Congratulations, Class of 2021!

By Laura Longley

You made it. After 12 years of working hard and putting your heart into the life of your schools, you’re leaving high school with memories you’ll share not only with your classmates but also with students around the world.

There have been the months without sports, band concerts conducted on Zoom, plays performed behind masks, and social events socially distanced.

But in these final days, here’s the good news: Your graduations will be celebrated not on a screen but on campus. It’s something to toss your mortarboard over.

Every student has earned a hearty pat on the back and a “bravo”! Several students deserve special mention for going above and beyond. Here’s looking at you, kids:

Young Chen of Stone Bridge High School became one of only 61 students across the nation to earn the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship, which provides $40,000 annually to cover costs associated with the student’s undergraduate education. Passionate about science, Chen is a U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad finalist, USA Bio Olympiad semifinalist, and an international winner of the NYAS COVID-19 contest that challenged students to find an equitable and realistic solution to the pandemic. Accepted at Stanford, Harvard, and MIT, Chen has elected to join the Class of 2025 at Stanford University.

Four LCPS seniors are among the 3,300 winners of National Merit Scholarships financed by U.S. colleges and universities. They are Jason T. Birsic, Stone Bridge High School, National Merit Clemson University Scholarship; Aarushi Dubey, Briar Woods High School, National Merit University of Maryland Scholarship; Molly C. Lum, Potomac Falls High School, National Merit University of North Texas Scholarship, and Rhea Kulkarni, Freedom High School, National Merit Florida Atlantic University Scholarship.

Four students received National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards from the nation’s longest-running and most prestigious scholarship and recognition program for creative teens, grades 7 – 12. Nationwide, nearly 320,000 works were submitted to regional programs. The LCPS Art Award recipients are gold medalist Ping Hsu of Potomac Falls, and silver medalists Saba Banaii of Potomac Falls, Young Chen of Stone Bridge, and Kaitlyn Song of Riverside.

LCPS students from three high schools—Briar Woods, Independence, and Rock Ridge—and two middle schools—Eagle Ridge and Mercer—placed in the top 10 in five individual and 11 team events at Technosphere 2021, the Virginia Technology Student Association’s annual leadership conference, held virtually from April 29 to May 2.

Eight LCPS high school students were selected for the All-Virginia Jazz Ensemble, a group sponsored by the Virginia Band and Orchestra Directors’ Association. They are Justin Abel, Freedom High School; Austin Balagao, Briar Wood High School; Eri Fantilaga, Stone Bridge High School; Sean McLaughlin, Briar Wood High School; Brody Minnick, Briar Wood High School; Stephen Payes, Briar Wood High School; Parker Peterson, Stone Bridge High School; and Jackson Tallamy, Tuscarora High School. Twenty-four Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) high school students were selected for the All-Virginia Chorus and 30 for the All-Virginia Band and Orchestra.

Twenty-two members of DECA, the association of marketing students, earned top honors in this year’s DECA International Career Development Conference, which held 58 unique competitive events

And…to every single Loudoun County Public School athlete who took to the field, diamond, track, and court this spring, you deserve a gold medal.

Let’s not forget the educators:

Riverside High School’s Kimberly Jackson earned the title of LCPS 2021 Teacher of the Year and every year earns kudos for making math not only accessible but fun. Grove Elementary School’s Shontel Simon was voted LCPS’s Principal of the Year. Videos of both educators are available on the LCPS website. Simon concludes hers with the thought she shares with Forest Grove students each day: “Have a great day on purpose.”

It’s a good thought for going forward into the new school year.

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The LCPS school year will begin on August 26, 2021 with in-person, in-classroom instruction five days a week for all students for the 2021-2022 school year. The LCPS website provides an extensive FAQ section that addresses questions regarding safety, health, options for distance learning for families, bus schedules, extracurricular activities, meals, and more.

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