Board recognizes exemplary students at its Dec. 8 meeting

Board recognizes exemplary students at its Dec. 8 meeting


The Board of Education of Charles County honored four Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) students at its Dec. 8 meeting. 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.

School closures announced earlier this year caused CCPS to postpone in-person student and staff recognitions. Health and safety guidelines changed student and staff recognitions at Board meetings to a virtual format. The recognition ceremony featured pre-recorded introductions and recognitions from school principals.

Honored this month were Payton Jones, Makayla Russell, Tamia Smith and Rajan Venkatesh.

Jones is a fifth-grade student at J.P. Ryon Elementary School. She was chosen by Ryon Principal Melinda Johnson as an exemplary student in academic achievement. Jones is a straight A student and leader in the virtual classroom. She participates in whole group discussions and is known for providing positive messages for her teacher and peers during online classes. Jones’ teacher describes her as a role-model student and “a pleasure to teach.” Jones demonstrates hard work each day and an exemplary work ethic. Outside of school, Jones participates in gymnastics, dance and swimming, and loves to read, write and illustrate books.

Russell is a fifth-grade student at William. A. Diggs Elementary School. Diggs Principal Debra Calvert selected Russell for recognition in personal responsibility. She has attended Diggs since her first-grade year and is a role-model student. Russell has earned straight A’s since third grade and is always eager to learn. Her teacher describes her as a student who is passionate about learning. She demonstrates hard work in the virtual classroom and strives to help both her teachers and classmates. Russell loves math and plans to pursue a career in finance. Outside of school, Russell is a competitive dancer, member of SeaPerch and active with a youth auxiliary group that performs community service.

Smith is a senior at Thomas Stone High School. She was chosen by Stone Principal Shanif Pearl as the school’s exemplary student in career readiness. Smith is a student in the Teacher Academy of Maryland (TAM) program and aspires to become a middle school math or English teacher. As part of the TAM program, Smith has completed three Advanced Placement (AP) and 13 honors courses. Her teachers describe her as a motivated student with a strong work ethic. Smith also serves as president of the Educators Rising chapter at Stone, is the basketball team manager and member of the W.E.B. Du Bois Honor Society. Smith was also nominated for a CCPS “Be the Difference” volunteer award for her work as a mentor with John Hanson Middle School students. Outside of school, Smith holds a part-time job and is active with her church. To date, Smith has 23 college acceptances and was offered more than $900,000 in scholarships. She hopes to attend Morgan State University next fall.

Venkatesh is an eighth-grade student at General Smallwood Middle School. Smallwood Principal Brenda Tillotson selected Venkatesh for recognition in academic achievement. Venkatesh is an honor-roll student and carries a 4.0 GPA. He has received gifted services since elementary school and recently scored in the top 20 percent of his peers on county reading and math assessments. Venkatesh is a member of the school Math Counts and Spelling Bee teams, and Destination Imagination. He was also selected to serve as a guest speaker during the promotion ceremony for students at Gale-Bailey Elementary School. Venkatesh is well known among his teachers as a role model and leader among his peers.

The Board each month honors CCPS students and staff selected by their principal for recognition.

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).

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