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May 2024 Student and Staff Recognitions

May 2024 Student and Staff Recognitions

The 2023-24 school year may be winding down but the recognitions keep coming in for all that has been accomplished throughout Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) this school year. Here is a sampling of some of the latest achievements within the school division.

ACHS Students Awarded National Merit Scholarships

Alexandria City High School (ACHS) has two 2024 National Merit Scholarship Program recipients. Earning National Merit $2,500 scholarships are Silas B. Adkins-Hooke, with sights set on a career in music composition, and Abigail Shih Gerstein, with aspirations for a career in public policy.

“The National Merit Scholarship Program is a beacon of academic excellence and a testament to the dedication and brilliance of two young minds within Alexandria City High School, Silas B. Adkins-Hooke and Abigail Shih Gerstein,” Chief Academic Officer Dr. Pierrette Finney said. “These brilliant young minds have been recognized and rewarded for their demonstration of exceptional academic achievement, outstanding leadership qualities, perseverance and relentless pursuit of knowledge. We are truly proud of Silas and Abigail and look forward to them continuing to push the boundaries of their potential, dreaming big and striving for greatness in all of their future endeavors.”

The National Merit Scholarship Program honors scholastically talented students and encourages academic excellence at all levels of education.

ACPS Chief Financial Officer Among Alexandria’s 40 Under 40 Honorees

The Chamber ALX selected Chief Financial Officer for Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) Dominic B. Turner as one of its 40 Under 40 honorees for 2024.

“Mr. Turner is truly committed to giving his all to help today’s youth achieve success,” ACPS Superintendent Dr. Melanie Kay-Wyatt said. “He has created two mentoring programs for secondary school male students. ‘Your Future Today,’ which serves the City of Alexandria, provides a foundation for what it takes to navigate today’s world. It teaches young men to be accountable for what they do and the importance of learning to achieve academic success. Mr. Turner also offers his mentees the opportunity to invest in their future through the financial literacy course he presents.”

Honorees were selected for their professional accomplishments, scholastic achievement, community impact and personal story. The 40 Under 40 program was established in 2016 to recognize individuals who are 40 or younger and engaged in a variety of fields — including business, education, technology, nonprofit management, civic life, public service and the arts — and are shaping Alexandria for the future. A 40 Under 40 Awards celebration presented by United States Senate Federal Credit Union is scheduled for July 18, 2024.

General Assembly Recognizes ACPS Students and Teachers

Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) students and teachers were recognized with resolutions submitted by the Alexandria delegation in Virginia during the 2024 General Assembly session. Members of the delegation were also present at the Alexandria City School Board meeting on April 25, 2024, to honor these students and teachers for their accomplishments.

Two Francis C. Hammond Middle School students were recognized by Virginia Senator Adam Ebbin for their participation in the Senate of Virginia Page Program:

  • Senate Page Sydney Robasson for Virginia Senator Adam Ebbin.
  • Senate Page Jada Ashun for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia Winsome Earle-Sears.

Virginia House of Delegates member Elizabeth Bennett-Parker presented resolutions to:

  • Girls Leading Change Honoree Zahra Rahimi, Alexandria City High School (ACHS).
  • 2022–23 ACPS Teacher of the Year Nathan Hershberger.

Virginia State Delegate Alfonso H. Lopez presented resolutions to the following individuals:

ACHS QuestBridge Scholarship recipients:

  • Sara Woube, Brown University.
  • Lucia Stakem, University of Virginia.
  • Zuha Hassen, Stanford University.

ACHS Posse Foundation Scholarship recipients:

  • Chloe Yokitis, University of Rochester.
  • Zahra Rahimi, William & Mary.
  • Mohammed Rahman, William & Mary.
  • Krissia Rodriguez Rivera, William & Mary.

Harry F. Byrd Jr. Leadership Award for Virginia’s 8th Congressional District:

  • Yahney-Marie Sangaré.

ACHS Teacher Recognition:

  • Hope Bachman and Leslie Jones, 20 years of ACHS Theatre partnership. 

William Ramsay’s “Do My Best” SOL Video Inspires Students to Succeed

Students at William Ramsay Elementary School (William Ramsay) put their creative skills to the test by creating a “Do My Best” music video to hype students up for Standards of Learning (SOL) testing. The video samples Gwen Stefani’s 2004 hit song “Hollaback Girl” and the premiere corresponded with the school’s SOL Pep Rally on Fri, May 3, 2024. The video was created by William Ramsay Music Teacher Naya Griles.

William Ramsay Principal Michael Routhouska said, "At William Ramsay, we frame testing positively as an opportunity to show what our Roadrunners know! Testing is part of life and required at some level in all types of careers and industries,” Routhouska added, “We do not let tests scare us or the results demoralize us. We let the data guide our next steps as teachers and learners, and it guides us best when students try their best, and they do that when they are excited and motivated. Our newest music video to promote testing has our students excited about showing what they know on the SOLs, and for us, that is the most important thing.”

SOL testing for Virginia Public Schools sets minimum expectations for what students should know and be able to demonstrate at the end of each grade or course in English, mathematics, science, history and social science, among other subjects.

Pirates! Takes a Bow at Douglas MacArthur Elementary School

“Pirates! The Musical” put the spotlight on Douglas MacArthur Elementary School’s (Douglas MacArthur) fourth and fifth grade chorus. All of the students learned the songs and choreography as part of their class, with auditions held for lead roles.

“Musical theater is an American music form that is important for students to try. It is also a great vehicle to learn solo and choral singing, choreography and dance, language and speaking skills and much, much more,” music educator Ryan Fitch said. He added that he feels like it is his responsibility to send Douglas MacArthur kids to middle and high school prepared and ready. 

From January to April, students prepared for this performance directed by Fitch and colleagues Michelle Pinero, Laina Dimento and Kate Martin. Fitch said that now that the school is in its new building, they were able to put on this live musical featuring nearly 100 students on April 25 and 26 in the school cafeteria.

“Musical theater provides an outlet for young people to express themselves creatively and bring to life characters. As they connect with the characters in a show, they get to know themselves and others better,” Fitch shared. “Musical theater also introduces, strengthens and solidifies life skills of time management, self-discipline, critical thinking, problem solving and communication. Overall, being involved in musical theater is not just enrichment for the lives of our students, but is fundamental and necessary for their self-esteem and confidence — not to mention, it is quite a lot of fun!”

“Pirates! The Musical” was written by Roger Emerson and John Jacobson.

Hammond Students Compete in U.S. Drone Soccer National Championship

Francis C. Hammond Middle School (Hammond) was the only school from Virginia to qualify for the 2024 National Championship and the 2024 FAI F9A Drone Soccer Open International World Cup hosted by Virginia Tech, April 26-28, 2024.

Hammond students who participated in this U.S. Drone Soccer Association event included: Rajwa Ahmed, Christopher Deras-Chaves, Luvina Desar, Mortaza Ehsani, Sadra Ehsani, Aidan Hunter, Gabriel Jackson, Jacob Neufer, Isabella A. Wannakul, Langston Young.

The students were led by Hammond eighth grade science teachers Coach Corey Scott and Assistant Coach Daniel Pellito.

“Programs like U.S. Drone Soccer provide an exciting opportunity for career and technical education skills as well as real-world lessons in STEM. It combines best practices from both the aerospace industry and youth athletics, and is a great way to get kids excited about everything to do with engineering and computer science and aviation,” ACPS STEM Coordinator and Elementary Math Instructional Specialist Julia Neufer said. “Additionally, students learn problem-solving skills, teamwork, communication skills and more. I am also so thankful to our partners, Virginia Tech Innovation Campus and Boeing, who sponsored our teams.”

ACHS Choir Wins Grand Champion Award at National Music Festival

Alexandria City High School’s (ACHS) Colore Dolce and Advanced Choir received superior ratings and first place at the OrlandoFest National Music Festival in Orlando, Florida, in April. Two students, LaNya Williams and Anna McMahon, received most outstanding soloist awards, and the Alexandria City High School Choir received the Grand Champion Award for the highest scoring ensemble.

“Let’s congratulate these students for their extraordinary efforts and their commitment to excellence in artistry throughout the school year,” ACHS Director of Choral Activities Theodore Thorpe III said.

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  • Student and Staff Recognitions