The Board of Education at its Jan. 11 meeting honored four 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 Kevin Mejia-Trochez of J.P. Ryon Elementary School; Jurniah Young of William A. Diggs Elementary School; Madelyn Sopher of General Smallwood Middle School; and Synai Ferrell of Thomas Stone High School.

Kevin Mejia-Trochez of J.P. Ryon Elementary School

Mejia-Trochezis a fifth-grade student at Ryon and was recognizedfor his academic achievement. He has attended Ryon since the second grade and has earned straight A’s every quarter since third grade. He reads above a fifth-grade level and said reading is his favorite subject. Mejia-Trochez is a member of the Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) team and is the captain of the Mobile App challenge. It is a project he has been passionate about since the first day of school. Outside of school, he spends hours working on coding and user interface design. For fun, he likes to code games. When he grows up, Mejia-Trochez wants to be a computer programmer. Outside of MESA, he is a school safety patrol and serves as a role model for other students. Mejia-Trochez’s teachers said he exemplifies what it means to have honor, integrity, grit and hope. He is kind to all students and treats everyone with respect, takes pride in his work and consistently strives to be better, his teachers said. Mejia-Trochez is described as outstanding, intelligent and one of the best students any teacher could ask for, Principal Melinda Tyler, Ed.D., said. During virtual learning last year, Mejia-Trochez was enthusiastic about learning, always willing to add to conversations and used problem solving skills to persevere through technology issues. For all these reasons, Mejia-Trochez is more than worthy of academic achievement recognition, Tyler said.

Jurniah Young of William A. Diggs Elementary School

Youngis a fifth-grade student at Diggswho was recognized in the area of career readiness. She has been a Diggs Hawk since prekindergarten, accumulating accolades along her academic journey, most recently receiving the Student of the Quarter Award, the Citizenship Award and Principal’s Honor Roll. Her teachers describe her as a standout student, a leader in the classroom and a positive role model for her peers. Young is always respectful, kind and willing to help others in any way that she can. Her favorite subject is mathematics, and while she reads above grade level, one goal that she has for herself is to improve her reading comprehension. In the future, Young wants to be a teacher in Charles County. She has been inspired by the teachers at Diggs. “All of the teachers she has had at Diggs have been so nice,” Young said. Already working toward her goal of becoming a teacher, Young assists students in second grade with letter identification. The most difficult part of working with the younger students is, “Sometimes they do not want to listen,” Young said. “However, I am able to refocus them, and they enjoy practicing their letters.” These types of interactions with students are valuable experiences for Young as she pursues her goal of becoming a teacher, Debra Calvert, Diggs’ principal, said.

Madelyn Sopher of General Smallwood Middle School

Sopheris an eighth-grade student at Smallwoodwho was recognized for personal responsibility. Sopher is hardworking in her academics and is an honor roll student. During her years at Smallwood, she has been part of a girls mentoring group along with participating in the Spelling Bee. Sopher is a member of the National Junior Society and serves as the club’s treasurer. Outside of school, Sopher has participated in competitive cheerleading for the past six years. The sport demands much of her time, but she remains dedicated to her schoolwork. Her teachers said that along with being a hard worker, Sopher can always be counted on to help her classmates. These traits will be a great asset to Sopher as she plans to become a school counselor one day, Smallwood Principal Brenda Tillotson said.

Synai Ferrell of Thomas Stone High School

Ferrell is a senior at Thomas Stone who was recognized for academic achievement. She has phenomenal leadership qualities, and her caring personality is contagious, Shanif Pearl, Thomas Stone’s principal, said. She is a student who achieved high standards throughout her high school career and has clear goals for her future. Ferrell played an integral part in the junior monthly newsletters to students during the year of virtual learning. She provided excellent ideas that assisted in supporting her peers with a focus on mental health and academic needs. Ferrell’s contributions, commitment and dedication were impactful and greatly beneficial during that difficult time, Pearl said. “Synai is a true inspiration,” she added. To expand her education outside of school, Young attended the Princeton University Summer Journalism Program and the Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program. She volunteers for the Special Olympics of Virginia and the University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center assisting in the nursing department. At school, Young is a member of the National Honor Society, Student Government Association and Distinguished Young Women of Maryland. She also volunteered as a mentor in the Cougar Connect Program during virtual learning and was a member of the varsity tennis team.


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