IA Okma Junior Honors Program
Class of 2022
Principal Gibson's Opening Remarks
SCIENCE DEPARTMENT AWARDS
I would like to recognize Akshara Karthik as this year’s recipient of the Biology Department Award. Although Akshara has been virtual this entire year, it feels as if she is physically sitting in class. She is highly engaged with the content, unmutes to answer questions over Zoom, and has taken a very active role in furthering her knowledge of molecular biology while encouraging others to pursue science. She helped initiate the GIDAS club which teaches students how to interact with scientific databases to explore disease-related genes. Her research proposal on reprogramming cells for therapeutic uses was accepted by the International Young Researchers’ Conference; it was a pleasure getting to read her paper and offer feedback before her final submission. Akshara and I are also working together on her Extended Essay which currently aims to explore the impact that medical tourism has on local economies and the environment. Needless to say, Akshara’s biology endeavors expand far beyond expectations in the classroom and exemplify her ambition, curiosity, and passion for science. She has enriched my own knowledge of molecular biology and I look forward to seeing what else she explores in the future. Congratulations, Akshara!
The Chemistry Department would like to recognize Claire Thomson for her hard work in chemistry and for going above and beyond what is expected in IB Chemistry. Claire has a strong passion for chemistry and it is shown daily in class. Claire brings much energy and enthusiasm to the course, whether it be from her work with Chemistry Club, hosting review sessions, or her dedication to Chemistry Olympiad where she had to independently learn almost a year’s worth of advanced chemistry content. Besides all of this, Claire is a joy to have in class. Claire is a standout student that her peers can count on for help with anything from simple problems to complex problems to lab skill questions. For all of these reasons and more, Claire is receiving the Junior Chemistry Department Award. Congratulations Claire.
It is with great pleasure that I recognize Coen Hao with this year’s Junior Physics Award. Coen exhibits boundless curiosity nearly every day in our DP1 Physics class. His problem-solving abilities are as good as any student in his cohort, and he asks the most interesting questions that push both his peers and me well beyond the content required by our curriculum. As with many of his classmates, I feel Coen is just scratching the surface of what he can accomplish in Physics. Congratulations!
ENGLISH DEPARTMENT AWARDS
ABIGAIL KENDAL and JONATHAN MARX
Mr. Woods' Speech:
Abigail, I’m extremely proud of you because you possess a unique combination of intellectual vigor, analytical proficiency, and sacrificial commitment to the DP Literature curriculum. This transcends the expectations and requirements of the class and speaks to the global issues you discuss that ignite our passion to connect the world of literature to that of our own. Your peers and I thank you for your patience, humor, and integrity. We’re better thinkers, dreamers, and people because you.
One of this year’s recipients of the English Department Junior Award is Jonathan Marx. As a teacher who first taught Jonathan second semester freshman year, I was impressed by his curiosity about literary content and techniques beyond what was discussed in the classroom. This year, I had the opportunity to teach Jonathan again. In a year marked by inconsistencies, Jonathan shined in his dedication to upholding and improving his literature skills and content knowledge. He demonstrated critical thinking, questioning, and an overall perseverance as he prepared for the internal literature assessment. Congratulations, Jonathan!
MATH DEPARTMENT AWARDS
BRODY CAVANAUGH and ANNA SEALS
Brody Cavanaugh and Anna Seals have both earned this award for their achievement in Math Applications. Brody and Anna both consistently work collaboratively and support their peers regardless of the learning format. They are model students in all settings as they ask great inquiry questions, regularly participate, and show dedication to growing through their work. Finally, Brody and Anna have shown incredible growth and Mrs. Casper is proud to have seen them develop over the last three years.
Math Analysis SL
Among so many incredible students, Erin Williams stands out in our Math Analysis course. She is an incredibly bright and hard working student who always has a positive attitude. She remains engaged in class where she asks insightful questions and volunteers answers and explanations. She works well with other students and is an excellent contributor in our Zoom break-out rooms. Overall, I have really appreciated having Erin as a student and have greatly enjoyed getting to know her.
Leah Simakas is a wonderful addition to the Math HL class. Her positive attitude enhances the classroom community. She is an intelligent and keen mathematician. She is hardworking, principled and caring. Last, but not least, she is always willing to help a classmate with a question.
History department award
It is my pleasure to award Priya Shah with this year’s Junior History Award. I have enjoyed the privilege of being Priya’s history teacher since the start of her sophomore year. Priya consistently shows a dedicated enthusiasm for and academic commitment to our engaging subject, both in-person and via Zoom since the start of the pandemic. In relation to the latter: what I have appreciated in particular is Priya’s determination to not leave our class meetings with any unanswered questions. Accordingly, it almost became a wonderful routine to have Priya stick around on my computer screen to discuss whatever it was that needed further discussion or clarification. I look forward to having Priya in class again this August at the start of her senior year with us. While I should not take this for granted, I do expect to see Priya’s wonderfully smiley demeanor and dedication to our study of the past throughout her DP2 History year as well. Ever the thoughtful student that she is, this year Priya wrote an engaging and critical History Internal Assessment involving the main factors that sparked the 1947-1948 Civil War in Mandatory Palestine. I look forward to mentoring Priya as she researches and writes her Extended Essay in history in relation to another highly relevant and important topic: the 1967 Detroit Riot/Rebellion. Priya, on behalf of the History Department, congratulations on winning this well-deserved award.
Theory of Knowledge Award
ANNA SEALS and HOPE TECHLIN
My name is Brad Davies and today it is my honor to present the Junior Theory of Knowledge (ToK) Department Award to Anna Seals and Hope Techlin!
It is unusual to present the Junior ToK Award to two students, but I just don’t think that it could be done any other way this year. Anna and Hope are emblematic of the goals of ToK. Through conversations with each other and their classmates, Anna and Hope question assumptions about how we are looking at, and how we are interacting with, the world. In short, they are reflecting how we assemble knowledge. Both are very comfortable in the classroom, simultaneously showing skepticism about an initial premise of a lesson, but more than willing to see where it goes. More than once a lesson has ended with Hope saying, “Ahh, you got me there! I hadn’t thought about it that way before!” This is, of course, central to the point of the class. When disagreeing with each other, or myself, or another student, Anna and Hope are very professional in their manner of “pushing back” against the argument but not the individual. With smiles on their faces, even on the longer days, Anna and Hope bring a sense of liveliness and excitement to the course. They are working to help build a sense of community within the classroom, even during the isolating times of Covid. For these reasons and more, the Junior ToK Departmental Award goes to Anna Seals and Hope Techlin. Congratulations and have a great summer.
Hello, my name is Deborah Schultz and I am thrilled to present the German Department Award this year to Adrian Vergara. Adrian has exceptionally strong German skills and he loves to practice his German as much as possible. Since his freshman year, he has been very active in class and has demonstrated a strong desire to really learn how to speak fluently in German. He has a natural gift for the language, but he continues to work hard to build his skills. He is always eager to answer questions and to ask about something if it is unclear. Adrian is also very kind to his peers and teachers, and he regularly offers to help others. In this very challenging year, Adrian remained just as engaged in virtual classes as he is when in the school. He continued participating regularly, which really speaks to his work ethic, character and love of learning. Adrian is a joy to have in class and I look forward to seeing his skills continue to develop next year. Congratulations, Achim!
LEAH SIMAKAS, ZAYNA MASRI, and ASHLEA NWABUEZE
Normally, the French Department Award goes to a student who uses the language in and out of the classroom: speaking to their teacher only in French, traveling abroad to France, writing their EE in the target language, seeking out exchange opportunities, etc. This year, most of those options were not available. Luckily, these students have been involved in class: participating (even when on zoom), emailing or staying after class to ask further questions, making connections in the target language, and turning work in on time (if not early). In class, these students tend to be the first to start speaking in French during conversations, and they participate in our French Honor Society. Congratulations are in order for Leah Simakas, Zayna Masri, & Ashlea Nwabueze. You have each earned this award!
ANDREEA BEU and JAY CHITALIA
Andreea and Jay, congratulations to both of you on being selected as this year’s recipients of the Spanish Department Award! This award is given to students who pick up the language exceptionally well. For the most part, they only communicate with the teacher in the target language and they help others in time of need. These students love traveling abroad and embrace other cultures as if they were their own. They are also active members of the Spanish Honor Society, and sometimes choose to write an Extended Essay in Spanish. I can confidently say that both Andreea and Jay embody these qualities.
When I first met you both as sophomores, I was very impressed at the wealth of Spanish knowledge you brought to the classroom. Additionally, your engagement with the material and the class is exceptional. Even through this year’s hard times, you stayed focused on the material and didn’t let anything hold you back from achieving your goals. Whether you know this or not, you both are models for other students to see. Keep up the good work and I am looking forward to your success in Spanish!
SHANNON SCHULTE, SHRIYA BEESABATHUNI, and BRODY CAVANAUGH
This year's Junior Econ Award goes to: Shannon Schulte, Brody Cavanaugh, and Shriya Beesabathuni.
Shannon, Brody, and Shriya,
Thank you for everything you do, both in class and in Econ Club. Over the past year, you three have been instrumental in keeping Econ Club going strong, and your questions and input in class are great examples to all econ students of how to critically examine and dig deeper into the content.
Your efforts during this year's Fed Challenge were also extremely inspiring as you worked through the challenges COVID presented without missing a beat. Despite having to research, formulate solutions, and build the script all while we were still remote, you produced one of the highest-scored presentations by an IA Fed Challenge team, and qualified for Nationals.
With all three of you stepping up into leadership positions next year, I know Econ Club, and your classmates, will continue to benefit from your energy, sense of inquiry, and desire to help others.
Thank you so much for all you do!
MUSIC DEPARTMENT AWARDS
This year’s IB Music Award goes to Emily Lockwood. Time and again, Emily has shown how strong of a student she is both academically and musically. She is often the first student to finish her assignments in class, is enthusiastic about class discussions, and offers valuable insight into our topics. Emily is a student who goes above and beyond what is expected of her; she is eager to help in any way possible. She has taken on the enormous task of making videos to explain the new IB Music curriculum so that future students will be better prepared for the coursework. Emily is an incredible student and I am honored to give her this year's award.
This year’s recipient of the Jazz Band Junior Award is Nicole Schmidt. Not only is Nicole a very accomplished pianist, but she also pushes herself outside of her classical comfort zone to learn the basics of jazz, Latin, and funk music. In a year marked by incredible inconsistency, Nicole has been a constant presence in Jazz Band, and often keeps ME on track with our rehearsal schedule and assignment goals. Thank you for your invaluable contribution, and Brava, Nicole!
This year's Orchestra Award goes to Sydney Kleiner. Since Sydney has joined our orchestra program, she has shown incredible dedication and tenacity. Before the pandemic, I would often find Sydney practicing her cello or participating in music clubs. She loves to learn everything she can about music, especially through the historical lens. Sydney loves to challenge herself musically, finding new music to practice, just for the sake of learning. I am truly excited and honored to give Sydney this year’s Orchestra Award.
This year’s Full Orchestra Award goes to Leah Raymond. Leah has been a dedicated member of the ensemble this year, attending almost every rehearsal, even through the challenges of COVID. She enthusiastically takes on the extra tasks given to her, such as transposing music for the bass clarinet. During rehearsals, she works hard to prepare the music, even as we sometimes get off topic. I am honored to give Leah this year’s Full Orchestra Award.
This year’s recipient of the Choir Junior Award is Alex Rofick-Williams. Beyond being a skilled singer in Chorale’s Soprano section, Alex has truly embraced the unique version of choir this year. Alex’s creative projects demonstrated both great skill and personality, and her musical research work was incredibly well written and insightful. Congratulations, Alex!
This year’s recipient of the Band Junior Award is Ryan Jin. Ryan has demonstrated an incredibly high level of musicianship as a clarinetist, placing as the top clarinetist in this year’s MSBOA All State competition. In addition to his performing skill, Ryan has demonstrated great creativity and compositional ability throughout this year of atypical band projects. Bravo, Ryan!
ART DEPARTMENT AWARD
This year I am happy to present the Junior Art Award to Miss Kate Tang. There are so many great qualities about Kate that I don’t even know where to start. I have had the pleasure of teaching Kate since she started at the IA as a freshman. It has been wonderful spending time with her and getting to know her better over the years. I would describe Kate as quiet but mighty; her work ethic and determination is something to be admired. I don’t think that she is aware of the positive impact that she has on her teachers or her fellow students. Kate is a gentle leader for the IA and sets high standards for herself and others. She is a very deep thinker and works diligently to overcome any challenges that she faces. There are always a lot of highs and lows in the Art room when it comes to the creative process, but she always finds the motivation to push through and see things to the end. Kate is a very responsible student and an amazing artist. She puts a lot of pressure on herself to do well in anything that she is working towards. Kate’s sweet nature also makes her very approachable and well liked by her peers. She is very kind and warm hearted and is willing to offer support or advice whenever needed. In my class, I have been really impressed with Kate’s drive to take creative risks and to push herself out of her comfort zone. I am nothing but proud and inspired by her creativity and ideas. It has been my pleasure getting to know her better and I am so grateful to have her in the DP program. I cannot wait to see what she is capable of next year as she works towards her final exhibition!
SPECIAL RECOGNITION AWARDS
PHOENIX THEATER COMPANY AWARD
Hello! My name is Jane Dittus. And I am Deborah Schultz. We are the sponsors of the Phoenix Theater Club. We are so pleased and honored to present the junior theater award to Cooper Bond this year. Cooper’s enthusiasm, organization and leadership have been unparalleled. In what has been a tough year for the theater community, Cooper never stopped trying. His ideas for activities, fundraisers, and get-togethers just kept coming. He truly believes in possibility and opportunity. We feel so fortunate to have Cooper leading the students in our theater endeavors. Thank you Cooper for never giving up on the magic of theater.
LUCY GIBSON, ANNA LUBMAN, and ALANNA QIU
Lucy Gibson, Anna Lubman, Alanna Qiu -- You have each been responsible for so much this year! And, on top of that, you rose to the challenge of assisting with the yearbook creation. You truly are rockstars in my book!
Lucy - Thank you for reviving the Yearbook Club right away this year! And then for keeping it organized and up-to-date! You played an integral role in editing the yearbook and providing feedback to the seniors.
Anna - Not only did you participate in the Yearbook Club, but you switched into my product team class by choice! You took on editing duties and helped facilitate the creation of the yearbook (especially those club pages!). Thank you for being a leader in a class full of seniors.
Alanna - You may not have been given a choice to participate in my yearbook product team, but you stuck with it and never complained (even when I gave you extra work!). You were someone I knew I could count on all year to get your work done. Thank you for always meeting the deadlines and for helping others fix their mistakes too!
Thanks to all three of you, the yearbook turned out beautifully and was done in time for the seniors to get their books at senior breakfast! I am so proud of you and all of the hard work you put in to make this yearbook just as special as this school year. Congratulations on being the winners of the 2021 Junior Yearbook Award!
It is my pleasure to award Cooper Bond this year’s Junior CAS Award. Cooper has embraced the CAS lifestyle by engaging in a variety of activities that exemplify the three strands: Creativity, Activity and Service. Autism awareness has been a huge part of Cooper’s CAS portfolio. His participation in Friendship Circle virtual programs has enabled individuals with autism and other special needs to continue to connect throughout the pandemic. For his CAS project, Cooper created an awareness campaign during April which was Autism Awareness Month. Throughout the month, he shared information to educate the community about individuals with autism, as well as organized a virtual seminar series. Cooper has also received a National Community Service Award with the UN because of his commitment to service and community.
Cooper maintains an active lifestyle through swimming, running and hiking and much more. These help balance his life along with creative endeavors such as playing the piano, creating websites and baking.
Congratulations Cooper and thank you for your dedication and inspiration to others!
DARTMOUTH BOOK AWARD
KILEY VON BERNTHAL
The Dartmouth Book Award is given to a junior student who has demonstrated exceptional academic performance, responsible leadership, dedication, and commitment to community. This year the Dartmouth Book Award goes to Kiley von Bernthal. Congratulations Kiley!
Harvard Book Award
The Harvard Book Prize is awarded to a junior student for excellence in leadership and character, one who demonstrates respect and appreciation for diversity and difference, an ability to establish relationships to foster community, and inclusive leadership. This year our Harvard Book Prize winner is Chinedum Aguwa. Congratulations Chinedum!
oberlin book award
The Oberlin Book Award for Social Justice is awarded to a junior student who exhibits a deep sense of ethical and social concern. This year, the Social Justice Oberlin Book Award goes to Tasawwar Rahman. Congratulations Tasawwar!
Brandeis Book Award
The Brandeis Book Award is for a junior in the top 15% of the class who demonstrates a commitment to civic engagement, community service, political activism, social justice, or volunteer work. This year the Brandeis Book Award goes to Abigail Kendal. Congratulations Abigail!
The Rensselaer Medal is awarded to a junior who is in the top 10% of their class. In addition, this student must excel in advanced math and science courses, demonstrate potential for success in a challenging academic setting, exhibit significant involvement in extracurricular activities. This year our medal winner is Andreea Beu. Congratulations Andreea!
MADAME CURIE AWARD
The Detroit Section of the Society of Women Engineers annually recognizes female high school juniors who have shown exemplary abilities in areas such as leadership, academics, and community activities. This year, our Math and Science departments have chosen Erin Williams as the winner of the Madame Curie Award for Excellence. Erin is a standout junior female who has performed with distinction in math and science, and is also an active citizen in our school and community. Congratulations Erin!