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Chancellor Kaya Henderson Hosts Third-Annual Scholars Luncheon to Honor Top Seniors

Monday, June 15, 2015

Chancellor Kaya Henderson Hosts Third-Annual Scholars Luncheon to Honor Top Seniors

Chancellor Kaya Henderson Hosts Third-Annual Scholars Luncheon to Honor Top Seniors

Today, District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) Chancellor Kaya Henderson hosted the third-annual Chancellor's Scholars luncheon to honor the best and brightest high school seniors, including valedictorians, salutatorians and student-athletes, as well as the most-improved students from every DCPS high school. The luncheon was held at the Acela Club Restaurant in the Verizon Center.

Special recognition awards were given to three students. Margaret Kellogg, the valedictorian of Wilson High School, was named the 2015 DCPS Top Scholar. Margaret has a 4.5 GPA, the highest of any graduating senior in DCPS, and is fluent in both Chinese and Spanish. While at Wilson, she took 13 Advanced Placement courses. Margaret will be attending Yale University in the fall.

Triony Valdivia-Cazzol, the valedictorian at Ballou High School, and Alexiana Whittington, a senior at Columbia Heights Education Campus were recipients of the 2015 Chancellor's Award, which recognizes students who have gone above and beyond to remain focused academically and excel despite personal challenges. Both students will be the first in their families to attend college. Triony Valdivia-Cazzol emigrated to the U.S. from Bolivia, South America, with his family when he was very young. His desire to support his family continues to drive his success and focus. He is very community-driven and tutors Hart Middle School and Simon Elementary School students. He is also a member of the soccer team. He will attend the Florida Institute of Technology in the fall.

Alexiana Whittington admits that she was not academically focused during her first two years of high school. But in her junior year, she made a decision to focus on school and enrolled in the UDC-CC CARE program, a dual–enrollment program, where she has earned 18 college credits and maintained a 3.3 GPA. Additionally, she served as vice president of CHEC's Social Media Club. Alexiana will be attending Alabama A & M in the fall.

"I am incredibly proud of each and every student we have honored today. They have worked hard to reach this milestone in their lives," said DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson. "We expect that they will continue to represent our schools with integrity and passion, proving to the world that the public school system in the nation's capital turns out some of the most amazing people in this world."

Columbia Heights Education Campus (CHEC) received the 2014-2015 DCIAA High School Athletic Department Award in recognition of having an exceptional year in multiple sports. The girls basketball team finished second in the league this year, and the girls soccer and volleyball teams competed in the semifinal playoffs. Also, during the 2014-2015 school year, CHEC sports teams participated in the High School Boys Soccer Championship, High School Football STRIPES Championship, High School Boys Baseball Championship, and the High School Girls Softball STARS Championship games.

In recognition of their outstanding accomplishments, all students attending the event received a $100 gift card and a commemorative photo with Chancellor Henderson. Students were also inspired by DCPS alumnus Terry L. Bennett, who delivered the event's keynote address. Terry is a graduate of 2011 graduate of Ballou High School and a POSSE Foundation Scholar. Terry recently graduated from Bucknell University with a degree in sociology with a concentration in legal studies. Upon graduation, Terry is returning to Ballou, his alma mater, to work as a teacher's assistant.

"Graduating from high school is a great accomplishment, but graduating from colleges is amazing," said Bennett. "Study hard, stick with it and be sure to find someone on campus that can help you through your journey. No matter what, you will and can accomplish your goals."