Loudoun County Honors Top Students


Wayde Byard

Loudoun County Public Schools Public Information Officer Wade Byard visited Woodgrove on October 2 to take headshots and a group photo of all the seniors who were recognized at the banquet. Photo by Wade Byard.

Written by Sarah Snare

Loudoun County Public Schools hosted the 34th annual Excellence in Education Banquet on December 4, 2016 at the National Conference Center to honor the highest achieving seniors of each high school.

Invitations were sent out in early October inviting the top 5% of each school’s senior class to attend this event, accompanied by their favorite teacher and two family members. This ranking is based on the cumulative grade point average from the first three years of each student’s high school career.

Woodgrove students that were honored at the banquet include Nazaneen Anwari, Mady Barona, Christopher Bava, Wyatt Black, Maddy Gingerich, Shannon Grady, Christopher Hall, Elyse Morris, Georgia Peake, Rachel Petterson, Marleah Puckett, Patrick Ramsey, Jacob Rodal, Katie Smeraldo, Sarah Snare, Julia Stang, Julia Stewart, Erin Stitt, Thomas White, Joy Yang, and Josef Zimmerman.

On the day of the banquet, a total of 300 students convened in Lansdowne from all over the county to be honored for their achievements. Due to the overwhelming number of honorees and guests, the group was split in two, with seven of Loudoun’s high schools recognized at one’o’clock and the remaining eight at six o’clock.

Principals took the stage to personally speak about each student from their respective high schools. Behind the podium was a PowerPoint presentation highlighting the awards and accomplishments of each senior. In the three decades that Loudoun has been holding this event, a total of 5,013 students have been recognized for their academic achievements.

Two and a half hours into the ceremony, Woodgrove Principal Sam Shipp approached the podium to introduce the final school of the night. Shipp expressed his awe at the achievements and dedication of not only his students at Woodgrove, but students across the entire county.

Shipp spoke about each of Woodgrove’s top 21 students individually, highlighting honor societies, awards and motivating factors behind each Wolverine scholar. Senior Wyatt Black got some laughs from the crowd as he walked across the stage.

Shipp told the audience about his conversation with Black prior to the night of the banquet.
“When asked what motivates Wyatt, he quickly responded without missing a beat, ‘My mother terrifies me,’” Shipp said.

The crowd erupted with laughter, grateful for some comic relief to lighten the formal atmosphere.

The crowd cheered the loudest they had all night when Woodgrove’s last student received his award. Loudoun County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Eric Williams closed out the night with a final word congratulating the senior and teacher honorees and thanking everyone for their attendance.

“This is probably one of the highlights, and I’ll speak for the other principals, of our year,” Shipp said to the crowd. “And when we can put aside the tyranny of the urgent and stop and actually sit down with our students and talk to them and just have that time, I am always, always impressed.”