Before Mountain View's winter graduates received various academic and leadership awards last week, as well as $7,500 in scholarships, Principal Jim Oliver, he addressed the students directly.
HE SAID the academic awards represented the recipients' "dedication and diligence" to the subject area for which they were nominated. And to each senior receiving a scholarship, he said, "It shows your commitment to work toward your goal of continuing your education."
The ceremony was held last Thursday, Feb. 2, in the school auditorium, and Oliver thanked the parents present for being involved in their children's accomplishments at Mountain View. And, he added, "I would like you to know how proud the teachers and staff are of these award recipients."
Several seniors received Department Awards for English, electives, ESOL, math, science and social studies. Then guidance counselor Jim Lockwood presented a slew of All "A" Honor Roll awards. (See list).
Congratulating the recipients, he said they've reached the topmost rung of academic achievement. Said Lockwood: "Your efforts and high level of performance will serve you now and in the future, and I strongly encourage you to continue on in them."
MARINE STAFF Sgt. William Davis, of the Chantilly recruiting station, presented the Scholastic Excellence Award for Academic Achievement to Daphne Twu. He said this honor "recognizes students who go the extra mile with their studies, both in and out of the classroom. To be eligible for [it], the student must be a distinguished scholar, an exemplary citizen and a role model for younger students."
Patrick Hitzelberg, Dennis Adan Palma-Camacho, Edwige Tchamgoue, Soukanya Thammasith and Jun Hee Woo were given attendance awards which, at Mountain View, is no small thing. Said Assistant Principal Ellen McCarthy: "Many of our students have full-time jobs and family obligations, so it makes attending school a challenge."
Guidance counselor Ellen Fay and technology coordinator Pete Garvey presented Sahar Sherzai with the Leadership Award. Fay said it's given to a senior "who's made a real difference in the community of Mountain View." And, said Garvey, "Sahar embraced our mottoes of family, love and respect wholeheartedly. I know she'll be successful in every endeavor she sets her mind to achieve."
Vanessa Rivas Marquez received the Harbitter Family Foundation scholarship, which goes to the student scoring the highest in the scholarship application process. She's always loved school and learning and, when she was in elementary school in her native country of El Salvador, she fell in love with math and won a silver medallion in her school's math olympics.
HER FATHER'S job brought her to the U.S., and she attended other high schools, but had difficulty adjusting to a new culture and language. But at Mountain View, her teachers consider her a model citizen. "She is focused, dependable and never takes the easy way out," said guidance counselor Sue Houde. "Vanessa already completed a class on tax preparation and has worked in this field. [This] scholarship will assist her in pursuing a college degree."
Besides her Scholastic Excellence award, Daphne Twu also received a scholarship from Digital Focus Inc. Describing why she was selected, Tim Loomis, the company's manager of systems engineering, said Daphne pushes herself to make sure she understands everything she reads. "She feels that when she stops learning, life stops," he said.
She came to the U.S. from Taiwan in the seventh grade and, even though she didn't speak English, she worked hard to learn it. "She prides herself as being seen by her peers as a scholar," said Loomis. "Her teachers describe Daphne as a hard worker who is bright and has a great attitude."
As part of her government class, she spent many volunteer hours serving meals to the homeless at Martha's Table. She, herself, is from a single-parent home where money is tight, and her Digital Focus scholarship will help her attend VCU. She hopes to someday become an advertising director.
Winning the Ennis and Ennis, P.A. scholarship was Edrise Babee, and Lockwood — who wrote his scholarship recommendation — presented him with the award. "Edrise is an extraordinary example of a student who is capable, ready and willing to shine on the college and career horizons," he said. "He has experienced circumstances that only the most disciplined, conscientious and motivated of people could rise above."
CALLING EDRISE an "exceptional student, valued citizen and respected leader," Lockwood said he earned straight "A"s in both his years at Mountain View, developed wonderful relationships with the teachers and is the reigning school chess champion. He plans to use his scholarship money to attend NOVA and then GMU.
Both Ann Lee and Angie Turcios received the ExxonMobil Foundation scholarship. For the past month, Ann has been dual-enrolled at Mountain View and NOVA and plans to transfer to VCU for its fine-arts department. In her scholarship essay, she wrote that coming to Mountain View gave her the direction she needed to complete high school. She hopes to become a buyer in the fashion industry.
Angie has had to work to help support her family and, because of these financial difficulties, she faces challenges in reaching her goal of being the first member of her family to obtain a college education. So this scholarship will help her begin her college career at NOVA, en route to a degree in criminal justice.
Presenting the Woodruff Family Scholarship to Kirsten Dickerson was 2004 Mountain View grad Jamie Woodruff. She said Kirsten's social studies teachers remarked about her focus, motivation and determination. And she noted how Kirsten's scholarship essay explained her growing awareness of the importance of school and the need to put grades and school first in her life.
"Kirsten credits her mother with support and her sister with inspiration as she made new goals that included college," said Woodruff. "After completing a four-year college program, Kirsten hopes to attend medical school. The Woodruff family is happy to play a part in that dream."
Erika Westin received the Mountain View Textbook Award, which helps defray the cost of college textbooks and fees. Special-ed teacher Tim McElroy said Erika loves learning and, according to her English teacher, she's a "unique, creative young woman who exhibits unusual talent as a poet. She understands the power and impact of words; she sees the world through sensitive eyes. She examines and writes the truths of her life experience." After attending NOVA, Erika hopes to major in sound engineering at Middle Tennessee State University.
ESOL TEACHER Carole Mauro then presented the Theresa Siena/Angelina Mauro Book Award to Vanessa Rivas Marquez. It's from Mauro and her husband Larry. "Lifelong learning and a love of books start with the words, 'Mommy, read me a story," said Mauro. "So this scholarship is given in honor of my mother, Theresa Siena, and my mother-in-law, Angelina Mauro."
After the ceremony, Principal Oliver commented on the emotion in the room and how strongly the parents believe in their children's success at this school. "To see the smiles on the parents' faces was incredible," he said.
"We also appreciate the support of our scholarship donors; we're indebted to them," said Oliver. "Five years ago, just a select few from Mountain View would go to college. Now they really feel they have these opportunities, and that's huge for these kids."