WASHINGTON (WNEW) — For a group of high school students in D.C., Tuesday was anything but a normal school day.

Eight seniors were surprised at school Tuesday with life-altering news: full, four-year scholarships to attend George Washington University — a value of more than $200,000.

The lucky students — who attend six different D.C. high schools — were hand-delivered acceptance letters announcing the scholarships by GW President Steven Knapp, in front of classmates, teachers and family.

“For us at GW, this is one of the happiest days of the year,” said Dr. Knapp. “The best moment is when we surprise the recipients with the news that their college years are paid for and their fellow students burst into cheers and applause.”

This year’s recipients are:

• Tai’Lon Jackson of Ballou High School has been valedictorian since 10th grade and is the senior class president.

• Avery Coffey of Benjamin Banneker Academic High School built a robot at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory during an internship.

• Reniya Dinkins of Benjamin Banneker Academic High School is chair of the D.C. Youth Advisory Council that provides feedback to the mayor’s office on issues affecting youth in D.C.

• Meron Hagos of Benjamin Banneker Academic High School is a youth ambassador at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and at Children’s National Medical Center.

• Minh-Hong Nguyen of Capital City Public Charter School will be the first in her family to graduate from high school and attend college. She also was an intern in a GW chemistry lab.

• Malachi Byrd of Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools for Public Policy is a member of the D.C. National SLAM Poetry Team and performed in the national SLAM competition.

• China Green of Friendship Collegiate Academy studied philosophy and Mandarin at Duke University last summer.

• Llewellyn “Xavier” Richie of KIPP Public Charter Schools is president of the National Honor Society and has a dream to end poverty.

“This year’s SJT scholarship recipients represent the best combination of strong intellect, commitment to community and fierce determination,” said Karen Felton, director of admissions at GW. “They are scholars and role models who will undoubtedly make their mark at the university and beyond. I’m excited to watch them grow at GW.”

The full scholarships cover tuition, room and board, books and fees.

The students were selected based on GPA, SAT scores, course of study, teacher recommendations, leadership qualities, community service and other extracurricular activities and achievements.

Students are eligible for the scholarships as long as they are on track to graduate from an accredited D.C. high school — public, private or charter.

The scholarships will be renewed annually by GW as long as the student meets the university’s academic progress standards. GW says about 90 percent of students who receive the scholarship graduate from the university.

GW has awarded the GW–Stephen Joel Trachtenberg Scholarships since 1989 and committed more than $18 million to 149 scholarship winners over the past 25 years.

Formerly called the GW 21st Century Scholarships, the awards program was renamed in 1998 for Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, GW president emeritus and university professor of public service.


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