Officials (ASBO) for excellence in financial reporting.
Interim Superintendent Dr. Melanie Kay-Wyatt noted this well-deserved achievement has been earned thanks to the direction of Chief Financial Officer Dominic Turner. “In meeting GFOA’s high standards of the program, ACPS’ financial report not only demonstrates a ‘spirit of full disclosure’ to clearly communicate its financial story, but also serves to motivate potential users and user groups to read the report,” said Dr. Kay-Wyatt.
“While our accounting team is not often in the limelight, we are always working in the background to ensure proper fiscal management,” Turner added. “These awards recognize the hard work and dedication of our Accounting Office to maintain internal controls and transparency with reporting ACPS financial information.”
Attainment of the GFOA Certificate of Achievement represents a significant accomplishment by a government and its management. When a Certificate of Achievement is awarded to a government, an Award of Financial Reporting Achievement (AFRA) is also presented to the individual(s) or department designated by the government as primarily responsible for having earned the certificate.
ACPS Staff Provide Thanksgiving Support
When ACPS school social workers connected last month with community partners, families in need benefited from a distribution of food resources up until Fall Break. Across the division, 500 Thanksgiving baskets and 268 grocery gift cards were distributed to support our families.
“Many of our social workers put in extra hours in the evenings and on the weekends to get this done, and they did an extraordinary job,” Director of School Social Work Faiza Jackson said. In addition, families experiencing homelessness received assistance in securing resources thanks to the work carried out within the Central Office.
Community donors included: Alexandria Free Methodist Church; Alexandria Police Department; Alfred Street Baptist Church; ALIVE! Food Bank; Assistance League of Virginia; Cameron Station; Casa Chirilagua; Communities in Schools; Elevate Church; Project Giveback; TNK/Bridge to Success; Youth for Tomorrow and Youth Uncut. In addition, support came from several school-based Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs).
Jackson added, “This effort required a lot of coordination, and I think it is a wonderful reflection of care and support for our students and families.”
ACHS Represented at Arrival Ceremony for President of France
Photo courtesy of the Mayor’s Office
Alexandria City High School (ACHS) was well represented at the Dec. 1, 2022, arrival ceremony at the White House held for President of France Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte Macron. ACHS French teacher Bridget Tomich attended the ceremony, along with twelfth grade French students Deanna Kosinski and Francis Peña Cruz, as guests of Alexandria City Mayor Justin Wilson. “We are immensely grateful to the mayor and our French teachers for granting us this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Kosinski and Peña Cruz said. Tomich added, “What an honor to be chosen by my colleagues to attend this momentous event recognizing the enduring friendship between these two countries that are so dear to me.”
In attending this ceremony, the ACHS group heard remarks from both the U.S. president and the French president and were able to be part of the first state visit of President Joe Biden's administration.
Titans Swim & Dive Team Victorious
The Alexandria City High School (ACHS) swim & dive team took home the Mayor’s Trophy Cup, winning the Alexandria Tri-City Championship swim meet on Nov. 30, 2022. The Titans, three-time champions, prevailed against rivals Bishop Ireton High School (BI) and St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School (SSSA) at the St. James Sports Complex. The mens’ and womens’ squads both placed first, claiming the third title in the program’s history.
“This meet has immense value, not just for bragging rights but for our city’s high schools to come together,” Coach John Gullickson said.
The team scores were SSSA–89, BI–240 and ACHS–287. The Titans alone brought in 31 medals: 12 gold, eight silver and 11 bronze. Of the six relay races in medley and freestyle, the Titans captured five first-place finishes.
Gullickson, who first came to the Titans in 2018, said this has been an incredible way to kick start the season and return to normalcy. To date, the team has claimed 14 of the 24 possible meet records on the program of events, stamping a legacy for past Titans to push current Titans to aim their sights on future challenges. “Our success reflects years of dedication, training, retaining, growing and performing for the Titans before us, current and future,” Gullickson commented. “I try very hard to promote a safe, fun, educational, competitive and inclusive culture among our Titans grades 8-12, of all talents and abilities.”
For Gullickson, these competitions often include a bit of healthy sibling rivalry as his older brother, Evan Stiles, is the SSSA coach. Stiles, in fact, was Gullickson’s first coach and his last coach before he wrapped up his own competition days. Gullickson said that he has always looked up to his brother and they have had some epic high school meet rivalry moments as coaches dating back to 2007. Gullickson also said that likewise our Titans veterans can "lead our younger and newer members, which will allow all students to reach beyond their own personal objectives through the process of setting goals and celebrating together."
VHSL Honors Volleyball Coach and Players
A coach and two players from the Alexandria City High School (ACHS) girls’ volleyball team both received high honors from the Virginia High School League (VHSL). Danielle Thorne has been named VHSL Coach of the Year, Milan Rex has been named VHSL Player of the Year and Chloe Wilmot has been named to the All-State First Team for Class 6.
Thorne is an Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) alumnus and a three-year varsity volleyball starter before graduating from T. C. Williams High School (now ACHS). She went on to play varsity volleyball at St. Mary's College of Maryland. During her senior year, Thorne was named Capital Athletic Conference Player of the Week and was also named to the All-Capital Athletic Conference second team. After college, Thorne went on to coach and has now been with ACHS for the past five years. This is Thorne's first year as the head varsity volleyball coach.
Rex has been known as a dynamic setter on the varsity squad at ACHS for the past four years and will now be moving on to the University of California at Santa Barbara, where she is committed to play Division I volleyball. This season, Rex became the all-time kills leader with more than 1,000 career kills and was named both the regional and district player of the year. Rex has also been on the honor roll throughout high school.
Wilmot has been a dynamic setter on the varsity squad at ACHS for four years and will attend Duquesne University, where she is committed to play Division I volleyball. This season Wilmot became the all-time assists leader with more than 2,000 career assists and was named to both the regional and district first-teams. Wilmot has been on the honor roll throughout high school.
ACHS Athletes Sign Letters of Intent
Five Alexandria City High School (ACHS) students signed their National Letter of Intent to play sports in college. All five signed at NCAA Division I schools, which is the highest level of intercollegiate athletics. This decorated class featured multiple state champions and personal awards. These ACHS athletes represent four different sports as they move on to college athletics after graduation:
- Ellie Goodrich — Old Dominion University, soccer
- Oliva Kruse — Old Dominion University, rowing
- Avery Miller — Longwood University, softball
- Milan Rex — University of California, Santa Barbara, volleyball
- Chloe Wilmot — Duquesne University, volleyball
“The Athletic Department is so proud of these athletes,” Assistant Director of Athletics and Student Activities Felix Trammell said. “Along with their achievements on the court and field, these students hold a cumulative GPA of 4.3, which shows their leadership in the classroom as well. They are district, region and state champions and the epitome of Titan Pride!”
ACHS W!se Gold Star Teachers
Five Alexandria City High School (ACHS) teachers have been recognized by Working in Support of Education (W!se) for achieving the 2021-22 W!se Gold Star Award. These teachers achieved a 90% pass rate in at least one class with 10 or more students on the W!se Financial Literacy Certification Test:
- Shawnell Carmichael
- David Cole
- Greg Derogatis
- Victoria Stowell
- Beulah Willis-Brown
"We are so proud of both our teachers and our students for their tremendous achievement,” said Michael Burch, Alexandria City High School Learning Academy 4 assistant principal. “Our teachers work incredibly hard to ensure students have the life skills needed to be successful and financial literacy is fundamental."
W!se is an educational organization dedicated to building financial literacy, fostering business and social entrepreneurship and preparing students for college and the global workplace. The organization's literacy certification program provides high school students with financial education and the opportunity to become certified financially literate. After students learn about personal finance, they take the W!se Financial Literacy Certification Test, a nationally recognized certification.
ACHS Students Compete at Virginia DECA District Level Competition
Alexandria City High School (ACHS) students dominated at the Virginia DECA District Level Competition against Wakefield High School and Washington-Liberty High School, clinching the number one spot in 17 of the 19 categories. There were also 23 second and third place winners. The first place overall category winners from ACHS include: Asma Adiba; Andrew Church; Alexander Cirmo; Esinam Dedoo; Karol De La Cruz Ortega; Celia Ek-Gonzalez; Malik Kunata; Finn McNabb; Safiyah Muhammad; Megan Robbert; Logan Schmauder; Sada Seman; Elbethel Seyoum; Saif Shannag; Liam Smith; Marian Vilar-Ramos; and Isaac Wessen.
An international career and technical student organization, DECA prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in finance, hospitality, management and marketing.
“Thank you very much to the DECA dream team: Teresa Chavis, Ashley Montgomery and Purcell Braxton who helped make this a success for our students,” ACHS Teacher and DECA Advisor Catherine Lewis said.
Students who finished in first place have secured their spots at the state competition, which will be held in Virginia Beach, Va., next March.
ACHS Students Compete in We the People
Congratulations to the Alexandria City High School (ACHS) students who participated in the Northern Virginia High School Regionals competition, We the People, held at Woodgrove High School on Dec. 10, 2022. The Best Unit 4 Award for “How Have the Values and Principles Embodied in the Constitution Shaped American Institutions and Practices” was awarded to:
- Armani Boucaud
- Tigran Ceesay
- Adam Gebru
- Malik Kunata
“I am very proud of their hard work and accomplishment,” said ACHS Teacher RaAlim Shabazz. “We the People” instructs students in the history and principles of American constitutional democracy. It also promotes civic competence and responsibility among students.
- Student and Staff Recognitions