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Board honors outstanding students for accomplishments

The Board of Education at its Feb. 14 meeting honored five Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) students. School principals annually select one student and staff member for Board recognition. Students are honored for accomplishments in the areas of academic achievement, career readiness and personal responsibility.

Honored were Janelle Smyre of J.P. Ryon Elementary School, Chase Yupari of William A. Diggs Elementary School, Sydney Carter of General Smallwood Middle School, Isabella Coleman of Thomas Stone High School and Elizabeth Heglar of the Robert D. Stethem Educational Center.

Smyre is a fifth-grade student at Ryon recognized in the area of personal responsibility. Ryon students are encouraged to demonstrate honor, integrity, grit and hope both at school and in the community through action. “Janelle exemplifies this,” Diedra Barnett, acting principal at Ryon, said. She is a member of the school band where she plays the snare drum and xylophone. She has been a member in the Reimagining Ryon Club and enjoys playing volleyball. Smyre loves to draw and create stories in her art journal. Her teachers find her very creative, and she presents different ideas in and out of the classroom. “Her teachers consider her to be very sweet, caring and a joy to teach,” Barnett said. Smyre works well with her classmates and cares about their wellbeing in and out of the classroom, Barnett said. “She is welcoming to new students and makes it a point to make them comfortable in their new surroundings,” Barnett said.

A fifth-grade student at Diggs, Yupari was recognized for academic achievement. He is a hard worker and displays a positive attitude toward learning. “He is a great example to his peers and is a high achiever,” Diggs Principal Ben Harrington said. Yupari loves math and enjoys excelling while learning new things. “He participates in all classes, volunteers to help others and is eager to share his perspective, which usually includes ideas that are abstract,” Harrington said. Yupari leads within the classroom and has a very bright academic future. Outside of school, he plays soccer, cooks, plays games and enjoys traveling with his family. Yupari has put pins in the map having visited Universal Studios, San Diego, Disney and Myrtle Beach. When he grows up, Yupari wants to be a therapist to help people overcome their fears.

Carter, an eighth grader at Smallwood, was recognized for career readiness. She is enrolled in the school’s Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program and is dedicated to getting a college education to prepare herself for a future career. Carter is an honor roll student and is already taking Algebra I. “Sydney is diligent, responsible and efficient and puts her absolute best effort into all of her assignments,” Brenda Tillotson, Smallwood principal, said. “Sydney always greets her teachers and is ready to lend a helping hand to her fellow students.” Carter demonstrates career readiness through her actions and effort. “She is not afraid of a challenge or afraid to ask for help when she needs it, and she is always seeking to do better,” Tillotson said. While Carter has not decided on a career, she is interested in pursuing art.

Coleman is a senior at Thomas Stone and was recognized for academic achievement. “Isabella is academically sound, has phenomenal leadership qualities and her caring personality is contagious.” Shanif Pearl, Thomas Stone principal, said. Coleman has achieved high standards throughout her high school career and has clear goals for her future, Pearl said. Coleman pulls down an over 4.3 GPA and is enrolled in or has taken more than eight Advanced Placement (AP) classes, and is in the Project Lead the Way program. She is currently ranked in the top 5% of her class, runs cross country, and is a member of the school’s Mathematics, Engineering and Science Achievement (MESA) and It’s Academic teams. “Isabella’s contributions, commitment, and dedication were impactful and greatly beneficial to the clubs and organizations she participates in,” Pearl said. Coleman has attended summer leadership programs such as the Georgetown University’s Advanced Medical & Public Health Internship.

Heglar is a senior taking automotive classes at the Robert D. Stethem Educational Center who was recognized in the area of academic achievement. Heglar is a no nonsense, motivated student, whose maturity far surpasses the average high school senior, Stethem Principal Louis D’Ambrosio said. Academically, she has a 4.0 GPA in her career and technical education (CTE) automotive classes and currently works for Ford Motor Company. Heglar has attained three certifications from the National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), the gold standard of the auto industry. Her certifications are in engine performance, light repair, and brakes and suspensions. “Elizabeth is a very focused, high-achieving young lady,” Timothy Major, Heglar’s automotive teacher, said. She has been an ambassador for the automotive program at Stethem and volunteers at events for prospective students as well as for opportunities to show off the program to distinguished guests and visitors. Heglar is an accomplished artist, having her artwork selected by Christin Downie, art teacher at Stethem, for a recent CCPS art show. “Elizabeth is a responsible, resilient and multifaceted young lady who strives to do her best no matter what challenge she is faced with,” Downie said. Heglar is not only successful academically, but she is also a successful student-athlete, D’Ambrosio said. She wrestles for Maurice J. McDonough High School in the 155-pound class and has won Most Outstanding Female Wrestler at the Kaiser Classic. As a freshman, she finished third place in a state competition and second in states last year as a junior. Heglar has applied to both Shenandoah and Frostburg universities and plans to major in business. She is not 100% sure she will continue in the automotive business but will pursue something in the business industry.


About CCPS

Charles County Public Schools provides 27,598 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 37 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.

The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Kathy Kiessling, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Nikial M. Majors, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.

CCPS provides nondiscriminatory equal access to school facilities in accordance with its Use of Facilities rules to designated youth groups (including, but not limited to, the Boy Scouts).