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South Washington County Schools' students named Minnesota Department of Education Scholars of Distinction

Photo of MDE Scholars of Distinction

Ten South Washington County Schools' students have been named Scholars of Distinction by the Minnesota Department of Education. The program recognizes distinguished achievement by highly motivated and self-directed students in leadership, mathematics, science, social studies, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) and theater arts.

Students in grades 9-12 are eligible to receive awards in leadership, mathematics, science, social studies or STEM after demonstrating a mastery of a subject through the completion of a challenging project. Theater arts awards can only be earned by students in grades 11 or 12.

This year’s recipients were recognized at an awards ceremony on Saturday, May 12. East Ridge High School student Arsema Belai was among those recognized and also earned the opportunity to emcee and perform at the awards ceremony.

In all, seven students were awarded from East Ridge High School and three students were awarded from Woodbury High School.

Eesha Bharti from East Ridge High School earned the Science Scholars of Distinction Award for the project, “Causes of Alzheimer’s Disease: Genetic Differences between Early- and Late-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease.”

Four students from East Ridge High School earned the Theater Arts Scholars of Distinction Award. Arsema Belai earned the award for the acting project, “The Power of Theater to Create Ensemble and Expand the World.” Alex Bretoi earned the award for the acting/musical theater project, “Fully Engaged: Making Bold Physical, Vocal, and Emotional Choice.” Tre’ Edgerton earned the award for the acting/musical theater project, “The Voice of Social Justice on a National Stage.” Sophie Pfluger earned the award for the technical theater/scenic design project, “All the World’s My Color Palette: Designing for the Stage, Mentoring the Next Generation.”

Two East Ridge High School students earned the Theater Arts Meritorious Performance Award. McCrossen Schiller earned the award for the directing project, “Staging Strong Women: Empowering Female Characters and Actors” and Anya Steffel earned the award for the playwriting project, “Creating Contemporary Characters to Reflect Society and Spark Empathy.”

Three Woodbury High School students were also recognized, Esperanza Lee, Neha Jain and Manashree Padiyath. Lee earned the Social Studies Meritorious Performance Award for the applied history project, “China to Minnesota and Back: China Inland Mission’s Legacy.” Jain earned the Science Scholars of Distinction Award for the project, “Non-narcotic Emergency Management of Renal Colic Improves Length of Emergency Department (ED) Stay and Discharge Rate.” Padiyath earned the Science Scholars of Distinction Award for the project, “Pulp Fiction! Lead Remediation with Biochar made from the Apiaceae (Carrot) Plant Family.”

Congratulations to all of the students recognized for their outstanding work!

Update on June 5, 2018: An earlier version of this article did not include the recognition earned by Manashree Padiyath. The Minnesota Department of Education experienced technical difficulties in reviewing the submitted projects and named four more students with honors after the ceremony on May 12. These students will be formally recognized for their accomplishments at the State Fair’s STEM Stage on August 23.

(Photo left to right: Esperanza Lee, Anya Steffel, Neha Jain, Alex Bretoi, Arsema Belai, Sophia Pfluger, Eesha Bharti)