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November 2023 Student and Staff Recognitions

November 2023 Student and Staff Recognitions

Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) is proud to recognize our schools, students and staff and their accomplishments. In November, these recognitions include a special school military honor, award-winning staff work and student academic and athletic recognitions.

Virginia Purple Star Award Honors Lyles-Crouch’s Commitment to Military Families

Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) Lyles-Crouch Traditional Academy (Lyles-Crouch) is among 110 public and private schools in the Commonwealth to earn a 2023 Purple Star Award from the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) and the Virginia Council on the Interstate Compact on the Educational Opportunity for Military Children (The Council).

“Receiving the Virginia Purple Star designation is an honor that highlights our school's steadfast dedication to nurturing an inclusive environment, particularly for our military students and families. This recognition affirms our commitment to providing a supportive, enriching educational experience for every student,” Lyles-Crouch Principal Laura Burkart said. “We take pride in being a stronghold of support and understanding for our military families, ensuring an environment where every child can thrive and feel completely at home.”

The Virginia Purple Star designation is awarded to military-friendly schools that have demonstrated a major commitment to students and families connected to our nation’s military. Schools that earn the award will receive a special Purple Star recognition to display onsite. This is the sixth year the VDOE and The Council have designated Purple Star schools. 

Five ACHS Athletes Celebrated on National Signing Day

Five Alexandria City High School (ACHS) athletes signed a National Letter of Intent to play a sport at the collegiate level on Nov. 8, 2023. ACHS Athletics hosted its first National Signing Day event of the 2023-24 academic year at the high school to celebrate this milestone in their academic and athletic careers.

  • Grace Metzler — Hobart and William Smith Colleges, soccer.
  • Gretta Anderson — University of Massachusetts Amherst, rowing.
  • Abigail Altenburg — Washington State University, rowing.
  • Aidan O’Brein — Davidson College, baseball.
  • Niko Hales — Brigham Young University, volleyball.

"This is a moment of immense pride for our school, our community and especially for the families who have supported these athletes throughout their journey. It is a moment where dreams are realized, hard work is recognized and futures are shaped,” Executive Director of Athletics and Student Activities James Parker said. “These scholarships not only signify an incredible athletic prowess but also a commitment to academics and character, as these student-athletes have proven themselves both on and off the field.”

ACHS Athletics will host a second signing event in the spring that will include basketball and football athletes.

ACHS Students Recognized by College Board

Thirty-four students from Alexandria City High School (ACHS) were recognized by the College Board in October 2023, and honored with the following awards.

  • National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists.
  • National Merit Scholarship Commended Students.
  • National African American Recognition Award.
  • National Hispanic Recognition Award.

"The ACHS College and Career Center staff and the entire school counseling team would like to congratulate all of the students who were recognized by the National Merit Scholarship Program and College Board for their impressive performance, both on the PSAT/NMSQT assessment and in our classrooms,” Director of School Counseling Briana Hardaway said. “These remarkable scholars will be able to list this honor on college applications and be eligible for additional scholarship opportunities."

As featured in the Sept. 22, 2023, ACPS Express newsletter, four ACHS students were recognized as semi-finalists for outstanding performance on the PreliminarySAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test in 2022: Abigail Gerstein, Silas Adkins-Hooke, Bennett Imlay and Benjamin Turney.

Students awarded the Letter of Commendation for outstanding performance on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test in 2022 were Ned Brown, Maxwell Ellis, Sam Espach, Thomas Lane, Josephine Lawson, Anna Turney and Chloe Yokitis. 

Students presented with the National African American Recognition included Alem Alem, Jenaba Bah, Malia Cozier, Daniel Dawit, Caleb Etse, Taylor Frazier, Hayat Ismael, Yasmeen Mukhtar, William Price, Catherine Salomons, Yahney-Marie Sangare, Girum Tekle, Essey Tesfai, Sara Woube and Nahom Yohannes.

Students recognized for the National Hispanic Recognition Award were Julio Barroso-Perez, Lia Fitzgerald, Sienna Lardizabal, Elvert Nunez, Sofia Reyes, Erika Vidal, Alexander Witebsky and Victoria Zambrano-Argueta.

ACPS Department of School and Community Relations Earns 16 Awards

Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) received 16 awards at the Chesapeake School Public Relations (CHESPRA) fall conference this month. ACPS was awarded honors in the categories of special publications, website, video production and social media to include three for excellence, five for distinction and eight honorable mentions.


  • ACPS Website Redesign.
  • Video Production: Winter Break Fun for Everyone: Pass it On!
  • Information = Prevention: Spring 2023 Substance Abuse Prevention Workshop Series.


  • ACPS Emergency Communications Guidelines Publication.
  • 2021-22 Measuring What Matters Publication.
  • Live. Impact. Grow. Recruitment Video Series.
  • School Attendance for Student Success: Always Prepared and Ready to Learn Video.
  • Supe’s Spotlight Video Series.

Honorable Mention

  • ACPS 2025: Equity for All Strategic Plan Video Series.
  • ACPS Express Newsletter.
  • ACPS Insider Newsletter.
  • Alexandria City Public School’s 2023 Black History Month Social Media Campaign.
  • Alexandria City Public School’s 2022 Hispanic Heritage Month Social Media Campaign.
  • Alexandria City Public School’s March 2022 Women’s History Month Social Media Campaign.
  • Division-Wide Onboarding of Staff & Families to Unified Communications Platform.
  • Simply the Best: Reclaiming the Narrative and Centering Our Best Practices.

“ACPS is strongly committed to school and family engagement because we know this is of tremendous benefit to our students. We are grateful to have our dedication and hard work recognized by our peers in CHESPRA who understand the challenges and opportunities in school communications today. This exemplary work helps the school division advance the goals of our 2024 strategic plan,” said Chief of School and Community Relations Julia Burgos. 

CHESPRA promotes effective public relations practices within educational institutions across the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. The chapter encourages the adoption of sound communication strategies to enhance understanding and support for schools.

  • 2023-24
  • Alexandria City High School
  • Lyles-Crouch Traditional Academy
  • Student and Staff Recognitions