2024 Black History Month Student Leaders
The School Board is proud to recognize the 2024 student Models of Excellence, chosen by their principals for their contributions in and out of the classroom. These students stand out through collaboration, mentoring, getting involved in causes and activities, and academic excellence, and have demonstrated a serious commitment to addressing issues of social justice in their schools. The recognition will take place on Thu, Feb. 22, 7 p.m. at the School Board meeting.
Arlington Career Center – Ahmad Ali
Arlington Career Center is pleased to nominate Ahmad Ali for the Model of Excellence award in honor of Black History Month. Ahmad has been a remarkable leader within the ACC community since his freshman year and served as the Vice President of the Youth Chapter of the NAACP. Ahmad has been a guiding light for his peers in the boys’ cohort, which hosts a group of underrepresented young men, and he continually influences students across all grade levels. Ahmad proactively mentor’s 9th-grade students on a weekly basis, focusing on vital topics like academic achievement, diversity, and college preparation. His exceptional communication skills and comprehensive approach to discussions and facilitating community circles have been invaluable to his peers. Ahmad has taken the initiative with the senior cohort to lead fundraising events and organize activities promoting community cohesiveness and a spirit of success. His academic journey is as remarkable as his leadership, with plans to complete his first year of college upon graduating high school, all while strategically aligning his career and technical education (CTE) classes toward a future in cybersecurity. Ahmad’s exceptional public speaking skills have made him a recognized participant in activities showcasing our school’s opportunities. Ahmad’s dedication to his family and his pride in his heritage are profound. Ahmad’s thoughtfulness, kindness, empathy, and charisma extend beyond his immediate circle, making him a role model and a positive influence for individuals of all ages.
Arlington Community High School – Tigist Girma
Tigist Girma is a committed member of our school community, and we are proud to nominate her as a Model of Excellence.Tigist is originally from Ethiopia and is proud of her roots and heritage. The passion and pride she has for her cultural background directly translates to her passion for her education and social justice. She has an innate ability to reach people, find unity within differences and empathize and create bonds with a diverse group of people. She has endless compassion and fervor for working towards equity and equality in her community and school and is always willing to lend a helping hand. She is a tireless advocate for her classmates as well as herself, and it is reflected in her academic growth during her journey at ACHS. We are so thankful to have a hardworking, compassionate, and committed individual such as Tigist at our school, and we recommend her as a Model of Excellence for the work she has put in at her school and in her community.
Eunice Kennedy Shriver Program – Edelawit Gtsadik
Ede, listed as a 13th-grade student, returned to the Shriver Program last spring after residing in a nursing home. Her presence in the program is not only valued but cherished deeply. It’s a true delight to have Ede among us. Her radiant smile and infectious energy have a transformative effect, brightening every room she enters and uplifting the spirits of those around her. Despite facing challenges, Ede remains an active participant in the learning process, enthusiastically engaging with the special education curriculum. Beyond her academic pursuits, she serves as a beacon of motivation for her peers, inspiring both students and faculty alike with her dedication and positive attitude. Ede’s unwavering commitment to graduating from the Shriver Program exemplifies her resilience and determination. In addition to her academic endeavors, Ede contributes to the vibrant tapestry of our school community through her kindness and compassion. Her genuine care for others is evident in the way she interacts with her fellow classmates and the support she offers to anyone in need. Ede’s presence serves as a reminder of the power of perseverance and the importance of embracing life’s challenges with grace and optimism. We are truly fortunate to have Ede as a member of the Shriver Program, and her impact on our community will be remembered long after she graduates.
H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program – Alex Wambura Cante
Alex has been selected as our HB Model of Excellence for his display of leadership and dedication. This year he was selected to represent HBW at the Minority Student Achievement Network (MSAN) Conference in Madison, WI. As a result of this experience, Alex put in effort to design a program promoting inclusion and belonging in the Arlington Public Schools rigorous courses. At HB, he is active in Cohort, a group for students that identify as Black or LatinX, and he leads multiple clubs where he participates in planning activities including Co-founder of Med-Tech, a medical/technology integration club, and leader of BSU (Black Student Union), a club for Black student leaders. This year, Alex is also attending the Uplifting Black Men Conference at VA Tech. Outside of school he is involved in sports and future leader programs while balancing his academics.
Langston High School Continuation Program – Aaron Autman
Aaron Autman has been a student at Langston since the fall of 2023. In that time, we have been impressed by his dedication, work ethic, and leadership qualities. He is an active member of the ROTC program, where he has demonstrated exceptional discipline, teamwork, and initiative. Aaron’s commitment to the ROTC program serves as a testament to his strong sense of responsibility and his ability to excel in challenging environments. He can be seen frequently at school board meeting helping to present the colors.In addition to his academic pursuits, Aaron also works diligently as a swim instructor for Arlington County Pools. In this role, he has displayed a remarkable level of maturity, quick thinking, and responsibility. Aaron’s role as a lifeguard not only showcases his ability to handle high-pressure situations with grace but also highlights his unwavering dedication to ensuring the safety and well-being of others.One of Aaron’s most commendable qualities is his ability to build strong relationships with his peers and mentors. He is well-liked by his classmates, respected by his teachers, and admired by the Langston community for his positive attitude and willingness to help others. Aaron’s friendly demeanor, coupled with his strong communication skills, make him a natural leader and team player in any setting.
Washington-Liberty High School – Jada Millhouse
Jada Millhouse is an outstanding junior at W-L High School. She goes above and beyond in and outside of the classroom. In school, she takes advantage of a challenging curriculum and brings a diverse perspective to the class setting. Jada extends her learning in a variety of extracurricular activities. For the past five years, Jada has been a member and mentor in the Voices of Now Theater program at the Arena Stage. Jada is proud of her choreography work she put into production at the Northern VA nonprofit Educational Theater Company. Jada is also the Artistic Director and an active member of the W-L BSU Club. Jada is a great Model of Excellence to her peers and the greater DMV community.
Wakefield High School – Gabrielle Harber
Gabrielle Harber is a junior at Wakefield High School who exemplifies the characteristics of a Model of Excellence. Gabrielle challenged herself throughout her high school career by enrolling in the most rigorous courses offered and achieved academic excellence consistently. Having taken all honors and AP classes since 9th grade, she currently has a 3.9 GPA. In addition to academic achievements, she is an integral part of the community, volunteering regularly for school events such as orientation and Back to School Night and community events such as Special Olympics and reading to middle school students for African American Read-In Day. Gabrielle is a member of the Math Honor Society, National Honor Society and she holds leadership positions with the Black Student Union (secretary), Student Government Association (secretary) and Badminton Club (co-Vice President). With regard to her commitment to addressing social justice issues within the community, she has volunteered to serve on the Black History Month panel at Langston High School two years in a row and as a speaker at last year’s Juneteenth event sponsored by the Black Employees Council of Arlington County. A leader who inspires Gabrielle to achieve success is Angela Davis. She is motivated to succeed by focusing on the positive impact she will leave on others. Black History Month is significant to Gabrielle because she sees it as a time to celebrate everything African Americans and their ancestors have done, not only for this country, but for the world.
Yorktown High School – Maddox Alfred
Maddox Alfred, a sophomore at Yorktown High School, epitomizes academic excellence. Maddox achieved straight A’s in the first marking period (with the exception of a B+ in one class), and straight A’s in the second marking period while taking a Dual Enrollment class and an Advanced Placement Class. One of her teachers describes her as a good student who gets her work done, asks questions and stays focused. Maddox cites her mother, Tia Alfred, as a leader who inspires her to achieve success. She admires her mother’s involvement in several civic groups, including the local NAACP chapter, and says that she is especially proud of the way her mom expresses herself. Maddox is motivated to achieve excellence by focusing on her future. She is aware of how one’s future may turn out if you don’t try and so she always tries her best. For Maddox, Black History Month is meant to highlight the many successes of Black people – their efforts and achievements can provide a lot of inspiration.
2024 Black History Month Events
Arlington Career Center – Join us at the Arlington Career Center as we host the first African American Read-In on Wednesday, February 21st at 2:00 pm. The African American Read-In was founded in 1990 by the Black Caucus of National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) to encourage community-wide reading and to promote literacy by showcasing books by Black authors. During the event, attendees will hear from students and staff as they read excerpts from notable works of fiction by Black authors and share their personal stories on topics such as identity, genre, and representation in literature. Please contact Dr. Deborah Sanchez for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Barrett Elementary School – Black History Month has arrived, and we are thrilled to share with you that we held another one of our roving reader events this month. These reading sessions serve to celebrate and recognize the multiple achievements and milestones of various multicultural, socioeconomic and/or gender groups that have continuously faced opposition to preserve various aspects of their identity. More importantly, Tuesday, February 6, 2024, served as a day where many like minded members and leaders of our community congregated at Barrett to further educate our students on the plight that many African Americans have had to overcome. All of this education is done through the promotion of age-appropriate multicultural literature that our roving readers read to our students.We are always looking for new roving readers to join our team. Please reach out to Arturo Ramirez at Barrett Elementary School to learn more. Contact: email@example.com
Carlin Springs Elementary School – Students, families, and staff are invited to share their own “I Am Black History” shorts with family or friends representing Black History. Shorts will be featured on the morning news and all are encouraged to participate! Please send your “shorts” (videos) to 5th grade teacher, Alexus Hebert, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, all classes will decorate their classroom doors to spark a conversation and on February 27, all students will participate in a parade to view the doors .Winners will be announced on February 29! Renée Collins Georges and Kidz MusiQ Club Jazz Ensemble bring jazz singing and its rich history to Carlin Springs. Students will enjoy these performances on February 29.
Dorothy Hamm Middle School – Join us at Dorothy Hamm Middle School, Fri, Feb. 2 from 6:30p.m. – 8:00 p.m. to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the integration of Arlington Public Schools. This formal program will honor and celebrate the desegregation of Stratford Jr. High and Arlington Public Schools. Open house will be held on Sat, Feb. 3 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. During the open house, come and explore civil rights history, the new Dorothy Hamm building and other fun activities.
Gunston Middle School – Join us as Gunston celebrates African Americans in the Arts Tue, Feb. 13, from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. Start the evening with a taste of the culture and sample foods from local African American-owned restaurants and view historical exhibits. Then, witness the talents of our very own Gunston Students as they demonstrate and inform you of some wonderful African-American pioneers in Music, Literature, Dance, Film and Fashion! There will also be a surprise guest! You don’t want to miss it!
Langston High School Continuation Program – Black History Month Student Panel Discussion, Tue, Feb. 13, 10:30 a.m. -11:20 a.m. Organized by school librarian Dr. Yaa Osun. Lanston students will participate in a discussion with the Black Student Unions from Wakefield, Washington-Liberty and Yorktown. Contact Dr. Osun at email@example.com.