Mercer Islanders pile up honors, accolades

It is not even close to graduation, but Islander youth and their schools are already getting attention for success in sports and excellence in the arts all while keeping academic standards high. In addition, three Island public schools are the recipients of the State Superintendent of Public School’s Washington Achievement Awards.

Mercer Island High School music programs, choir groups, dance and drill organizations have all recently earned state academic titles.

The school’s Bel Canto choir, wind ensemble, symphonic orchestra, dance and drill teams have all earned the Washington State Intermural Athletic Association academic titles for their work this winter. The WIAA program honors the team or group with the highest grade point average among all Washington schools in their classification.

In addition, three Mercer Island High School seniors have been selected for a group of 3,000 candidates in the 2011 Presidential Scholars Program. The candidates were selected from nearly 3.2 million students set to graduate from high school this spring.

The nominees are Miriam Zawadzki, the daughter of Ilan Zawadzki and Patricia Bloant; Eleanor Hildebrandt, the daughter of Thomas Hildebrandt and Adair Dingle; and Andrew Wingerson, the son of Dane and Barbara Wingerson.

The 3,000 candidates were also selected for their performance on College Board SAT or the ACT tests. Further consideration is based on essays, self-assessments, descriptions of activities, school recommendations and school transcripts. In early April a panel of educators will select 500 semifinalists.

The final selection of scholars will be announced in May. Scholars will be invited to Washington, D.C., in June to receive the Presidential Scholars medallion.

On Valentine’s Day, State Superintendent Randy Dorn notified Island Park, Lakeridge and Mercer Island High School that they are recipients of the Washington Achievement Awards. These awards are given to schools that profoundly affect student learning using the State Board’s accountability program, adopted in 2009. For the 2010 awards, 186 schools are recognized.

The honor is awarded collaboratively with the State Board of Education (SBE) and based on the Washington Achievement Index. This index celebrates schools for overall excellence and special recognition in: language arts, math, science, graduation rate, improvement and closing achievement gaps and gifted education.

All three of the schools were recognized for overall excellence, which means they join schools around the state whose two-year averages in the state’s accountability program (MSP, HSPE) place them in the top five percent. To be considered in the top five percent, schools must have fewer than 10 percent students designated as gifted. Both WM and IMS have gifted programs, where the bar for recognition is substantially higher.

“Your staff, students, parents and community can take pride in joining this distinguished group,” said State Superintendent Randy Dorn. Mercer Island Superintendent Gary Plano said of the honor: “This award of distinction is recognition of our students’ commitment to the learning process. Our teachers and parents are very proud of you.”

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