It was a night of festivity and reflection Thursday as students were honored as part of the school system’s 30th Martin Luther King Jr. celebration.

“It is always so exciting to be able to celebrate the accomplishments of our students, but tonight is special to me because it’s all about character,” Superintendent Terry Alban told the crowd of families and students seated in the Gov. Thomas Johnson High School auditorium.

Every year, one student from each public school in Frederick County is chosen to receive the King Award. To earn the award, students must have demonstrated positive leadership qualities that are characteristic of King and exhibit FCPS’ “Character Counts” pillars of responsibility, caring, fairness, trustworthiness, citizenship and respect. Each school has its own process for choosing students.

“Families and friends, I hope you will bask with pride as [students] cross the stage,” Alban said.

Lakisha Bynum did. Her son, Frederick High School senior Isaac Bynum, was one of the recipients.

“I’m glad to know that others at the school and the administration acknowledge him for his character,” Bynum said. “Martin Luther King should be honored, and I’m glad the students here were honored.”

Isaac said he’s glad FCPS gives out these awards as it encourages students to embody King’s legacy.

“It was great to win this award and represent my school and Martin Luther King and what he stood for, especially being African-American, it was great to be a part of this tradition,” he said.

Intermixed with musical performances from school choirs and the Tuscarora High School Jazz Ensemble, award winners were called up individually and given medals along with handshakes from the superintendent and Board of Education Vice President Jay Mason.

There were a few comical moments as some elementary schoolers sped right past Alban and Mason, not realizing a handshake was part of the award presentation.

Lauren Leatherman, a senior at Middletown High School, was also a sight as she hopped up on stage to receive the award using crutches.

Leatherman is a runner and recently underwent foot surgery. The celebration was her first time out since the procedure.

“Tonight was my debut,” Leatherman said with a laugh. “I’m really honored. ... I didn’t really know a lot about this program before, but I think it’s really good that FCPS honors Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and honors his legacy ... and it encourages students to be leaders from a young age.”

Rachel Nichols, the award recipient from Tuscarora High, agreed.

“I think it brings recognition to ‘Character Counts’ and makes more people aware of it,” Nichols said. “It brings forward Dr. King and what he did, which I think is very important for our culture today.” The awards ceremony comes ahead of National African-American History Month in February when schools across the county will continue celebrating King and other important black leaders and historical figures.

Follow Katryna Perera on Twitter: @katrynajill.

King Award recipients

Name School Grade
Elementary school
Katie Hann Ballenger Creek Elementary School 5
Carter Vinar Brunswick Elementary School 5
Jordyn Summers Butterfly Ridge Elementary School 5
Theodore Kruhm Carroll Manor Elementary School 5
Ayza Baqai Centerville Elementary School 5
Harry Hernandez Deer Crossing Elementary School 5
Joshua Facey Emmitsburg Elementary School 5
Simon Hailemariam Glade Elementary School 5
Gracie Bledsoe Green Valley Elementary School 5
Gelin Cubias Ramirez Hillcrest Elementary School 5
Jake Lindsey Kemptown Elementary School 5
Seamus Riddle Lewistown Elementary School 5
Kathryn Laughman Liberty Elementary School 5
Armani Benson Lincoln Elementary School 5
Seneca Yarmus Middletown Elementary School 5
Charlie Kaas Middletown Primary School 2
Ruben Reyes Monocacy Elementary School 5
Lilly Johnson Myersville Elementary School 5
Chandler Ways New Market Elementary School 5
Laila Hagan New Midway/Woodsboro Elementary School 5
Derrick Thurston Jr. North Frederick Elementary School 5
Pearla Ottinger-McKain Oakdale Elementary School 5
Scarlett Montano Orchard Grove Elementary School 5
Quinn McCullers-Vongnaraj Parkway Eleementary School 5
Lily Lawler Sabillasville Elementary School 5
Donovan Myers Spring Ridge Elementary School 5
Hannah Mosiychuk Thurmont Elementary School 5
Evan Laird Thurmont Primary School 2
Cayenne Pigeon Tuscarora Elementary School 5
Isabella Washabaugh Twin Ridge Elementary School 5
Vidhushi Kondabathini Urbana Elementary School 5
Ainsley Fink Valley Elementary School 5
Briannah Stickley Walkersville Elementary School 5
Juan Diego Galdamez Guillen Waverley Elementary School 5
Theo Dimitriou Whittier Elementary School 5
Kira Garner Wolfsville Elementary School 5
Nithin Kota Yellow Springs Elementary School 5
Middle school
Stephanie Boadu Ballenger Creek Middle School 8
Zoe Razunguzwa Brunswick Middle School 8
Shon Haley Carroll Creek Montessori Public Charter School 8
Alexa Gleaton Crestwood Middle School 8
Omolara Adeoye Frederick Classical Charter School 7
Pranathi Nelson Gov. Thomas Johnson Middle School 8
Neha Nair Middletown Middle School 8
Roxana Melgar Morales Monocacy Middle School 8
Noah Henson Monocacy Valley Montessori Public Charter School 8
Nathaniel Morris New Market Middle School 8
Jonathan Grenier Oakdale Middle School 8
Cooper DeLauter Thurmont Middle School 7
Monica Nader Urbana Middle School 8
Karla Burbano Walkersville Middle School 8
Brook Philemon West Frederick Middle School 8
Genesis Maldonado Windsor Knolls Middle School 8
High school
Andrea Rodriguez Brunswick High School 12
Matthew McGuire Career & Technology Center 12
Isabel Rozo Catoctin High School 12
Isaac Bynum Frederick High School 12
Malachi Macon Gov. Thomas Johnson High School 11
Kojo Benefo Linganore High School 12
Lauren Leatherman Middletown High School 12
Lindsey Bruno Oakdale High School 11
Harris Bukasa-Nsenda Rock Creek School 12
Rachel Nichols Tuscarora High School 11
Tera Sackey Urbana High School 12
Jailen Reid-Taylor Walkersville High School 12

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