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Board recognizes accomplishments of outstanding students

The Board of Education at its May 10 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 at the meeting were Scarlett Castro Carrillo of J.C. Parks Elementary School; Saniya Lee of Malcolm Elementary School; Mason Seitz of Dr. James Craik Elementary School; Ana Chavez Villalta of Benjamin Stoddert Middle School; and Jordan Lewis of St. Charles High School.

Castro Carrillo is a fifth-grade student at J.C. Parks and was recognized for career readiness. She is an enthusiastic learner who enjoys school, shows initiative and looks for new ways to get involved, Parks Principal Gregory Miller said. She not only is kind and helpful to everyone in the classroom but sets an example of excellence for all. “Scarlett has a wonderful work ethic and has earned straight A's all school year,” he said. Castro Carrillo has participated in the J.C. Parks math team in fourth and fifth grade.  She and a classmate set up a student-led team of morning announcers who are there every day to deliver the school news and lunch menu. Castro Carrillo was also instrumental in getting the Safety Patrol group back together after virtual learning. “Both jobs are only for those who have high aspirations and demonstrate these aspirations each and every day,” Miller said. “I have no doubt in my mind that Scarlett will go on to do great things that will impact many. It is a true privilege to be her teacher,” Cierra Johnson, Castro Carrillo’s classroom teacher, said.

Lee is a fifth-grade student at Malcolm and was recognized for personal responsibility. She has attended Malcolm since kindergarten and is consistently an honor roll student. She is an avid reader, choosing from a wide range of genres including scary stories, graphic novels and the encyclopedia. Lee’s favorite subject in school is math. Emily Leedy, Lee’s fourth- and fifth-grade teacher, said it has been a joy to teach her for the past year-and-a-half and said that Lee is a wonderful example of a hard-working and responsible student. Throughout virtual learning, Lee adapted to the alternate learning environment, taking on all learning challenges. She is a positive role model to her peers, going above and beyond what is asked and takes responsibility for her own learning. “She is especially enthusiastic in her writing, applying her creative skills to elaborate her stories. Saniyah is kind to others, and always has a positive attitude and good sense of humor,” Malcolm Principal Mary Finneran said. Outside of school, Lee spends time building her skills in photo and video design. She takes her own photos, adding artistic edits and creating a photo album of her work. She has also created multiple videos with her brother, planning the content and adding special effects. When she grows up, Lee would like to apply these skills to being a photo editor. At home, she loves to help, spend time with her younger brother and take care of her dog, Jada. 

Seitz is a fifth-grade student at Craik and was recognized for academic achievement. He has attended Craik since the third grade and earned Principal’s Honor Roll the last seven consecutive quarters. He is identified for gifted services, received the Excellence in Gifted and Talented Education (EGATE) Award and was a Carson Scholarship nominee. “Mason enjoys reading works by his favorite author, Gordan Korman, and is currently finishing up the Masterminds series,” Craik Principal Michelle Beckwith said. He is a member of the school newspaper team and plays the clarinet in the all-county band. When not in school, Seitz stays busy playing soccer multiple times a week and cheering on his sister at her practices. When he grows up, Seitz would like to be a soccer player or actor.

Chavez Villalta is an eighth-grade student at Stoddert and was recognized for academic achievement. This school year, she has earned Principal's Honor Roll which came as no surprise after she earned straight A’s last year as a seventh grader despite the challenges all students faced in virtual learning, Stoddert Principal Erica Williams said. Chavez Villalta is also active in extracurricular activities through her participation in orchestra for the past three years, as well as being a member of National Junior Honor Society. “Not only has Ana demonstrated academic achievement, but she is also a role model among her peers,” Williams said. "I have been her teacher twice now and she continues to impress me and her other teachers with her work and how helpful and generous she is with other students," Bryan Matthews, a social studies teacher, said. Chavez Villalta often goes out of her way to help newly enrolled, students who don’t speak English with acclimating to their classes and the Stoddert school culture. She was also selected to train as a peer mediator this school year.  In this role, she has helped sixth-grade students resolve their conflicts through a supportive and pragmatic approach.

Lewis is a senior at St. Charles and was recognized for academic achievement. He is a dedicated learner who entered ninth grade having already completed one high school credit which he earned while in middle school. His cumulative weighted GPA of 4.419 currently ranks him seventh in his graduating class of nearly 370 students. This year, Lewis is enrolled in four Advanced Placement (AP) courses and has maintained a straight A record in all classes. Overall, he has taken a total of 12 honors and nine AP courses during his four years of high school. His teachers describe him as “dedicated and hard-working when it comes to his schoolwork” and share that he “brings well thought collaboration to problem solving and is exceptionally proactive in asking for clarification or assistance when needed.” He plans to attend Towson University and major in political science following graduation. In addition to his classroom accolades, Lewis has been an active participant in chess club, National Honor Society, served as the captain of We the People and Its Academic teams, and represented St. Charles in baseball, track and wrestling during high school.  Lewis is also active outside of school and in the local community as a Boy Scout and earned the rank of Eagle Scout in January 2020. His teachers further described him as “an accomplished student, a leader among his teammates and peers, and a meaningful contributor in his community.”

About CCPS
Charles County Public Schools provides 27,000 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).