(June 20, 2014) – Douglass School held its 14th annual awards assembly on June 5, 2014.
Douglass’ principal, Dr. Jack Robinson, listed some of the highlights of the year:
- The average pass rate for Douglass students was 91-92 percent.
- For the 12th consecutive year, the attendance rate was between 88 and 92 percent.
- Douglass had 34 clubs and activities this year.
- 91 percent of the students took part in at least one activity.
- 34 percent took part in three or more activities.
Several major awards were presented.
- Logan Kuney was named Middle School Student of the Year ($50 prize).
- Sabrina Johnson was named High School Student of the Year ($100 prize).
- The Raymond and Gracie LaPoint Award (for significant student achievement) went to Eva Friedman in middle school ($50 prize) and Michael Zeledon and Michelle Aguila in high school ($100 prize).
- As he does each year, Don Marshall presented the Shelly Marshall Short Story Award. (Shelly Marshall was killed in the September 11 attack on the Pentagon.) First place and a $250 prize went to Kelsey Wiggins. Wiggins’ sister, Zoe, placed second.
- The Poetry Award ($100) went to Nicole Murillo.
- Senior Nathan Saldanha was honored for earning straight A’s.
- The Frederick Douglass Scholarship (and its $1,000 prize) was split between Sabrina Johnson and Evan Wainright.
Retiring Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) Superintendent Dr. Edgar B. Hatrick III and retiring LCPS Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Sharon D. Ackerman were presented with engraved crystal gifts.
Also honored upon her retirement was Lori Keating, who founded Douglass’ library in 2006. Keating noted that she didn’t become a librarian until she was 50 and told students they were never too old to pursue their dreams.
The Guitar Club performed Green Day’s “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life).”
Hatrick told the students that he hoped they’d hear the applause that greeted them at the program’s outset as they moved on to conquer life’s challenges. “This is a very special place that you chose to attend with a very special history. A lot of that history is about overcoming adversity and finding in adversity opportunity for success.”
Douglass began its life as a school when the African-American community demanded that secondary education be available for its children, Hatrick said. That spirit of providing an opportunity to overcome adversity permeates the school today.
“This has been a learning community since way before the term became popular. What is a community? People coming together for a common purpose; the common purpose here is the education of our young people to launch them into a brighter future than they would have without that education.”
Jen Sanford gave comments on behalf of the Class of 2014.
“I’ve got to admit, today is a really emotional day; I’ve almost cried like 72 times. It’s not a far stretch when someone says Douglass has saved their life.”
Sanford came to Virginia from Texas at the beginning of her high school career and felt lost. Feeling alone, she ran away. Upon returning to school, Sanford felt ostracized.
Shortly after, the option of coming to Douglass, Loudoun’s alternative school for middle and high school students, was offered to her.
“At first, I was extremely terrified. It’s a new school and I’m an introvert. While I’d never heard about Douglass personally, I’d heard about alternative schools. They’re usually the home of the bad kids. Naturally, I thought I was going to be beat up or something like that.”
Nothing like that happened to Sanford.
“As soon as I stepped in, it felt like home. I saw the wooden floors and the old feel to the school made it extremely relaxing.”
Sanford said she quickly made a best friend and a counselor changed her schedule so that they could be together. A cooperative and caring staff was what Sanford said made Douglass special, “I dare say I’ve met almost all of the staff and teachers in the building and they’re the true gem of this school. The motivation and patience it takes to work here must be extremely rare to find.”
School Board members Tom Reed (At-Large) and Brenda Sheridan (Sterling District) attended the awards assembly.