Full Menu

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

This May, we celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, a time to honor the rich history and contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) in the United States. AAPI communities have played a pivotal role in shaping the fabric of our society.

At APS, we are committed to fostering an environment that embraces diversity and empowers every member of our community. AAPI Month provides a wonderful opportunity for us to explore and appreciate the vast cultural richness and historical depth of these communities.

Throughout the month, students can engage in a series of events and activities designed to enrich their understanding of the diverse cultures, traditions and histories of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. We encourage all students, staff and families to participate in these activities in their schools, which are aimed at strengthening our community through increased knowledge and mutual respect.

Engaging with the narratives and achievements of the AAPI community not only educates us but also reinforces the importance of inclusion and cultural awareness within our schools and beyond. This month, let us recognize and celebrate the enduring contributions and resilience of Asian-Pacific Americans.

On Thu, May 16, the Arlington School Board will recognize the 2024 Asian Pacific student leaders from across APS high schools and programs as chosen by their principals. These students have excelled academically, demonstrated commitment to social justice, overcame hardships and contributed significantly to the community through collaboration, mentoring and involvement in various causes. Let’s come together to honor the vibrant traditions and contributions of the Asian Pacific community.

Arlington Career Center - Ananya Sinha

Ananya Sinha

ACC is pleased to nominate Ananya Sinha for the Model of Excellence award in honor of AAPI Heritage Month.  Ananya has channeled her passions through her Arlington Tech capstone project with C-Quest Capital, a company committed to providing clean cookstoves to citizens in developing countries, thereby reducing carbon emissions and enhancing global health conditions. This experience has enriched her science, project management, and diplomacy skills. Within ACC- Arlington Tech, she founded the Girls STEM Cohort, leading over 30 girls by organizing activities and speakers and becoming a role model for underclasswomen. Ananya is also a prominent leader in Diversity Chats sponsored by the DEI office, facilitating student-led discussions on diverse identities, including race, ethnicity, gender, and religion. Additionally, she founded the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Community Service Club, guiding over 50 students in STEM programming across the county and engaging younger students from elementary and middle schools in robotics and computer programming. She was known for her kindness and enthusiasm. Beyond school, Ananya spends her summers as a teacher assistant and curriculum developer for underprivileged English learners in a preschool to 3rd-grade vertical classroom at the Rishi Valley School of India.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver - Jackson Shaiao

Jackson is a hard working student and a pleasure to have at the Shriver Program. Jackson is a 10th grade student leader. He enjoys coming to school and being surrounded by his peers. Jackson is also enrolled in Extended Day and he continues to build positive relationships with his peers and the adults in the program.  His love for numbers, stories, and music makes him stand out to those who see him in class and walking through the halls. Jackson is helpful in ensuring his classroom environment is clean and things are organized. He also enjoys helping others during math and reading activities. Jackson enjoys the structure of the school day and refers to the class schedule ensuring things remain on track. Jackson’s daily affirmation is “I am important!” and he truly is an important part of our Shriver Family.

H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program

Ayon Barua

Ayon is a junior at H-B. He is a dedicated, reliable, and compassionate student. This year, in addition to his rigorous course load, Ayon founded a non-profit organization focused on providing first-generation immigrant students with information and support as they navigate high school and apply to college. Ayon is an active member of the HBW Cohort and the APS MSAN. He is someone who offers to help when he sees a need and follows through on what he promises to do. For example, Ayon volunteers with our Robotics teacher during the last block of the day. The classroom where he volunteers is packed with middle school students and Ayon is a tremendous resource for the students and for the teacher. He has a remarkable ability to anticipate problems – both interpersonal and academic – and he puts himself in a place where he can help mediate or guide the situation in a positive direction.

Wakefield High School - Julia Vibar

Julia Vibar

Wakefield High School is proud to recognize Julia Vibar for her academic excellence and commitment to her school community.  Currently in her junior year, Julia has been a member of the Asian Club since she was a freshman and currently serves as one of its leaders.  She uses her organizational and problem-solving skills as she assists in planning and executing the club’s general meetings. As a scholar, Julia challenges herself by enrolling and excelling in the most rigorous courses offered, currently earning a 4.02 cumulative grade point average.  She is a member of the National Honor Society and United Minority Girls (UMG).   When asked about a leader who inspires her to achieve success, she shared the following: “Michelle Yeoh is an incredibly talented and inspiring actress. Her achievements in the film industry, both in Asia and internationally, serve as a source of inspiration to many. By observing her dedication, passion, and hard work, I have learned valuable lessons aboutperseverance, resilience, and the pursuit of my dreams. Michelle Yeoh’s success reminds me that with determination, talent, and a strong work ethic, I can overcome obstacles and achieve my goals. Her accomplishments can motivate you to pursue my own path and strive for success in my future.”

Washington-Liberty High School - Tergel Odkhuu

Tergel Odkhuu

Tergel (Luna) Odkhuu is a junior at Washington-Liberty High School, who is kind, empathetic, driven, and ambitious. She is passionate and dedicated to serving the Arlington community. Luna regularly volunteers at her school and aids the staff with their needs. She enjoys contributing her time and serving the faculty and student body, because it is a way of giving back to the school. Also, she plans to be part of a drug abuse awareness program called YADAPP (Youth Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Project), to address underage substance use at the high school-level. Luna chose to participate in this program to spread awareness to students and promote good health choices. In fact, she is planning to be a nurse to help as many people as possible. She dedicates her life to public service, provides vital hands-on patient care, and improves access to well condition assistants. Asian heritage month plays an important role in promoting cultural diversity, social cohesion, peace, and economic development. The heritage month means a lot to Luna, because it is a period of time where she can celebrate and acknowledge various ethnic groups. People are not fully educated on their cultural competences, so this is a great opportunity to gain experience, and acquire an understanding of different cultures. Luna is nominated, because peers and teachers recognize the value of her contributions to her school. She deserves this award, because of her sacrifices and discipline shown throughout her academic career. Classmates see Luna as someone who demonstrates respect towards school, completes assignments on time, and shows affection in every class. Luna’s family inspires her to achieve success. Since she comes from an immigrant family and will be the first to go to college, she strives to become a mature and responsible student while studying in the US. Luna is motivated to achieve success in academics and growth as a person. Students and staff are thrilled to have Luna as an active member of the school community.

Yorktown High School - Erin Lee

Erin Lee

Erin was selected for her outstanding contributions both in and out of school and for her academic achievement.  Erin enjoys helping classmates grasp challenging concepts and providing assistance with homework – this not only helps them, but also helps her ensure that she has a firm grasp on the content.  Erin is a member of the Asian American and Pacific Islander Club at Yorktown and participated in Yorktown’s first Cultural Fair this past April.  She wore traditional Korean clothing and provided treats for students to sample.  As a member of the Robotics Club, Erin helped her team prepare for and participate in the FIRST Robotics Competition earlier this year. She greatly enjoys giving back to the community and volunteers at the Grace Community Center Clinic every Sunday from 1:30 to 5:00 as a receptionist (the Clinic provides medical care to low-income families and individuals).  Through the National Honor Society, Erin has volunteered her time at STEM Nights and science fairs at APS elementary schools.  She was a part of a group of Yorktown students who visited APS middle schools last month to share their experiences at Yorktown with rising 9th grade students.  Erin’s volunteer efforts continue into the summer: she volunteers as an Assistant Youth Leader with a local Vacation Bible School working with 2nd and 3rd grade students (she has done so for the past six summers) and last year, Erin volunteered a weekend with Camp Evergreen which has a program for children with disabilities (Erin was assigned to support a child with autism to provide respite for the child’s parents).  She greatly enjoys working with children envisions doing so in the future in the fields of education, science, or medicine.  She hones her skills tutoring students in elementary and high school once a week during the school year and daily in the summer.  Erin has a 4.1 GPA and she is currently enrolled in four AP classes and one D/E class.  Yorktown is fortunate to have her as a member of our community!


For additional resources and to learn more about the significance of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, please visit: