Chancellor Fariña Celebrates the 2017 Remarkable Graduates

  • Posted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 Updated: Thu Apr 19, 2018

Students from five boroughs represent potential and persistence of New York City’s 1.1 million students

NEW YORK – Chancellor Carmen Fariña and the New York Mets will host a reception this evening to honor 99 high school graduates with the Remarkable Achievement Recognition of Excellence Award. In their 12th year, the Remarkable Achievement Awards celebrate the academic and extracurricular successes of high school graduates who have overcome significant obstacles.  

The outstanding graduates honored at today’s reception hail from all five boroughs – 19 attended high school in the Bronx, 26 in Brooklyn, 24 in Manhattan, 26 in Queens, and four in Staten Island – and will be pursuing a range of postsecondary education options. 

“The students receiving these awards bring stories of resilience, passion, and hope from across all five boroughs, and it is an honor to celebrate them and their families,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “They are a testament to the power of public education, and to the potential of all our New York City public school students.”

“The Mets are excited to host the Remarkable Achievement Awards ceremony at Citi Field once again,” said Mets Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon. “We are privileged to showcase some of New York City’s most inspiring students. Their persistence and determination, in the face of great hurdles, make them truly remarkable.” 

Every year, Chancellor Fariña recognizes students who have excelled in their school performance, received diplomas, and are going on to postsecondary education. Teachers, guidance counselors, principals and other school staff members are asked to nominate students for the Remarkable Achievement Award. 

A selection of the award recipients’ stories are featured below:

Nahila Took Advantage of Another Chance, and Left a Lasting Impact on Her School

In September 2016, Nahila Louis-Charles moved on her own to New York and enrolled in Olympus Academy in Brooklyn – the sixth, and final, high school she attended. Though she had moved from state to state, and struggled to pay her own rent and living expenses, Nahila left a lasting impact at Olympus. She participated in her high school’s Girls’ Group Program, served as an intern in a school counselor’s office, and founded Olympus Academy’s first student government. Nahila’s dedication to improving her school community was evident throughout her time at Olympus; she often reached out to school leadership to offer ideas and assist with new programs. 

Nahila entered Olympus, a transfer school, behind on her high school credits, and graduated as valedictorian. She plans to attend Howard University to study business. 

“Nahila is an incredible student who took initiative at every opportunity,” said Olympus Academy principal Bruce Gonzales. “She refused to let her personal situation hold her back. She believes that nothing should keep her from success and her dreams, and she works to achieve those things.” 

Anthony Doesn’t Let Physical Disability and Illness Stand in His Way

Although he lost nearly all his vision and hearing as a child, Anthony Delossantos excelled as a student at the Urban Assembly for Green Careers in Manhattan. He worked diligently and thrived throughout high school, and graduated even as he has combated four tumors in his brain and ears. This fall, he will be starting college at SUNY New Paltz to study engineering.

“High school is difficult for many students, even without the challenges and barriers that Anthony faces,” said Michael Campanelli, Anthony’s guidance counselor. “None of Anthony’s challenges stop him from continuing to push forward. Anthony can barely hear, has very limited means of communication, and yet he was able to make it through high school and is going to study engineering in college – it says a lot about him as a person. It says a lot about his ability to go above and beyond.”

Jessica’s Persistence Led Her to College

Jessica Fong Ng has lived away from her parents for many years and struggled with her English when she first arrived in New York City, yet excelled in her academics and extra-curricular activities throughout her time at the High School for Construction Trades, Engineering, and Architecture in Queens. She was part of the National Honor Society, Skills USA, and music club at her school, and her fierce desire to learn motivated her to conduct DNA research with a professor from York College. Jessica will be attending Boston College this fall with a scholarship.

“I’ve been a counselor for six years and I’ve never met a student like her, ever,” said Nindja Castro, Jessica’s guidance counselor. “Because her parents are in China, Jessica learned to take initiative for her own education. She really struggled with English when she started here but has worked so hard over the years, and it has been amazing to see her grow and succeed.” 

Briyonna Will Be the First in Her Family to Attend College, and Hopes to Change Other Children’s Lives as a Teacher

Since the passing of her father, Briyonna Porterfield-Johnson made it her life mission to honor his dream for her to become the first in her family to attend college. At the Urban Assembly School for Global Commerce in Manhattan, Briyonna became a true leader. She founded the school’s cheerleading team and also played softball and basketball, while also working at least one job – and sometimes two – to help support herself and her grandmother. Briyonna will be attending SUNY Potsdam this fall to study early childhood education, and hopes to become an elementary school teacher.

“I just can’t emphasize enough how incredibly proud we are,” said Claudia Mendez, Briyonna’s college counselor. “Even when times were hard and she didn’t have enough resources, Briyonna always worked tirelessly to figure things out and achieve her goals.”

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